Recently Google has made some changes to their search algorithm. “What changes?” I hear some of you ask? “What is a search algorithm?” I hear a lot of you cry. I have heard your shouts for simple answers echoing around the Web-a-sphere so I have crafted this quick Q & A for you. If this doesn’t answer your questions…. then send me an email. I’m happy to discuss how this will affect your SEO and overall digital campaign.
What is The Google Algorithm?
There are billions of pages on the internet and Google wants to make sure that when you are asking a question, you are presented with the page that has the BEST answer. The Google Algorithm is the computer formula that lets Google do this. It is a formula that has been developed and adjusted over years because Google continually wants to improve on answering people’s questions. In fact they update the algorithm up to 600 times per year. Usually these updates are just small adjustments and go unnoticed. Every now and then Google implements large updates that can noticeably change how your questions are answered. The latest update has been dubbed the “Pigeon” update and was implemented on the 24th July.
What is the Pigeon Algorithm Update?
The Pigeon Update has been designed by Google to help provide search results that are more relevant to people looking for local answers to their queries.
Why Is Google Doing This?
Well it means that if you are in Brisbane and you search for a service, like a dry cleaner, then Google will try and give you the most relevant and closest dry cleaner it can find. The aim is to create “hyper-local” results, giving searchers the most convenient and accurate answers. At the moment the algorithm is still undergoing some adjustment so there have been some noticeable changes in search results for a various number of keywords.
What Changes Are Occurring?
With the algorithm in a test period we can see some major impact on local search results. If we Googled “Dry Cleaners Milton” last week we would have been presented with a number of local establishments that provided this service within Milton, Brisbane (where the Reload office is based). As we can see from the example below, in Google Local, we are currently getting results for not only Milton, Queensland, but also from other locations named “Milton” (5 in America and one from Milton Keynes in the United Kingdom). This is a terribly inconvenient trip to take for a fresh set of pressed pants! We can also see in this example that directories like True Local are appearing in Google Web (which are all the search results that aren’t on the map). Directories don’t provide answers; they only provide lists of places that have answers, so they really aren’t relevant answers. If you looked further down this search result you would also notice multiple results for other directories like Yellow Pages and Yelp, all on the first page.
Are These Changes Permanent?
Google wants the most relevant information to appear when someone asks a question. It is obvious that the current search results that are appearing are not the most relevant for searchers. Google really doesn’t want Yelp and Yellow Pages ranking on the first page as they don’t provide extensive information about the topics people are looking for. They also don’t want to provide someone in Australia with the services from the United Kingdom or America in Google Maps as per the “Dry Cleaners Milton” example. Google is constantly updating their algorithm and we strongly believe that over the next month we will see more relevant/ accurate search results appear back in both Google Maps and Google Web. If you continue to keep up with best SEO practices then your website should weather this storm.
What Can I Do?
Businesses should concentrate on sticking to the core elements of good SEO practice. This means you should continue to provide excellent, user-friendly content on your website and you should be recognised for it. When results settle back down, websites that have stuck to Google’s guidelines should appear back in the positions they have earned. We will continue to keep you up to date as more information becomes available.