Google and its algorithms can be a tricky thing to navigate. It can be ever changing, and just when you thought you were on the right track, something can happen overnight that sees you page quality go down.
It’s one thing to identify that your page quality is going down, but how can you actually see the reasons why this is occurring? There are various checklists out there that tell you what you need to look out for, from user experience to a lack of content. Most of these factors are normally relevant and elements that you should keep in mind. However, we understand that people are busy and not everyone has time to do such an in-depth analysis.
So, as digital marketers or business owners, how can we ensure that our SEO tactics aren’t going to waste? How can we keep our page quality above par? It’s about concentrating on the most important factors and a process of elimination.
The top elements to look out for in order to keep your page quality on Google’s search engines
This might seem like a simple one, but the amount of times this can be easily overlooked can be quite surprising. There are 2 common reasons for this. When writing regular and consistent content, with a focus on particular keywords or topics, it can be easy for content to become repeated. Whether or not this is on purpose, repetitive content is something that can see your page quality diminish.
Particularly for large websites with multiple products or services that may be similar, it cab be difficult to create unique features for every page, when in reality all offerings are very much similar.
To avoid this, run your copy through a site like Copyscape. This will pick up any duplicated content. If you do this for every webpage or blog before you upload it, this will prevent you from having a whole lot of duplicated content down the track. It might take a little bit more time, but in the long run will save you from ruining your page quality and having to rectifying the problem in the future.
Make your content valuable
There is difference between unique content and valuable content. Unique content simply means that what you are writing hasn’t been published anywhere else. Valuable content means that it actually answers what a searcher is looking for. It needs to directly relate to the phrases in their key search.
Key ways to ensure your content is valuable is making sure you are using the correct keywords. You may be using keywords, but make sure they’re the right ones. Is it what your target audience really is typing into Google’s search engine? See what related searches come up to your chosen keywords and incorporate these into your content as well.
For example, if someone types in “floor cleaning equipment” and your page pops up, they click on it and they stay on it for a reasonable amount of time, this is the first phase of having a relevant page. The searcher then needs to exit your page, and perhaps make a different search or does a completely different task, such as look up another website. This signals to Google that you page must have answered what the searcher was looking for.
However, if that searcher went to your page, exited out and then clicked on another page that came up in their original search, this demonstrates that your page didn’t answer their query in full. If this scenario continues to happen, then this can impact your page quality.
Use online tools such as Google Keyword Planner or SEO Book’s keyword generator tools. These tools can help you validate your keyword choices or direct you to phrases that are more suitable.
Having keyword focused meta descriptions also tells Google whether or not your page meets a searcher’s query. It provides a mini description that Google’s algorithms crawl to conduct a more in-depth evaluation of your page.
The number of external links to the page
The number of external links to your page tells Google that you page is informative and one that people want to reference. A lot of concentration can go into on-page links, keyword usage and writing the content itself. It can be seen that a key reason for this is because these are the core elements that the individual can have direct control over. However, when it comes to external sources and their links to your page, this can be a little trickier.
Firstly, they can’t be any old external links. They need to come from pages of authority. Social media sites are external links that can be easily achieved. However, where it gets more difficult is contacting external blogs and online publications of authority and convincing them to link to your page or blog. This is where you need to be a bit more strategic in your approach, and not just think about what’s in it for you, but also what value you can add to the external source.
Again, this is one that most people are familiar with when it comes to page quality. However, sometimes it can be difficult to know what is causing the slow page speed, and therefore nothing gets done about it. Also, just because one page loads quickly, doesn’t mean your other pages will.
This is where a monthly audit comes in handy. Using a Google tool such as PageSpeed Insights will help you identify what is slowing down your page loading time. Common reasons for this can be large image files, big video files or pop-ups.
At the end of the day, don’t compromise your page speed with pretty pictures of irrelevant pop-up banners. You might think they add to user engagement or a way to capture data, but if they exit your website because the page takes too long to load, they will never see your page in the first place.
Also, test your page speed on various connections. Not everyone will have high speed Internet. Ensure your page speed accommodates for the slowest to the fastest networks.
Different devices matter
You might have a great user experience designed website for desktop, but what about other devices? Mobiles are one of the most common devices that people use to browse websites. Ensure your site is responsive, and doesn’t cut off images or text on mobile. Also, don’t just test this on one type of mobile. You need to be able to identify whether your page is mobile friendly on all different types of mobile models, or at least, the most popular types of mobile devices.
Don’t forget about tablets and different types of laptops. These are also common devices where people do online searches.
How easy or difficult your site is to navigate means a lot to Google. Poor user experience designed websites are one of the key reasons why bounce rates increase. Don’t spend money, time and effort on creating a website without taking user experience into account.
Google takes into account grammatically incorrect content and this includes spelling. Tests have been done that demonstrate that Google actually analyses pages for this. Tests include simple before and after tests. A grammatically correct page ranks well, then updates are done that make it incorrect, and Google notices and drops the page quality.
Forgetting about “non-text” elements
Videos are great for user experience and images can really add to the message your content is trying to convey. However, this isn’t written text content, and this is what Google prioritises.
Go back over your page and ensure that all non-text elements have alt tags. Also, for videos, having transcripts is a great way to add text. Also, if your site was designed by an external provider, check to see whether banners or subheadings are actually done in text and not image based. You may think that these elements are counted towards your word count, but in actual fact they may be just images.
There are more elements that Google looks for in terms of page quality, but these are key factors that aren’t difficult to pin point and allow you to have a good foundational knowledge of what contributes to page quality.
Remember to always check if your page has valuable, as well as relevant information. This means that your content needs to be advice driven and well presented, but also the keywords and meta descriptions you are using to direct people to your page meets their search query.
Also, take a look at the design and user experience of your site. Check for its quality on different devices, as well as page speed. These two elements can prevent people from entering your website or cause them to quickly opt out.
Finally, remember that grammar is also taken into account. It’s not just about word volume, but also quality. This also goes for non-text elements. Check that content isn’t image based, and if it is, ensure alt tags, descriptions or transcripts are implemented to override its impact on page quality.