Google Algorithm Updates July 2021

Google algorithm update – July

It has undoubtedly been a busy summer for webmasters trying to cope with the algorithm updates that Google has been handing out since the end of May. Before these rollouts began, Google measured user experience by mobile-friendliness, safe-browsing, HTTPS security and intrusive interstitial guidelines. While those factors are still important, the two-part Google Page User algorithm added at least three new metrics that webmasters need to focus on.

Largest Contentful Paint

The largest contentful paint measures the amount of time that it takes the most important content on your website to load. You need a load time of less than 2.5 seconds. Various factors can influence load time, including compressing large images, eliminating third-party scripts, securing sufficient web hosting services and creating an order where your most essential content loads first.

First Input Delay

The first input delay measures the time between the user clicking on a clickable object on your website and the website’s response. This score will be created only for pages where user input is needed, so pages like your blog will not have a score. Ideally, Google wants to see this measurement at 100 milliseconds or less. Improve this score by taking a look at your JavaScript. Eliminate JavaScript where possible and break large chunks into smaller pieces.

Cumulative Layout Shift

Cumulative layout shift measures how much images and other items move around on the page as it loads. A score of less than .1 is acceptable. Ensure that all images, ads and embedded elements have set dimensions. Ensure that you have reserved enough space for ads and images and that your web fonts display correctly. Furthermore, make sure that dynamically injected content loads below existing content.

Google Link Spam Update

While webmasters were still trying to cope with the impacts of the Google Page User update, the company began rolling out a Google Spam Update on July 23. Google announced this update by reminding people who are using affiliate links to qualify them with rel=”sponsored” in the code. Google also reminded webmasters that it was vital when monetizing their sites by using guests posts to code them appropriately. The best way to create links is to build good content. Then, natural links to that content will occur.

Especially with Page User Update, it may be difficult for small-and-mid-sized businesses to have the expertise to fix problems. We would love to be of assistance to you during that process.

 

Resources:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/theyec/2021/07/08/key-things-to-know-about-googles-2021-page-experience-update/?sh=133bf81f68c2
https://yoast.com/page-experience-google-ranking-factor/
https://www.semrush.com/blog/google-july-2021-core-update/
https://developers.google.com/search/blog/2021/07/link-tagging-and-link-spam-update
https://www.seroundtable.com/google-link-spam-update-31820.html

Google Algorithm Updates June 2021

June Google Algorithm Update

Starting on June 2, 2021, Google rolled out a core algorithm update. Unlike regular algorithm updates, these updates are designed to affect every site. The company says that they failed to get parts of the algorithm update ready. Therefore, they will release another core algorithm update in July. It is unprecedented for Google to release back-to-back core algorithm updates.

One of the most significant changes with this core algorithm update is that reference sites moved up noticeably in the search engine ratings. This was especially true of Wikipedia. Google seems to have put renewed emphasis on sites providing definitions to words that users may not know how to define. Likewise, many news sites saw their visibility rise.

One of the biggest losers was travel sites, especially those relying on user-generated data. Often, a site featuring a particular place replaced these websites.

Product review and affiliate sites also saw sizable losses in many cases. In many cases, health, parenting and wellness sites also saw significant losses.

If this update has dinged you, ensure you create unique content designed to meet every possible need of your target audience. Especially with health and wellness websites, ensure that you are linking out to the latest reputable studies.

Page User Update

Google also released a page user update on June 15, 2021, and they say that the rollout will continue through the end of August. Site owners can view their score in the Google Search Console. Remember that this update applies only to mobile sites. Google says that most sites will not see a drastic change with this rollout. They will be looking for several different factors, including:

  • Compliant with core web vitals
  • Mobile-friendly
  • No security issues
  • Must be HTTPS
  • No intrusive ads

A significant change in this update is that AMP is no longer needed for Google to place a story in their news carousel.

Danny Sullivan with Google says that webmasters should not worry too much about this update. He says that it will be used only as a tiebreaker when ranking sites that are close together.

Spam Update
On June 23 and 28, 2021, Google released spam updates. If your site was hard hit starting on those days, ensure that you have not been hit by a spammer. Google claims that they can spot over 90% of these sites and prevent users from reaching them.

As always, if we can be of help to you, please reach out to us.

Google Algorithm Update May 2021

Google Algorithm Update May 2021

After getting everyone primed for a big User Experience update in May, Google decided to hold off a little longer. That does not mean that there was not plenty of other SEO news in May 2021. The month started with an algorithm update, and it kept moving forward.

Product Review Update

While Google initially rolled out its Product Review Update on April 3, many webmasters saw further changes in their rankings from April 30 to May 2. This appears to be a tweaking of the original update. This English-only update impacted single-review sites and roundup review sites. If your site was brutally hit, review each page on your website to ensure that it offers expert advice. Compare the product with past models and help website users understand what sets it apart from the product’s competitors.

Another Google My Business Keyword Stuffing Warning

John Mueller once again warned against keyword stuffing. The results are clear that using keywords in your company name improves its rankings in Google My Business. If you have been tempted to add keywords to your business name, you will receive a penalty from Google about 40% of the time. You may receive a soft suspension where you can no longer make changes to your listing or a hard suspension where your listing is removed. Soft suspensions rarely affect rankings.

What Does Google Expect to see Above the Fold?

An interesting discussion this month is what Google expects to see when they are looking at your site without having to scroll. John Mueller says that Google wants to see some content above the fold. He uses the example of a hotel that displays a photo of their property or an award they have won and a little bit of information above the fold. It is no longer necessary to try to force your keywords into this area. Additionally, Google’s John Muir says that you can have as many H1 tags as you want on a webpage. Your headers, including h2, h3 and so on, should indicate the page’s content.

Core Web Values

Throughout May, there has been a lot of chatter about Core Web Values. While the big Page User Update has been pushed back to at least mid-June, improving your Core Web Values can help your site rank better today. These vitals focus on loading, interactivity, and visual stability as measured by loading content paint, first input delay and cumulative input shift.

If you need help preparing for the Page User Update, contact us. Those who move early are likely to see positive changes now, along with more changes once the algorithm is released in mid-June.

Looking for ongoing marketing services? Let us help you!

Google Algorithm Updates March 2021

Google Algorithm for March 2021

Google started the month with an update to their page speed score and released lots of news during the month. Let’s look at all the various things that happened in the world of SEO during March 2021.

Google Page Speed Updates

While you may have taken steps to improve your page speed, Google changed how they measured it, so everyone got an instant reward. Since Google is now using HTTP/2 protocol to gather page speed, you should be using an HTTP/2 host. If your host is only HTTP/1.x, then you need to find out how to activate the HTTP/2. Once activated, be sure to test it with a tool like Google’s Lighthouse to be sure it is working.

Core Web Values Update

When Google introduced Core Web Values in December 2020, many websites struggled to meet those requirements. Google announced on the last day of March that pages with the best content would still outrank pages with worse content, regardless of the Core Web Value score. It is still a great idea to work towards improving your site’s score.

Evasive Ad Content

Google is extending its Evasive Ad Content policy to include text in domains, subdomains, and logos. It also prohibits using UNICODE characters in ads unless they deem that those characters add value to ad viewers.

URLs Too Similar

Google’s John Mueller says that if the company crawls two pages and discovers that they contain similar content, they assume that all pages with a similar URL structure have duplicated or very similar content. This mainly comes into play with websites containing city names. For example, you may have very similar content on pages listing hotels in a big city and its suburbs. If that is the case, then Mueller suggests that you use rel canonical. Then, Google recognizes that each page is essential and keeps it indexed.

Google’s Rich Result Page Updates

Google made two changes to their rich result pages, impacting your report in the Google Web Console. There are new requirements in job posting structured data. These changes are likely a result of Google releasing its Career Certification Courses. The second change is that the company is now checking FAQ and Q&A structured data below the root level. In both cases, the company will issue warnings and advice on what you need to do to fix the problem.

Site Going Offline

If your site is going offline for a few hours, you should use a 503 server status code. This has been standard practice for a long time, but if you know that your site will be down for several days, then Google says that you should upload a temporary, static version of your important pages. If going offline is unexpected, you can use Google’s Wayback Machine to create these pages.

Property Promotion Ads for Hotels

Google now allows property promotion through their Google Ad Interface. Previously, the company owning the list had to be on Google’s whitelist. These ads are designed to show a property when a user does not have a brand preference but knows the geographical area where they want to stay.

No Limit for Title Tags

Google says that there is no limit to title tags’ length, and they refuse to suggest a length. While most titles are between 50 and 70 characters long because that is what the search engine displays correctly, Google says that title length is not a ranking factor. The company’s recommendation is to use titles that precisely convey what users will find on that page.

If you have questions or need help, then contact us. We are ready to assist you!

Google Algorithm Updates for January 2021

January Algorithm Updates

The new year started quietly for Google algorithm updates. For the most part, it stayed that way throughout the month.

SMITH Algorithm

The company placed renewed emphasis on the SMITH algorithm as the year started. Google designed this tool to help them understand passages within a document. They did not mean it to replace BERT, but for both instruments to complement each other. This change may be huge, especially for researchers, because it may help Google locate more relevant documents for particular topics.

Index Coverage Data Improvements

Google has been quietly rolling out improvements to their indexes since mid-November. This index that you can view in your Google Search Console shows you what Google found when trying to crawl your site. You may have gotten a generic crawl anomaly message in the past, but the company is trying to be more helpful. Now, if there is a problem, you will see:

  • Indexed but blocked – These pages were blocked by a robots.txt when Google tried to crawl them.
  • Indexed Without Content – Google did not find any content when crawling these pages.
  • 404 errors- Google says soft 404 error reporting is more accurate.

Google Page Rankings Influenced by Site Quality

SEO experts worldwide have long debated whether Google issues rankings based on entire sites or if they issue rankings based on individual pages. The answer is a little of both, depending on what information they can discover. Therefore, you need to make sure that it is clear how each page on your site fits into your overall scheme to build your domain authority. You also need to make each page is the best that it can be to get a higher quality score and to impress real people.

We want to help you have a more productive year in 2021. Let us help you move towards your SEO New Year’s resolutions.

How to Expand Your Local Marketing Reach

Today’s marketing helps your business reach more people than ever. However, businesses sometimes forget how much customers interact with local campaigns. Learn to take advantage of both traditional and online tools to expand your brand and reach your local audience.

Master SEO

Over the years, successful companies have learned how to take advantage of local searches through SEO. Here are a few tips to improve your site’s performance and its local reach:

  • Optimize your Google Business Account: Improving your Google Listing can improve both your rank on Google Maps and help your business gain ground on local Google searches. If you haven’t already, create your My Business Account with Google. Keep this account up-to-date and post regularly.
  • Get Glowing Reviews: Be sure to encourage reviews from your customers in-person and online. When engaging with online posts, respond promptly and professionally.
  • Create Content Based on Local Events: Writing blog posts responding to new stories or community interests can improve engagement with your business and improve your SEO with local searches. Including local keywords in your site also makes your business more relevant.
  • Use Backlinks and Location Pages: Backlinking to quality websites helps your business appear in “snack packs” of localized results. Location-specific pages help locals find your business if you have multiple locations. However, be sure to include custom content on each of your location pages.
  • Optimize SEO for Voice Searches: With voice command speakers and software becoming more common, it’s important to make sure your site is formatted to catch these kinds of searches. To help catch more of these, your site should be mobile-friendly and its metadata should account for more conversational words and question phrases (who, what, where, when). You can also create blog posts that specifically answer voice-based queries.

 Source: https://mailchimp.com/marketing-glossary/seo/ 

Don’t Neglect Traditional Marketing

Some of the best ways to engage with local customers are as old as time. People respond to content that reflects their personal interests. Traditional marketing offers businesses a way to interact with locals more personally. Old methods like asking for reviews in-person, supporting community events, and even mailing flyers can significantly increase local engagement. In fact, direct mail can give you an incredible 1,300% ROI.

Source: https://www.podium.com/article/marketing-channels/ 

Community Outreach

Learn to engage with your local community through community outreach. Community outreach allows your business to interact with the community in a positive way. Here are a few great ways to reach out:

  • Get involved with community programs
  • Pick a cause for your business to support
  • Create a mentor program for interns and new employees
  • Partner with local schools and promote student events

Source: https://www.hatchbuck.com/blog/small-business-philanthropy/ 

Focusing on local marketing allows your business to find more overall engagement. Collaborate with your marketing and outreach team to see how you can optimize your business for local searches. You can also work with localization specialists to help optimize your online presence. Small improvements can provide amazing results!

Need extra help with your SEO? Check out our services!

Google Algorithm Update December 2020

 

Google Algorithm Update December 2020

Google gave webmasters a gift on December 5, 2020, when they rolled out a broad core algorithm update. While some welcomed the changes amid a busy holiday season, others groaned loudly. Google even changed it a little late in the month. Here’s what you need to know about Google algorithm updates occurring in December 2020.

Google Properties Claim Even More Space

Throughout 2020, Google continued to claim more of the space on search engine pages for properties that they owned, such as YouTube, and that is particularly noticeable with this update. Meanwhile, direct competitors, such as Amazon, took a hit.

Original Well-sourced Content

Another group of big winners with this core update are sites providing great original content that is well-sourced. You need to be working with experts in your field to stay up-to-date and providing that to your target audience in bite-size pieces that they can easily understand. The content needs to be presented in a manner that your target audience will find interesting and helpful. Be particularly careful that your heading matches as close as possible what a searcher is looking for when they enter a phrase or word into Google’s search engine results page.

Content Structure

Concentrating on your headings and content structure across your entire site may pay huge dividends because this update seems to be more sitewide than more recent updates where individual pages won or lost.

Ads

Many sites that lost ranking during this Google core update had intrusive ads interfering with the user experience. Look at your site if you allow ads to display to make sure that they are out of the way of users getting to your main content. Some sites with lots of gambling and alcohol ads took a particularly hard hit during this update.

Google Eliminates Penalty Reporting

Be aware that manual penalties are no longer available on your Google dashboard. It is not that Google has stopped looking at the things outlined in the Google User Rater Guidelines, but they have stopped letting you know what you are doing wrong.

What Can You Do If Google’s December Core Algorithm Update Felt Like Coal?

If your site took a hit during the December update, then you may have felt like Google gave you coal instead of a present. If that is the case, make sure you have sourced every fact with a reliable source. Look at your about page to ensure that it paints an extremely clear picture of your company and its purpose. Compare yourself against those who jumped ahead of you to determine what they are doing differently and copy their methods without stealing their content. Be sure that your content is well organized with titles and subheadings that tell the reader precisely what they will find there.

If you need help, contact us. We will be glad to help.

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 Update September 2020

From PPC to Blogs Articles – September 2020 Algorithm Updates

September started with a bang, especially in PPC, and it kept rolling throughout the month, so let’s get right to the latest news.

Google to Stop Showing Search Queries That Trigger Ads

If you look at your most recent pay-per-click reports, you may have realized that you see many fewer keywords than usual. In the past, Google showed you the keywords, even if there was just one person who searched for that term. Now, to protect user privacy, the company says that they will only show terms where significant data could be collected. Some large firms are reporting seeing up to 20% fewer terms appear in their lists.

If Your Goal is Backlinks, Then Write Short Articles

An analysis done of over 5,000 articles found that those generating the most backlinks had an average of 695 words. The study that ignored articles from major news sources found that timely content was more likely to be shared than evergreen content. The study found that sports, sex and relationships, and fitness were more likely to be shared. Furthermore, how-to articles are the most shared, followed by list videos.

Don’t Wait to Improve Your Site

Google’s John Mueller says that webmasters no longer must wait to see improvements in their rankings if their site took a significant blow during a core algorithm update. He says that sites that are moving in the right direction should see their rankings improve within a few days of making changes as the current system gets input regularly. That is excellent news for many webmasters because, with Penguin and Panda, webmasters had to wait until the next quarter to see vast improvements in their rankings.

Domain Name Not a Ranking Factor

Some studies suggest that having at least one keyword in the domain name is a ranking factor, but John Mueller insists that it does not help a site. In fact, Mueller says that it may hurt a company because it makes it difficult to pivot to a new niche market as conditions change. Instead, Mueller suggests that you focus on creating a domain that can stand the test of time. In order to accomplish this, Search Engine Land, says your focus needs to be on these ranking factors:

  • Backlinks
  • Semantic Saturation
  • Core Web Values
  • User Experience
  • Structured Data
  • Google My Business Listing
  • Mobile Optimization

Google Fact Check Guidelines

Google has updated its guidelines for fact check articles. These are the articles appearing under another article when someone searches for a specific piece of questionable data. If you want your site to be considered, you must mark several of your pages with ClaimReview structured data. The content on the page must support your structured data. Accountability, transparency and readability standards must be met. You must have a form or way for users to submit corrections. Each claim must identify a secondary source, and you must use references or another matter to link each claim to its source. The page must have a brief synopsis of the claim and what facts were checked.

If you need help with any of these things or some other SEO matter, then contact us. We are always ready to assist you.

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.