A Guide to Google Updates 2014

Welcome to Lead Generation Websites’ weekly news video blog. Where we bring you the relevant developments in Google and online marketing, for small and medium size businesses in the UK and worldwide. I’m Robert Keating, and on this week edition we have Google’s animals, three birds and a bear. This week we’re looking at Google search engine updates over the last 15 months. We’re going to look specifically at Hummingbird, Pigeon, Panda, and Penguin. If you need any more information on any of this topics, you can email us at info@leadgenerationwebsites.co.uk. That’s info@leadgenerationwebsites.co.uk. Number one, Hummingbird. What is Google’s Hummingbird? Well Hummingbird is a name of the new search engine algorithm that Google introduced in August 2013. Hummingbird is designed to focus on the meaning behind the search query, rather than just look at each word discretely. The idea is, that when the whole sentence or conversation or meaning is taken into account rather than particular words, the goal is that pages matching the meaning do better, rather than pages matching just a few words. So, what are the implications for business owners? Hummingbird is a Google search engine entirely rebuilt. There is little notable effect on the search engine results. Ultimately, nothing has changed. It’s still about useful relevant content, and a good user experience. The engine has just got better at identifying meaning and queries, and identifying the best pages, which answer those queries.

Item number two, Google Pigeon. What is Google Pigeon? Google released its Pigeon algorithm update, to make local search results more useful and relevant, by tying local search results more closely to traditional web search signals. As far as we know, this update has only been released in Google US. So, it’s only relevant in the United States, and it hasn’t hit the UK yet. What was the effect of Pigeon in the US? Well, Pigeon appears to have favoured larger websites in the United States. This means that smaller businesses need a strong branded domain to compete with the larger well-known brands. Location seems were ever more important. And whilst you cannot do much to change location of your business, you can make sure that Google knows your location through the use of Google My Business, and schema address mark up on your website.

Number three, Google Panda. What is Google Panda? Google Panda is a quality content filter, which looks at number one: quality, length, and relevance of on-page content, number two: usefulness and originality of that content, number three: user experience in terms of interactive content and ads, and number four: original experience enhancing images. What should we do? Research suggests, that the filter favours pages with 1,500 plus words, original images, and embedded video. Content should not be copied. Original and useful content is where it’s at with Google, but the best content above the fold with no ads. So that means, that that’s the first thing that people see on your website. They don’t have to scroll or click anything. You put your best content right there when they first hit your site. And use interactive content, maps and videos, comments, polls – things like that.

Number four, Google Penguin. What is Google Penguin? Penguin demotes sites with bad link profiles, and promotes sites that were affected by previous Penguin updates, that cleaned up the link profiles. Basically, Penguin looks at the incoming links to a website and makes a decision, quantifies as to whether those links are high quality or low quality. If you’ve got low quality links, then you could be in a bit of trouble. What are the implications for business owners? What is a bad link profile? A bad link profile is when a website has incoming links from low quality or irrelevant websites. So, by irrelevant websites, we mean websites that are outside of your niche – outside of your topic of business. Low quality is defined as a website with thin content. That means it has few pages, offers no value to readers, and has low trust flow, probably due to itself having a spammy link profile. An irrelevant website is defined as one from an unrelated niche. Getting a link from a carpet cleaning website for your shoe repair business website, is an example. Continuing looking at bad link profiles, we’re going to look at anchor text ratios.

Another major aspect of Penguin, is the anchor text ratio. If you have 1000 links to your shoe repair site, and 500 of them linked with the exact text Shoe Repair London, you have an anchor text ratio of 50% for that single phrase. This is a sign of manipulation, which is against Google’s terms of service. It’s unlikely that any site would naturally get 50% of all links with the exact same text, so this is very easy for Google to spot this kind of manipulation. What should you do? If you lost rankings and traffic suddenly in the middle of October, you need to check your link profile for anchor text ratio over optimisation and for spammy links, by comparing your citation flow and trust flow metrics at majestic.com.

You should also check your on-page titles and body copy for keyword stuffing. As over optimisation of pages for keyword phrases will also trip the Penguin filter. Keyword stuffing is when you put a keyword that you’re trying to rank for multiple times, and unnaturally in a piece of content. Now, you should also look at your actual content on the page. Change page titles to more readable natural sentences. This goes back to keyword stuffing. Use related phrases and synonyms in your web page copy, if you have too many instances of a particular keyword phrase. You don’t have to use the same phrase all the time, use synonyms and related phrases. Stop building links from low quality sites. So, don’t do cheap SEO. Don’t buy things off Fiverr, or submit to hundreds of directories or websites all in one go, using automated software or cheap SEO providers. You should also stop using keywords as anchor text. Branded links– use a name of your business and your URL in most of your links. If you have been affected, it will be some time before you can get out of the penalty. You have to wait until Google runs a Penguin algorithm again. Now, it’s just been run a month ago in the middle of October, and it was over a year since the time before that. If you do get caught up in Penguin, it’s probably the most serious of the Google algorithm updates. A Penguin penalty– very difficult to get out of. What you need to do, is you need to build links from related and relevant sites that have trust and authority, and using your brand name and URL as the anchor text.

Now, if you have many bad links, you may need to submit a disavow file to Google, to tell them to discount a certain number of links. In certain cases, the domain may need to be scraped, and the website resurrected on a new domain. If you’ve ended up with hundreds of thousands of links pointing to your site, then it’s probably just as easy to start again on a new domain, rather than trying to clean that one up. Some domains are beyond help. So, that’s it. That’s a very quick whistle-stop tour of the Google updates over the last 15 months, that may affect your business website. If you need more information on any of these topics or anything to do with SEO, please call 01708208889. That’s 01708208889 or you can contact us on email at info@leadegenerationwebsites.co.uk. That’s info@leadgenerationwebsites.co.uk. Thank you for watching. I hope this has been useful.