5 WAYS IN WHICH RECENT GOOGLE UPDATES IN SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION WILL AFFECT YOUR WEBSITE
Google’s plans to offer more comprehensive and user-satisfactory search engine optimization began sometime in 2010 with the “Caffeine” update. This Google algorithm was aimed at providing fresher content on the search engine ranking positions (SERPs). This web indexing system was expected to provide 50% fresher results in the web searches, which would enable Internet users to find current information faster than before.
After completing this, Google advanced to the Panda updates, which have by far been the most impacting of Google’s algorithm changes.
The Panda updates have received many criticisms since their inception in February 2011, but the bottom-line is that they have changed the way in which indexing and ranking of websites is carried out by Google. The Panda updates have consistently been revised with exclusions and additions that best suit the ranking system.
Shortly after the first episode of Panda updates, Google released Penguin in April 2011. Later, in November 2011, Google introduced the Google Human Reviewer (GHR) updates.
Google continues to command search engine optimization, as it is the dominant search engine on the web, with control of over 65% of the search engine market on the Internet. It is followed by Bing and Yahoo, with Bing recently surpassing Yahoo in terms of total searches, according to a recent study release by ComScore.
Below are 5 ways in which the successive Google algorithm updates have affected websites:
Web design and user experience
Under the expertise of engineer Navneet Panda, Google launched the Panda updates in February 2011. These updates have introduced major changes to the SEO activities of all websites. The days are gone when content was viewed as the only parameter, which could guarantee high search engine ranking position (SERP) on the internet, though it still remains the backbone of Internet marketing.
Web design is certainly one of the aspects that is targeted by the recent developments in this Google algorithm. If your website is elegantly designed and not clustered with ads, this enhances the user experience, and Panda will reward you for it. If readers have to click through many buttons to find information and content on multiple pages, this will drain away the user engagement. The audience will not have fun on the site and will navigate away, so Panda will be less likely to improve your page ranking. Google has openly pointed out that a few poorly designed pages on a great site can be enough to prompt the algorithm to push the site’s ranking position down.
Website’s SEO over-optimization
In part of its ongoing algorithm changes, Google released Penguin in April 2011, which was specifically designed to address the aspect of over-optimization of websites. This update was meant to bar inconsistency and spamming in link generation, so it targets hidden on-page text and links that have no relevancy other than boosting the ranking of a site. It also identifies redirects that mislead visitors to a website. Those using “black hat” and “grey hat techniques” such as sending automated queries to Google in order to boost their ranking will find themselves locked out in Google SEO.
Additionally, this update takes into account keyword stuffing that is typically created to fool search engines. Moreover, multiple domains and sub domains that have irrelevant content that were designed to create backlinks to the main website are also taken care of with this update. What this means is that over-optimizing your site to get traffic will result in your site being branded as spam, and Google will drag it to the rear pages where it can hardly reach an audience.
If your website receives stray traffic through irrelevant content, it will show increased bounce-rate and reduced on-site time. Website owners using hidden methods to drive stray traffic in their sites (often in the hopes of generating leads from that traffic) will be hit hard by the Panda updates. If traffic navigates away from your site immediately after landing on the pages, this will prompt the algorithm to drag your site down in rank. The Penguin update was meant to strengthen Google’s belief that content is the king in search engine optimization.
Web content quality, relevancy, uniqueness… Not enough!
Website owners have been focused on quality for a long time to increase the ranking of their sites. However, this is not enough to guarantee higher ranking in the SERPs. There are businesses with quality content that describes a topic adequately, and is grammatically correct and unique, but they are finding their websites penalized by Google Panda updates.
What Google is signaling is that unless people find your content engaging to the point that they’d want to share it with their peers and friends, then your quality content will remain unproductive in SEO. The web content must grab the attention and interest of the readers in such a magnitude that they are compelled to share and distribute it among other Internet users.
The content may be funny, humorous, anecdotal, or complimented with photos, but if it does not capture the relevancy of the topic, it will not keep the audience engaged and enticed. The more the content is shared and also the more time the audiences are retained on the site by the content, the higher your site will be ranked. Furthermore, website owners need not only produce content about their products’ features but research for new developments in their industry and deliver the news to the audiences. With these algorithms in play, website owners need to be thought leaders in their industry, as this will produce direct benefits to their sites’ ranking and growth.
Shady link practices for websites
One of the aspects which Google Panda updates have focused on since their creation is link building. In January and February 2011, Google punished sites such as JC Penny and Overstock.com for what was cited as a malpractice in obtaining inbound links. The ranking of these sites dramatically fell from the top page of the SERPs after they were accused of getting links to their product pages from sites that are irrelevant.
Website owners should emphasize on the quality of inbound links. The Google algorithm is strictly concerned with relevancy and site authority for these links. Link exchange and coveted links are highly prohibited by Google search engine, and this means that instead of buying popular links, website owners can get their links by maintaining quality websites, enhancing the rate of creating interesting content and strengthening link distribution networks.
Social sharing of website content
The viewership of websites through sharing content in social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, StumpleUpon, and YouTube has been incorporated in Google’s website ranking updates. In March 2011, Google began ushering in the interests of social networks in search engine optimization. Although this update coincidentally came in with Google’s introduction of the Google+ social network, it is without a doubt that Google was realizing the power social media has attained in Internet marketing.
Consumers today use social media to get more information about products and services, as well as discuss their experiences with brand products they have used. It is evident that the consumers’ buying behavior is greatly being influenced by the social interactions on these social mediums. Building followers through social networks can help the ranking of websites on search engines. The more a site is shared among social media sites, the higher it is likely to be ranked by Google.
In a nutshell, Matt Cutts, currently Google’s head of web spam, has reiterated that Google’s subsequent updates are made to reduce ranking of low quality sites that are cited as low-value for users, and those which use content copied from other sites. Website owners who are generally engaging in search engine optimization malpractices will be dealt a blow by the these updates.