SEO Update: Is Google Changing Things Again?
Not too long ago, I was working with a couple of hobby sites and realized that, while they would pull up in the top results on Google for the past several months for specific longtail keywords and even nonsensical terms, they were now pushed down to the bottom of page one, page 2, or even page three.
Two things were true about the sites that were/are now getting these top rankings. All sites that were ranking above these small sites have one or both of these attributes.
- Strong brand name – Googleappears to be giving yet more prevalence to brand name
- Highly trafficked sites – Googleappears to be giving another boost to sites that already have a greater amount of traffic
I checked out what I could through the SEO channels and boards and found that others were seeing the same, although not everybody. There are two things to keep in mind here: Google has been doing more phantom updates over the past 18 months or so. Google says they are not doing phantom updates but that what we are seeing is a new procedure to continually update the algorithm and roll it out slowly over several months.
Phantom updates is a term used for updates Google does, but doesn’t tell anyone about and even sometimes goes so far as denying.
This is one of those things where it is correlative and anecdotal at this point, but some are already jumping into action. Those I know with local optimized sites said they haven’t seen this as much and I believe that’s because of their focus on a local area where big brands don’t. And, when you look at local businesses, they all tend to get less traffic than larger, national brands.
The action items those I spoke with and read about who are seeing the issue include:
- More traffic through more content marketing
- More social media to drive traffic to the site
- More things to keep people on the site longer—longer articles, splitting long articles into multiple articles to encourage clicking, adding infographics and videos to encourage people to click
That last item has been a target for a while, so I find it hard to consider that as something new.
In reality, so have the first and second items.
People are really raking their brains to try and drive traffic through non-search means in order to get their search rankings up.
They are targeting lower traffic, lower value keywords they believe their competitors aren’t.
This appears to be a continuation from recent SEO discussions where traditional SEO is failing due to a number of factors.
I see people tossing around a number of ideas to try and get clicks to their site, trying to create viral concepts, getting in front of as many people as they can as quickly as they can, volunteering for interviews and guest blogs to try and get co-occurrence up, lots of ideas that aren’t really new, but the fervor they are going after them with is new.
The old methods of SEO are not without merit. Everyone still needs to consider keywords and keyword placement. Meta and schema language has impact. Links matter. More energy and more focus on content and social marketing is having more of an impact on SEO. So is online reputation management, building better, stronger brands online. These are not new concepts, but their importance continues increase.
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