In the past year, Google made quite a few changes to the functionality and operation of their SEO algorithms. Rather than relying solely on web crawls and machine analysis, the company has implemented human “quality raters” into the mix. As a result, traditional quick hacks such as adding new internal links or repurposing other sources are no longer a reliable way to ensure sustainable SEO performance.
Here are five quick tips to help you survive the new age of SEO.
- Eliminate and consolidate low-quality pages. Google’s latest algorithm provides less rank to pages which register as duplicates or provide little content. Consider reviewing the rankings for each of your pages individual (a Herculean task, I know) to determine where pages could be consolidated to improve overall rank.
- Ditch the stuffing. The updated 2018 SEO Guidelines from Google advise against auto-generated content, low-quality articles, and keyword stuffing. Some of these techniques could net you a lower ranking.
- Place a focus on reliability, authority, and trust. Financial institutions already face a great deal of regulatory compliance. The latest changes to SEO are a similar imposition from your friendly neighborhood search engines, evaluating each website page for a reliability score. As a financial provider, banks and credit unions are held to an even higher standard – requiring financial advice to be appropriately cited, provided by a trustworthy resource (such as financial experts), and updated regularly.
- Contacting you should be easy. Google considers financial institution websites as “Your Money or Your Life” (YMYL) pages. These types of pages are evaluated more extensively than other sites. Google demands an extremely high degree of trust for YMYL, including a clear understanding of the business responsible for the website and easy access to customer service information. Straightforward calls-to-action, contact us links and pages, click-to-call, and chat features are all good ways to increase trust.
- Be fast and mobile-friendly. In addition to quality scoring, one of the most significant changes from Google has been its update to mobile-first. With this algorithm in place, sites who fail to code for fast access (7 seconds or less) and mobile screens are penalized in their search rankings. Experts suggest using responsive website layouts and implementing regular speed tests to help stay optimized.
The move to emphasize speed, mobile, and trustworthiness have shifted the landscape of SEO for website operation. With so many recent changes, there does not seem to be much more Google can do to improve its focus on providing the right results for their search engine users. (But don’t think for a minute they aren’t already working on the next big update.)
The good news is, businesses such as banks and credit unions that care about their visitors tend to also care about the information, service, and image they provide. Which means Google is working for you, too.
Psst! Rumor has it the company may be looking into using click-through rates and viewing times for rankings as well. If you’re interested, you should check out this article on Search Engine Land.