Keeping Up With Google
Like all technology, Google is continuously getting smarter at indexing the contents of the web. Their goal is simple: maximise user experience by constantly improving their ranking algorithm to ensure that users can find relevant content quickly and easily.
As an Internet user, this is a great thing – gone are the days when spam-ridden content stuffed with keywords was enough to get you to the top of search results, and this means that Google is succeeding at creating a world wide web where quality content is favoured.
Changes are also afoot for you as a business owner when it comes to your website and how successful it continues to be as a marketing tool. What worked yesterday to get you ranking might not be as effective tomorrow, or worse, might even get your site penalised in search results. This is why it’s important to be aware of changes in the Google algorithm, and team up with a digital marketing agency who can keep your website up-to-date.
Here we’re going to take a look at some updates Google have released lately, and what can be done to make sure your chances of ranking in search results are the best they can be.
The Google Zoo: Penguin & Possum
In the early days of the web, a sure-fire way of ascending the ranks of Google results was to submit your website to “link farms” or directories which would list your URL in numerous places on the web, causing it to ping up on Google’s radar more often and consequently increase its chances of ranking.
The Penguin update is designed to detect and penalise any websites using these tactics, and Google announced late last month that the latest version, Penguin 4.0, was now in effect. The major change this time around is that Penguin now works in real time, as opposed to previously when websites might be sitting on the black list for months or years before the next update, even after cleaning up their links.
Penguin also targets website engaging in the practice of “keyword stuffing”, or repeating the same keywords again and again in their content, even to the point of illegibility, to rank in results when those keywords were used in searches.
According to SEO blog Search Engine Land, the update the SEO community has dubbed “Possum” has many companies thinking their Google My Business listings are gone, but this is not the case – they’re just playing possum, a term used in the US synonymous with “playing dead”.
Like Penguin, Possum was implemented to block spam results from ranking in line with Google’s ultimate goal of ensuring quality search results for user experience. The main point of difference is that Possum also aims to diversify local search results and be smarter about defining service areas.
Before the update if a business fell outside the strict geographical boundaries of a city but was still in the area, it would be extremely difficult to rank – for example, a search for “SEO agency Sydney” would favour results only within the city of Sydney and not the surrounding greater Sydney area, such as the North Shore, the Eastern Suburbs and so on. The update also means that the geographical location of the user taken into consideration when listing results.
It has also been reported that local search is operating more independently of general search results, meaning that just because a website is ranked lower in overall results, this does not correlate with local results.
What Does this Mean for You?
As Google becomes smarter at indexing content and improving user experience to help people efficiently find what they’re looking for, you can bet that more updates to their algorithm will continue to roll out over the coming months and years. How can you keep up to ensure your website continues to rank?
Google has always focused on a “content first” view of the web. One thing that remains constant is the favour that Google places on well-written, relevant content, with keywords and phrases subtly interwoven into the text so that you optimise your pages to rank for those search terms while still sounding natural and readable. Teaming up with a professional SEO copywriter can really put you ahead of the game in terms of not only having compelling content that sells your services to visitors, but of maximising your chances at ranking well in Google.
An emphasis on quality content that adds value, coupled with social media integration, encourages your site visitors to share your site on platforms such as Facebook and Pinterest which is also great advertising and favoured by Google.
Partnering with a reputable SEO agency you can trust is vital these days as internet marketing continues to dominate so you can put you and your business ahead of the curve. A good online marketing expert will stay on top of the small tweaks and big changes to Google’s indexing algorithm, and optimise your website and provide the best advice so you have the best chance of succeeding in a competitive marketplace.