I am going to be honest with you right here and right now!
I don't read ALL of my email. Who actually reads everything right?
How do you do email?
When I sit down to my computer, I open my email and I skim thru it.
Did someone respond to an email that I sent them?
Is someone such as a reader or listener asking me a question?
What stands out in the crowd?
That is how I do email.
Everything after that just sits there until I have time to look thru it and decide on what gets my attention.
Brian Dean from Backlinko.com sent out a newsletter update titled: Google just released new guidelines. Here's what you need to know...
You bet that I clicked on that. I am a sucker for anything that includes Google and Guidelines.
This is a great reminder of the power of a headline. http://iteachblogging.com/a-quick-tip-on-how-to-optimize-your-blog-post-title/
So what is up with Google Guidelines These days?
On November 19th 2015, Google released a new blog post about their search quality rating guidelines. http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2015/11/updating-our-search-quality-rating.html.
This is something that I didn't actually know much about before Brian's newsletter. It turns out that Google has a team of "Quality Raters."
Part of that experimentation is having evaluators—people who assess the quality of Google’s search results—give us feedback on our experiments. Ratings from evaluators do not determine individual site rankings, but are used help us understand our experiments
Google Webmaster Blog
In the newsletter Brian broke it down to a few important points but one point stood out to me above the others.
Is your content front and center on your page?
Google doesn't want readers to have to scroll to get to the point of the landing page that they are on. Google flat out stated how important this is, check out these notes from their document below.
High quality pages are designed to achieve their purpose: they are well organized, use space effectively, and have a functional overall layout. While every page is different, functional pages should have the following characteristics:
- The MC should be prominently displayed “front and center.”
- The MC should be immediately visible when a user opens the page.
- It should be clear what the MC actually is. The page design, organization, and use of space, as well as the choice of font, font size, background, etc., should make the MC very clear.
- Ads and SC should be arranged so as not to distract from the MC—Ads and SC are there should the user want them, but they should be easily “ignorable” if the user is not interested.
- It should be clear what parts of the page are Ads, either by explicit labeling or simply by page organization or design.
- MC = Main Content
- SC = Supplementary Content
It is clear that Google is extremely interested in the reader experience, often called UX (user experience). Therefore, the main content of the site is extremely important because that is why the reader is there after all.
Your reader is not clicking your blog post to be sold to, quite the opposite actually. Even if your run a comparison review blog, they don't want to be sold to. They are looking for that information and if you provide good solid information, they may click on your link and buy something.
Why does Google care about this?
Google wants to be the number one search engine in the world, as does every other one for that matter. In order to be the top search engine they need to serve up good quality content to their users.
This means that Google has to care about the quality of your blog. If they always serve crappy results with high bounce rates and low time on site, then people will move on to another search engine.
Your content should be front and center:
When I read this, my first thought was "What about Scroll Mats?" If you are not sure what a scroll mat is, the odds are good that you have seen them. I have even been considering testing it on I Teach Blogging.
A scroll mat essentially pushes the main content of a page down and generally shows you a newsletter optin offer. You are forced to either sign up for the newsletter or scroll down for the content.
Another similar option is the screen take over. The image below comes from a blogger that I just love, Neil Patel's blog. When you first go to his blog he has this screen take over and you can either hit an X at the top right corner or sign up. By the way, I highly recommend that you check out his blog here: http://neilpatel.com/blog/.
In my opinion the scroll mat and the screen take over, clearly keep the MC from being front and center. The interesting thing about this is that as you can see from the image above, Neil gets at least 100,000 visits to his blog a month.
So does Google really care?
Maybe if your content is truly amazing, they overlook something like this.
Remember this was Google's first two points on the issue of main content: The MC should be prominently displayed “front and center.”
- The MC should be immediately visible when a user opens the page.
Does Google like the way your blog looks?
It should be clear what the MC actually is. The page design, organization, and use of space, as well as the choice of font, font size, background, etc., should make the MC very clear.
Clickbait is not a path to success in Google's eyes
The first urgent statement that they make in this bullet point is that your message should be clear. In other words, don't try and trick the user with clickbait. Make sure that the page is actually about what the title says it is about.
This likely includes the quality of your content itself. While we do not all have a talent for great writing, we can do our best to be clear with our information. I do not think that Google expects us all to be William Shakespeare but they do expect us to be provide value.
Is your blog design pleasing to the eyes?
Is it easy to read? If your blog so busy and jam packed with ads that the reader doesn't know where to look, that is bad. It is interesting to me that they bring up the use of space. White space is such a critical part of design.
Font size and type is a critical element to digital design. If the font is too small, it is difficult to read and if it is too big, it is just tacky.
Interestingly enough some of the top blogs on the internet are what I would consider busy. Here is a list to go check out for yourself: http://www.ebizmba.com/articles/blogs. However, I do believe that their use of white space is superb.
Spend some time analyzing the top blogs in your industry. Pay close attention to their design, layout, font type and white space. This will give you a good idea of what Google wants from you.
People want to know when they are being sold to.
There is nothing more frustrating then clicking on what you think is an article and it turning out to be an advertisement. Ok maybe there are a few more frustrating things such as realizing that you don't have coffee in the morning.
The key here is to be clear when something is an ad. It is just that simple.
For further reading go check out this blog post by hobo Internet Marketing: http://www.hobo-web.co.uk/google-panda-making-high-quality-websites-in-2015/.
In the end, Google expects you to put the reader first. When you are designing your blog and creating content, just be clear. Do your best to always stay on message and never be deceptive.
If you do that and provide timely and valuable content Google will like you more.