Changes to Google and how this affects website rankings
29 Jan, 2015
Over the past few years, the amount of changes Google has made to their algorithm has been profound, and now that 2015 is here, these changes are only increasing in frequency. But this evolution is good. Google wants to reward great content. They want to make searchers happy. And they certainly want as few searchers as possible using another search engine.
Ultimately, the website judged to have the highest quality information will be the site that has the best ranking. This means the Google algorithm is being constantly updated to achieve this aim.
What is changing?
As a result of previous attempts by site owners to artificially manipulate their rankings (keyword stuffing, link generation etc.), Google has been refining its algorithm and (particularly) over the past 2-3 years have been in the process of rolling out three major update platforms, the last of which takes effect in 2015:
Update 1: Panda - aimed at ensuring sites with low quality content did not make it to the top rankings. Targets sites with little original content, unnecessarily keyword heavy content or old content. This ranking is influenced by human “quality raters” who review and index the site.
There have been 27 Panda updates since its launch in 2011.
Update 2: Penguin - implemented to catch sites deemed to be spamming their search results, in particular those doing so by buying links or obtaining them through link networks designed primarily to boost Google rankings.
There have been at least 6 Penguin updates to Google's search algorithm since 2012
Update 3: Effectiveness/Authenticity/Trust (E.A.T) - In 2015 a new ranking system takes effect where a broad spectrum of digital behaviours will determine a sites rankings.
As E.A.T rolls out there will be a need for SEO and Content Strategy to become inexorably linked and co-ordinated. This is sometimes collectively known as building a sites “authority”.
Ultimately, the end game for Google is the site that is highest in its rankings is the one that looks, acts and behaves as the authoritative market information leader.
The role of SEO in the E.A.T rollout:
The role of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is to drive high quality “free” traffic from a range of sites, including but not limited to:
- Local directories and review sites
- PR, Authority, video and social sites.
With Google as the main search engine being used worldwide, we must engineer our site to maximise its quality (authority) score with respect to the Google search algorithm.
Meeting this criteria needs a long term integrated program across three broad areas that needs to be managed to ensure its effectiveness:
- Technical – the functionality of your website
- On-site – the quality, relevance and structure of content on your site
- Off-site – the implementation of a broad reaching content strategy that feeds your site such as video content, case studies, white pages, social media etc.
What does this mean for businesses?
Ensuring an integrated technical, on-site and offsite program is critical to meeting the E.A.T criteria. This includes but is not limited to:
- Integrating an offline and online digital strategy that reaches beyond the website.
- Reviewing how the website and content is structured including web copy, links, page titles, H1 & H2 tags and alt image tags.
- Continually maintaining and updating content including page structure, web copy, white pages and video content.
- Ensuring the links to and from your site are not broken and lead to meaningful content.
- Repurposing content for example, uploading videos to YouTube, transcribing video content into case studies, adding content onto social network channels and Blogs and linking with partner sites.
- Ensuring your site is active on other parts of the Google network, e.g. Google AdWords (SEM), YouTube and Google Businesses.
What to do now – the easy wins.
Companies that meet these new Google requirements the quickest will gain a search advantage. Some of the issues above will take some time but there are a few obvious and impactful actions that can be taken immediately.
- Start developing great video content
- Have website structure reviewed
- Have content plan and repurpose content
How IMA can help
As from February 1st this year, IMA have acquired Brown Cow Media, a content development specialist business. Owner Daryl Brown commenced the business as a video production house and extended its services to include all digital content planning and execution. As part of the IMA team, Daryl will assume the role of Digital Content Producer.
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