When Google released the “Medic Update“ just a short while ago, they also added a concept to their guidelines called “beneficial purposes”. As part of this concept, Google employees are tasked with manually auditing websites, while ranking the quality, authenticity, and relevancy of this content.
But what does this mean for startups and Google algorithm changes?
It means that if startups want to rank high on search, they need to play by the rules and understand that SEO requires a lot more time and focus than ever before. As for Google algorithm changes, they have become increasingly complex and specific in an effort to provide the ultimate search experience for users.
Just so you know, recent studies suggest this Medic Update shows a preference for authority websites and content that demonstrates a clear sense of intent. In other words, the Google algorithm prefers content from which the user can gain something precise or valuable and without having to try hard in the process.
Let’s take a look at how Google Algorithm changes have impacted SEO for startups:
What Google Algorithm Changes Mean for SEO
While much of the theory remains the same, certain tweaks have changed the landscape entirely for SEO and startups need to think more precisely when it comes to strategy and keywords in particular.
For instance, the results for specific search queries are more precise than ever. As an example, if you perform a search for “macaroni and cheese“, Google will provide a list of results for how to make this dish or where to buy the ingredients. However, when you perform a search for “buy macaroni and cheese”, you will find a range of listings for e-commerce stores that stock macaroni and cheese products. What’s more, Google will exclude any listings for this search that pertain to ingredients or how to make the dish.
With this in mind, long-tail keywords have become increasingly important as the Google Medic Update strives to identify the most accurate results for specific questions or search queries.
At the same time, the above only relates to on-site SEO which is just one aspect of optimization. In other words, relevant backlinks are still important and social signals matter, while the update also shows a clear preference for long-form content.
Either way, when a startup is unsure about this process, an SEO audit will always help.
When you invest so much time and energy into a website, you should want to know precisely what may or may not be working. After all, generating traffic is the entire point of SEO for startups and without numbers, there is no return on investment. As if that’s not enough, the Medic Update is just one of many updates to the Google algorithm which means that measuring these results is no less than crucial.
But what can you do to survive these changes and measure your progress on Google search rankings?
An SEO audit is necessary at least once or twice a year. For many startups, this process provides peace-of-mind but then it also keeps your website up to date in terms of any changes with SEO.
Here are just a few of the many factors that an SEO audit can help startups improve their rankings:
Fixing Broken Links
Believe it or not, broken links are extremely common and this is even true for websites in the first year of their existence. More importantly, the Google algorithm takes these broken links into account and the result has a very negative impact on search rankings. An SEO audit can find these broken links and replace them with the right links, which will inevitably improve your search rankings.
Securing the Website with HTTPS
In case you might be asking yourself, “HTTPS” refers to Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure which is essentially a protocol that secures any communication on your website using an encryption system.
For many startups, HTTPS is not implemented on the company website right away and this is another reason why websites can drop down through the rankings. You see, the Google algorithm has used this encryption as a search engine ranking factor for several years and recent reports show that secure HTTPS websites now account for more than 50% of page one results.
Shortening URL Links
As you may know, Google prefers short and descriptive URLs that give the search engine a better understanding of what the page or post is all about. An SEO audit can identify where you can alter previous URLs and how you can improve your SEO strategy in the future.
Optimizing Keywords in Titles
It’s more important than ever to include keywords in both the titles of any pages or articles and subheadings within this content. Google algorithms pay close attention to these headings and an SEO audit can identify exactly where you can optimize and improve titles.
Distributing Press to the Right Places
As you may know, press releases and media outreaches were traditionally used to communicate an important piece of news between either a company or PR firm and the media. However, many online news websites or social media platforms can facilitate a press release, which can also speak directly to a specific target market and help with SEO due to backlinks.
For this reason, press releases are now used to communicate information to both the media and directly to consumers. What’s more, this content can attract incoming links from authority websites and valuable social signals for any likes or shares that the content receives on social.
While large enterprise companies may find it easier to gain traction or attention from media outlets, smaller startups can now achieve some equally impressive results with the right tactics. For example, a reputable PR agency can not only help startups create a press release that demands attention but also get this document in front of the very people and media outlets that will take this news to the masses.
In fact, startup-centered firms like Press Farm can simplify this process and help distribute the right message through the most popular search engines and channels of online communication.
Why Improving User Experience is Key to Thriving on Google
Google implemented the Mobile-First Index this year which penalizes websites that do not have a responsive or mobile-friendly design. Now, that’s not to say you do not have a mobile-friendly design but rather to highlight just how much Google algorithms are focused on user experience. With this in mind, most startups will know the importance of user experience and tweaking certain aspects of the website to ensure the best possible performance in this regard.
And it also makes perfect sense…
You see, recent studies indicate over 40% of online users will take their search elsewhere if a website is not mobile-friendly. What’s more, according to Statistica, more than 40% of millennial’s and 65% of smartphone owners prefer mobile devices when it comes to searching online on a daily basis.
Anyway, the point is, user experience is increasingly important and startups need to pay attention to these trends in order to keep up with Google algorithms.
Visuals and Navigation – Whether you add useful infographics or improve the standard of images on the website, high-quality visuals are always important to users. However, functionality also matters and this is why many startups take an alternative approach to web design and navigation.
For example, sidebars offer little benefit to websites nowadays and quite often, these can be removed in order to simplify or de-clutter the screen. Meanwhile, a concise yet comprehensive site map will always go down well with Google, while simplifying the navigation process for online users.
Live Chat Bots – Live chatbots can extract a lot of data for startups but at the same time, these bots are incredibly good for user experience. For instance, live chatbots can interact with customers at any time of day and there is no waiting around for the next available agent. Just as importantly, these chatbots can now provide accurate information which can help customers make decisions or even an actual purchase.
Profiles – Many startups enable users to create profiles on the website which is known as a great way to nurture a sense of belonging or loyalty to the brand. Also, Google algorithms pay attention to such features and this is especially true when users are interacting on the site with these profiles.
At the end of the day, user experience is all about knowing how your customer wants to interact with your business. For this reason, focusing on user experience is always going to please the online user and needless to say, this is clearly a reason why Google algorithms care so much about it.
While what works today is unlikely to work a few years from now, we know that keeping up with Google algorithm changes is not only important for business but also essential to stay relevant and visible online.
On the other hand, startups need to get the basics right and understand the precise nature of these changes from the outset. With this in mind, an SEO audit can help with creating a road map for success and identifying the best keyword strategy or features to implement for the purpose of user experience.
About The Author
Ian M. is a Digital Marketing Executive for Pressfarm. He helps companies increase their online visibility through PR Outreach and SEO related services. For more of his articles about SEO & growth, visit @thepressfarm and https://press.farm/blog/