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Algorithm Changes/Updates

Home » SEO » Algorithm Changes/Updates
8 02, 2017

Possum Update

By |2019-01-30T21:20:48+01:00February 8th, 2017|Algorithm Changes/Updates, Google, SEO|0 Comments

Why! This could be big.

Possum! has arrived locally to you. Well done Google! Here is the inside track on the local effects of the Possum search update now that we have had a little time since its arrival…….

…….with Google’s core search engine also being updated.

The effects of the Possum Update have seen a 59% increase in local SERP results in the Google algorithm changes affecting Google local pack traffic. The changes represent a huge impact on local search results but also a slight change in the search engine at a national results level. So what?

Democratisation of the web that’s what, and that is a big deal especially if you are a smaller business. The impact really is great news for smaller businesses (which is nice to see) at the local level – where it was increasingly hard to see local traffic get visibility due to the dominance of the big ‘national brands’. This has surely got to be good news for regional businesses. We are holding our breath for further increases in local results with ever increasing relevance.

Carrying on the theme of significant search updates beginning with a ‘P’ is Penguin and Panda, the latest iteration has been named ‘Possum’ by the search community. One of our fun tools is the MozCast which is a superb indicator that things are a churn in the Google algorithms.

The impacts are pretty much rolling out and have gradually been effecting search results over the past month. The Domain Diversity is fantastic as it shows the growing number of domains present in search and that has got to be a good thing for the web. The domain diversity is now showing a higher preference of local results according to the great results shown in the Mozcast Domain diversity figures.

The Local/Map results contain the largest impact in movement and change in Search Results. The reduction in desk top organic SERP results to between 7 and 9 results on page 1 and the removing of the adverts on the right hand side of the SERP’s page in early 2016 versus the increase in advertising has helped increase Google ad revenues. However the increase in the local pack results will be a welcome benefit for local businesses.

We looked at a random subject area – ‘garages in Brighton’ and the following came up in the results pages.

Standard results page with mapping at the top. We swapped the use of ‘local’ and also added ‘Brighton’ to the end of the search. The results either placed the ads before the Map in 80% of cases or at the very top of the page. The extended ‘More places’ we think has got bigger, but what we really notice is the resultant map that appears following this has a lot more businesses. We then repeated this for other service functions for B2C companies and then swapped out for B2B.

The advertising that sits at the bottom has pushed the results on the organic SERPS which used to be firmly 10 down to an average of 7. These 3 ‘missing’ places have been replaced by the adverts you see at the bottom of the page. OK this started to happen back in April this year when the right hand advertising block disappeared from Google only to be added to the top and bottom of the page.

So Google local search has got better for the user and for businesses locally.  What we are constantly amazed by is the local businesses that were still not using Google + , Google My Business. With the ever increasing search by Google for relevance it seems mad that this does not happen more.

We wanted to find a little more about the Microsoft side of the story by talking to Bing ourselves to get their take on all the changes in SERPS in the Bing search engines.

Read next time our interview with Bing for information on how the local search results are changing from a Microsoft perspective.

For more on another big Google update, check out Stuart’s post on the Penguin 4.0 update. Or see how we can help your Search Engine Optimisation, taking into account the most recent algorithm changes.

20 10, 2016

Penguin 4.0 – What Does It Mean For You?

By |2017-01-24T13:21:56+01:00October 20th, 2016|Algorithm Changes/Updates, Backlinks, Google, Penguin Update, SEO|0 Comments

What is the Penguin update?

Google’s Penguin update was first introduced in 2012 and is one of many factors they use to affect Search Rankings in a positive way. This update targeted those websites using black-hat techniques such as keyword-stuffing and any link-building schemes that blew up rankings artificially.

Why is Penguin still relevant?

In the last couple of weeks, Google have started rolling out the 4.0 update that has come with a host of new features, causing a shift in the search rankings for websites that weren’t aware.

It has been 2 years since the last penguin update and many webmaster’s have been preparing in that timeframe with the other minor and big updates (Mobilegeddon anyone!), wandering what Google would have up their sleeve for penguin.

Key features of 4.0

  • It was a worldwide launch. So everyone was affected at the same time, meaning certain websites in other locations wouldn’t get to enjoy those extra couple of weeks they would usually get at the top of the rankings. Even slate for everyone.
  • The update is now in real-time. Google will now update the rankings every time they update the information discovered by the crawlers, meaning you will notice changes to your rankings at a much faster rate than before.
  • Recover from Google penalties faster. Factoring in the real-time nature of the 4.0 update, if you have been penalised before you will know how much of a long process it is to recover from. But thanks to the update it is now a faster process to recover once you have made the necessary changes.
  • Google has now made Penguin part of its core algorithm. This now means you wont see any official announcements regarding penguin, so keep an eye on your link-building.
  • It is targeting more specific pages instead of whole websites when penalising toxic links. In other words, Penguin is becoming more granular making it crucial that websites are audited on a more regular basis.

Why is it a good thing?

  • The algorithm is now much faster in picking up updates to websites. This is a good thing as a lot of companies are put off SEO in the first place due to it being a long process to see any benefit. But thanks to this update, you should start to see the rankings benefit much sooner.
  • Like I’ve mentioned in the key features, it is now much faster to recover from Google penalties. This is great for the webmaster’s who have been stuck with penalties for a while, since the last update for Penguin was 2 years ago.
  • The granular nature of the update makes it less harsh on websites that are generally in the green save for one or two pages that may have a toxic link by only penalising those pages specifically.

What issues may websites face?

  • Whilst granular may be a good thing it also makes it more difficult to track any changes to affected pages, meaning deeper analysis is required to pick up any problems.
  • Since Penguin is now becoming a part of Google’s core algorithm, this now means there will be no more announcements regarding updates to the specific algorithm. This can be a problem for webmaster’s as it means they will have to start consistently analysing and auditing their websites for any changes, adding more work to their already busy SEO schedules.

How will I know when Penguin 4.0 is live and what can I do to stay ahead of the pack?

The Penguin 4.0 update launched on September 23rd 2016 or as Google have stated it is “Rolling out” so there is still time to make the necessary changes and tweaks to keep your website on top.

But how do I make sure I have covered all bases for the update?

Keep a constant eye on your positions in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page) – Put it into a daily plan to check your most crucial pages in the search results, keeping an eye on any fluctuations positive or negative based on the keywords you are tracking.

Make sure your backlink profile is regularly in the green – Put it into the daily plan again, ensuring your link-building efforts are not including any toxic or low-quality links.

Perform deep backlink checks on your website weekly – It may take longer than a normal audit but it will be worth it to discover if there any pages that are letting the rest of your site down by having a toxic link. Penguins new granular approach makes this step a priority.

Our SEO experts deal with all the latest updates from Google, so if you think your website has taken a hit thanks to one of these updates then check out our SEO page to see how we can gain ground back on your rankings. Or why not check out the 5 killer SEO methods that you may not be using!

24 03, 2016

Google Algorithm Changes

By |2019-01-30T21:20:52+01:00March 24th, 2016|Algorithm Changes/Updates, Google, SEO|0 Comments

Over the years Google has made many changes to how its search engine ranks websites (known as Google Algorithm Changes or updates), for better or worse, they have managed to adapt and improve it’s algorithms to make sure only genuine websites with high quality and most importantly relevant content, backlinks and well optimised pages get the best rankings.

Technology is constantly evolving and so too is Digital Marketing and SEO. Staying abreast of these changes is hard work but worth it in the end. These updates have changed the way webmaster’s approach SEO because it now requires a team effort from the whole business, to make the website presentable and ultimately drive the traffic organically from the search engines and encourage users to stay on the site.

Panda And Penguin Updates

Panda – First launched by Google in Feb 2011, the real first huge, mainstream update to the search engines algorithms. It introduced measures to tackle websites that were producing low-quality content and penalising them in the search rankings as a result. Panda is still being updated to this day and is part of Google’s core algorithm.

Some other examples of sites that were penalised were ones that were spamming or duplicating content and overusing ads.

How to make sure you don’t get penalised? High quality content is the simple answer. Make sure you go through all your pages and update them if they need more substance.

Penguin – launched in Apr 2012, a year after the Panda update. The update mainly took into account the backlink profiles of websites as factors that determined the ranking of a site. Those with spam links were the ones penalised in this update.

Before this update, many users figured out they could abuse Google’s algorithm by getting 100’s and 1000’s of backlinks that were spam and irrelevant but overall rank well because of it. Now the focus is on backlink quality, the biggest determining factor, not the amount you have.

Hummingbird – Came a year later and updated Google’s search capabilities. They noticed a lot of people used the search engines in a conversational manner, so the update helped Google to understand these types of search queries a lot better.

Content on websites had to change again as well, past the keyword, showing understanding of users and what they want to learn.

Mobile Update – The first two year gap in major updates. Launched in 2015 the mobile update was a huge deal and seriously impacted websites that weren’t prepared for it, and Google warned them which was a first.

Mobile is rapidly beginning to dominate a lot of search engines behaviour and Google noticed this. In simple terms, if your website is mobile optimised, you are fine and should see a boost to your search rankings.

Sites that weren’t optimised, risked falling down the rankings unless they optimised for mobile and made it a user-friendly experience.

Other Updates – There were two other updates in 2015. The first was what people dubbed as a quality update that Google didn’t acknowledge straight away. It focused on the user experience and distribution of content as a ranking boost for websites.

Near the end of 2015 Google started to put its hat into the Artificial Intelligence ring, by announcing a rather unique algorithm that learned and predicted user behaviour. Google have even called it their third most important ranking measure, which is a big deal.

Google ads have now disappeared from the right hand side of the page altogether on the desktops, the significance of this is a big impact in the amount of ads being served on the desktop platform. Being the second largest in click share, Google side ads still only made up the low 10’s percentages of the overall share, which may not be a huge deal to some. At the same time Google have increased the number of ads from 3 to 4 appearing at the top and the bottom of the page to make up for the loss of the side ads.*

*Source: Merkle RKG

Summary

The Google search engine has changed a lot. It is a system that is constantly seeing improvements and being refined to provide a consistent and fair level playing field to all webmaster’s trying to rank well for their respective websites.

So what can you do to make sure your website is optimised based on these algorithm updates?

  • High quality content. Content is King. Make it relevant to the user.
  • Factor in all optimisation techniques for your site, including optimising for mobile.
  • Gain those high quality backlinks. Remember it’s about quality not quantity!

Google have got a system that is improving each day for the searcher and the people who want to be searched. Keeping abreast of the latest Google algorithm changes is key to making sure your SEO stays on point and doesn’t suffer any unexpected hits in performance. You need to Adapt or face the potential consequences and hopefully I have helped you achieve that by sharing some Google algorithm changes that you didn’t know about.

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