A quality technical SEO strategy must first and foremost include a plan for all the latest Google algorithm updates, but what are they and what do they mean to businesses and search results? Since February 2011, when the Panda update was released, Google has implemented eight subsequent algorithmic changes to date. SEO is a constant battle between providing a high-quality user experience while avoiding any violations of Googles guidelines. After all the last thing you want as a business owner is an algorithmic penalty or any manual penalties from Google. The goal for any website is to be displayed in relevant results which in turn drives quality traffic to your site.
As far as we all know Google pretty much implements quality guidelines and updates to the algorithm every day, Googles machine learning makes changes regularly to its ranking algorithm. These can be just small tweaks; others can have a severe impact on the SERPs. At Pure Marketing, we continuously analyse our client’s on-page SEO data to ensure a speedy response to any algorithmic changes and penalties rolled with a brief overview and SEO advice on each. Avoiding any manual actions and providing seamless user experiences.
Here we focus on the top four Google updates to the algorithm, Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird and Mobile, this article will give you a good understanding of the types of penalties you could face and how each update has shifted the focus of SEO onto quality and relevant content that is trustworthy. And also a look into Google penalty recoveries and what each update will require you to do to avoid them.
We will start with Google Panda, released on 24th February 2011 this update targeted duplicate, plagiarized or thin content; user-generated spam and keyword stuffing. Panda allocates a so-called “quality score” to individual web pages; this will then be used as a ranking factor. Panda was initially a filter rather than part of the main Google ranking, however, in January 2016, the core algorithm included all the Panda attributes. Panda updates have become more frequent, so both penalties and recoveries now happen faster.
Resolution: Keep that content unique and ensure pages and URL’s are not duplicated, it is a major penalty risk to stuff keywords into a site.
Next up is Google Penguin which targets spammy or irrelevant links, especially links with over-optimized anchor text. Googles the main objective with this update is to down-rank sites whose links it deems manipulative.
Resolution: This update runs in realtime, unlike Panda so it’s best to have some software to check this for any unusual spikes in backlinking to your site. Google search console still provides amazing amounts of data so you can check, you can also get help by submitting a reconsideration request.
Hummingbird came into place in August 2013 and focused on keywords and low-quality content. It works by interpreting search queries to provide results by user intent rather than focusing on keywords within the query. Keywords are still massively important, however, Hummingbird allows a page to rank for a query even if it doesn’t contain the exact words the searcher entered.
Resolution: Target your keyword research on concepts rather than the keywords. You can gather some good ideas from Google related searches and Google Autocomplete.
Lastly Mobile, released in April 2015 targets how websites perform on mobile devices such as phone and tablets. This update now gives preference to sites that are mobile optimised and pushes them higher up the search rankings over non-mobile friendly sites. Sites will be pushed down the SERPs or not shown at all.
Resolution: A mobile-friendly, optimised site is a must. Also, the focus should be on page loading speeds and usability.