The Internet is ever moving forward. So there isn’t such a thing as not learning something new. This was why I attended the recent Google Business Group Malaysia event titled; How Search Works.
The event was held at a space owned by iTrain and graciously conducted by Wilfred Halim from Google Singapore, whom I’d like to add was very open in parting knowledge.
To start it off, here’s some interesting notes I took down:
- Google makes about 500+ changes a year to its search algorithm.
- Google prioritizes the indexing of a website by the update activity and authority. E.g.: Anonymous news site with unknown authors compared to CNN, who do you think will rank higher?
- Google ranks search results using more than 200 factors.
So dear readers, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is not that easy to do, okay.
Tips and tricks to make a search friendly website
Tip #1: Is your content crawlable
One of the key ingredients to discover whether your website content is crawlable, is to use Google Webmaster Tools. If you already have an account, login and select the website you wish to examine. Then, go to Crawl > Fetch as Google to see whether the results is search friendly.
P.S.: “This content requires Adobe Flash Player…” is not the only thing you should have crawled for your website.
Tip #2: Background check
The Internet is 8249 days old and counting. There may have been domain names registered a long time ago, which you didn’t realize were abused and penalized by Google before but now own it.
One of the things you can do is use the “Wayback machine” to research how the previous owner used the domain name and whether its content may have been penalized for abuse.
If such a scenario occurs, what you would have to do is file a reconsideration to Google. And by the way, you may want to write in either Bahasa Malaysia or even Chinese, it may help speed up your reconsideration process.
Tip #3: What do your visitors want?
It’s all about the content. And making it easy enough for them and Googlebot to understand what is it you want to say. Sure, you may want it to sound “flowery” because you want to be seen more professional. However, not everyone is a wordsmith and if the visitor can’t understand you, they’ll probably just leave.
Think about the phrases and words your visitors may use to query your website. Have those phrases and words humanly written into your content. And 1 of added tricks was to think of alternative keywords your visitors may use as well.
Tip #4: Strategy in site design
During this slide, Wilfred emphasized user experience does play a role in a search friendly site. Is the navigation structure clear? Do visitors dig too deep for information?
The advice given was also to have 1 topic per page. So if you wanted to talk about “kangkung”, don’t throw in the “ayam” unless the page is about a recipe.
Then he also mentioned alternate tags (alt) for images are very important and should be written in relevance to the page content.
Tip #5: Better faster stronger
It is recommended for an e-commerce website to load in 2 seconds. While the measurement of this wasn’t made clear, you can start by comparing it to your local load time of the website.
There’s a Google tool for that as well. It’s called PageSpeed Insight and all you have to do is key in the website address URL to learn what can be improved and what is done well. Here’s an example:
Other mentionable notes are Google is aiming at even faster page load times, like half a second. Yes, half a second.
Tip #6: Cross product reference
Social media can help and boost your online presence. However, remember that Google also will measure based on your authority and activity. Thus, there can be a difference between social media accounts with a lot of followers but no updates and one with a little less followers but more updates. As put by Wilfred, “a site well liked by the community tends to do well”.
An added trick is to know what is the more popular social media platform of the visitors you’re targeting and be active in those platforms. For Malaysia, needless to say it is still Facebook.
Oh. Wilfred also informed everyone to be wary of hiring rogue search engine optimization (SEO) consultants and to watch our for guarantees. Because as he noted, you can be page 1 for one day but page 100 for life once penalized.
Tip #7: Mobile design tips
I was kinda taken aback when he mentioned this.
Asia Pacific traffic is more on mobile than desktop.
With a quick lookup, I managed to find this chart showing the internet traffic consumption by mobile in 2013.
And some of the keypoints mentioned were:
- Mobile users are high maintenance and have little patience.
- They prefer menus and lists to be short.
- Preference should be filterting over sorting.
- It is recommended to have a default input mode.
- Reduce form submission errors by considering real-time verification.
- Reduce pinch-to-zoom actions on mobile optimized websites.
- Social media login should never be the only option for member based websites.
Lastly, a bonus tip was if you owned an e-commerce website, consider the ability to checkout as guest.
Well, I hope these tips were helpful to you and if you want to know about other future events organized by the Google Business Group (Malaysia chapter), go ahead and Like their Facebook Page.