Google’s 2012 Algorithm Changes

Google has made several changes to its ranking formula this year that have affected some of my clients.  One was in January and another in April.  Some clients went up and some went down.   According to various experts and my own research, Google is simply trying to weed out sites that appear to be spamming the search engines. They are just being more vigorous now in their “weed-eating.”

However, the advice I have given clients since I started having clients back in 1998 remains the same:

  • Every page should have at least 200 words.
  • Eliminate unnecessary words in product or service descriptions.
  • Use appropriate keywords on each page, but don’t use the same keyword more than 2 or 3 times.  Use synonymous phrases sparingly.
  • Concentrate the important words/keywords toward the beginning of each page’s text.
  • Meta titles are critical and keywords should be used there but not unnecessarily repeated.
  • Your company name need not be in the meta title.
  • The most important words in a meta title should be in the first 60 characters.  Keep the entire meta title to less than 70 characters
  • Meta descriptions are important.   Use a complete sentence of 30 words  or so, and include your company name.
  • Avoid adjectives in the meta description unless they distinguish your product from others, i.e.  “square-cut, diamond ring” is fine, while “uniquely beautiful, square-cut diamond ring” is a waste of characters – in a meta description.
  • Meta keywords have been fairly useless for at least ten years.  Include a few, but don’t waste time on a comprehensive listing.
  • Any meta text or page content you write should sound natural, not forced.
  • Get your site listed on high quality sites
  • The more pages you have for Google to index, given that each page is different and relevant, the better.

The sites that follow those rules have moved only moderately since January when Google started tweaking its algorithm.  (Moderate to me means maybe 5 or 6 listings either up or down).   The sites that have dropped more than that are those where the site manager has inadvertently gone overboard in trying to get a good ranking.  And the most common “excess” is in the use of keywords.

If your site has fallen, don’t lose hope!
Lose keywords.
Shorten the content on your page to what’s truly relevant.
Tighten up your meta titles and meta descriptions.
“Talk” to Google like you would a real person.

Final note: there are other things you can do to make each page more meaningful to a search engine, but they are many and minor, on an individual basis, though taken as a whole, they do contribute in a significant way to improve your ranking.  But those are the things you pay me to do.   Gotta make a living here.

..Another final note: The only thing I tell people now that I didn’t tell them when I started doing this professionally in 1998 is to get active in social media.

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