Since the Hummingbird update from Google, in August 2013, much has changed. The new search algorithm affected mainly over 90% of the searches and therefore the online businesses. It was the biggest change since 2001!
This update developed new thinking and a new approach for web designers who want to achieve better ranking results for themselves or their client’s websites. Ok, but what actually has changed in the past year and was expected for 2014? Read further to find out.
SEO For Web Designers 2014
What has changed related to the website structure this year?
The answer is that Google sees now the websites holistically, or if you’ll like, integrally. It means that Google don’t parse single words anymore. It advanced from a machine to a powerful system! Google learned. It interprets the websites as a whole, by paying attention to words and phrases that match the query and the associated topics page wide and extending over all sub-pages. Synonyms and search related terms play a crucial role. The text in its entirety should match the requirements of the searcher.
If someone has a good ranking for let's say "Web designer in Australia", it is quite possible that he also climbs upwards with the keyword combination "Australia web designer", even though he does not use this expression on his website. Google has become smarter. It now knows which combinations of terms are matching to another. Google anticipates the intent of the searcher and gives or suggests results that he things the searcher finds interesting or satisfying. It thinks a step further. Meaningless and keywords stuffed text blocks somewhere under the body of the page are OUT!
Good Search Engine Ranking Without Keyword
If you do it right, you can show up even under terms that are only indirectly related to the topic. Example: you could search in Google for "health grape" and you could get as a result on the top places a pharmacy website. That’s even though the pharmacy website is indirectly related to “grape”. How is this accomplished? The pharmacy website has an article about fruits and their benefits. But the word "grape" doesn’t appear anywhere!
This does not mean that you should not use the exact term combination in your optimization. It is still good to use exact terms – that cannot fail. However, the theme of a page is becoming more and more powerful signal for Google. The stubborn concentration on a particular term, without worrying about the other topics relevant terms, is old school. Search engine specialists and website owners need to keep up.
How Should I Optimize My Website For The Search Engines? Which SEO Rules Are Important?
The answer for a perfect on-page optimization in one sentence: make detailed, and above all, interesting pages for the appropriate topic area.
Imagine what the searcher could ask about a topic and answer the question as best as possible. You can use the Keyword Research tool from Google (keyword planner) too, for free. Special tip: if you set the ~ before the search in the Google search box, then search popular combinations are displayed in the results.
Once again, you have to ask the question, what the searcher could ask Google.
Decorate Your Site Content!
Matt Cutts (top man for search engine optimization by Google) said in a recent interview that the design is one of the most underestimated ranking factors. Therefore I would advise you to beautify your web design. Use elements such as infographics, videos, pictures, accompanying images, E-Books, cross-references, links and much more. Graphics, videos and diagrams encourage the visitor to read further. Do not underestimate this! The visitors of your page must be encouraged to read and "scroll down". Refrain yourself to link to poor quality and uninteresting website because Google knows that (if you use “Chrome"). There's no point to link to a page where even yourself would avoid clicking.
Don’t Lose The Target Group And The Primary Questions
- Who am I addressing to?
- What are their needs that should be addressed by the new website?
- What is to be achieved for this target group?
- Which emotion and reaction to be addressed / scored?
- With which means I get these emotions / reactions in this target group?
On What Should A Web Designer Focus?
- Each page on the website should have a reasonable title meta tag and description meta tag. The title meta tag plays an exceptionally important role here. Make sure that in the title tag at least one of the important keyword is contained for which the page is optimized
- The alt text should describe the image in a short sentence
- File and directory names should contain a maximum of two to three keywords that have to do with the topic
- Links to good sites can help to increase your reputation
- The website should be readable on mobile end devices (even if your target group doesn’t use smartphones – it is a standard)
- Important phrases in bold or otherwise highlighted (ex. use H1 and H2, different color, etc.)
- Clear user interface and navigation. Every important page should be accessible from every page
- Have unique texts and images. If you place your pointer over an image in Google image results, you can see that Google can find similar photos. If your photos are originally from another source, your page may be devalued
- Use different sequences of keywords. Example: “web designer Australia” and “Australia web designer”
- If it is a local product, the city name should be mentioned in its different variations. Also district names. In addition, the address should appear on each page
- Often it is useful to incorporate social media. Google Plus, Facebook Buttons, commenting, etc. helps to make your content known
- Important keywords should be widely referred to in the text above the fold
- The meta title tag should contain approximately 68 characters. I prefer 69. If an important keyword combination is too long, you can disregard the rule and make it a little bit longer
- You can mention a brand at the end or sometimes at the beginning of the title. Example: "Barney & Co - Internet agency from New York"
- Use short sentences to get the reader's attention and encourage him to read on
- Subdivide texts with clear headings
What Needs To Be Avoided in Web Design From A Search Engine Optimization Perspective
- Optimize each sub-pages on the same keywords
- Massively repeated keywords
- Too much advertising. Any additional advertising costs Google's trust
- Links to bad sites. Google doesn’t like this. You can tag those links with a rel = "nofollow" if you insist to keep them
- Pages with little content
- Texts or images from other sources
- All subpages uniformly. Google can suspect automated texts
- Frequent changes the page to find out what factors affect the ranking. Who performs minimal changes to often can be downgraded
- Different domains with the same content
- Omission of images alt tag text’s
- Using the relevant keyword in the title tag while omitting them on the page itself
- Use of keywords in alt text, file names, etc., that have nothing to do with the topic
- Optimization on bulk keywords where you practically have no chance to be listed
- Faulty or incomplet content
- Heavy content in the footer. Google knows that the text is there to feed the search engines, rather than to be read
- Links to other pages in the footer or in the sidebar
- Links to many subpages of an external domain
What Else Comes To SEO In The New Year 2014 (forecast)?
- Algorithm changes. With the frequent algorithm updates Google makes SEO specialists harder to focus on a strategy. Most probably we will face other updates in 2014
- Duration of a visit. The duration of a visit to a webpage will be decisive. If the visitors quickly return to the search page, Google will notice this as a signal. A signal that the page is not suitable for the search terms and therefore downgraded. Visitors must be offered an attractive design, interesting content and a logical structure in order to stay on the site
- External links. Links continue to play a major role, but Google is becoming better to filter out the unnatural links and punishing such websites. Important are links whose anchor text you cannot influence yourself. Guest blogging is the big loser in 2014. But the importance of profile links and signature link will continue to decrease. Again, web designers and website owners need to focus on the content of the page in order to achieve better results. Don’t get me wrong, link building is still important and will probably never completely fall out of the algorithm, I am just saying that it will be a top 3 ranking factor
- Other external factors. The improvement of the Author Ranks, Google Pluses, brand mentions, reviews in review portals are also important external ranking factors in the 2014 implemented algorithms
SEO specialists and web designers should encourage their clients to fill their pages with large, interesting and especially useful content. This article can help a copywriter to write an extensive text in compliance with the above points. Finally, it is important that the customer has a site that is both visually and contently appealing, it provides useful background information and encourages the visitors to make a direct purchase or a decision. The whole should then be strengthened by external signals (link building, references, reviews, shares, likes, etc.) in order to make the content more visible to the search engines.