Over the past year or so, I have spent time watching the shuffling of sites in our beloved search engine ranking system, with “G” being the top dog of the bunch of course. Websites, site owners, and webmasters have been scrambling to try to figure out how to respond to the new algorithms, and all of the heresy coming out of the internet pundits, other webmasters, and of course, trying to gauge what we believe by looking at the types of sites ranking at the top, or doing well.
It’s been frustrating to me, watching that last part – seeing sites that are dominating our ever-crowded senior care niche that are really questionable, not-straightforward, and downright bad – be rewarded handsomely for their efforts. It goes against everything that “G” says publicly that they are looking for in good websites – originality, good content, solid coding, no-seo-shenanigans or black-hat tactics, and solid social support.
The sites in our assisted living industry that I see ranking well now often-times only do well on one of those fronts – good coding. They are sites that are pretty to look at, and have obviously had a talented webmaster or web team behind them, but that’s about as far as it goes.
Take this site for example: http://tinyurl.com/aqrxrzv
– and I am doing the ‘tinyurl’ thing for it just so I don’t give it any sort of a boost for linking to it directly.
Why does it rank well? There are no direct phone numbers or contacts for each facility. The facility list doesn’t come up until you click into a link to request it – which, to me, offers a good signal to search engines by lowering bounce rate, and adding to time on site, but it offers a lousy user experience. Once you do get a facility list, there isn’t any way from there to contact the facility – everything the user does gets funneled into a referral form.
Is that really the type of information people are looking for? I think not, but to a search engine, it probably looks pretty good. People are on the site for a while, clicking around to find information that they will likely never get.
It’s really a bummer that I am seeing most of the sites at the top of the rankings doing exactly this – putting on a front that they offer good information, but when you finally look under the hood, there isn’t much there other than a way for them to collect your money, or information.
Let me be clear – I love it when good sites rank well – even if they rank above our little pond – Assisted Living Directory.
It’s hard, though, for all of the genuinely true experts, caregivers and contributors that work on our site – to have their content and efforts ousted by a site that has basically scraped a database, or another site, or who have piggybacked on other business names and addresses to rank well, but to offer a confusing and manipulative user experience.
For Assisted Living Directory, and other sites out there who actually do original content, and work hard to ‘follow the rules’ – we’ll keep plugging away, staying the course, and getting up each morning to ‘make the doughnuts’ as it were – in hopes that maybe someday, our efforts will be rewarded a little more, and that sites who spend time looking good to non-humans out there, that maybe they’ll stop enjoying the fruits of their lack of labor.