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How to prepare your website for Google algorithm updates

James A. Martin | March 24, 2016
Search engine optimization experts share advice on how marketers and SEO pros can keep up with Google's ever-changing algorithm and ensure that their websites rank prominently on the world's leading search engine.

Or a person might ask, "What is the maximum speed of the 'Superman: Escape from Krypton' ride at Magic Mountain?" After receiving an answer in a "Quick Answer box" in search results (as opposed to a link to a website with the answer), the person might follow up with the question, "What's the height restriction?" And Google will know they're asking about that specific Superman ride.

When asked how SEO pros can optimize Web pages for voice search, Behzadi said that although queries types are changing, "it's [Google's] job to match them to Web content." He recommended focusing on quality content and ensuring sites are mobile friendly. (For more related advice, read, "How voice search and Google 'direct answers' are changing SEO.")

2. Answer customer questions with clear, concise and unique content

During a different SMX session, Adria Kyne, Vistaprint's organic SEO manager for North America, Australia and New Zealand, said marketers should "find out what your customers are asking your company," then provide clear and concise answers on their sites. Google often emphasizes Quick Answer boxes at the top of search results, especially in mobile searches, so users don't have to click beyond the search results pages for answers to their questions. (Google's "Knowledge Graph" is the source of many Quick Answer boxes that appear in search results.)

google search quick answers box
A Google 'Quick Answer box'

Content that is unique, or not in the public domain, and that effectively answers questions could be featured in Quick Answer boxes for specific queries. Kyne said marketers should use the HTML list format to improve their content's chances of being featured in Quick Answer boxes.

3. Tried-and-true basics will survive future algorithm updates

Google uses hundreds of ranking signals to find the Web content that best matches users' queries. Some of the most important signals have largely stayed the same during the past few years and aren't expected to change much in the future. Here are five key ranking factors:

  • Domain and page authority are indications of the quality and quantity of links that point to a domain or particular website page.
  • Quality links not only help with search engine rankings, but they can also bring "quality traffic to your site," according to Casey Meraz, founder of Ethical SEO Consulting, who spoke during an SMX West session on local SEO.
  • Link source diversity is important, because websites with a variety of external sites that link to them tend to rank higher in search results, according to a February 2016 study from Backlinko. The number of unique referring domains was the single strongest correlation in the Backlinko study.
  • Keywords still matter, and they should be placed prominently and used frequently (within reason) on website pages, according to Shari Thurow, founder and SEO director of Omni Marketing Interactive, who spoke at SMX West.
  • Google also focuses on semantic search, in which keywords, along with user intent and contextual meaning, can influence the results for particular queries, according to James Straatman, an online marketing director for Big Leap.


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