As 2014 draws to a close, we catch up on the latest Guidelines from the major Search Engines and how they say they work out which websites come out on top in the listings.
Latest Google Guidelines
The big-hitter of Search Engines, Google accounts for over 80% of internet searches in the UK.
Google announced that they will now be updating their latst algorithm – Penguin – continuously. Previously major updates had been months apart, now they will be constant.
Penguin particularly targets ‘spammy’ websites as Google continues it’s war against ‘black-hat SEO‘. The buzz-word coming out is ‘EAT’ – Expertise, Authority and Trust. Simply put, a website lacking EAT will be pushed down the rankings.
Google basically needs it’s search results to be relevant to your search enquiry and free from spammy, malicious and misleading websites. Google wants us to stop trying to ‘play the system’ and start to put real effort behind the production of quality, authoritative content.
This helps those of us with unique, quality websites that offer readers relevant and quality content.
Latest Bing Guidelines
Bing has a much smaller share of the search market but is still incredibly relevant. Most new Windows devices including Desktop PC’s, Laptops, Tablets and Mobiles will have Bing Search automatically set as the ‘default’ Search Engine.
Like Google, Bing is now stressing that the quality of the content is a primary factor in their ranking algorithm, along with topical relevance and context. They define ‘content quality’ as being made up of three primary factors – Authority, Utlility and Presentation…
AUTHORITY : CONTENT QUALITY
Bing defines authority as the trustworthyness of the content. How do they know if they can trust the content? It is not just about the links pointing to the page but also about how established the web site and web pages are. In addition, Bing looks at signals from social networks to see if the author is well cited, recognised and an authority in the space. They also explain how they determine authority changes by query segment, for example a health-related web page would need professional citations.
UTILITY : CONTENT QUALITY
This is about determining if the page written is useful and detailed enough to the searcher for them to accomplish their task. Does the page have enough supporting citations? Is it detailed enough for the typical searcher? Bing also prefers to see videos, images and graphs on the page – those are signals of utility and content quality.
A factor that may harm the content quality is repurposed or “recycled” content. They want pages that are the source of that data or do unique things with the data, not just pages that recycle the content from the source.
PRESENTATION : CONTENT QUALITY
This is about making sure the content on the page is easy to find and easy to read. If you have ads in the way, distracting and unrelated ads, or the content is hard to find, this can hurt your content quality score. Bing says they will go as far as to “promote and support websites and webmasters that provide ads relevant to the content of their website and place ads so that they do not interfere with the user experience.”
IN CONCLUSION …
In short, to be ranking highly on organic search for popular keyword searches, your website needs not only to tick all the boxes of recommended infrastructure (Titles, Heading Tags, Meta Descriptions, Locality etc.) – it also needs to have quality, trustworthy and authoritative content on it.
Google keeps telling us to create web pages with the consumer in mind, and not the search engines in mind.
YOUR TO-DO LIST
- Check that your website conforms to standard search engine guidelines. We can help with that!
- Consider what content you could add to your website that would improve the experience of your visitors. Think ‘How-To Guides’, Product Reviews, Videos about your services, Event Listings, Links to Useful Information, FAQ’s or simply a Blog in which you discuss your industry.
- Case Studies are great, especially those which include images, video and testimonials from your clients.
- Make sure that your content is unique – do NOT copy and paste from Wikipedia or a competitor’s website! If your site is an e-commerce website, consider altering your product descriptions if you think they will be the same as hundreds of other sites selling the same goods.