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Brands 'must respond' to Google change

News, 20 April 2015

LONDON: Brands need to get the technical basics right, improve their content and adopt responsive design if they are to make the most of tomorrow's change to Google's algorithm, an SEO expert has said.

Addressing an event organised by the UK's Content Marketing Association (CMA), Britt Soeder, head of owned media at iProspect, the digital agency, said that brands should take into account the fact that people performing searches on mobile devices do not spend so much time reading results as those browsing on a desktop.

"Make sure you have everything that's important in your first paragraph if you can," she advised. (For more, including all of Soeder's guidance for brands, read Warc's report: Three SEO issues every brand should know about: the view from iProspect.)

Google's latest algorithm update, which was announced in a blogpost earlier this year and comes into effect tomorrow (April 21st), is set to include mobile responsiveness as a key ranking criteria – meaning that publishers with non-mobile-optimised websites could see their search performance suffer.

Specifically, websites using responsive design – and therefore look good on screens of all sizes – are set to benefit from the algorithm change.

Soeder pointed out that Google has also offered some general pointers on what type of content is boosted by the algorithm, and what is penalised.

"The user focus is really important," she explained. "Whenever you publish content, make sure it's for the user, not the search engine. Content is king. When I joined the search industry eight years ago, nobody believed that – it was all about buying links. Now it's about publishing something great."

In other words, organic, rather than paid, link-building is therefore the way to go. "Backlinks are still an important ranking factor, though if I had to say if that's going to be the case in 10 years' time? I don't think so," Soeder added.

She also told delegates at the CMA event to disregard SEO myths, such as "keyword density" – that there is an ideal ratio of keywords to content.

"If you've been scared by this, don't be," she said. "There are no given rules on keywords."

According to its latest financial report, $59.1bn of Google's $66bn revenues in 2014 were from advertising. Within the advertising total, $45bn was derived from Google's own websites.

Data sourced from Warc