This article was originally published in B2B Marketing.
For Google, delivering the best search results is a never-ending development process. As technology changes and users interact with devices in different ways, what constitutes the best possible results changes, too. Add to that the endless battle with spammers and content farms, and you have a company that is never able to rest on its laurels.
Although some of the biggest changes to Google’s search results were rolled out several years ago, they are still fundamental for any site engaged in SEO to understand.
Panda, released in 2011, was designed to crack down on sites providing low-quality content. With this update, keywords were dethroned by high-quality content. Google then doubled down on its promise of quality with its Penguin update the following year.
Penguin focused on removing sites that relied on spammy backlinks to boost their search engine rankings. With these two updates, Google killed two major black hat SEO tricks that had been used to artificially elevate positions within search results.
While both of these updates have been around for a couple years, their effects are still being felt in the world of SEO and online marketing. Plus, Google continues to tweak both of these updates and its core algorithm to strengthen the importance of high-quality content and a good user experience when it comes to site ranking. Just this year, Google released two more updates that spoke to this.
The first, known as Mobilegeddon, increased the importance of having a mobile-friendly site in terms of how a site ranks. Google recognizes that mobile usability is now crucial to a good user experience.
Google’s second update of 2015 also dealt with the importance of quality content, but unlike Panda and Penguin — which were spam-related filters — this one revised Google’s core algorithm by prioritizing shareable high-quality content over keywords and link profiles.
These updates affect marketers of every stripe and color, not just those in consumer-facing businesses. Traditionally, many businesses in the B2B space relied on connections to grow and were thus slow to embrace online marketing and SEO.
However, because nearly everyone does online research before making a purchase these days (even in the B2B space), B2B marketers can’t afford to underestimate the significance of Google’s search engine any longer. They would be wise to keep these updates in mind whenreviewing their current marketing strategies.
Here are four ways to capitalize on Google’s updates in B2B marketing strategies:
1. Create high-quality content. With Panda, Penguin, and this year’s quality update, Google has proclaimed that high-quality content is vital to a healthy online presence. At the very least, marketers should have blogs and update them once a week. But these efforts can be expanded into all sorts of areas that fall under the category of quality content, such as downloadable e-books, webinars, videos, presentations, and infographics. The goal is for your content to inform and delight users, inspire them to share it, and convince them of your company’s expertise.
2. Design with mobile in mind. Even before Google launched Mobilegeddon, it was clear which way the wind was blowing when it came to web design. The days of desktop-as-king are dead; a website now needs to be fully functional and easy to use from every device. The KISSmetrics blog, for instance, is an excellent example of a mobile-optimized site. B2B businesses especially need to make sure that the forms and downloadable content vital for lead capturing render correctly on both desktop and mobile.
If you’re not sure how your site is rendering, Google provides an excellent tool to measure the mobile-friendliness of a specific URL. With around 70 percent of organic searches seeing different results on mobile and desktop, it may make sense to track mobile keywords separately and set out to write mobile-specific content around them.
3. Focus on a great user experience. SEO doesn’t live in a box anymore. It’s not just your content that determines your ranking; it’s also how users respond to that content. Even if you somehow manage to rank well with keywords, it won’t do your business any good if searchers immediately bounce from the page. Google will pick up on those signals and downgrade your site. Instead, provide useful information that will keep users coming back and nudge them down the sales funnel toward a conversion.
Remember that Google’s business model ultimately depends on providing users with a great experience, so sites that provide positive experiences and relevant content for searchers are going to be favored in its search rankings.
4. Meet the new SEO. Using tricks and manipulation to achieve a higher Google ranking is no longer an option. Keyword stuffing and spammy link building are more likely to ruin your ranking than help it. The fact is that SEO cannot be separated from site building and content creation. If you’re still preoccupied with keyword ranking as a metric of success, rather than building and engaging with a regular audience, your strategy needs a serious upgrade. Creating an excellent user experience and marketing around content are far more important.
Google’s algorithm will continue to change as technology and user habits evolve, but further updates will doubtless preserve this emphasis on user experience. Google’s mission is simple and straightforward: It wants “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” for searchers seeking high-quality content and an excellent user experience. If B2B marketers take these two critical aspects of website development to heart, they’ll stay one step ahead of the game.