Notice a big change in your website’s positions at google.com? It’s not just you. Google updated their algorithm without telling anyone.
You may have noticed more than a few changes in your website’s positions on Google search engine results pages lately. That’s because Google made a secret update to their algorithm this month (May 2015). According to a May 19th report from Search Engine Journal, the search engine giant did what many SEOs suspected after noticing some drastic jumps in client website rankings. Google changed how the algorithm determines a website’s overall quality.
As you may know, Google gives each website an overall “quality score” based on factors such as the quality of a website’s content (e.g. unique content, in-depth content, etc.) and trust signals (e.g. domain name age, quality of incoming links, etc.). This quality score is one of the things the algorithm looks at when determining where to place a website in Google search engine rankings.
Google released the “Quality Update” in the first week of May 2015.
Nobody knows the exact day Google changed its algorithm, but it was clear to SEO professionals that something had definitely changed with search engine results within the first five days of May. Search Engine Roundtable’s Barry Schwartz asked Google about a possible Panda update on May 5th, and was originally told that no algorithm update had taken place – not Panda, Penguin or otherwise. Two weeks later, Google confirmed that they actually did make an update, though it wasn’t related to spam.
Google confirmed it made changes to its “…core ranking algorithm in terms of how it processes quality signals, …” but declined to give specifics.
So what exactly did Google change?
While Google didn’t provide details on exactly what was changed – they keep their algorithm a closely-guarded secret – we theorize that the change may be Google’s attempt to fine-tune how the algorithm differentiates between in-depth content that provides useful information and content that has been “overstuffed” or “overinflated” simply for the sake of appearing to be in-depth.
SEO is now undergoing a “content gold rush” so-to-speak, where content is king. There have even been studies that suggest that webpages with 2,000+ words rank higher in search results than webpages with fewer words. Obviously, this doesn’t mean you should go out and stuff your webpages with just any content. The user should always come first and your content should serve a useful and ethical purpose.
However, some unethical webmasters took this information and began stuffing their webpages with as many words as possible, regardless of quality or user experience. Google’s algorithm change could very well be an attempt to prevent purposely-inflated webpages that offer no real value, from ranking well in Google’s search results.
That being said, content is just one of a myriad of factors that go into determining a website’s overall quality and relevance.
So how does this affect your website?
The new Google Quality Update means that Google is continuing to pay close attention to the overall quality of a website. The search engine giant has always emphasized quality in search results by penalizing websites that use deceptive link building practices to try and falsely inflate their perceived popularity, as well as those that steal content, stuff keywords, or use other unethical practices to try to trick the algorithm.
If you are not doing anything unethical and have been posting quality, useful, in-depth content on your website – something which content marketing specialists have been preaching is a necessary part of SEO for a while now – then the algorithm change could result in your website seeing an improvement in rankings.
If you need help with content development and marketing, give Net Site Marketing a call at 828-684-4445. We specialize in developing useful, optimized content in many different forms, that ranks well, attracts visitors and improves conversions.
It’s important to note that not all websites may notice a change in rankings. Google’s John Mueller stated that the update was really a “minor update” and one of many smaller algorithmic updates that “happen all the time.” So why the fuss? Our guess: Google didn’t fully anticipate just how much the update would impact website positions.
We welcome your comments … did you notice a big impact on your website’s positions at google.com?