Omnipresent SEO Blog Posts

Google Rolls Out Biggest Update to Algorithm in Years

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Menlo Park, CA -  At an event held today in the garage where the company was founded, Google announced that they quietly rolled out the biggest update to their search algorithm in years.  The new update is being called Hummingbird, sticking with the theme of naming their updates after animals (e.g. - Panda and Penguin).

The news comes as no surprise.  Search marketers have been speculating that something changed in late August (August 21-22 is the most common guess), and some had even coined the change as "Google Phantom," a nod to the fact that something had happened, but nothing official had been announced.

Dips in traffic are customary after such an event, and there is a good chance that some sites could see substantial dips, especially if those sites are using spammy tactics to game the system.  Even the strongest, above-board sites will probably experience what I call "the wobble effect."  When a big change occurs it generally throws all of the search results out of whack when it first hits.  Sites you've never seen before are suddenly on the first page and some long-standing sites seem to vanish.  Over the next few weeks, though, the solid sites that aren't now being penalized will gradually rise back up to their original standing.  They don't fall, they just wobble.  (And as any fan of science can tell you, a wobble can turn a desert into an oasis).

But, like I said in my previous post today, every time a change like this occurs there is an upside.  If this update goes further to lessen the positive impact of linking schemes, fake reviews, and spun content than those of us who follow "ethical SEO" tactics can only benefit.  

And then there is the less obvious benefit:  it just might be okay to have less traffic, as long as you get more relevant traffic. So much of the traffic we all receive has no value.  We sometimes take over sites from other providers and discover that a huge portion of their traffic is from STUMBLEUPON.  This is okay for a blogger, but is there really a single person on this planet who picks a lawyer because they stumbled upon their site?  I hope not.  

If we think about what Google's goal is, then we should welcome the changes.  The only traffic our clients really want are the visitors who are looking for a lawyer or are doing research on the law because they don't yet realize they need a lawyer. Our job has always been to make sure that our clients sites look like a resource to the search engines for people with just those needs.  

According to Amit Singhal, Google VP, Hummingbird is primarily aimed at giving Google’s search engine a better grasp at understanding concepts instead of mere words. "The change needed to be done because people have become so reliant on Google that they now routinely enter lengthy questions into the search box instead of just a few words related to specific topics." 

It is too soon to say what changes will need to be made, if any, to existing sites to get them in line with the new algorithm, but rest assured that we will make whatever adjustments are necessary to make the most of this update. 



Omnipresent SEO Blog Posts

Yet Another Move by Google to Enhance Social Media's Role in Search

Friday, February 18, 2011

As we have written about before, Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, etc) is creeping into the world of search.  It makes perfect sense, really.  A big part of Google's traditional algorithm is evaluating how many links come into a web site, and who those links are from.  Think of it as peer review.  

But in that scenario, the "peers" are other web sites, not people you know.  Ah, but the people I know are all on my social networks.  What if Google and the other search engines could know who my friends are and then cross reference what they like when giving me answers to my queries?

That is precisely what they are doing with the announcement of Social Search (see Google's blog post here). 

This isn't an entirely new product.  Previously, Google announced the incorporation of similar things in the SERPS, but this takes it to a new level. 

Conspicuously missing from Google's Social Search, however, is Facebook.   The two companies have not been playing nice lately (Facebook has been raiding Google's best employees, and recently Google stopped allowing Facebook to access its users Gmail accounts, etc), and I assume that is a factor in all of this.  But for Social Search to really have an impact, it is going to need to include Facebook eventually, and I am sure that it will.  (The other scenario, which is certainly possible, is that Facebook will finally add a SEARCH feature that only shows results from your connections). 

The bottom line is this:  search is changing, and it is obvious that it is moving towards a much more customizable and socially based system.  If your business isn't yet listed on the Social Sites, soon you might find yourself no longer listed on most people's search results either. 

MORE INFORMATION:

Why A Business Should Be On Facebook


A Video From Google About Their Social Search Update:





Omnipresent SEO Blog Posts

Great Article in the New York Times "The Dirty Little Secrets of Search"

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Yesterday's New York Times had a great article about the SEO tactics employed by JC Penney's SEO Company that initially vaulted the JC Penney web site to the top of the Google rankings, but that eventually were then flagged by Google as being in violation of their rules. 

This brings to mind something we always talk about with our clients:  short term versus long term gain. 
As the article demonstrates, using some of these "black hat" SEO tactics can certainly work.  JC Penney was showing up #1 in the Search Results for searches of "Samsonite", "skinny jeans," "area rug," and hundreds, if not thousands, more keywords.  If you had asked JC Penney a few weeks ago if the strategy was paying off, I'm sure they would have called it an unqualified success.  And why not?  As the NYT article mentions, a JC Penny spokesperson was crowing about the company's December sales, saying “Internet sales through jcp.com posted strong growth in December, with significant increases in traffic and orders for the key holiday shopping periods of the week after Thanksgiving and the week before Christmas.”

But now the celebration is over.   Google is on to JC Penney, and suddenly they aren't ranking #1 for much anymore.  In fact, in many cases they aren't on the top10 PAGES anymore.  Worse, they will now probably be put under a much higher scrutiny by Google, which will make their future SEO campaigns all the more dangerous.  Even a well-meaning campaign can cross the line occasionally, which normally is never even noticed, let alone punished.  Recitative black-hat behavior, however, would seem a much more punishable offense. 

The December sales results notwithstanding, it is hard to say that JC Penney got what it paid for.  The thousands of links they purchased are no longer of any value.  I'm sure they spent a lot of money, and today they have nothing to show for it. 

Properly executed SEO is a much slower, more genuine process.   The goal should be to make a web site the most user-friendly, valuable resource for users.  If you provide users with invaluable information, the links, the rankings, the traffic and the page rank will follow.  It can take years to establish such a strong site, but when you perform SEO like this, it makes it much harder to get knocked off your pedestal.  It's a lesson JC Penney learned the hard way. 

But now the celebration is over.   Google is on to JC Penney, and suddenly they aren't ranking #1 for much anymore.  In fact, in many cases they aren't on the top10 PAGES anymore.  Worse, they will now probably be put under a much higher scrutiny by Google, which will make their future SEO campaigns all the more dangerous.  Even a well-meaning campaign can cross the line occasionally, which normally is never even noticed, let alone punished.  Recitative black-hat behavior, however, would seem a much more punishable offense. 

The December sales results notwithstanding, it is hard to say that JC Penney got what it paid for.  The thousands of links they purchased are no longer of any value.  I'm sure they spent a lot of money, and today they have nothing to show for it. 
Properly executed SEO is a much slower, more genuine process.   The goal should be to make a web site the most user-friendly, valuable resource for users.  If you provide users with invaluable information, the links, the rankings, the traffic and the page rank will follow.  It can take years to establish such a strong site, but when you perform SEO like this, it makes it much harder to get knocked off your pedestal.  It's a lesson JC Penney learned the hard way. 





Omnipresent SEO Blog Posts

How Search Engines Work

Thursday, September 09, 2010

To understand why Search Engine Optimization is important, I think it is incredibly important to understand how Search Engines work. 

Rather than try to explain it to you myself, below is a video from Matt Cutts, the man at Google who is responsible for the algorithm that runs the almighty Google search process.





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