Optimization Tips to Help Websites Adapt to the Changing Google Algorithms
Article by Editors Softwaretested
In the past few years, Google has released quite a number of updates to its search engine algorithms. While we can’t barely feel the effects of some of these updates, others have impacted websites big time. These algorithm updates often lead to SEO specialists and digital marketers struggling to adapt, especially when their websites show significant ranking drops in the Google search.
7 Major Search Engine Algorithm Updates
Before we give away tips to help optimize your websites and make them adaptable to the ever-changing Google algorithms, let’s first take a quick look at seven of the major Google algorithm updates:
1. Google Panda
This algorithm update focuses on the quality of a website’s content. It rewards websites with high-quality content with better ranking positions.
Panda is said to be triggered by some factors. Low-quality content, thin content, untrustworthy content, duplicate text, and spun articles are just among the major triggers.
If your website has been hit by Panda, then your best course of action is to improve your site’s content quality.
2. Google Penguin
The second major Google algorithm update is Penguin. Although it has a lot of things in common with Panda, its focus is on a different factor: link profiles.
So, what triggers this update? The lack of anchor text diversity, poor quality links, keyword stuffing, and buying links do trigger Penguin.
To recover from the effects of this update, you need to check your site’s backlinks and perform an audit. And then, remove all the bad apples from the basket. If you need to remove them manually, then do so.
3. Google Pigeon
If you’re an SEO enthusiast, you probably know about all the factors that may affect your site’s ranking. But did you know that Google uses all these factors in another search algorithm? Yes, you read that right. The first algorithm is for the local search; the other one is for the traditional web search.
With a divided approach, Google has found that its search engine returns less than ideal search results. They felt that an update was needed to make the two algorithms cooperate better. So, Pigeon was released. Now, a website’s ranking is determined by its location and distance from the user.
If you are a business owner, there is nothing much you can do about the distance between users and your business. But if you want to attract your target audience who are nearby, you can create content that is relevant to your niche. You need to use location-based keywords as well.
To optimize your website for the local search engine, in your content, you also need to use media associated with your location. You have to create listings on business directories, too! Getting testimonials from your customers will also help.
4. Google Hummingbird
Unlike the first two major updates, Google Hummingbird wasn’t developed to impact website rankings – at least not directly.
This algorithm update was released with an aim to further improve the search engine itself. It interprets the intent of the user who is making a query and considers the context around the keywords used.
In case you didn’t know, it’s Hummingbird that started the semantic search era. To meet its standards, you should know what it is exactly that users want to find when performing a search. Most likely, it’ll be obvious, especially if the query is in a question form.
Don’t be confused with this update. The point is simply to help your audience. That’s it.
5. Google Payday Loan
This algorithm update shares a few things in common with Penguin and Panda. But don’t let them confuse you. It’s actually a separate update rolled out in the year 2013. It was the time when Google finally decided to get rid of the swamp of casino, loan, and pornographic sites.
Google Payday Loan was simple and pretty straightforward. It targeted websites that use high-risk SEO tactics, such as spammy links, in order to rank. These sites are the above mentioned, namely casino, loan, and pornographic sites.
As long as you didn’t opt for black hat SEO tactics, then you need not worry about the Google Payday Loan update. If you have triggered it, the only way for you to recover is to completely abandon black hat methods and double your efforts on white hat SEO tactics.
6. Google Mobilegeddon
No, it’s not a sign of an apocalyptic era. Despite its odd name, websites did not actually crash and burn upon the release of Google Mobilegeddon.
Google released this major algorithm update only to introduce a new mobile search ranking factor: the quality of user experience when your site is viewed on smaller screens.
This update arrived in 2015, and since then, there has been a stir about a new separate index for mobile-friendly sites. Three years after, Mobilegeddon finally saw the light of day. The sites that prepared for it were rewarded in the new index.
For a website to be considered mobile-friendly, you have to consider these factors:
- Large fonts
- Responsive design
- No unplayable media
- No intrusive elements
- No separate website
- No spare between interactive elements, such as checkboxes and buttons
- Loading speed
7. Google Fred
Google Fred is Legion. This is because they are many. It is actually all the minor updates released by Google every day. But one of the unnamed updates has proven itself to be more troublesome and bigger than the rest.
In March 2017, a number of websites saw a major drop in traffic. SEO experts immediately understood what it meant. They knew another algorithm update was released. They did investigations and tests. Soon thereafter, they concluded that the affected sites had a few things in common: aggressive ads, low-value content, and poor user experience.
To recover, webmasters had to make sure that the site content was of great quality and that user experience was smooth.
5 Handy Optimization Tips to Make Your Website Adaptable to Search Algorithm Updates
At this point, it’s hard to tell what the next move of Google will be because this tech giant is always quiet about its plans. But with some hints and insights from the pros, you can somehow prepare. Below are a few handy optimization tips to take into account to ensure your website can easily adapt to search algorithm updates:
1. Know Your Target Audience
Who is your target market? What language do they use to make a query for your service or product? An effective SEO tactic is often rooted in the needs of your target audience.
For instance, if you are trying to market an Android cleaner app, in order to generate qualified leads, you have to be more specific with your keywords and not just use “Android cleaner.” You have to know what people are searching for. You may consider the keywords, “cache cleaner for android,” “android cleaner and booster,” or even “Android care app.”
From this, you can come up with a list of possible search terms. Use tools like SEMrush to generate a possible list of keywords with their corresponding search volumes.
2. Research About Keywords to Target
Keyword research is necessary to identify what keywords to target. When doing keyword research, you will have to come up with a list of keywords, including long-tail keywords, which is likely to drive qualified leads.
To do your keyword research, use Google Keyword Planner. Check for the most relevant, or at least, the most frequent searches that closely match your products or services. Look to find any coverage gaps in phrases or keywords as they will allow you to easily rank for certain keywords. Keep in mind that the goal is to have a list of target keywords that will benefit you and your website.
3. Optimize Your Site’s Content for On-Page SEO
Quality website content is essential to succeed in your SEO campaign. And when it comes to content, you must not forget to include keywords.
Apart from being an on-page factor, content is also one of the top-ranking factors considered by Google in its algorithms. Google considers content to be optimized if it’s long, simple and coherent, filled with relevant backlinks, consistent, with keywords, and available to search engines. It should also have keywords in meta titles and tags.
4. Boost Your Site’s Visibility with Off-Page SEO
Long-tail keywords and informative content are both useless without web traffic. To ensure they don’t go to waste, you need off-page SEO.
When we say off-page SEO, we mean promoting your content to different off-page platforms. This strategy allows you to increase your site traffic and get valuable backlinks.
Below are some ways that off-page SEO can improve your position in the search results and drive traffic to your website:
- Share content on social media. The more enticing your posts are, the better. To automate the process of posting and sharing on social media, you need tools like Buffer.
- Reach out to influencers and bloggers. If a blogger in your niche links back to you, then your website will benefit. It will expand your reader base and potentially generate more relevant leads. Make sure you establish a relationship with these influencers. Start by engaging with their content and submitting quality content to them.
- Respond to questions on Quora. With its vast user base, Quora is definitely a great source of web traffic. Try to use this platform to promote your product and service. Share links to your website or add one in your profile bio.
5. Test and Measure Your SEO Campaigns
Since Google’s search algorithm is constantly changing, you have to regularly adjust and assess its impact on your strategy. Analyze your current web traffic and the performance of each keyword. Check your rankings, too. Are you hitting the goals of your website in terms of web traffic? Are you converting enough traffic? Use your baseline data prior to your SEO campaign, then compare the results every week.
Google’s search engine algorithms will change every now and then. But this doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about it. To be effective, you need to come up with a strong SEO campaign and couple it with ongoing effort. Hopefully, the tips above can help you get started and guide you in optimizing your website to make it adaptable to Google’s ever-changing algorithms.
A Computer Engineer by degree and a writer by profession, Cathy Trimidal writes for Software Tested and Outbyte. For years now, she has contributed articles focusing on the trends in IT, VPN, web apps, SEO, and digital marketing. Although she spends most of her days living in a virtual realm, she still finds time to satisfy her infinite list of interests.