Search engine optimization — to use a cliche phrase — is always a “moving target.” All search engines are constantly working to improve the way their algorithms fetch websites for people searching.
Triangle business owners keeping an eye on their Google analytics may have noticed some changes lately as the massive search engine continues to update its algorithm. Here are the latest SEO changes and how they affect your business:
Update #1: Hummingbird — Google recently released a core algorithm update, the first since 2010. This change may actually benefit some business owners, increasing the speed of search and improving semantic search abilities. That means it’s better at figuring out all the words someone types into search, not just the nouns and verbs.
What it Means for Your Business — Overall, this has brought positive change for business owners. The semantic change means longer keyword phrases such as “best restaurant in and around Raleigh” is going to work better. Before, Google would just look at “restaurant” and “Raleigh” in that phrase.
What to Change in Your SEO — Business owners may want to optimize longer keywords to leverage the improved semantics. For example, rather than just optimizing for “Raleigh restaurant,” you might try adding “best Italian restaurant in the Triangle.”
Update #2: Penguin — SEO watchers may have heard of Penguin previously. It’s Google’s name for the spam filtering part of its algorithm. Penguin got an update last month.
What it Means for Your Business — These updates tend to affect people negatively, causing their rankings to drop a few. The spam-filtering algorithm is looking at low-quality links. Such links will not improve your rankings as they did before and may even force your business website down the page.
What to Change in Your SEO — Use Google Webmaster tools to get rid of your low-quality links. DofM clients do not have to worry about recent bad links; it’s not something we take part in. But if your site was run by someone else previously or multiple groups, you may want to confirm that you don’t have any spammy links pointing to your site.
Small Update: Secure Search — All Google searches are now secure, using https instead of just http. This was previously true for those logged into Google when performing searches, but the shift has now expanded to those not logged in as well.
Advertisers don’t like to see changes during the holiday season, so all should be quiet for a few months.
The Bottom Line
Google’s end goal is authenticity, and many of its changes the past few years have been aimed at increasing the rankings for true websites with no link spam and authentic social signals.
Business owners should always be checking their background data and links to make sure their website is updated, accurate and spam free.
On the content side, this means business owners need to create real content with relevant keywords and use social media and directories to point toward that content on a regular basis.