Google search algorithm has undergone several major changes in year 2011 and some major changes are lined up to be implemented in year 2012. So, how would our websites and blogs survive in this ever changing world of search engine algorithm?

The answer to this question is that we need to change our thinking and strategies as fast as Google is changing. The main idea is that Google is now giving more emphasis to user satisfaction and anything that can result in bad user experience can harm your website’s ranking in search engine.

What Doesn’t Work Now?

So, what are the main things that can annoy a visitor to a website? Here are some of them:-

  • A Page/Post optimized for several keywords but the content on page does not satisfy the intent of visitor even moderately.
We all know that content is king and it is very important to have original and interesting content on our website. However, just writing original and engaging content is not enough. You must select the title of post carefully and then the content of post should do justice to that title. Don’t try to target a post for several keywords at a time. Its very important that you select one or few keywords and then explain that topic thoroughly.
A poorly written content or a shallow article will result in higher bounce rate and this can affect negatively. Google can not only monitor the bounce rates but they also employ a team of people called “Google quality raters” who check high ranking pages in their search results for a given query for their relevance and content depth and user satisfaction. If few pages of your website get marked as “slightly relevant” or “off topic”. rather than “useful” or “relevant” then it adds to your chances of getting a site wide penalty on your blog/website
  • Using too many ads especially above the fold. Poor content to ads ratio & Making it difficult for visitors to differentiate between content and ads.

Matt Cutts recently said that Google is testing algorithms that determine “what are the things that really matter, how much content is above the fold.” He further warned:

“If you have ads obscuring your content, you might want to think about it,” asking publishers to consider, “Do they see content or something else that’s distracting or annoying?”

So, this warning explains it all. Gone are the days when it was called smartness to place ads above fold and in a manner (matching color scheme of template) that it appear as part of content. Going ahead it would be necessary to make the ads appear as ADS.

  • Poor navigational structure making it difficult to navigate through your website.
As user satisfaction is very important now, so its necessary and more important now that your website have a decent design and has a clear navigational structure so that its easy to find what ever a user wants to find on your website.
  • Duplicate content, poorly written articles that make no sense or those that have too many grammatical mistakes.
People who use some software/script to generate content for their website or those who hire poor quality writers may not be able to do well anymore. As such articles make no sense and are usually useless to visitors and thus result in high bounce rate.
If you have a little known website that aggregates news/articles on a given topic from third party websites, then it will have little chance to succeed. Though its not impossible as long as other factors mentioned here work in your favour.
  • Several out of date posts that are not relevant any more. And posts that link to download links that don’t work any-more.

Such pages on your websie can add to annoyance of visitors and thus can contribute to dis-satisfaction level of your website. So, its important to remove dead links and delete ir-relevant posts.

What Works for Increasing Ranking of your Website now?
What works now for increasing ranking of a website is still the same (well almost). At least the main principle is still the same of getting good quality backlinks to your website. Article marketing, social bookmarking, guest blog posts, forum and blog comments etc they all work even now. Even though their weightage seems to be reduced. But what are the new and effective stratagies?

    • Social Media Presence: If you have an online business, its now imperative to have a page for your business on Facebook and Google Plus. Don’t stop just at that, you then need to work to make your page popular and get more people like your page or follow it. Same applied to twitter and linkedin pages. This is very important in current scenario where google is giving extra emphasis to social signals.

 

  • User Engagement: This is another factor that seems to be working very well. If your website is getting good amount of visitors and they are engaging in conversations then this arguers very well for success of your website.
  • Join Google+ and start promoting your website there…  I have seen some really encouraging results of promoting a website on Google +.

 

Finally, it appears that no single factor can result in penalization of your website. Its a combined score of your website that keeps you safe or gets you penalized. I have seen websites with good user engagement doing well even if they have duplicate content or aggregated content. I think the biggest factors affecting ranking of websites on Google are:
  1. How well “Google Quality Raters” rate your articles.
  2. User Engagement
  3. Bounce Rate
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