A 4 minute read by Jonathan Foulds, Search Strategist
Something I often hear from other Search Engine Optimization Strategists in the industry is that those who run the big search engines like Google can’t be trusted to help us and our clients succeed. The sentiment is that they’re unhelpful and don’t try hard to solve our problems.
I’d like to break this statement down because there are many great things going on at Google. Don’t get me wrong. As an SEO, it can be frustrating to continually see a growing pay-to-play landscape where paid search results overwhelmingly take up more space in the SERPs. However, I also believe that there are members of the Google team that truly want us SEOs to succeed.
Why do I feel this way? One only has to take a look at the sheer breadth of resources and educational materials Google now provides to know that there are many individuals within the organization who are working hard to help SEOs do better.
Google-provided SEO resources are now everywhere: tools and information telling us how to make better websites, how to produce better content, how to rank higher, and how to be more efficient and user-friendly. While it is true that some answers to our questions remain ambiguous, the important resources are there and Google has been doing a much better at conveying information over the past few years. So, how exactly have they been more helpful?
More up-to-date information
One of the most common complaints I hear is that SEO guidelines are often outdated. As algorithms change constantly, it’s crucial for us to get updated information quickly. Luckily, Google has been taking this more seriously as evidenced by blog announcements like this mobile algorithm post and the introduction of an updated search engine starter guide. For those that have been in the industry since 2010, you know that the original starter guide was the go-to for all things technical and content. We’ve been itching for an updated version and Google has delivered.
In-depth tools for developers
Site development is the foundation of SEO. The better a site is coded, the more efficiently it will be crawled and ranked in search results. Over the past few years, Google has introduced many tools for developers looking to create great websites and improve SEO in the process. Among them is the mobile-friendliness testing tool, page speed testing tool, structured data testing tool, and a swath of developer guidelines specific to SEO. At Swarm, we’ve made sure that our development team is in sync with all of these tools.
Google has recognized that there is sometimes a lack of data for SEOs. Which is exactly why they’ve been hard at work building an updated Google Search Console platform for us. The new search console has up to 16 months of data on clicks, impressions, average ranking positions and all the data you would need to determine what keywords and pages are driving the most traffic to your site. Whereas the past version had only 90 days of data, the new platform makes it easy to see just how much your site has improved compared to last year.
The resources are there. Use them!
So, where do you go from here? The first step is to gather as much data as you can from these Google resources. At Swarm, we feel that it is invaluable to utilize these tools for all of our clients. Why? First, all of the information comes directly from Google and we can rely less on expensive third-party tools that may not be as accurate. Second, if a site declines in rankings, it is much easier to figure out what went wrong. And third, there is less debate about proper SEO implementation. There may not be less debate on the industry blogs, but it’s much easier to block out the noise.
Our advice? Familiarize yourself with these tools and stay up-to-date on new resources Google provides by following official Webmaster and Think With Google blogs. After all, they are making an effort to help us.