Google Algorithm Update October 2020

Google Algorithm Updates October 2020

While election officials may be having their battles being sure that they accurately count the vote, Google started October with a problem of their own.

Canonization and Mobile Indexing Issues

Google had to admit that canonization and mobile indexing issues caused some sites to drop in rank that should not have fallen and others not to appear at all. While the problem started about September 20, 2020, it continued well into October. While each issue affected only about 0.02% of websites, Google admits that with 1.2 billion webpages globally, you can easily see that this is a massive problem, especially if one of the impacted sites is yours. On October 15, Google disabled its tool allowing webmasters to ask that their sites be reindexed while they worked through the issue. That left many upset, but Google assures everyone that their robots are working correctly and finding pages and sites through normal means.

Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers or BERT

Google rolled out BERT on almost all English websites, and they estimate that it will affect about 10% of all websites in the world. They call it the most significant change in how their platform works since they introduced RankBrain in 2015. The intent behind BERT is to allow the search engine to understand natural language better. While Google says that you cannot do anything to influence BERT, which is being used globally on all featured snippets. Google says that all you can do is create content for real users using language that they would naturally use.

Passage Indexing

Another considerable change coming out of Google in October was their announcement that they were indexing passages. The search engine has not changed how they are ranking pages, but they are changing what they do with indexed content. The company says that they expect the change to impact about 7% of sites worldwide. When this change happens before January 1, 2021, in-depth articles with lots of content should rank better than shorter ones. You must use header tags to let Google know what cover on each page. According to Google’s post on Twitter, they now can rank passages independently of the page content to be sure that they deliver the best content to their users. Danny Sullivan, with Google, says that this is different from Featured Snippets because superior passages are identified using unique systems and will affect all pages when it goes live.

Updates to Search Quality Raters Guidelines

While the Search Quality Raters Guidelines do not directly impact your site’s rankings, the information in this document lets you get a strong picture of where Google is putting their emphasis. The new guidelines have a specific focus on meeting user needs. Google is now asking raters if content in featured snippets meets users’ needs or if they must click through to the site to get a full answer. Overall, the document this year held no significant changes, except that it ignored COVID and the elections.

Google has already promised significant changes before the year is up, so do not go on vacation too soon. Let us know if we can assist you in any way.

Google Algorithm Updates August 2020

Google Algorithm Updates August 2020

In the world of SEO, August 2020 seems to fit the craziness of the rest of the world very well. Drastic changes occurred about August 10, but those were a bug in the system that allowed low-ranking pages to appear at the top of Google’s search engine result pages were reversed in about 48 hours. Google then released a significant algorithm update starting on August 16. Just because it is 2020, this update was released on Saturday night, sending many webmasters back to work a day early. This update undid the minor updates announced during the summer and returned everything to May 2020 levels. This update is good news for many sites that acted like they had COVID-19 throughout the summer. Nonetheless, there are several factors that you need to be concentrating on right now.

Negative Reviews

Google’s John Mueller says that a handful of negative reviews among many happy customers will not hurt a site. He says that it is expected in business, so you should expect it. He went on to say that if most of the reviews are negative, then that is something that Google may pick up on and consider.

Meta Descriptions and Title Tags

Google’s Developer Advocate Martin Splitt says that meta descriptions and title tags give Google a high-level clue about a page’s content. This statement may indicate a change in how Google sees these elements, but Google’s John Mueller still insists that meta descriptions are not a ranking factor. It is time to step up your game on both parts if you want your site to rank well. Duplicate meta descriptions have long been a problem that you need to correct.

Heading Tags

While it does not seem to matter if you use H1 or H5 tags for your web pages, John Mueller sent out strong signals this month that using them is essential if you want your page to rank well. Google uses the headings when indexing, and if you do not have them, then they cannot figure out as well the purpose of your page’s content. Therefore, take the time to optimize your headings.

Unique Compelling Content

In August, Mueller also said that unique, compelling content would get sites ranked higher if the content is high quality. Making the statement in response to a question about the number of outbound links that would hurt a site, he said that assuming that the links are not pointing to a bad place that outbound links were not a ranking factor unless it hurt the quality of content on the page.

Frequently Asked Questions Markup

Frequently asked questions markups are being shown less often by Google in 2020 than in the past. According to Mueller, this is a natural progression as websites are doing a better job presenting content. He also points out that as more sites are using frequently-asked-question markups, they cannot show all of them while keeping about 10 results on the search engine result page.

Let us know if you need help implementing any of these changes. We would love to discuss the particulars of your situation with you.

July 2020 Google Algorithm Updates

Google Algorithm Updates July 2020

Google gave webmasters a small break in July with no significant updates. Many started the month playing catchup on shopping pages with Google offering new free shopping tools and becoming more aggressive towards identifying fake merchandise. The lack of major updates does not mean that they got to take the month off and play on the beach, however, because work still went on.

Websites Must Provide Great Content

The month started with a small hiccup that hurt some sites about July6-8. This update seemed to affect mostly sites with little content and an abundance of links. You should take it as a reminder that you should consistently produce fresh content that your target audience will find useful.

Use Nofollow Links for Guest Blogs

This update to Google’s algorithm was followed by a warning about guest blogs. If you use paid or unpaid guest blogs on your site, then the links should always be nofollow.

Google Search Console Insights

Google also introduced a new tool this month called Google Search Console Insights. This tool is handy because it shows you how well your new content performs, including the date that Google found the latest content and how long people stayed on the page. It also shows you the number of links pointing to your site and the newest links pointing to your content. Google Search Console Insights also contains new data on people interacting with your company via social media.

Responsive Websites

Google’s John Mueller warned against the use of using loading signs on websites. He indicated that Google’s robots might not wait for content to load. Instead, he says that there are enough tools that content should start showing to users of your website immediately.

Link Building

If you have been trying to distribute links evenly across your website, then John Mueller says you are not building links correctly. Instead, concentrate on using links that real people will find useful. Then, you will naturally be building up your most important pages. He also says that you need to take a second look at your site’s navigation to ensure that readers can quickly get to essential pages from the homepage.

Since Google named Prabhakar Raghavan as their new head of search, changes may come rapidly over the next couple of months. Last month’s Google shopping update may be just the tip of an enormous iceberg that may sink your site unless you work with a professional who stays current. Contact us today and let us help you.

June 2020 Google Algorithm Updates

June 2020 Google Algorithm Updates

While some webmasters may have tried to get a staycation during June, it is evident that Google did not take a vacation. Instead, they released several Google algorithm updates during the month that webmasters needed to react to regardless of their plans.

Government Update

The most significant update during June 2020 affected government sites. The CDC, the FDA, DEA, Department of Health, and official sites in cities and states where coronavirus numbers were large saw their sites rise dramatically through the update released about June 23. This update, however, did not just affect U.S.-based sites as government sites in Spain and other countries also saw their official sites rise dramatically.

At the same time, news and media sites saw a drop in their search engine page rankings. The takeaway from this is that Google is favoring single-subject sites put out by those in authority. Some suggest that this is a rollback of the May update in some areas vital to Your Money or Your Life.

Shopping Update

While Google has taken down many sites over the years that sold counterfeit goods, there was never an official policy until now. Now, if you spot a counterfeit product being sold on Google, you can submit a form, and once your allegations prove true, the company will remove the pages from their search engine. This change can be excellent news for those who had consumers buy products believing they were the real deal when someone had lured them with low prices. The process, however, is fueled by human reporting, so you must first fill out the legal troubleshooter form.

Web Core Vitals

Google has also announced that they will release a significant update in early 2021, but you need to start preparing for it now. The change will emphasize the user-friendliness of your site. Your sites will be measured on core web vital. These vitals have been described as:

  • Loading
  • Interactivity
  • Visual Stability
  • Mobile Friendliness
  • Safe Browsing
  • HTTPS

Additionally, Google says that they will lower the ranking of websites that have intrusive interstitials. While webmasters will no longer have to worry about AMP, those sites with AMP will not be penalized. Additionally, the company says that websites with the best authority will still be favored over those with better Web Core Vitals.

If you need help with the shopping update, government update or getting ready for the Google update, contact us. We are here to help.

May 2020 Google Algorithm Updates

May 2020 Algorithm Update

May 2020 Google Algorithm Updates

Google started rolling out the May 2020 core algorithm update on May 4, 2020, and it took about two weeks for it to roll out completely. This core Google algorithm update was one of the biggest in recent memory because it hit many different niche markets. Search engine result pages have not seen this much volatility since the Medic Google core algorithm update that came out almost exactly a year earlier. If you are one of the sites that took a hit with the May 2020 Google algorithm updates, there are several factors that you need to consider.

Thin Content

While Google has already released several updates related to thin content, May 2020 Google algorithm updates again hit websites hard that still had not corrected this problem. In particular, landing pages that have little or no content have taken the biggest hit. To fix this problem, ensure that you design every page on your website to meet user intent. Avoid creating pages for different geographical areas with the same content on them. Do not copy and paste content from one page to another without reworking it completely. Make sure that your site hierarchy is established so that your most essential pages naturally rise to the top. Use the number of words you need to convey an idea completely.

Search Result Pages with Multiple Intents

Google has rebalanced many pages where users may have different intents when entering a phrase into the search engine box. There is a simple experiment that you can do to determine if you are meeting Google’s expectations for your keywords. Open an incognito window to remove any personalization that Google has done for you. Then, enter your search term into the box. In some cases, you can figure out what Google thinks that users are looking for on that page by looking at their distinctive features. Now, look at the organic results on the first page. Make a list of what you think the intent of the page is and divide your list into different areas. For example, if you enter the term “buy car insurance,” then you will see a combination of informational and shopping sites. Try to make the content where you are hitting on that keyword match the percentages that Google has used.

Local Content

Another area that experienced a massive shakeup in the recent Google algorithm update is local content. This area may settle down a bit, but currently agitators and directories are winning against local websites. Therefore, be sure your site is listed with the correct contact information on the top sites in your category if you own or operate a small business.

SERP Features

If you have been relying on Google’s special features, like shopping carousels, image carousels, and snippet features to drive traffic to your site, you may have lost this traffic during the May 2020 Google algorithm updates. If you want to try to recapture this traffic or gain it for the first time, conduct a content gap analysis using your keywords to discover possibilities. Then, create content that you think will please Google, along with pleasing your target audience.

There is no doubt that the May 2020 Google update was a big one. If you took a hit, then follow the advice in this article to recover.

Google Algorithm Updates in December 2019

Google Algorithm Updates in December 2019

Google is constantly changing their algorithms – changes range from small, stylistic changes to large updates that shake the SERPS worldwide. Below are some updates that we saw happen in December 2019:

Map Pack Update Confirmation

Google confirms a local pack update that they performed in early November. Google has officially called this the Nov. 2019 Local Search Update. Here is what google had to say about this update:

 

Google also stated, “The use of neural matching means that Google can do a better job going beyond the exact words in the business name or description to understand conceptually how it might be related to the words searchers use and their intents…”

and

 

Our take: Google is doing some quality updates to their google maps profiles – ensuring that your profile is up to date and accurate and that you get and respond to reviews is becoming more critical. We will be writing an article about how to optimize google maps in the near future! Overall, as usual, Google is trying to match search queries with the best possible businesses.

 

Unconfirmed Algorithm Update Chatter

December 4th

On December 4th we saw some chatter around a possible google update on December 3rd and 4th. Some think this is residual movement from earlier updates in November. We didn’t see any extreme spikes in movement from other trackers suggesting that it was not a large update – if there even was one.

Mozcast

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SEMRush

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Accuranker

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Overall, nothing earth-shattering change wise – but there was enough chatter to warrant some investigation.

 

 

December 11

Starting December 10th, we see some movement on our trackers indicating some type of update going on. These updates have not been confirmed by Google, but there is some movement.

Mozcast:

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SEMRush:

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Accuranker:

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To read more about updates, and some great articles on seo, visit https://www.seroundtable.com/

 

 

Google Algorithm Updates October 2019

October 2019 Google Algorithm Updates

It was quite the busy month for google late September going into October – let’s take a look:

Late September – Google Core Update (Might have rolled into October)

The September 2019 Google Core Update rolled out in Late September. Google announced this update, which typically only happens with larger core updates. This time, Google told us that there is no direct fix to this if your website fell in rankings – but gave some advice on how to regain ranking. Here is an article on Webmaster Cental blog about this. We suspect that this update is mainly due to the content on websites.  This update seemed to roll out slowly as people did not see this hit immediately after the announcement.

 

Bert Update – October 22, 2019

BERT is an update to the RankBrain algorithm. This is an update that uses artificial intelligence to sort out search results and tries to make a more intuitive experience for searches. It uses machine learning to determine what keywords are similar. This way, if websites that don’t necessarily have the exact keywords the search has, but the content is similar, it can show up on searches. In short, the algorithm interprets what you are searching for instead of just using those exact words to find results.

BERT is an enhancement to this algorithm. It tries to understand a search query at a deeper level based on context. Search Engine Journal has a great example of this:

 

An Example of Context and BERT

The phrase was “how to catch a cow fishing?

In New England, the word “cow” in the context of fishing means a large striped bass.

A striped bass is a popular saltwater game fish that millions of anglers fish for on the Atlantic coast.

So earlier this month, during the course of research for a PubCon Vegas presentation, I typed the phrase, “how to catch a cow fishing” and Google provided results related to livestock, to cows.

Even though I had purposely used the word “fishing” to provide context, Google ignored that context and provided results related to cows. That was on October 1, 2019.

Today, October 25, 2019 the same query results in search results that are full of striped bass and fishing related results.

The BERT algorithm appeared to have understood the context of the word “fishing” as important and changed the search results to focus on fishing related web pages.

 

This deeper understanding of the intent of the search will help google display more relevant searches.

Our Interpretation of what BERT will do to Our Client’s Websites:

Because Google is trying to create a deeper understanding of searches, we believe that if the content on each page is centralized around one concept and is easily readable, rankings should improve here. The only time we will see rankings potentially going down is if a search term that did not relate to the site is finally dropping off.  For example, if we have a client who has “Enterprise” in their business name, we will likely see traffic fall off (and rankings fall) from searches related to “enterprise rent-a-car” because the intent of the searcher is now understood.

We believe this update has a lot to do with voice search or google assistant searches. Voice searches tend to be longer than searches that are typed out, so google needs to learn how to interpret these searches and the intent a little better. We anticipate more updates of this style.

October in a Nutshell

It’s all about content that is targeted and intentional. Know your subject matter and target audience & create pages for each different topic.

Don’t know where to start? Contact us!

 

 

 

Top 10 Features of VOIP Phones

A Look At The Most Popular Features Of VoIP Phone Systems

Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) phone systems have become a big part of daily corporate communications.   Although there are plenty of features that make VOIP phones a growing technology with increasing demand, here are some of our favorite features of VOIP phone systems:

Hoteling

Hoteling allows you to switch all of the information on one IP phone to another one. The voicemail, speed dials, and outbound caller ID is identical. Hoteling is an asset for people who perform remote activities. You can maintain access to your phone number without physically bringing your phone with you.

Integration with CRM’s

Ever wanted to integrate your phone system into your CRM to easily view what client is calling in & make notes in your CRM? This is possible with VOIP phone systems! Integration features include being able to launch calls in a single click and automatically linking a call to a customer record & logging the call in your CRM. Although this takes extra work during set up, this is certainly worth it!

Interactive Voice Response/Auto Attendant

Many VoIP phone system providers have interactive voice response in their virtual phone system platforms. Interactive voice response reduces the dependency on workers because automated voice menus can assist customers. Your clients do not have to wait several hours to speak with someone from your organization. Interactive voice response allows you to provide around the clock support to your customers.

Do Not Disturb

The Do Not Disturb feature can alleviate a lot of stress. You can use this feature to stop incoming calls. You can use it while you’re in meetings and conferences andalso have the option of asking the caller to leave the message on your voicemail or another option.

Multi-Office Integration

If you have multiple offices, VOIP is an excellent way to streamline your incoming calls. Transfer easily between locations and reduce the hassle of dealing with multiple phone systems – and possibly multiple phone system companies by using VOIP phone systems.

Virtual Extension

A virtual extension involves a voicemail box that does not belong to anyone. Voicemail boxes help you send and receive messages. You may find yourself having to answer the same questions. You can install a mailbox to answer some of the repetitive questions. You can also leave a message that the entire sales department can view. Virtual extension also comes with transcription, email notification, and voice to email capabilities.

Call Barging

Call barging allows a third party to overhear conversations and enter a call if necessary. Call barging enables you to stay aware of the service being provided to clients. Call barging also allows you to train new support team representatives. The call barging feature can help you manage a large amount of daily calls.

Coaching

VoIP phone systems allow you to consult with your employees while they are still on a call. You can monitor your employees’ on phone performance without interrupting anything. The whisper feature allows you to provide tips and advice to your employees while they are on the phone speaking with a client.

Call Queuing

The call queuing system is a great feature for organizations that have a lot of customers. You can put callers into an automated queue and have support staff consult them. You can add custom greetings for your clients while they are waiting to speak with someone. A call queuing system can help you provide flexible support to your customers.

Busy Lamp Field/Presence

Busy Lamp Field is a light that appears on someone’s VOIP phone while you’re on a call. Busy Lamp Field can help you avoid wasting time and energy by allowing you to check on someone and see if they are busy within seconds. Busy Lamp Field can also help improve customer service – by checking to see if someone is already on a call without putting a customer on hold, you can maximize your customer’s experience.

 

VOIP phone systems are highly customizable to meet your business needs. Contact our VOIP specialists to see what a phone system upgrade can do for you!

Why Local SEO Matters and How to Make It Work for You

Good local search engine optimization, also known as SEO, sends tons of free traffic to your business’s website and eventually to your store. However, because this tool is so simple, many business owners underestimate the importance of adding a local slant to their content. This is one of the biggest mistakes a webmaster can make when it comes to planning their site. Here’s a look at what local SEO is, why you should care about it and how to use it to increase both web and physical traffic.

Why Local?

Once upon a time, when people wanted to find a restaurant or retail outlet near them, they turned to the yellow pages. Today, business owners who want to attract more local traffic should adjust their websites to optimize SEO for local searches. The keyword phrases used on their site should reflect their location in the local market, allowing them to catch the interest of potential customers in their area.

Listing Your Business Online

When people these days look for goods or services in their local area, they turn to Google instead of the phone book. A full 76 percent of smartphone users who search for local businesses on the internet end up visiting the business the same day. 

Unfortunately, these impressive results aren’t enough to get some business owners into the game. A recent study showed that only 44 percent of local retailers had claimed their online Google My Business listing, thus taking advantage of the opportunity to improve their company’s online presence. Creating a Google My Business listing counts as one of the most effective ways to bring traffic to your local site, particularly if you use some industry-specific keywords in your site’s content. 

Long-Tail Keywords

Long-tail keyword phrases are the internet’s great equalizer. Here’s how they work. Suppose you’d like your website to rank for the keyword “mattress” because you own a bed and mattress store. There are hundreds of thousands of people who search for the word “mattresses” a month and competition is fierce. If you try to rank for that word, chances are you won’t succeed. However, you don’t need to. 

Let’s suppose that rather than using the keyword “mattress” on your site, you use a long-tail keyword phrase like “mattress stores in [your town].” Let’s further suppose that about 40 people a month search for that keyword phrase in your area. Now, consider what kind of chance your site has to rank at the top of the Google search. The odds have significantly improved. It’s also likely that the search will result in more sales because it attracts local people who are specifically interested in buying a mattress in your area.

Local Contest Incentives

People love freebies and contests. In marketing circles, few things do as much to increase your return on investment, or ROI, as having contests and giveaways. You don’t have to put up an elaborate or expensive prize in order to take advantage of this. Just offer some free merchandise or gift certificates to the people who visit your website. Ask them to redeem their prizes when they come into your local store. The local SEO search terms will attract people to your website. A pop-up or a banner advertising your giveaway will bring them in the door.

Make Your Metadata Local

Your site’s metadata such as the meta title and meta description help you to more fully optimize your website for a local search. These small but significant pieces of information give search engines a heads-up of sorts. When Google crawls your site, it will find these bits of information, and if you’ve added local keyword terms to your metadata, your site will get indexed accordingly.

Add Excellent Content to Your Website

Search engine results change constantly because webmasters sometimes update their websites daily. This means that even if you ranked yesterday for your local keyword of choice, you may not today. Adding new content to your site gives you a fighting chance of remaining at the top of the search engines. The easiest way to do this is to blog regularly. Possible blog topics include tutorials and product reviews. You can also write about the latest news in your industry. Of course, you should produce new content each time you add a new offering to your line.

Get Local Reviews

Review sites like Yelp can have an enormous impact on your local SEO efforts. Getting reviews for your business can be as simple as asking your customers to do it. Just make the request of them when they’re in your store. This will also help local customers looking for good local businesses online to come to your store because they’ve seen the good reviews.

Savvy webmasters know that localized content can make all the difference in how much traffic a website gets. Local keyword phrases, maps, and blogs that pertain to municipal or regional interests bring visitors first to a business’s website and ultimately into its brick-and-mortar location. When it comes to giving your business an inexpensive leg-up, few techniques can compete with local SEO.

Google Algorithm Updates August 2019

August 2019 Algorithm Updates

 

Google is constantly changing their algorithms daily, but we wanted to give you a quick breakdown of the most important updates that happened this August. Although not all of these updates are confirmed, these are what the search engine community views as Google algorithm updates for August 2019:

 

August 17th:

Moderate volatility detected beginning in August 16th and rolling into August 17 which signals a Google update. This update wasn’t as extreme as we have seen in the past, but enough for us to think that there has been an update over that weekend. This is not a confirmed update, but we rarely see these confirmed by Google.

A man by the name of “Bill Lambert” posted on SEO Roundtable warning the community hinting about a possible update on August 12th:  “We just had an all hands on deck meeting – Back to School update rolling out in the next 24-48 hours.”

 

August 29th:

A more volatile shift happened on August 29th. Again, there was a warning by Bill Lambert saying on August 20th: “There should be a big update dropping on the 29th or 30th. Last weekend’s test rollout passed all tests. All that I can say is try to get your website visitors to spend as much time on your website as possible,” – although not a Google confirmed update, there may have been a quality update done to shift websites with a lower dwell time down the ranks.

 

SERP Volatility Graphs:

Rank Ranger:

SEMrush:

 

 

 

MOZcast:

 

Learn more about Google algorithm updates on SEOroundtable.com