How Google’s Algorithm Updates May Impact Your SEO Efforts
The Google algorithms are a highly efficient yet fairly complex set of rules that govern the ranking and behavior of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) websites. In computer science and physics, an algorithm is simply a finite collection of well-defined, machine-readable instructions, usually for an object to do a particular computation or solve a particular equation. The Google algorithms are no different; an effective, well-designed SEO strategy uses an elaborate system of rules and data to analyze and rank web pages. Because the Google algorithms are so well structured, and because they have been reviewed and revised over the years, it is possible to understand them algorithmically.
As a result, it is possible to understand, learn, and implement some of Google’s algorithms with relative ease. Google has, however, made it relatively difficult to implement some of these techniques on your own. Google has consistently increased the frequency and severity of algorithm updates, particularly as internet searchers have become more demanding, and some of these tactics have been considered spam. In order to avoid being penalized by Google when you have implemented one of these practices, it is critical to understand the signals that indicate when Google might be making an algorithm update and how this update will affect your SEO strategy. Google’s latest algorithm updates focus on two main areas: quality signals and spam behavior.
We now live in a world where we can receive and send text and image search queries in real-time over the Internet. In this manner, it is easy to implement a quality signal within an organic search engine optimization campaign. If you have been sending text and image queries to a certain area of a website, it may be helpful to conduct a Google Webmaster Central Google Trends search to monitor when a particular area of your website has received a significant amount of internet traffic. Once you notice a trend related to a particular keyword phrase, it may be a good idea to conduct additional research to see if that particular area’s ranking on Google’s search engine result pages has been updated due to new algorithm changes.
The second area of focus that Google’s developers have looked at relates to spam behavior. Google’s search engine algorithm has been particularly stricter recently in regards to assessing content that is provided to Google search engine users. One of the ways Google has specifically enforced this policy is by singling out “Google Sitemaps.” Google’s developers state that they have discovered that websites with too many internal links within the sitemap are considered to be spam.
A “Google Sitemap” is simply a collection of links to all of the sites on a particular SERP (search engine result page). The number and quality of these links directly impact the search quality of a site. In order to remain competitive in the SEO community, webmasters are encouraged to create only one internal link from each site within the sitemap. Google’s developers state that they will be continually making adjustments to the core search algorithm in order to make it more effective for searchers.
Increasing concern among webmasters and SEO experts is the effect that Google’s new feature, “Google Now,” may have on the core search algorithm. Google Now is Google’s predictive search engine that offers users some new search features based on real-time information and data. For example, it may suggest that a user searches for a restaurant using their actual location. This new feature is currently only available in a select number of Google regions and is not available to all Google customers.
Google’s algorithms state that searchers can gain knowledge about a website’s reputation by looking at various signals within the Google search engine itself. Google’s current in-house “Google Sandbox” program can detect negative signs about a website and flag them in order to provide relevant results to users. However, many wonder if these signals are also being used to keep track of competitors’ activities within the same niche. Google’s new feature of sending real-time “customized results” is causing many SEO experts to speculate whether Google may be collecting and using competitor signals for in-site ranking adjustments.
If Google is seeing competitors sending “customized results” from within their own search engine, what does that mean for SEO? Google’s recent algorithm update states that it will only provide results from the most relevant search engine components. As we mentioned above, Google’s in-house Sandbox program already captured web page signals from within the web browser, but this latest update expands on that concept. We believe that these new web page “signals” are currently being used by Google, and possibly others, to determine to rank. If so, this will only further increase the importance of understanding how Google’s new feature, Google Now, and the algorithms behind it can impact your SEO efforts.