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Navigating SEO is a DrivingSales.com exclusive series by Timothy Martell, CEO of Wikimotive. In this series, Tim breaks down ways dealers can improve their SEO and offers insight into how it will benefit business.
Everyone involved on the marketing side of business is aware of Google's power. What most are not aware of, however, is that the search engine is constantly evolving.
This evolution includes updates that affect businesses around the world based on its vision of website quality. Staying on top of these updates is crucial to SEO, as what works today might not work tomorrow, and your ability to properly adapt can make a big difference in rankings.
If you've ever wondered how you can avoid site quality issues with Google, here are the absolute basics that will put your mind at ease and put you on the right path toward improving your site.
Get Up to Speed on Algorithm Updates (and Keep Up!)
It's more than likely you've heard about Google's various algorithm updates in passing, or read discussions here on DrivingSales, Facebook, and other forums. But have you ever taken the time to just sit down and read through the details of these updates?
It doesn't have to take up your entire day, so don't think that you'll be reading technical documents or anything like that. All you really need to do is read through summaries written by top marketers who break the updates down so they're easy to understand.
Search Engine Land has resource pages set up for each of the major algorithm updates that include a quick description and links to stories about recent changes related to each individual update.
Moz also has a resource set up to keep everyone up to date on the latest algorithm updates. But unlike Search Engine Land, Moz organizes their page by date and individual change. This is great for figuring out when specific updates happened, but can be confusing if you're not yet completely up to speed with all of the major updates.
I'd suggest reading through Search Engine Land's pages and then comb through Moz's page. Both can be found by searching "Google algorithm updates."
Audit Your Site Regularly
The last thing you want is to one day be greeted by a message in your Google Webmaster Tools account to find a message regarding manual site penalties. (This is Google calling you out on quality issues directly.)
After reading through this post and other pages mentioned, make it your mission to audit your site regularly for quality issues. Take a few hours each quarter to do a thorough check of your site to ensure nothing out of the ordinary or potentially damaging, such as thin content, is being overlooked.
Stop Investing in Black Hat
The SEO world is filled with conflicting information. Some experts say do this, while others preach against that practice. So unless your main focus is SEO, it's not surprising that you could get confused or caught up in the allure of black hat quick fixes, as we all want tomorrow's results to have already happened yesterday.
Unfortunately, this is unrealistic with SEO. You'll find that quick fixes don't follow Google's recommended guidelines, which will lead to eventual consequences. (You'll know when your search traffic begins to tank!)
Common quick fixes include buying links, copying content, and duplicate content. The most prevalent in the automotive industry is duplicate content. Many website providers and shady SEOs will take a single piece of content and repurpose it across its client base for many different keywords, changing only the targeted keyword in order to trick Google.
You might not even realize this is an issue, so be sure to check your site for duplicate content. A simple way to do this is to use Siteliner.com, which scans your site's pages for internal duplicate content.
Only Create Content That's Better Than Your Competition
Rand Fishkin's most recent "Whiteboard Friday" topic on Moz was about the phrase "good, unique content." If you've followed Navigating SEO, I have no doubt you've read that phrase, or one similar, many times throughout these posts.
It's common for SEOs to say "content is king" and "all you need is good content." Pretty vague, huh?
I've gone into detail in previous posts on exactly how to think about content, and what makes good content good, but here's an easy way to think about it:
MAKE IT BETTER THAN YOUR COMPETITION!
You should be aware of the content your competitors are producing, and should always research content that ranks for keywords you're targeting before beginning anything.
You want to understand the context, value, and other qualities of the existing content so that you can improve upon it. This does not take any sort of masterful skill, though. Just think what you would want as a user. Make your content more valuable and impactful than your competition and you'll see results.
Last Time on Navigating SEO: How to Create Content for SEO AND Social