For the average small-business owner, it’s almost impossible to keep up with every change Google makes to its search algorithms.
Google changes its algorithms almost daily — probably 250 to 300 times a year — to make sure it’s producing the most relevant searches, says John Lincoln, CEO of Ignite Visibility, a San Diego-based internet marketing firm.
Instead of getting caught up with every change, it’s important to stay abreast of major updates, he says. It’s also key to focus on producing high-quality, relevant content on your website that people want to read, share and link to.
“If you’re creating great content and following the rules and keeping your website up-to-date, then you’re going to have SEO [search engine optimization] success,” says Lincoln, author of “Digital Influencer” (John Lincoln Marketing; $12.99).
Using “black hat” SEO tactics such as keyword stuffing — a practice in which a webpage repeats the same keywords over and over in an attempt to manipulate page rankings — can get you blacklisted from Google, he says.
Certainly keywords are important to SEO and should be reflected in your web address, code and captions and throughout the page, but not overused.
“Google is really smart about that stuff,” Lincoln says.
Still, according to a recent survey by Memphis-based HigherVisibility, 38 percent of small-business marketers thought keyword stuffing was a good way to raise their rank in searches.
“Many small businesses have false information driving their strategy in the wrong direction,” says Adam Heitzman, managing partner at HigherVisibility, a digital marketing agency specializing in SEO.
To get a handle on best practices, it pays to stay up-to-date with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, says Lincoln. (See nwsdy.li/goog)
But it’s most important to focus on good-quality content and add it consistently, Heitzman says.
“The more frequent, the better, if you can update content,” he says.
Jonathan Evans, chief technology officer at Cold Spring Harbor-based Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty, says he tries to add new content, new pages and new sections to the firm’s site on a weekly basis.
Just recently, the firm added a new section devoted to home styles, he says.
The firm launched a revamped website in June 2016 and since then has seen organic traffic to danielgale.com almost quadruple.
“When we built our site, our goal was to drive traffic there and keep them engaged and get them to come back,” Evans says.
Google has always looked at the number of people who click on a particular search result as a good gauge of relevancy and an indicator for how a webpage should rank, says Andrew Catalano, chief digital officer at Austin & Williams, a marketing agency in Hauppauge.
But there is a strong indication that the search site is now taking that a step further by considering how a user actually engages with the website (for example, how many pages they visit and how long they stay on the site), he says.
Google is also paying attention to how mobile-friendly a site is, as well as what kind of sites are linking to your own, says Catalano.
“In the early days, inbound links were measured primarily by the quantity rather than quality,” he says. But now Google likes to see relevant and authoritative inbound links, and purchasing links in an attempt to manipulate search results is a tactic that can get you blacklisted, says Catalano.
Going forward, links will still be important, but they will be less relevant to your ranking than a new artificial intelligence component of Google’s algorithm called RankBrain, says Lincoln. RankBrain uses AI to analyze how and why people search, and will apply that information to future search results.
Factors affecting search rankings are complex, and Farmingdale-based Molloy Bros. Moving & Storage says it paid to hire a professional.
It used Austin & Williams to redo its website and handle its SEO. Part of its strategy was beefing up its local content, including building out pages with informative content for each city it serves, says Stephen Seligson, Molloy’s director of residential sales and marketing.
“You really need to make an investment in SEO, otherwise you won’t be found,” he says.
Percentage of small business marketers who say they don’t have a budget for search engine optimization, a key to pulling in business through the internet.