Because Google captures over 90% of the UK market share, it essentially dictates how and what we find on the Internet. Website owners, digital agencies, and Google users are always adjusting to the changes in how it calculates its search results, and these updates come pretty regularly. Some of these changes make big news and others slide by unobserved, but recently Google announced 40 changes aimed at improving “search quality” that have created quite a stir in the digital marketing industry.
In addition to foreign language improvements, image adjustments, and increasing spam filters, Google has announced a few changes to how it will evaluate links and local sites. These are the changes that could affect how search engine optimisation works, so here’s a quick breakdown on what you should know:
In an effort to continue making search results more personalised, Google has announced that it is improving the rankings for local search results. Google states:
“This improvement improves the triggering of Local Universal results by relying more on the ranking of our main search results as a signal.”
In laymen’s terms, this means that Google’s traditional algorithm for ranking websites will now play a larger part in pulling in local websites. This gives local businesses a chance to appear more prominently on search results, ahead of larger companies that are located far away. So, if you search for “electrician” the organic search results will now show you websites related to where you’re located instead of general results for that keyword. This is a new step for Google, and could very well change the way local businesses implement SEO.
Google also announced that local searches will be more reliable:
“We launched a new system to find results from a user’s city more reliably. Now we’re better able to detect when both queries and documents are local to the user.”
This will help improve a user’s search results when specifically searching for something in a city since Google will be able to better predict what websites are actually coming from the area and if the person is searching from within the city itself.
Possibly the most talked about update, Google has announced that the way it evaluates links is changing. Unfortunately the details of this change are ambiguous because all we are given is this statement:
“We often use characteristics of links to help us figure out the topic of a linked page. We have changed the way in which we evaluate links; in particular, we are turning off a method of link analysis that we used for several years. We often rearchitect or turn off parts of our scoring in order to keep our system maintainable, clean and understandable.”
Since how Google originally scored links was never fully revealed, we can only guess what method of analysis they have turned off and how that will affect link scoring in general. What changes could it be talking about? Well, anything from anchor text to link age, and it seems like Google doesn’t want to be more specific than it already has been.
Google Panda is the algorithm software used to penalise websites that aren’t adhering to Google’s best practices policy. Sites that use link farms, duplicate content and other “black hat” techniques, are marked as low quality and receive a lower search ranking. Google has been regularly updating Panda since its launch in early 2011 and this announcement marks Panda 3.3:
“This launch refreshes data in the Panda system, making it more accurate and more sensitive to recent changes on the web.”
This update will help Google continue to crack down on websites that use questionable methods to elevate their search result rankings.
While these changes are only a few of the 40 updates that Google announced, they have definitely caught our eye and are worth keeping in mind the next time you do a Google search or carry out any SEO on your website.
For more information on the Google updates, visit their official blog post announcing the changes. For more information on our SEO services, contact our team on 0116 254 9888.