2023 was a busy year for updates to Google's search algorithm, especially the latter half. Luckily smaller websites belonging to local businesses weren't affected as much as their larger counterparts. Nevertheless, it's almost impossible to keep up with all these updates if you're not working with a team.
The landscape of SEO has dramatically transformed over the past decade, this year being especially hectic in terms of Google search algorithm updates.
What is Google Search Generative Experience?
Google's SGE (search generative experience) is a search engine powered by AI, which could mean trouble for businesses not investing in SEO or that don't have quality content on their website. By utilizing AI, Google will create a search landscape tailored to each user, meaning that results will become more relevant and useful (theoretically). It isn't just limited to questions or research- this is being implemented for all types of search queries and all kinds of content formats are expected to show up, like lists, locations, shopping listings, and more.
One example is if you search for restaurants around you, Google will utilize its AI to give brief descriptions of those restaurants based on information gathered from their Google Business Profiles or websites.
Overall, the Google Search Generative Experience represents a significant advancement in the field of search, offering users a more intelligent, engaging, and personalized way to explore vast information.
The cons of this? No one knows exactly, but many predictions are saying that we could see a significant rise in no-click searches where users will find the solution to their query without clicking on any results. And this means a drop in organic search traffic. So if you're a business that relies solely on SEO website traffic, you may want to diversify where your traffic comes from- social media, email marketing, ads, etc. And if you're not sure how to approach this, it may be worth your time to build a digital marketing strategy for 2024!
In the bustling digital marketplace of today, small business owners should leverage SEO to enhance their online visibility. The pathway to a robust online presence pivots on three big ranking factors:
Google's 200 Ranking Factors Are a Myth
If you've read about the SEO industry, you've probably seen plenty of times that Google's search algorithm has over 200 ranking factors. But that's simply not true. And the true number is not less- it's more. We know search engines are complex entities, and Google has evolved so much in the past decade alone so there are bound to be almost thousands of ranking factors.
- source: Search Engine Journal
The 3 Top Google Ranking Factors Businesses Should Focus On
1. High-Quality Content
Heading into 2024, Google is looking for helpful content first. Yes, content is king but only if it proves valuable to users.
The content on your website should always be written with PEOPLE in mind, not just search engines. Sure, it's easy to get caught up in making sure your target keywords are all over the page so that you can rank on Google, but this probably won't get you the best results. That's why putting a big focus on on-page SEO can give you an edge in the long run.
Crafting engaging and informative content is the cornerstone of SEO.
Content that resonates with your audience and adheres to Google's E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) guidelines not only ranks higher but also builds trust with your audience. And what happens when you build trust among your audience? Google will trust you even more!
Now you may be asking what goes into creating content that resonates with your target audience. Whether it's a blog article, a service page, or a product page, here are some things to consider when building out your website:
Keyword Research: Identify relevant keywords that your target audience is searching for and write your content so that it's optimized for these keywords.
Content Optimization: When I say this, I'm referring to optimizing any sort of media or code that you choose to insert on a page. Whether it's a picture (or several), a video, or graphics, make sure these files are as small as possible! The bigger the size of these files, the slower they'll make your web page.
Keep Content Fresh: Keep your content fresh and updated to reflect the latest information and trends. On top of that, you'll be viewed as a trusted source with accurate information to provide. Search engines LOVE fresh content, remember that!
Write with People in Mind, not Search Engines: It's easy to get caught up in making sure you have your keywords throughout your content and images to fill up space on your website. But at the end of the day, and what search engines will be looking for going forward, content that is actually helpful in answering a searcher's query or giving them the "best" result is what will get a website to rank better.
2. User Experience
Page experience and SEO go hand-in-hand. You may have great content on your website, and you may be a trusted source in your industry, but if you're not giving users a satisfactory experience on your website, then you might be missing out on more opportunities.
It's easy to overlook this if you're not an experienced SEO professional. Many business owners don't see this as an issue, but if your website's experience is subpar you may be losing visitors with slow load times, lack of mobile optimization, or content that is all over the place.
A user-friendly website is pivotal for SEO. For starters, ensure your site is mobile-friendly! After that, you can look at technical SEO fixes that need to be addressed on your site. Here are some of the main things to be mindful of with website design:
Mobile Optimization: As I mentioned above, this is a must! Most people have a mobile device that they can access your website through. Ensure your website is responsive and offers a seamless experience across devices, especially mobile!
Loading Speed: Optimize your site's loading speed by compressing images and minimizing code. Slow-loading websites can deter potential customers.
Core Web Vitals: The key indicators of page experience, CWVs can make a huge difference in website performance. You have to remember that not every user is going to have the best wifi or connection, so paying attention to these is crucial for overall success.
Limit Plugins: The excessive use of plugins can actually 'weigh down' your website, thus slowing it down. Only use the necessary plugins or the lightest versions offered.
Easy Navigation: This one's underrated, but the easier it is for someone to navigate a website, the more likely they are to stay engaged with it, increasing your credibility to search engines (at least in my opinion).
Backlinks aren't as big as they used to be, but they're still pretty important if you want to rank for highly competitive keywords in more than just your local area.
Building a robust link profile through high-quality backlinks from reputable sources showcases your site's credibility and authority to search engines.
Guest Posting: Write guest posts for reputable sites in your industry to earn quality backlinks.
Local Directories: Get listed in local directories to build local backlinks and improve your local SEO.
Link Exchanges: There will be people in the same position as you- searching for backlinks for their own website. If you happen to find one of these people, a link exchange is your best option. Both websites benefit and you gain a connection that may become valuable later on.
Outreach: Good old-fashioned outreach! You can manually reach out to websites asking for them to link to your site, but this method is definitely the most time-consuming because you have to start out searching for those websites first. On top of that, the success rate for this method is super low.
One thing we should all watch out for is the potential for backlinks to become even less important than they are right now since Google wants to put a focus on useful content and AI-generated search results. At the end of the day, what it sees as the most helpful content will come out on top.
SEO can be a complicated subject, but mastering these pillars can significantly uplift your online presence. The digital landscape may seem daunting, but with the right SEO strategies, small business owners can thrive online.
How Can Marketing Empire Group Help Improve My Website's Rankings?
Marketing Empire Group specializes in optimizing websites for search engines AND people. Our team produces high-quality content, enhances page experience, and builds a strategic network of links to improve your website's overall online visibility.
Marketing Empire Group stands as your trusted partner in navigating this intricate landscape, ensuring your website rises above the rest. Contact us today to elevate your SEO strategy and achieve the rankings your website deserves.