Sales & Marketing

A practical guide to keeping your web content Google friendly

8 min read

24 March 2015

Staying on the right side of Google can be a constant challenge as they seem to regularly change the ‘rules’ of SEO.

While there is no exact science, we can understand the algorithm that Google uses to punish or reward websites, which in turn determines the ranking and traffic to websites. Here are some key factors Google targets to decide whether they think you have a high-quality website.

Quality of website content

The first metric used to calculate how high-quality a piece of content is would be its length. It’s not necessarily about the sheer number of words which determines the true quality, but it’s a useful first filter – if any article is less than, say, 300 words, Google will assume that it’s unlikely to contain that much useful information

Imagine you write two articles on business strategy- the first is 150 words long while the second is 1500 words, which is likely to be more helpful and informative to the reader?

What should you do?

We recommend having longer, more comprehensive articles on your site. If you have pages on a similar topic, you should combine them to form a single ‘super-page’. Also, your content should be more than mere text. To be as illustrative and engaging as possible you should include images, videos, slideshows, map embeds, interactive surveys, etc. Therefore you should always add relevant images to your web pages, embed videos and slideshows and use maps where appropriate and useful.

Read more on Google algorithms:

Originality of content

Originality is a golden rule. You shouldn’t even get into the habit of duplicating yourself as Google’s methods of detection may even penalise you for this. If you want Google to value your content then it must be original. Google uses a technique called ‘chunking’ to scan for duplication, and can easily check if text content is original or duplicate.

Google will not rank your website at all if the content is copied and pasted from elsewhere; it offers no value to the user that they cannot find elsewhere. Through its reverse image-search, it can also identify the origin of images even if they have been resized, edited, renamed, saved as a different file-type or had text over-layed.

What should you do?

Admittedly, it’s very difficult to be thoroughly original every time you post something, and anyone can see there’s a lot of the same information online. We’re not talking so much about the substance of the content but more the delivery. If you’re going to say something that’s already been said, say it in your own words. Make sure your content is unique and original – write your own text, or hire a good writer and take your own photos instead of stock images!

Modality of content

Google likes multi-media content as it provides a better user-experience. The user usually prefers it too. Make sure that your website isn’t comprised solely of text, with just a few stock images thrown in as an afterthought!

There are many content options you could use such as infographics, graphs, video, slideshows, PDFs, or podcasts.

What should you do?

Video on a web page is always good – it does not even have to be your own video if you haven’t the time or ability to make them. Go to Youtube and find relevant, insightful videos on the topic you are writing about and embed that in the page with a little commentary.

You can do something similar with Slideshare for Powerpoint embeds. For PDFs you can just take your text content and turn it into a PDF then upload to Scribd.com and embed on your webpage, or upload to your server and add a download link for anyone who wants to read the article in PDF rather than online.

Read more about Google:

Positioning of content

A common problem that Google often faces is when websites place a lot of their best material down the page, filling the top half with offers, ads and outbound links. Now Google looks for how much content is ‘above the fold’.

One way that it distinguishes between real content and ads or affiliate offers is by detecting the amount of clickable links and images. If an image is clickable then they reason that it is more likely to be an ad. Another way is through Javascript coding. Javascript serves many purposes, one of which is to serve ads.

What should you do?

Have as much of the strongest content as possible ‘above the fold’ (that is visible to the user without needing to scroll). When you upload an image to WordPress, do not leave the image in its default linking setting but instead set the ‘Link URL’ to ‘no link’. We’re not saying you shouldn’t have any linked images but, for SEO purpose, it’s better to be sparing.

Also use a thinner header on your site. Many sites have ‘thick’ headers which take up a significant amount of space on the page – by removing as much white space as possible around the header, logo, menu bar, etc., it will allow more content to appear above the fold.

Ultimately, Google’s decision making is determined by user satisfaction. A big part of their algorithm is based on user experience and engagement – a site which does not have useful, multi-media content and is full of ads is unlikely to have visitors hang around for long and so they will click away – this is a ‘bounce’.

Google records bounce rates and will reward sites that get good ‘click-throughs’ and low bounce rates. So, if you want to stay on the right side of Google’s Panda follow the above advice as much as you can.

Rob Keating is owner of Lead Generation Websites.

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