Are You Keeping an Eye on the Updates that Google Is Frequently Rolling Out?
It is that time of the year again. We are not talking about fall, we are talking about the time for SEO updates and new changes in the digital scene. Google has been dishing out one small update after another, making continuing changes to their search algorithms and SEO agencies have been on their toes trying to keep up. It is now the time to look back on the latest updates from Google and how they have affected the digital marketing scene in 2017.
Seems like yesterday we were talking about Google’s AMP project and mobile first indexing. However, it has been a year since then, and right now, people are going crazy trying to understand the Fred update or the lack of it.
There are a few trends that have been making their presence known. Let us start with the most obvious ones –
Schema markup is ubiquitous to all webmasters targeting Google as their lead traffic provider. It is great if you are still trying for a Rich Card or Quick Answers position. Using Schema makes it much easier for search engines to “read” your website. By now, we already know the basic principles of Google bot crawling, and how they love simplified navigation processes. Schema can help the bots find the easiest way around your website and navigate every corner of your domain.
Google is a user-oriented service. They love to make things easier for your consumers by providing the exact answer to the questions they are asking. You must have already seen these rich snippets or Answer Boxes for How-to questions, DIY questions, recipes, and videos. Even local businesses have a huge scope of profiting from these local search oriented rich snippets.
As of 2017, RankBrain and Google AI are both realities. Schema can help your website stay in touch with the latest updates on machine learning and stay on the first page of relevant SERPs. Schema is another step forward towards the future, which will involve a lot more AI and machine learning, along with improvements in UX.
Changes to SERPs
Google has been quite notorious when it comes to testing out changes on the SERPs. Immediately after the introduction of Answer Boxes, a few locations saw an “either-or” pattern emerge. Some local businesses could only rank either for the Answer Box or within the first ten positions of the SRL. This was both unexpected and rattling for most local businesses. Now, that was a tremendous find for many businesses. It was more confusing as Google had deliberately applied this update to only a few limited locations around the globe.
Right now, there are inconsistencies in the number of characters allowed in the meta descriptions and titles of posts and pages. Google has not announced these are permanent changes. There are sites, which have taken advantage of this situation to attract more traffic by ranking higher in the Google SERPs. There are much more, which have no idea about the changes since Google has not announced anything officially.
What about all the new chatter?
Anyone can describe Google SERP and SEO as volatile, at best. Now coupling that with all the chatter from the SEO companies, communities, and forums, it is quite apparent that Google has rolled out another algorithm update recently. Whether it is Fred or something else, Google is yet to confirm. The one that hit the digital markets back in March hit all the low-value sites. The new one that coincides with SERP volatility during June targeted all with low-quality content.
Remove all shady links
A recent trend shows a sharp drop in rankings of websites that have low-quality backlinks. If you have experienced unexplainable downgrades in rankings, it is a smart option to check your link structure. Carry out a link audit. You can use the following tools for an efficient link check –
These will tell you about any dodgy links to your site. There are always a few links that we are never sure of. In such cases, you need to assume total control over all your backlinks in your disavow file. After you remove backlinks, it will take some time for the effects to show. It is to deter spammers from using this tool to their advantage.
According to some experts, these are not two separate updates. These are the results of Fred, which Google rolled out in March. Since backlinking and disavowing links take some time to show their effects, the second effect came in much later.
According to John Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, “We make changes all the time.” That certainly reflects on the SERP trackers and SEO trackers in the first and second quarters of 2017. June 2017 was the month of controlling content quality on the Internet. Google’s new update actively contributed to it.
What’s our take on ever-changing Google updates?
No matter where you are and what you are trying to sell, always ensure the following –
- Content quality
- Quality of your backlinks
- Audit your website from time to time for 301s and 404s
- Keep your schema markup updated for Google bots
You can try Moz and SEMRush to keep your site up to date. Or you can hire a team of professional SEO experts to keep your website in sync with all SEO updates. In any case, keeping the organic traffic flowing from Google will be a challenge if you are not in touch with the regular updates from the leading search engine. Even if you do not want to hire professionals, you will at least need professional versions of a few leading SEO tools to signal algorithm updates and changes.