Category Archives: Google News

What Google’s Algorithm Change Means For You

What Google’s Algorithm Change Means For You

Have you heard about the latest Google Algorithm change?

On March 12th, Google released a Core Algorithm Change, which was confirmed a day later by the Google team. But what does this mean and how can it impact your website and your business? 

What is the Google Algorithm?

The first thing to understand is the way that Google ranks sites.The Google algorithm is the way that the search engine weighs up a huge range of different factors and decides which web results are going to be displayed to the searcher, and in what order. The exact nature of the Google algorithm is not known, and it’s always changing as search changes and improves.This is one of the reasons why you may see keywords move around, despite not making any changes to your site. 

Why Do Algorithm Changes Matter?

Now you understand that the algorithm is used to rank web results, it follows that changes in the algorithm will lead to changes in the ranking.Small changes happen all the time and are rarely confirmed. These are unlikely to make a meaningful impact on your site traffic, especially if you are doing SEO work to improve your positions. Big updates are different.A big update, such as the core one that we have seen in March, can dramatically affect positions, and this will have a knock on effect to the traffic of your website. Reduced traffic means less customers for your business, which is especially relevant if organic search is one of your main sources of traffic. 

When Was the Last Google Algorithm Change?

While small changes take place all the time, the last confirmed change took place in September 2018, and there was one the month before as well, in August. These core updates tend to affect all sorts of sites as they are broader and not focused on specific issues. This can also make them more difficult to engage with.An example of a more specific update would be the ‘speed update’ in July 2018. This update used the speed at which a webpage loads on a mobile device as a ranking factor. Not only was this algorithm announced at the beginning of the year to allow the website to prepare, but there was also a straightforward way to fix any drops that it caused – improve your mobile load speed! We advised our SEO clients months in advance on how to prepare for this update and provided improvements to several sites.While the March update is the first confirmed update of 2019, many resources indicate that other updates that have affected traffic have been taking place since the beginning of the year. 

Have You Been Affected and What Should You Do?

If you’ve noticed a sudden and sustained change in your positions around the 12th or 13th of March, it’s likely that the core update has made a difference to your site.With more specific updates, there are normally clear changes you can make to your website which will improve the rankings.Broad updates like this one are difficult to respond to. Google themselves are often reluctant to discuss these changes because they do not advise making any changes to respond to them.Our SEO team have been studying the change and keeping up with the latest analysis online. We would advise that the change appears to be in line with Google’s priority of high quality content and a positive customer experience. This should be the foundation of an SEO strategy, and as a result we have seen mostly positive movement for our clients following this update. 

SEO is Constantly Changing and We Are Prepared

The nature of search is uncertain.Updates can take place at any time which may impact your site’s positions.But uncertainty does not equate to randomness.Having been in the SEO business for over 18 years, we have seen huge changes in search. It’s important to understand that overall, search engines strive to provide good quality results. While some updates may call for specific action, following best practice and staying on top of your SEO work will always give good results.Our years of experience have given us an excellent understanding of when to wait for positions to stabilise and when to make changes to boost them. We keep up with all the latest Google updates and recommendations so that we can get the best results for our clients.  

If you’d like to talk more about how this or any update has affected your site, get in touch with us today on 0333 332 6396 or fill in our contact form to book a free, 15 minute SEO consultation.

6 Google Services To Improve Your Business

6 Google Services To Improve Your Business
Google is one of the biggest, most successful and most universally known brands in history, which is a pretty impressive feat for a company that only rose to popularity in the last two decades. It should come as no surprise that Google is one of the most relevant brands you’ll have to understand in order to succeed online, especially when it comes to paid and organic search.However, you might not realise the potential benefits to your business from many different services Google has acquired and developed over the years. Here are just a few core services that could really boost your productivity and profits if used wisely.1) Organic searchCheap SEO packages like those offered here at 123 Ranking work best if you really get to grips with how Google Search works. If you want your website to rank locally, nationally or beyond, it needs to satisfy Google’s technical requirements as well as meet its standards for quality. The more you use Google Search, the better you should be able to understand what it looks for and how to take advantage of it. Of course, we’re here to help all our clients when it comes to organic search engine optimisation.2) Google+Notoriously confusing and constantly evolving, Google+ is a tricky platform to master even for SEO professionals. However, it offers a huge range of benefits that can actively improve your business, to such an extent that you’d be crazy to ignore them. Not only does it function as a social network to share updates with your customers personally, but the real benefits come from information that feeds through into search results.This includes your Google reviews, which may be featured prominently on Maps as well as Search. Make sure you take the time to ensure your reviews are there and saying something positive to differentiate your brand from the rest.3) AdWordsPaid advertising can be a great way to help your visibility on search engines even before your organic optimisation has had time to kick in. AdWords is the most widely used platform, and although it can be complex to master, you can get started fairly easily. If you need to generate traffic to your site fast, AdWords can be an incredibly worthwhile investment and the near-instant results are a rare advantage when compared against alternative digital marketing strategies.4) AnalyticsOnce you have traffic coming to your site, it’s time to focus on conversions for most businesses. Whether your goal is to sell a product, get a customer to contact you about a service or just to get some information from visitors, Google Analytics is an invaluable tool that will tell you how to optimise your site for users once you understand its interface. It provides a huge amount of insightful information; you just need to spend some time learning how to interpret the data in a way that’s relevant for your business.5) GmailDo you use an email client for work which everyone in the business accesses? If you do, and you’re not using Gmail, you may be missing a trick. Google offers some reasonably priced options for small businesses looking to smoothly integrate their own email systems with other Google services, which can be a great time-saver. Gmail itself functions perfectly as a straightforward email client, so you probably won’t lose any functionality by switching to it from other systems.6) DriveGoogle Drive is a great cloud storage solution for businesses, especially when integrated with Gmail. It makes it very quick and simple to share files and organise folders which can all be accessed by everyone in your team. There are many alternatives out there, but if you’re already using Google and everyone is set up with an account from the beginning, it’s an ideal add-on that many businesses don’t take advantage of. You can even use it to work on documents and spreadsheets simultaneously with colleagues, which can be hugely convenient.There are just a few of the Google services we use on a daily basis at 123 Ranking, and we’d recommend them all to anyone looking to understand Google better or take advantage of their many tools, both free and paid. If you have any questions about Google search services, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us and we’ll do what we can to help!

Google’s Major New Ranking Shake-Up

Google’s Major New Ranking Shake-Up

Google is always springing changes on us when it comes to the SERPs (search engines results pages) and they rarely go to plan, even when we got hints of what was coming months in advance. At the start of this year we saw a classic example, as Google had been dropping clues about an update to its Penguin algorithm until suddenly things appeared to change in early 2016. It turns out the Penguin update was almost undetectable, if it even happened at all, but a more significant core algorithm update has had a major impact on the rankings of some high profile websites.

Many different independent services that monitor major shifts on Google’s SERPs reported noticeable changes as January drew to a close this year. Google employees responded on Twitter to confirm that it was actually the core algorithm that received another makeover and not just one of its smaller constituent parts like Penguin. The top 100 ranking websites in the world are commonly used as a benchmark to judge the significance of algorithm changes, and in this case there was quite a visible shake-up. The changes were rolled out on desktop and mobile SERPs indiscriminately, and it’s taken until now for the dust to settle and patterns to emerge.

Even now as we enter April, nobody has worked out exactly what happened in the latest core update, because many high ranking sites dropped while others were suddenly boosted. In fact, 50% of the biggest winners and losers from the last update are different now to the ones we would have seen at the end of last year. Here’s what we do know for sure…

1) Content Determines A Lot

Another update focused on rewarding good content!? This isn’t shocking if you have any recent SEO experience, but certain types of content are now being judged as better quality than others. Publisher sites that tend to mention various brands in their articles have seen many of their indexed pages fall on the SERPs, while brands’ own websites have seen their content-rich pages gain positions. This was first spotted in the USA but has later been proven in other territories, so presumably the same new rules are universal.

So what does this actually mean? Well, it seems Google wants to reward brands who own their high quality content and are in control of their brand mentions. If your brand-related keywords are mainly featured on other websites rather than your own, those results might start dropping off. This could be good or bad, depending on how you want people to find you.

2) New Content Is Favoured

Another related point here, but the core update was very much focused on content. Not only is the type important on the SERPs now, but also the age of it. We already knew that fresh content is useful, but this sudden shake-up saw older content tumbling down the rankings fast while fresh pages climbed. Talking about current topics that are widely mentioned in the news and social media also leads to better rankings.

3) Mixed Content Does Better

Do proper keyword analysis! It’s not a good idea to have a page of basic text with multiple mentions of the same phrase if you want to take advantage of the latest Google update. Images and video seem to be helping pages climb, plus having a range of related keywords helps to strengthen the perceived relevance of your text. All these things will usually make your content more engaging for a reader, which explains why Google is starting to prefer them.

4) Answering A Query Helps

For perhaps the first time, keyword-rich content isn’t really essential for certain types of pages to rank at the top of the SERPs. If you answer a question that someone put into Google, your bounce rate will be lower and people will spend more time engaging with your website even if you have no written text that matches the query. You might be able to achieve this by featuring videos or interactive games on your website – Google can’t understand the content of these but it’s learning to recognise the signs of a suitable answer being given in an unusual way. A few sites that only featured educational games on their pages saw their rankings improve based on the new update.

If you’re confused or concerned about how these changes might affect the approach you need to take with your SEO, get in touch with us and find out how we can help. We stay on top of the latest trends so we can keep you informed and make sure all our techniques are helping our clients reach the highest positions as fast as possible. Learn more about our affordable SEO packages for different sized businesses here or drop us a line to see if we can answer your questions.

Google’s Self-Driving Car Crash

Google’s Self-Driving Car Crash
Google released a 32-page report last month containing data during 15 months of testing their fleet of self-driving cars on California’s public roads, which showed that there have been 272 situations where the Google car disengaged from its autonomous drive mode and immediately turned control of the car over to the Google employee driving it.  In total there were 13 instances that would have resulted in a crash left up to the automated driving software.Google leads the way in terms of their search engine, advertising and pay per click advertising, but this recent data undermines their recent foray into building cars without manual controls. Fortunately all the near-misses recorded in the new report resulted in a safe outcome, but only thanks to the human driver intervention in each case, which surely discredits the premise of the experiment.Chris Urmson, the Director of Google Self-Driving Cars stated that “software detected an anomaly in the system somewhere that could have had possible safety implications, and in these cases it immediately handed control of the car to the test driver.”The 32-page report released in January says that during 15 months of tests:
  • Google’s vehicles drove 424,331 miles without manual control.
  • In 72 instances, the car’s software registered a “failure” that resulted in emergency control being given to the manual driver.
  • In a further 69 cases, the driver took control without being alerted by the system because they anticipated an accident themselves.
  • Computer simulations designed to replicate each incident found that in 13 of the cases where drivers intervened, a crash would have occurred if they had failed to do so.
There is no way of knowing how many of those incidents might have ended in a serious collision where someone could have been hurt or killed.The question is, should Google continue to develop this kind of technology, or will it go the same way as Google Glass? Google insist that these cars are “safer than humans”, which may be true on average, but without the necessary data we can’t make that comparison. If the experiment was repeated with human drivers instead of Google software, perhaps we would have seen a higher number of near-misses or actual accidents. All we know for sure is that in these cases, the human knew better than the car.Many think that driver-less cars will be beneficial to the economy, which is an interesting point. The idea is that our working lives will be made more efficient since we won’t have to concentrate on driving, which takes up valuable time we could spend working! We should also be less tired when we get to work since we didn’t have to concentrate on the road. Except, of course, that if Google’s test drivers took this attitude, 11 of them would have crashed.In any case, the safety of this new mode of transport needs to be tested much more rigorously given these results. It does serve as a reminder, though, of Google’s continuous push towards a future where automated software understands the human brain better than we do ourselves, a trend we’re also seeing in search engine technology. What do you think about Google’s plans – are they pushing the limits too far too fast, or do we need that attitude to make progress?