With rumours circulating recently of Panda 2.4 being rolled out (it hasn’t yet, but could be any time now) it’s clear that many websites which looked as though they’d survived the first few rounds relatively intact have now started to feel the pinch as Google turns up the dial on quality and user experience.
If you haven’t yet made many changes, or any changes, to both your website and your marketing then now is certainly the time to do it. Who knows what 2.4 will bring, and what subsequent updates throughout the rest of the year will do? Have a look through this checklist and see what you need to be doing right now to safeguard your rank position. Remember, if your competitors don’t follow this list and you do you could easily leapfrog over them. Past ranking positions seem to count for nothing in the new look results tables.
1. Make sure that every single page of your website includes a unique title & meta description
2. Check that no web page contains text which includes a keyword density of more than 1.5%. Under 1% is preferable.
3. Check that all web pages include text written for real readers, offering genuine information and advice, written using good English, correct spelling and accurate grammar and punctuation.
4. Make sure that all off site marketing such as article marketing is of a high standard. Remove content from poor quality article directories and delete articles which have been written purely for keyword density.
5. Remove from circulation any paid links you have previously purchased.
6. Remove any excessive advertising on any of your web pages. This includes sponsored adverts such as Google Adsense. Some advertising is fine, but should not dominate or clutter the page.
7. Make sure that your main keywords or keyphrases have been included in <H1> tags, image filenames and, I guess, the image ‘alt text’, although this technique is now questionable!
8. Tune up and optimise your web pages, including CSS styling, image formatting, database retrieval etc to improve loading times. Faster loading times significantly improve the chance of a higher rank. Remember, 0.1 of a second might not sound much, but that could translate into the difference between being above or below the crease on page one of the search results.
9. Make sure that your entry pages are developed and styled in such a way that users are encouraged to stay, and to click links. Simplify and improve the user experience, offering engaging content and reasons to stay. Increase quality, improve navigation and engage users from the first second they arrive.
10. Make sure that all content on your site, and all off site marketing content is 100% original and unique. Remove any unoriginal, rewritten or duplicate content.
Although this isn’t necessary a complete list, it does cover what we feel are 10 of the most essential points which can really help make a positive difference to the placement of your website in the search results. It’s important to remember that Google is now using the behaviour of your visitors to gauge the likely relevance and quality of your site.
Focussing too much on optimising for the search engines can result in a website being cluttered, difficult to navigate, confusing or stuffed full of poorly written advertising. This is likely to result in a significant proportion of your visitors leaving very quickly, and this bounce rate will reflect badly on your site, lowering its perceive relevance and dropping it down the results. Focus primarily on delivering 100% original, well written content aimed primarily at real people. Keyword density is no longer an issue, except where it needs to be reduced.