The following is a guest post by Mark Barry from Integrity SEO Experts.
Since the notorious Google Panda/Farmer update in February 2011 there has been considerable speculation about what the updated algorithm means in the long term.
Going back a bit, Google’s algorithm was set to determine what type of content a website was offering. Moving more up to date, it began to include factors such as user interaction with any given site.
Today, the algorithm appears to be considering some quite radical additional factors which take account of both content quality and user experience of individual sites.
Although there are still no hard and fast facts or figures as yet, industry experts believe that there are definitely a number of user experience factors which Google has data on and is currently using. They can be broken down into four main sections:
The first of these is visitor behavior, not just on-site but before a visitor clicks through. Google’s preview feature (the magnifying glass to the right of each search result) gives users the option to preview websites before loading. It is believed that sites currently high in the rankings which are overlooked by visitors will be penalized. Once on page, other visitor behavior which could be used by Google includes:
Another sector is feedback from website visitors:
Interestingly, the Google Chrome browser, which currently has almost 20% of the search engine market share, includes a toolbar plug-in which lets users block certain sites they do not find of interest. Enough blocks of this type are already affecting sites in a negative way.
Sometimes overlapping the feedback section, user-friendly features include:
The last section is all about the quality of content and how appropriate it is for the targeted audience. This is the least clear section in terms of how it could be applied to the algorithm, but paying attention to these factors can only be a good thing:
information to each other or those which contain no relevant copy at all should be removed or re-written to avoid negativity.
The changes have left a lot of uncertainty with SEO companies as they are not sure if their methodologies are still going to be effective. The only thing that they can still be certain of is that unique content and a quality link building service is the way forward.
Of course the fact that any or all of this is being used in Google’s algorithm is presently just supposition or educated guesswork, but there is certainly no harm in paying attention to these matters which at the end of the day can only serve to improve websites and user experience of them anyway.
Mark Barry is the Link Building Manager for Integrity SEO Experts, a full-service SEO agency based in the North East of England.