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.

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

click for full size

 

SEMRush

click for full size

 

Accuranker

click for full size

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:

click for full size

 

 

SEMRush:

click for full size

 

Accuranker:

click for full size

 

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