How Will The Changes To Google’s Core Update Affect Your Search Engine Optimization?
On Saturday February 20th, Google performed a massive update to its core search algorithm, affecting search engine results and how they are displayed on the search results page. Effective Monday, February 22nd, the sidebar Google advertising was discontinued. This new layout now portrays up to four text ads (previously three) at the top of the page. Beneath the ads are local Google My Business listings, followed by organic listings below the fold (the part of the page that is not visible unless you scroll). Three final ads trail at the bottom of the page.
So, how will the core update and new display affect your website’s natural and organic listings?
- Content quality is decisive in organic listings
- User intent is a primary focus
- Optimizing your website for the user is critical
- Relevancy is now based on user intent
- Brand related searches receive large benefits
- Accelerated Mobile Pages are launched
- Google My Business receives a major spotlight
- Social Media influence is important
- Mobile friendliness is more valued than before
So, Why The Change?
Google announced this major core update over the weekend. This is rather unusual as they generally update their algorithm quietly. The core algorithm update is designed to improve Google’s real time efficiency at showing more relevant searches to its users. Google also made its Panda filter part of the core. You can think of Google Panda as a filter that used to sit on top of the core algorithm and focus on a specific element of the search results process. Google Panda was created to filter results by eliminating webpages with thin content and penalizing websites that do not adhere to Google’s website best practices.
Google’s core mission has always been to assist its users to find the greatest quality and most relevant information for their search queries. The change to the the core algorithm forces search engine marketers to adhere to Google’s best business practices.
How Will This Affect My Google Search Engine Optimization Campaigns?
Google will never reveal all the secrets to its search algorithm. However, SEO professionals use a variety of tools to measure and understand the components of Google’s core algorithm. Additionally, industry experts have poured over change logs and conducted endless series of tests. Therefore, we can deduce with accuracy the factors that Google grades websites for specific search queries.
Content Quality Is Critical
The strategy behind content has changed slightly. SEO professionals need to focus on a specific topic and keywords associated with that topic. The deeper the content dives into the topic, the better score a website will receive. The sheer amount of content is not decisive for rankings, rather the question of whether the content is relevant and fulfills the user intention.
User Intent Is A Large Factor For Relevancy
Google wants to help its users find good quality information as quickly as possible. Therefore, it is critical that your content contain rich snippets of targeted information that are in line with the strategic intent driving the search query. Visuals are also now valued, as they help the user understand and digest the information. Furthermore, Google now rewards websites that have more relevant content aimed at the strategic intent of a Google user’s search query.
Website and Mobile Friendliness
More than half the searches conducted on Google are done from a Mobile device so it’s no wonder Google rewards websites that provide a better and more intuitive mobile experience. Additionally, factors such as page speed, load time, and design are strongly affecting the search engine results page.
There are certainly many more ways to increase your search engine optimization such as using redirects properly, removing broken links and 404 pages, resolving on-site issues, and correcting technical SEO issues. At this time, it is important to realize that these changes are still very fresh.
We are working hard to comply with all of Google’s algorithm updates and will continue to monitor our client’s websites to maximize the effects of their search engine optimization. We have begun adapting our SEO strategy as needed so it falls in line with Google’s core update. We will share more information and analysis as things continue progress.