SEOs the world over breathed a sigh of relief as Google kicked off 2012 by announcing that they will offer a monthly blog update with details of the latest search algorithm changes. It was good to see Google responding to the feedback and popularity of their past announcements. Previously, Google mostly blogged about the large algorithmic changes, such as Panda and the Freshness updates of last year. All of this extra information is fantastic for search geeks such as myself and those in our Found SEO team. It gives us insight into the cutting edge changes in search and can explain possible performance increases or decreases as different signals affect the SERPs.
Many recent algorithmic changes followed on from 2011’s Panda update, which penalised what were considered poor quality content farms. One of the updates in January 2012 focussed on looking at how some sites were far too top-heavy with their advertising, which was obtrusive and distracted from a useful user experience. This update could certainly hit content websites that rely on ads above the fold to generate revenue. This penalty may present an opportunity for brands to gain positions by creating high quality content themselves, as they do not exist purely on advertising revenue. The other major update in January was ‘Google Search plus Your World‘. I am sure Google’s social search will continue to tweaked as Google gathers more data and feedback from users.
Many of the 40 adjustments made for February are quite minor, with tweaks in many varied areas of search. As well as additions, Google also disables some query classifiers as they get outdated. Some of the areas highlighted by the recent changes are refinements to freshness rankings, rich snippets, image results, local results, and the usual specific language and country based improvements. I won’t go into details about the better triggering for ‘Turkish weather search’, but some of the following items caught my eye:
• Signals for Spiking Topics
This is interesting as this will affect breaking, popular news stories. Google have improved the speed in which these spiking topics are listed in search results. This change, along with the other improvements to freshness, confirms the fact that a new content strategy is essential for future growth of traffic levels.
• Improved Local Results
Local signals can now affect YouTube results plus there is better detection of a user’s city.
• Spam Update and Link Evaluation
Google are constantly refining how they evaluate links and what is classed as spam.
• Site: Query Update
This is always a useful query for SEO and should now show an improved diversity of results.
It is essential for online brands to make sure they realise the effect of Google algorithm changes on their web properties, as Google have estimated they will make a whopping 500 adjustments this year alone! One of the jobs of an SEO Agency is to understand these algorithm updates. The next job is to analyse any effect (or future effects) to their clients positions and to adjust strategy accordingly. And the great thing is, this is exactly what we love to do!