A search engine, nowadays, is the primary source of all information and apparently the only answer to all our questions. There are more than 40,000 searches from around the world on Google alone in just one second, which sums up to 3.5 billion searches a day and 1.2 trillion searches in a year.
Web ranking and its significance is determined by Search Engines. Different algorithms are used by different Search Engines but there are some factors which are common for all. From those common factors some are Backlinks, sitemap, content relevancy, keywords in the content, history of domain, mobile optimized site etc. It cannot be determined that how much weightage is given individually to each of these factors by the Search Engine, so we can only speculate.
More than 200+ factors are used in the algorithm by the most common search engine that is Google. Algorithms are constantly changed by Google. The main areas of focus for these changes are:
- Links quality & legitimacy
- Mobile compatibility
- Search queries
- Website content
In the past few years Google has come up with some major updates. Now take a look at them.
Google Panda was launched in 2011 and since then it has rolled out several updates, so its focuses on the updates. It measures site quality and lower the ranking of low quality website or the websites with thin content. The higher ranked website has the features of regularly updated content, originality and high quality. Content duplicity, thin and low quality content was the factors that undermined the website content. When Panda was firstly rolled out its impact was immediate and its affects 12% of the search results. The site ranking and traffic was affected, this penalty was put on those sites that has too many ads and low quality content. Page ranking and traffic increase were rewarded to those sites that were high in quality. Content sites and New sites were the winners among them. Panda drives content focus from content for web to content for users.
Tip: To rank your website on top make sure it has a proper sitemap, original and quality content with relevant keywords.
Released in 2012, Google Penguin stuck 2.3% English search queries. SEO experts violated Google Webmaster guidelines to boost their search engine ranking by using manipulative and Black Hat SEO techniques. Black Hat SEO techniques manipulate links pointing to a certain website either by purchasing the link or through network acquisition, stuffing keywords, copying copyrighted content from a top ranking website or using unseen content on the page. These practices are penalized by Google by means of deteriorated site rank and are made to produce genuine links that are relevant, useful and valuable to the audience. The Penguin update gave rise to negative SEO, like adding spammy links to competitor’s website to get them into trouble.
Tip: Make sure your website has legitimate and good quality links and that they are earned not purchased. Keep an eye for keyword duplication and make sure they are properly placed and are used in moderation. Also, focus on using long tailed keywords in your content.
Out in 2013, Google Hummingbird update was focused on user search experience. Hummingbird used an entirely different search algorithm that focuses on the contextual meaning of user queries rather than keywords, which affected nearly 90% of total search results. The update used long tailed keywords or phrases in order to understand user intent and provide the most relevant results. This influenced conversational or contextual searches and adapted the significance of searching on mobile devices.
Tip: Rather than aimlessly stuffing keywords in your content optimize your website with unique, convincing content and make sure your site is accessible on mobile devices.
Released in 2014, Pigeon update focuses on search result relevancy, usefulness and accuracy of all local searches. What makes this update different from Penguin and Panda is it does not impose penalty on websites that fail to comply. The update impacted search results shown on Google Maps & regular Google searches.
Tip: Businesses that are listed in Google Maps are certainly ranked higher in local search results, so if you are a business make sure you are registered on Google Places and appear on Google Maps with address and contact numbers.
This last year update gives preference to websites that are mobile response to those which are not. This means that those websites which displays well on mobile devices and smartphones are better ranked than non-mobile friendly websites. After this update the traffic on nonresponsive website dropped down by 12% in just 2 months. The update is only applicable for mobile searches, like search made from mobile devices and smartphone and not on desktops.
Tip: Improve user experience and rank high on search results by making your website mobile compatible. Make sure the text on your website is fairly readable, content does not scroll sideways and there are enough relevant links to be clicked onto.
The last Google Panda update was in Jan as a part of core ranking algorithm. Panda was launched as a spam filter which was later integrated into the core algorithm. Therefore, more attention has to be paid on website quality and the number of site visits will not determine its ranking but how useful it is for the users. On the final note, website quality, original and relevant content, a proper site structure, high quality links, user experience and mobile responsiveness are some important aspects to keep into consideration.