One of the most common requests we have here at Arrow Digital: how do I get on the first page of Google? While modern day search engine optimising is quite the art form and essential to getting clicks, calls and people walking through the door, it’s important to read up on the changes to Google’s algorithm this past year. There’s certainly been a few updates in 2016. Here’s how you can take these updates on board and improve your site ranking.
January 8: Core quality updates
January 8 saw a core algorithm update to kick off the new year. SEOs, bloggers and industry commentators were quick to hypothesise that this was the roll-out of the long-awaited Penguin, but Googlers denied this rumour. User intent still ranks highest, with “how to…” search terms and high quality content with in-depth, relevant information winning out.
February 23: Adwords
Classic sidebar ads be gone – this Google algorithm update revamped the search engine completely, with four ads at the top of the search engine results, leaving the right-column advertisements vanishing completely. This meant that competitive keywords would be bidding top dollar for top spot, and organic marketers found their links further down the page. Many believed the one-column design on desktop devices would mimic the streamlined mobile layout. Outcomes of the Google Adwords overhaul indicated a huge jump in click through rate for paid search than when they were on the right sidebar, yet CTR for organic results plummets.
May 12: Mobile-friendly 2
Following a similar vein of Google’s update in April 2015, May 2016 sees another move towards mobile friendly websites, as mobile search is well and truly surpassing desktop search. This algorithm update again rewards websites that are both relevant to a user’s search and are mobile friendly for browsing with a ranking signal boost. This is a great sign for mobile referrals, so searchers should find the best answer possible from their search query on whatever device they’re on. Still, high quality content can rank well – if you have great, relevant content that pops on mobile, you’ll get the best of both worlds.
September 2: Possum
Move over copycats and spammy sites, Possum is here! Google’s major algorithm update meant that Local Pack and Google Maps results for businesses and services rejoiced with better rankings. Google is filtering out those manipulating the system, by having the same address under different names, or using different websites. Plenty of businesses are putting their money behind mobile and local search, which is essential for ranking well. However, one’s IP address, browsing history and personalisation all contribute to the search results.
September 23: Penguin 4.0
Penguin 4.0 was an algorithm update that penalised bad practice SEO, such as keyword stuffing to increase website ranking. Penguin is now incorporated into Google’s core ranking algorithm, meaning that spam score will be considered when crawled. Spam backlinks for domains will also be devalued and won’t gain ranking. Penguin also analyses individual pages of a website for spam, but will not penalise a website on a whole, rather than “affecting ranking of the whole site”. Penguin will now crawl in real-time and update where necessary.
Fortunately, Google always puts quality first and rewards great, engaging, relevant, mobile-friendly content with higher rankings. We know that Google real estate is of prime importance, so getting above the fold is more important than ever. Quality content with keywords specific to search queries, quality backlinks to your page, on page SEO, user friendly web design, region specific ads and freshly updated content are going to help you rank the best.
Are you happy with the Google algorithm changes?