According to Webster’s Dictionary, the definition of an algorithm is a step-by-step procedure for solving a problem or accomplishing some end. Then why does it seem that Google’s algorithms cause more headaches than they solve? The problem may lie in the fact that a lot of companies performing SEO are trying to outthink Google in an attempt to stay ahead of the curve. In the recent past, we have talked about Panda and Penguin and whether they are part of Google’s Core Algorithm yet or not.
But wait, there’s that term again: Google’s Core Algorithm. It gets tossed around a lot in SEO discussions, but what exactly makes up “The Core”? Do you want the honest truth? Don’t tell anyone, but NOBODY seems to know, not even the people at Google. If they are held down to answer the question, the best they can come up with is that The Core is made up of algorithms that are consistent enough to run by themselves without having to be babysat. Google doesn’t have a list and no one really seems to be sure what makes up the core, they just know they don’t have to do anything to it, because it is working fine. An analogy that Gary Illyes, a Webmaster Trends Analyst for Google made was that the algorithms in the core are like a starter on a car. Back in the years of the Model T, the starter was a crank on the outside of the engine that an operator had to turn. Nowadays, the starter is integrated into the engine and is part of the whole. (This isn’t a perfect analogy because someone still has to turn a key or push a button to start the car, but you can see where he was going with it.) The same goes with the algorithms. They may have started as an experiment or something that had to be tweaked constantly, but once it got to a certain point of self-sustainability, it just became part of the core. Perhaps that is what has happened with Penguin. It started off having to be adjusted a LOT and now it seems to have been left to its own devices for a while.
People are constantly trying to figure out when the next update is going to be and what is it going to do. One of Google’s Search Quality Senior Strategists, Andrey Lipattsev recently asked rhetorically, what makes an update? Tweaks are made daily, weekly or monthly, and some, like Penguin, were updated five times in a two-month period and then hasn’t been touched in over a year. Is one tweak considered an update or is it 10 lines of code, or 100? More? In the long run, the answer doesn’t really matter, regardless. You can make yourself crazy trying to figure out what they want, trying to work the system, only to have the rules change again. “Adopt, Adapt, Improve” is the motto of The Knights of The Round Table and is a good attitude to have when it comes to SEO and Google. All you can do is keep your website updated and keep working within Google’s framework. Core algorithms, Penguins, Pandas and the like are pointless if you don’t have a website that attracts and keeps potential customers to begin with. You create the product or service and the SEO specialists at Websites to Impress will make sure your website gets the traffic you need.
The one thing you can plan on in the world of SEO is that you can’t plan on anything. Consumer habits and Google’s algorithms are always in flux, so, the best you can do is jump in and stay ahead of the wave. Here are some trends for 2016 we at Websites To Impress see as ones to watch.
Mobile optimization over desktop-Your website should work on a smartphone or tablet just as well, if not better, than on a desktop computer. More and more people are looking for instant information while they are on the go or multitasking. People use the internet everywhere: while shopping or dining, in the kitchen or bathroom, or while watching TV or working out. They may not have the time to do multiple searches and need the right answer to their query immediately. You may only have one shot to grab their attention, so make sure your website is there to fulfill their need.
Voice search-Because of the growth of mobile devices, there is an increase in spoken search queries over typed ones. Digital assistants like Apple’s Siri, Google’s Google Now and Microsoft’s Cortana are changing the way people search for topics. Long-tail keywords will become more important as people are not just looking for “pizza”, but “deep dish pizza near my home”. Search engines may reward pages that use a more conversational language over one that is accurate but sounds like a textbook. We’ll see why this is important when we discuss the next trend.
More than words-Keywords are still important, they probably always will be, but SEO needs to cover synonyms and related terms. Google’s Hummingbird algorithm, launched in late 2013, focuses on the meaning behind words, rather than the actual word. To stick with our pizza analogy, Hummingbird will be able to figure out that “Chicago-style pizza” probably means “deep dish pizza” and not “pizza in Chicago” and give you a more accurate search result. As Google’s bots continue to crawl through the billions of pages out there, meanings will become more and more important.
Local SEO-As the example above shows, people are looking for specific information, especially on their mobile devices. To keep with the pizza example, a website for a deep dish pizza place in Chicago is probably not going to be of any use to a user in Phoenix, no matter how good the site (or the pizza) is. Of course, you want your site to be at the top of search engine results, but if it doesn’t translate to purchases or click throughs, then it really doesn’t matter. If you have a local business, it is more important to be at the top of local searches, thereby driving business to your company or organization.
Social media importance grows-It is important that you not only have a website, but you have a presence on social media, such as Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter and so on. Not only does it spread the word about your business, but it lends authenticity to your organization. Potential customers will see that you’re not some shady company, but that you’ve invested time into your image and product. In addition, a social media outlet helps search engines know what sites are credible.
User engagement-OK, you’ve got your mobile site, and it’s all set to sell your Widgets in Springfield, but when people find your result on the search page, are they staying or are they clicking on another site right after yours? Search engines algorithms will start paying more attention to user engagement metrics. They want to make sure that the pages they are offering are really what the users are looking for. You need to make sure your website keeps the user there, interacting with your page and ultimately making a purchase or using your service, because really that’s the ultimate reason you have a website, isn’t it?
Predicting the future is never a sure thing, but maximizing the trends listed above won’t do any damage to your SEO and may make your results stronger than ever. We want to help you and make it our business to stay ahead of the changes and trends that are always developing. If you would like to know more about SEO, contact our team today. We want you to not only have a first-rate website, but help you get the best SEO results possible. Now, where can I find some good pizza…
Back in April of 2012, Google introduced Penguin. This algorithm was instituted by Google to catch sites that were spamming for search results. Some sites were buying links or obtaining them through link networks, artificially inflating their rankings on Google search results pages. The last Penguin update was in October of 2014.
Over the weekend of January 15th, some SEO specialists and webmasters noticed an abnormal fluctuation in the Google rankings. Social media erupted, with many people wondering if this was the long-awaited Penguin update. Last December, a Google spokesperson told Search Engine Land that “[w]ith the holidays upon us, it looks like the penguins won’t march until .” Many of us have been awaiting the new update, as the last one was over a year ago. So, when more and more people began to notice that their rankings were changing this weekend, they suspected that a Penguin update was the culprit. However, Gary Illyes, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, confirmed we will have to wait a little while longer for the next Penguin update when he tweeted Monday morning that they were updating the “core algorithm. Not Penguin.”
Not everyone is convinced that Google isn’t doing something with Penguin, evidenced by the large amount of chatter on social media over the last week concerning the changes in the automated tracking tools. The new update is supposed to allow Google to analyze the links on a site in real-time, changing rankings immediately. Sites that have fixed the bad links on their site may regain rankings (with new sites possibly being caught) and sites that were hit with false positives may see some redemption. No one likes to work under a cloud of uncertainty, so it’s no wonder that the majority of SEOs and webmasters want this new update to happen. If we take Google at their word, however, it looks like we will have to wait a little longer for Penguin to break its winter hibernation.
Although it is still rather vague what the changes are, we read two very important articles from our friends at Search Engine Land this week. The first one indicates and was confirmed to them by sources at Google that the Panda Algorithm has been built into the Google Core Algorithm. This means, for one thing, that Search Engine Land doubts that Panda updates will be confirmed by Google going forward. Read more about this update HERE.
The second bit of news that we learned is that there was a CONFIRMED change to the Google Core Algorithm. It was expected that the Panda Algorithm was to be changed, but people who perform SEO and Webmasters alike were surprised when the Core Algorithm was updated instead. We at WTI are researching what these changes mean going forward, and will post an update soon regarding what we learn. Google is always keeping us on our toes, and we love the challenge! To read a bit more about the Core Update click HERE. Read more here on Search Engine Roundtable, and see the Twitter exchange confirming the update HERE.
SEO is an ever-changing world. We make it our business at WTI to stay on top of the latest changes and trends in SEO. If you are curious about SEO, and what it can do for your, contact our team today. Our goal is to create websites that our customers love with great website design, but also to help them get found on the web with the most current SEO tactics. We love the puzzle that is SEO!