We wanted to know “What’s Google Up To?” – well actually we ALWAYS want to know that but even more so in the midst of this COVID crisis..
Google continually evaluates and updates their search algorithms. In fact they claim to update their algorithm several thousand times a year and they do an excellent job of maintaining the secrecy of their search tools. Those two facts make it difficult to keep up with SEO for your website.
The two key components of Google when it comes to making sure your website gets seen by people searching the internet are Google Search Console and Google My Business. These are two very different platforms and used for different reasons but in the end, they are both critical for effective SEO.
What’s Google Up To? – Google Search Console
GSC is the tool for submitting your website to the Google Search Engine index. It’s the administrative area of Google Search.
When someone types something into the Google search bar, Google doesn’t really search the internet – it performs a search within its’ own index of websites. If your website hasn’t been indexed by Google, your website will not appear in the search results Google returns.
Getting your website indexed by Google is the easy part of the equation. WHERE your site is positioned within the search results is the hard part.
For example let’s say you have a web page about puppies. If you structure your page to rank for the keyword phrase “puppies” you will encounter a mountain of competition and your chance of ranking towards the top of Google Search Results (SERP) is slim to none. But if you structure your page to be more specific and use long-tail keyword phrases like “french bulldog puppies for sale in Des Moines” you are more likely to have better SERP results.
What is Organic SEO and how does it relate to SERP. What’s Google Up To?
Organic SEO is also known as On-Page SEO. It is made up of various techniques applied to a website page to enable search engines to discover the page, determine what the page is about, and judge the importance of the page among its’ competitors.
So looking at the question of “What’s Google Up To?” we concern ourselves with how Google manipulates the information contained on a web page within the index. The algorithms are Google’s proprietary property and guarded fiercely so it’s impossible to know exactly how they work.
Some of the major updates Google has rolled out have impacted SERP drastically and some have had little or no impact whatsoever. Here are some of the areas Google has worked on “improving” over the years.
- Duplicate content
- Plagiarized content
- Keyword stuffing
- Irrelevant links
- Low quality content
- No mobile version
- Poor user experience (UX)
- E-A-T (expertise, authority, trust) signals
- Lack of content focus
One of the latest areas of focus for Google is called Cumulative Layout Shift or CLS for short. CLS is a user experience metric that measures how unstable content is for your visitors. Layout shifts occur when page content moves after being presented to the user. These unexpected shifts can lead to a frustrating visual and user experience, such as misplaced clicks or rendered content being scrolled out of view.
Google’s updates are not necessarily bad for the web (they’re intended to make the internet a better place) but if your website isn’t kept up to date they could have a negative affect for your SERP.
What should you do to remain in big G’s good graces?
As a comedian once said, “times may change but standards must remain.” That applies to your website too. Make sure you have the Organic SEO basics nailed down 100%. Title, description, headers, and high quality, relevant content. These form the foundation of your SEO efforts and will never go out of style.
What’s Google Up To? – Google My Business
Google My Business (GMB) is a great tool for Local SEO – plus, it’s FREE. GMB is becoming increasingly important in local search, especially if you have a brick and mortar location. GMB ties in nicely with Google maps too. Unlike Google Search Console (GSC) where much of the work is performed on your own website, GMB requires you to enter information on their website.
The first step is to head over to GMB (https://www.google.com/business/) and get your business set up. This will require verification via post card (yes post card). That usually takes a week to 10 days although things are running a little slower than normal these days due to COVID.
Once your business is verified make sure you go through GMB and fill in all the information possible. The keys here are consistency, accuracy, and complete information. If there is a space for information, do your best to fill it.
GMB is also the place where people can leave reviews for your business. Don’t be shy about asking your customers for a review. Do be careful not to offer any type of reward for a review though. Google won’t like that and you will likely suffer the consequences.
GMB is working their way towards having everything a potential customer of yours would need without leaving GMB to visit your website. Remember Google’s main interest is…Google – not you.
Next Time we’ll do a deep dive into GMB and look at some of the intricacies of maximizing the effectiveness of that free tool.
Stay tuned for more!