The parameters of SEO are continually changing and where Google goes others are well advised to take note and follow. With its latest algorithm changes, Google is basically seeking answers to the following questions:
- Is this website as mobile friendly as it should be?
- Are these landing pages really doorway pages?
These questions will directly impact on the search results achieved by your website in Google. It is well worth considering the actions to take to ensure that the new Google algorithm changes do not negatively impact on your SEO strategies.
So let’s take a look at each of these areas in turn and see how best to accommodate them.
Is your website as mobile friendly as it should be?
Give them their due, Google are genuinely committed to improving UX and from April 21st 2015 they are making a new move to enhance the quality of search from mobiles by “expanding our use of mobile friendliness as a ranking signal.” Google explains that this development is being rolled out worldwide and for all languages and “will have a significant impact in our search results.”
Back in November last year, Google announced that they were adding a “mobile-friendly” label to their mobile search results, indicating a quality UX was in store for mobile users at those websites. New Google algorithm changes now further upgrade mobile-friendly sites and also give preference to indexed web apps in search results.
Google suggests a number of ways in which a mobile user’s website experience may be compromised, such as:
- The use of Flash-based content, which most mobile browsers will be unable to display
- The inability of web pages to adjust to different mobile device viewport sizes
- The user requiring horizontal scrolling to read web pages
- Font sizes too small, requiring the user to pinch to zoom in order to read content
- Touch elements too close, making it difficult for the user to tap with their finger on a particular instruction without inadvertently touching another
The remedy to these defects is high quality responsive website design, which Google has consistently favoured.
With the launch date of the algorithm change coming up fast, it could be worth testing a few pages of your site using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test
To get more detailed information about issues that could affect mobile usage at your site, Google is again ready to help with a Mobile Usability Report within Google Webmaster Tools.
BBI Brandboost were early adopters of responsive website design (RWD) and our experience gains consistent recognition for mobile-friendly site structure using Google test methods. Contact us on 01494 452600, by email or via the Live Chat function on our website for RWD advice in the light of the new Google changes.
Update - 4 days to go!
Are your landing pages really doorway pages?
Now this is a tricky one. Creating doorway pages to websites is a Black Hat SEO technique that can turn UX (user experience) into URAF (user rage and frustration).
Google defines doorways as sites or pages created to achieve high rankings for specific search queries. They may lead to a number of similar pages in user search results, but each result ends up taking the user to what is basically the same destination. They can also lead users to intermediate pages that do not provide the user with information that is as useful as they could have found at a final destination page.
Rightly interpreting these strategies as being bad for users, Google Quality Guidelines comments:
“Here are some examples of doorways:
- Having multiple domain names or pages targeted at specific regions or cities that funnel users to one page
- Pages generated to funnel visitors into the actual usable or relevant portion of your site(s)
- Substantially similar pages that are closer to search results than a clearly defined, browseable hierarchy.”
Google also seeks to define the difference between landing and doorway pages.
“It’s easy to confuse doorway pages with landing pages, but they’re not the same thing. A landing page provides useful information for the user who visited whereas a doorway page simply tricks the user into coming to the site by showing irrelevant information in search results.”
Well, that’s a definition that has a lot of holes and leaves a lot of grey areas. The difference is a qualitative one that could be really difficult for Google to prove fairly and objectively through the use of algorithms. For instance, a company that has a number of local outlets offering slightly different services could find themselves in trouble, even though it would be reasonable to direct users to a branch near them and list the services in full.
If in doubt about whether any of your website elements might slip into Google’s negative criteria, then the best way forward is to carry out a website audit and take the necessary actions to eliminate or change any pages that may be construed as serving a doorway function. Google Analytics can also be an invaluable help in tracking any changes in the SEO performance of your website and help you to reassess current strategies if needs be.
As online communications and marketing specialists, SEO is a core activity of the BBI Brandboost team. Please contact us on 01494 452600, by email or via the Live Chat function on our website for advice, news and updates on search engine developments.
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