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November 5, 2020 (Updated: February 8, 2023)
Beginning on September 20th, Google began having issues with the canonical tags and mobile optimization of links on their powerful search engine. They admitted through a series of tweets what was happening behind the scenes, so check out their admissions below.
Images from SeRoundTable.
After resolving the canonical tag issue on October 9th, they have released new updates to their algorithm that will affect most businesses who rely on SEO.
Google continues to break grounds with new updates that will help with your SEO strategy, including AI updates that will likely have an effect on your current rankings.
You will most likely encounter this update, which is a system that performs a full site assessment based on content quality. The higher your site ranks, the more likely you are to position higher on the SERP. Sites with poor content are doomed because it will be harder than ever to find their way to the coveted #1 spot on Google. These changes have underscored the value of on-page optimization, so if you’d like to avoid slipping through the cracks, here are some triggers to avoid.
Thin Content – If your site has pages that barely provide value to the average user, your site is doomed. This is because you will not be able to rank high, even if you have a simple version of the answer users are looking for. Google will now be favoring long-form content because it provides much more value to the average user.
Low-Quality Content – Similar to thin content, low-quality content will be slipping through the cracks like a game of shoots and ladders. If your content doesn’t provide the answer to one or more common questions, it is much less likely to appear on the first SERP.
Duplicate Content – There are some parts of duplicate content you can get away with while still ranking on the SERP, and those are: stock photos and videos (unless they’re YouTube videos).
However, copying entire chunks of text will get you in trouble with Google Panda. But, we should know not to try and get away with plagiarism in 2020. So, write your own work and proudly share it on your site so you can stay on top of the SERP.
As Google Panda focuses on content, Google Penguin will focus on your site’s link profiles. SEO managers may be trying to boost their rankings with backlinks; however, there are several new conditions that you may want to follow.
As we know, not all backlinks are beneficial to your SEO strategy, so begin being more careful with the placement of your links. Some triggers for this update include:
Buying Links – Avoid buying links at all costs. Google can smell this dirty tactic from a mile away.
Identical Anchor Text – Diversify the anchor text that links back to your content. If the anchor text is always the same, Google will identify this as manipulation.
Inferior Link Quality – Having backlinks in poor content will have a negative impact on your SEO strategy. So be careful where you choose to place your links, as you wouldn’t want your site to be flagged because of a backlink on a sketchy site.
Finally, the last portion of this update is called Google Hummingbird, which will improve the quality of the overall search. It detects intent behind each search query and simultaneously considers the context surrounding your keywords. What will come of this? Well, Google hopes that as a result of trying this method you will get more tailored results.
BERT, the natural language processing model, is going to be used on 100% of all English searches. But what does that mean for you and your brand’s current rankings?
Well, 7% of all SERPs (search engine results pages) will be affected, and in some cases, 10% of search results will be affected. Overall, every search inquiry that is done in English on Google will be affected. With the natural language processing techniques they’ve added, it will help Google understand words based on the words you surround your primary keyword with.
Some new factors to take into consideration are:
The New Spelling Algorithm – This tool will aim to help Google with misspelled words and searches.
The Passages Index – This will help to surface pages where the answers to your questions lie.
Subtopics – These will impact how search queries for general and broad search phrases are marked. Optimizing for specific subtopics will also benefit online businesses to rank for the higher traffic subtopic.
Video Change – This tool will help surface videos for the answers to your questions. It’s similar to the passages index except it will help visual learners find visual answers to their questions.
Data Sets – This tool will impact sites that rely on ranking for statistical information and sites selling statistical reports. It also provides the ability to research and discover the topic more deeply.