If you have a website, you’ve probably heard about search engine optimisation (SEO). If you’ve heard about SEO, then you’ve probably heard about Google’s algorithm updates. In a nutshell, Google’s algorithm determines which websites rank highly in relation to certain keywords. The search bots crawl a website, taking into account both onsite and offsite factors in order to determine relevance. The primary aim of Google’s algorithm is to provide the best possible user experience – that is, the most relevant search results in response to a search query. In order to ensure user experience isn’t compromised, Google updates its algorithm regularly. In fact, it’s possible that updates are released up to a couple of hundred times year. Most updates are subtle and many go completely unnoticed – however some impact greatly on websites, causing rankings to plummet.
For online marketing companies such as WME SEO top awarded company practices need to be reviewed regularly in accordance with updates. Large-scale companies, such as WME Group, can cope with serious updates as they have the manpower to undertake reviews and respond accordingly. For smaller businesses and those carrying out their own SEO work, it can be more difficult.
Influential algorithm updates include:
Initially rolled out in 2012, Penguin is aimed at sites using ‘black-hat’ SEO techniques – namely, spammy backlinks. Google views unnatural backlinks as cheating, and Penguin works to ensure these sites don’t rank. In some cases, sites with large volumes of spammy backlinks may even be penalised. The answer? Any backlinks created need to be placed on relevant, authoritative sites.
First released in 2011, this update aims to ensure that ‘quality’ websites rank above ‘spammy’ sites. Google’s algorithm takes into account onsite factors in order to determine which websites are the most relevant in relation to certain search terms – and this has meant that Panda is primarily a content-related algorithm. Thanks to certain Panda updates, content needs to be in-depth, on topic and informative. Sites that contain this type of content are more likely to rank well – especially in comparison to sites with thin, repetitive, useless prose. The rise of Panda has also meant that duplicate content is no longer acceptable. Sites cannot duplicate content across multiple pages, nor can they copy content from other sources. In short, for a site to rank well content needs to be completely fresh and unique.
Released in 2013, Hummingbird essentially changed the way Google’s algorithm interpreted people’s search queries. Rather than simply responding to keywords in the search term, this update allowed the algorithm to take into account the entire query – and provide an appropriate ‘answer’ in terms of relevant results. In short, this update means that Google essentially ‘reads’ website content. Rather than just scanning for keywords, Google now favours content that is cohesive, on-topic and industry specific. Latent semantic indexing (LSI) is a huge factor; synonyms and industry ‘buzz words’ are very important.
Released mid-2014, this update targeted local search results. The main aim was to improve distance and location ranking parameters, and it also meant that local results were more closely related to standard search listings by PPC.
Keep up to date
If you want to make sure that your website ranks well – and avoids penalisation – then it’s important to keep up to date with Google’s algorithm changes. Top SEO companies are constantly on the lookout for changes; the sooner they can act on them the better. WME Group reviews SEO processes regularly in accordance with updates – as does any other successful SEO company. It’s hard to know exactly how new updates will impact upon your website. Keep up to date and remember these updates are inevitable – part of the SEO process is to keep informed and ensure your site is reviewed when necessary.