Remember earlier this year when I mentioned that Google was looking at sites with too much stuff above the content, so that people had to scroll down before they found it? That’s what we term “above the fold,” and it hankers back to print newspapers. If I wrote an article and it was “above the fold,” I was a happy person. That meant it was read more because people always tend to read the news before flipping the paper over.
The same goes for Web pages. People don’t like to have to scroll down to see the information they’re looking for. Everything they see before scrolling down is considered “above the fold.”
Well, Google ran that algorithm for the first time back in January and it affected less than 1% of all the sites on the Web. The stat in itself isn’t impressive, but when you think that there are more than 8 billion pages online, that is a huge deal. And I guarantee that most of them belonged to new marketers who didn’t have a clue about what they were doing, or to spammy marketers who don’t care about a user’s experience when they visit their site. Not smart.
And guess what? Google just ran the algorithm again and it affected 0.7% of all English searches, according to SearchEngineLand, who got it from Google.
What does it mean?
To Google, it seems, ads are bad. I mean, they like AdSense, but not if it’s all you have on the page. But they don’t want any ads “above the fold,” if people have to scroll down to see the content or the content is too hard to be seen.
We grouse a lot, but look at it from search engines’ perspective. It’s their job to make the searcher’s experience better. They want to provide search results with relevant content about a topic or a product, but they don’t want to serve only ads. Remembet the days when spammy marketers could sew up a whole page of results? I do. No wonder Google decided to take a stand against that. Can’t blame them. Spammers make it bad for the rest of us.
And with the recent Panda changes with EMDs (exact match domains), they aren’t going to rank squeeze pages or sales pages that are one-page sites with no accompanying content behind them, either. It’s never been easy; now, it’s impossible.
Google doesn’t like pop-ups very well, either, if they make it hard to get to the content on your page. And, if you don’t have relevant, well-written content, guess what? They won’t like your page, either. I mean, they don’t outright hate pop-ups, but if you don’t have a good site beneath a pop-up or have too many pop-ups, you’ll be toast.
All of the things that you probably learned about online marketing over the past several years might be good for marketing, and listen, if you can get traffic other ways and you know that what you’re doing is converting, who cares what Google wants, right?
But for search, the good old days are behind us. Google considers a LOT of what marketers do these days to be “Web spam,” and they’re on a mission to nuke it from the Internet. Well… at least to not index it so that people can find it in their search results pages.
Doesn’t hurt to pay attention to what Google does and doesn’t like.
If you want to get off the pay-for-traffic hamster wheel of brokedom, you need to take some of this stuff to heart. Put your ads below the fold. Make your content so bomb that people will want to scroll down to see all of it. And because of the “freshness” that Google wants to see, be sure that you’re updating your content regularly.
I tell my clients to add a blog to their sales pages or e-stores to provide the information about the niche that Google wants. Since sales pages or product pages don’t change too often, the blog can be the content, which will pass reputation and health to the pages that can’t get it on their own. But it’s important to focus.
Many new marketers try to sell tons of different products. It’s just not going to work. And if you do add a blog to each different type of sales page, that’s a lot of blogging! It’s just not practical. That’s what makes sticking to one niche so important. All of my clients have been in the biz a while and know better. They have all focused on one niche and have some measure of success. We didn’t start from scratch.
What I mean is this: If you’re in the “dog” niche and are selling dog toys, dog health-care items, dog accessories, and what have you, you can write ONE blog about dogs, keep all of the sales pages on that domain and it will work out. But if you’re trying to sell dog toys, jewelry, and wireless routers, you have a problem. Focus. It will be much better for you.
Become an authority in your niche. Let people know that you know your stuff when it comes to golf, knitting, or books, and then, they’ll just naturally come to you. You don’t have to please Google all the time, but let’s face it — again I say, “It’s the big dog in the room.” So, play nice when you can. It can only help.