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WCR Industry Updates – October 2013

Table of Contents

    Few people would deny the SEO industry has stood up and taken notice of recent, significant changes from Google to both the search engine algorithm itself as well as restricted access to keyword data directly impacting SEO Services.

    This article piece is not intended to be the definitive guide to all of the stated events, as they have been already extensively covered by other individuals. (I have provided links to the few I found useful).

    Rather it should serve as a practical look into what the changes are, why anyone dealing with SEO should care and what steps we can take going forward.

    Google Hummingbird Update September 2013

    When did it start?

    It was announced on the 26th September but Google stated that it has already been in place for about a month.

    What is it?

    It is essentially an update to the algorithm used by Google to return better results.

    What has changed?

    The search algorithm is now focused primarily more on conversations rather than just keyword phrases. Google said that Hummingbird is paying more attention to each word in a query, ensuring that the whole query — the whole sentence or conversation or meaning — is taken into account, rather than particular words (key phrases). The goal is that pages matching the meaning do better, rather than pages matching just a few words.

    How does this affect SEO?

    There’s nothing new or different SEOs or publishers need to worry about. Guidance remains the same, it says: have original, high-quality content – something Google has always pushed.

    Signals that have been important in the past remain important; Hummingbird just allows Google to process them in new and hopefully better ways.

    How can we improve the way we conduct SEO going forward?

    With Hummingbird focusing more on the conversation high quality, engaging content is now more important than ever. Review your content guidelines and make sure your content is as relevant, unique & fresh as ever. Develop content marketing strategies and start paying attention to long tail content.

    Links

    https://search.googleblog.com/2013/09/fifteen-years-onand-were-just-getting.html
    https://searchengineland.com/google-hummingbird-172816
    https://moz.com/google-algorithm-change

    Google Penguin 5 Update October 2013

    When did it start?

    It was released on the 4th October 2013.

    What is it?

    It is essentially an update to the original Penguin update released on 24th April 2012.

    What has changed?

    The primary focus of the Penguin Update has not changed. It is essentially a targeted effort to reduce web spam across the internet, in particular paid links and links which heavily target ‘money term’ key phrases.

    How does this affect SEO?

    The latest Penguin update has only has affected ~1% of searches. Therefore it is not a major impact. If you were already practicing white hat, ethical SEO, then this update should be of no concern.

    If you have been impacted it is very likely you have received a message in your Google Webmaster Tools or that you will see a drop in search visibility/traffic in the few days after the 4th October.

    How can we improve the way we conduct SEO going forward?

    The recent Penguin update should not change the way SEO is conducted; rather it reinforces the message that all your SEO efforts regarding link growth should be natural, genuine and not spammy.

    Always be on top of all the links you build and if you’re suspicious then get a second opinion or take steps to remove the connection of the back-link to your site.

    If you believe your site to be impacted, take immediate steps to review the link profile and remove associations with any suspicious link. Also read all messages sent by Google and act upon the messages as quickly as you can.

    Links

    https://searchengineland.com/penguin-2-1-and-5-live-173632
    https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/140528
    https://moz.com/google-algorithm-change

    Google Keyword Not Provided October 2013

    When did it start?

    It was released on the 4th October 2013.

    What is it?

    Due to recent changes by Google to increase the privacy around keyword referral data across all websites, Google Analytics will no longer show what keywords were searched by users to eventually land on your site via Google.

    What has changed?

    This means Google Analytics will now show most of the keyword search data as (not provided) like below. This has been happening since 2011 to a degree but has ramped up in the past few weeks to a point where it needs to be addressed from both a content and technical SEO stand-point.

    How does this affect SEO?

    Non-brand organic traffic is organic traffic coming from keywords that do not contain your business name, and therefore from customers who didn’t previously know of your brand, but were searching for the services you offer with the keywords we are working on ranking your website for.
    In addition to not being able to see visits at a keyword level, we will also lose insight into other metrics such as conversion/bounce rates + other statistics at the keyword level.

    How can we improve the way we conduct SEO going forward?

    You should now take steps to adapt your marketing so you are effectively tracking the performance of your SEO campaign via different means.

    Instead of looking at the performance at a keyword level, start focusing on the performance at a page level.

    Focus on the traffic, conversion rate and bounce rate of pages which will give us a strong indication of the SEO performance of the keywords targeted by those key landing pages.
    There are many different ways in which we can work around this challenge, just check out the links below.

    Client education is a key aspect of this change. Because it affects the reporting measures (no longer able to report on non-brand organic keywords) this is something that needs to be communicated quickly and effectively to all your customers.

    Links

    https://searchengineland.com/post-prism-google-secure-searches-172487
    https://moz.com/blog/100-percent-keyword-not-provided-whiteboard-tuesday

    A Quick Summary of Thoughts

    As much as the industry has changed in the past 15 years, I believe that SEO is more necessary than ever as a marketing service segment of any company looking to stay relevant in today’s digital world.

    Although the reception of recent changes has been mixed, it certainly is not a sign of more bad things to come, and definitely is not the death of our industry. Granted changes will be coming thick and fast and the only solution is to continue to adapt to thrive. I am waving the flag for the SEO industry to go from strength to strength and that there are much more exciting times ahead.

    Please contact White Chalk Road if you would like to know more about the recent changes or if you are looking for an online marketing service provider, we are more than happy to help!

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