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Should you optimize your website for users or Google?

hoke-headshotBy Chris Hokansson

Everyone understands that in some way ranking high in Google searches is vital to online marketing success. But just how important is it?

In a study of 465,000 keywords and 5,000 websites, conducted by Philip Petrescu and detailed on moz.com, 71.3% of searches result in a page-one click. Pages two and three only accounted for 5.6%. On the first page itself, the first five results accounted for 67.6% of clicks.

That sounds pretty important to me.

woes of a literal marketerConsidering that many marketers believe Google accounts for nearly 90% of all search traffic, it’s easy to see why landing a top ranking from Google is often called the “Holy Grail” of online marketing.

The traditional way to get a higher ranking has been search engine optimization (SEO) using keywords. This now-familiar concept is to pick keywords people are searching for and use them in your digital marketing content.

But, while SEO still has a place, it’s not even close to the whole solution anymore.

Google is in the businesses of offering searchers what they’re looking for. They don’t want people to come on their site, type in a search query, and come up with keyword-stuffed content that doesn’t really help them. To remain as the dominant search engine, Google knows it has to consistently provide useful search results.

An indication of Google’s commitment to providing users with a great experience can be seen in the company’s recent update of its search algorithm, which it’s constantly updating to provide users with better results. This latest update—deemed “Mobilegeddon” by many digital marketers—gives higher rankings to websites that are “responsive” when people are searching on mobile devices.

It’s easy to see Google’s logic. Responsive sites adjust to the screen size automatically so you don’t have to scrolling around on a web page designed for larger screens. Non-responsive sites provide a bad user experience that Google wants to help you avoid.

Is your website responsive? If not, you’re not going to rank highly on Google searches done from mobile devices—no matter how relevant and good your content is. But is this really “Mobilegeddon?”

I don’t think so. Relevance and quality in content are ultimately what Google is looking for. This latest mobile update is in no way counter to that strategy. Sure, you need a responsive site now more than ever, but view that within the context of the big picture.

You needed one before the update because responsive  sites give visitors a more rewarding experience—which ultimately translates into more clicks, conversions, and sales. Google is really just trying to get you do the smart thing.

The mobile update is merely the latest evidence that the old “tricks” used to be found in a Google search aren’t going to cut it anymore. You have to give the people (and Google) what they want—content that’s truly valuable to them, when they want it, and in the format they want it.

One Red Bird is a B2B marketing services provider that specializes in helping companies increase their sales by changing the way they do marketing. Chris Hokansson is One Red Bird’s Managing Director. Send your B2B marketing questions to [email protected] and visit www.oneredbird.ca for whitepapers, videos and other resources.

Marketing, Online Marketing, Uncategorized Tagged with: , ,
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