If you aren’t already, then you should be preparing for many significant Google algorithm and search ranking changes that will take effect starting early 2018. Primarily, Google search rankings will focus more on user experience and authenticity. You will need to start focusing on optimizing for user experience to keep your rankings high in Google Search Results Pages (SERPs). This means that if your website is not easy to navigate, is not mobile-friendly or you are still using black hat SEO techniques like keyword stuffing, you might begin to see your rankings in search engines decline. Creating rich content, and faster and secure pages will become more critical. Google is getting smarter and evolving algorithms so they can deliver better search results to users faster and more efficiently.
Mobile traffic has now surpassed desktop traffic, and Google is quite aware of these changes in online search habits. You may have heard of the importance of mobile-friendly websites when Google announced Mobilegeddon. Well, now Google is now shifting their entire search index to mobile-first. Currently, they have two search indexes, one for desktop and one for mobile. Starting in 2018 these indexes will be combined. This means that eventually Google will only crawl the mobile version of your website and if that isn’t optimized your search rankings could fall drastically. It will be essential to ensure that your mobile site has all necessary markups for search engine optimization that your desktop site would have.
If your mobile site is just a dumbed down versions of your desktop site, you will need a website upgrade as soon as possible. Not having a mobile website that is equal to your desktop site could be damaging. Be prepared for the expected rollout in early 2018.
What can you do?
Upgrade your website by purchasing a mobile-responsive theme, if you have the time and experience. If you lack the experience and are short on time, you can purchase a Barketing Solutions pet business website template that will be customized and managed for you by a team of professionals.
Enough with the keyword stuffing and unauthentic link building. Google wants you to create content for your viewers and not for search engines. It will become harder to convince Google that you have great content when you don’t. Using any black hat SEO techniques that manipulate a website’s ranking in Google search results becomes increasingly dangerous. Your content should flow and be created with your user in mind. You shouldn’t be adding keywords that are unrelated or that don’t flow. Google is smart therefore you don’t need to over-optimize. Keep it natural language; Google likes natural. This also means that if your website hasn’t been updated recently, you will want to think about an upgrade to your website takes a hit in the search engines.
What can you do?
Conduct an audit of your website to ensure it is easy to navigate and modern in design. If your website is using WordPress, then start by using a tool like Yoast to ensure that your content is written in natural voice and easy to read.
What is Structured data? It is a way of formatting HTML with a specific vocabulary that tells search engines how to interpret the content on your website and how to display it in the search engine results pages (SERPs). Properly equipping your website with structured data (Schema.org) can help improve search rankings for associated keywords. If you are a WordPress user, you can add structured data to your website simply by finding some reliable and user-friendly plugins. Google has not confirmed that structured data is a ranking signal, but it does help you enhance your search listing and stand-out to the competition.
What can you do?
There are plugins that can help! Download a WordPress plugin like WP SEO Structured Data Schema to implement structured data on your website.
Google is becoming super serious about speed. Not only is speed a ranking signal but it is a significant user experience (UX) factor. How fast should your web pages load? Google expects pages to load in under three seconds, so it is essential to keep your webpages lean and fast. Test the speed of your website by going to tools.pingdom.com. Third-party applications, chatboxes, videos and large images are a few factors that can slow down your site. For WordPress users, we recommend the W3 Total Cache plugin to help speed up some back-end factors. There are more technical ways to speed up your site, but we would suggest contacting your webmaster for advanced optimization.
What can you do?
Test the performance of your website on Pingdom or Google PageSpeed Insights. Both of these tools will give you suggestions on how you can improve the speed and performance of your website.
Is your pet business website secure? You may have delayed the move from HTTP to HTTPS. Initially, HTTPS was only necessary if you were collecting data on your website, but Google is now emphasizing this change. If HTTPS is becoming a ranking factor, then it is time to make the switch! Chrome has begun marking HTTP as ‘non-secure,’ and this could scare off many website visitors. When you make the change, you will just want to make sure that all HTTP pages will be redirected to HTTPS. Don’t wait too long to make the switch, the longer you wait, the more negative the impact could be.
What can you do?
Download a free SSL certificate for your website from Let’s Encrypt. Not sure how to install this? Contact your web developer and make sure they setup redirects from the HTTP version to HTTPS version of your website. You will also want to re-submit your sitemap to make sure Google is aware you amde the switch using Google Search Console.
We will be keeping an eye out for emerging news related to Google’s algorithm changes. These are only a few of the changes that have been released that will affect your pet businesses search engine optimization (SEO), but they are becoming more important. Google does keep their algorithm private so the best way to keep your website SEO friendly is to consistently publish engaging and authentic content. But, this alone is not enough. You will need to create a digital marketing strategy that drives traffic to your website. Search engine optimization needs to be maintained and nurtured on a regular basis and social media can play a large part.
Erika Godwin is the President of Barketing Solutions and the Co-Founder and CMO of ProPet Software, an industry-leading kennel management software. Erika has over 8 years of experience with WordPress and graduated from Elmira College in 2009 with a BS, Business Administration- Marketing and Management.