Happy New Year! Another year has passed us by and FSE Digital is now in its 4th year of business. These four years have seen us grow and evolve rapidly as an agency. One of the biggest challenges has been keeping up with the many changes that Google has introduced since we started. 2016 looks to be another exciting year for us and the SEO community as a whole.
Google started the year with a core update to its algorithm on, or around, January 8th, 2016. We were expecting a Panda or Penguin update early in the year – Google suggested that real-time Penguin would be live before the end of 2015 – but instead we were greeted with a core update. This may be indicative of the year to come.
What is a Core Google Update?
Google tends to update in one of two ways: it either updates what it refers to as “the core” of its search engine algorithm, which is to say, it launches a major new release that usually consists of many individual alterations; or it releases what can be considered a patch, which alters something quite specific. Patches in recent years include the Panda and Penguin updates, along with some “phantom” updates, changes to local search, quality updates and mobile specific changes.
Whenever there is an update, the SEO community analysis it to determine which ranking factors have been adjusted so that new techniques can be used to optimize websites. Naturally, the smaller updates make this task more straightforward. It is also easier for businesses to identify possible ranking problems by comparing change in search engine referrals with the algorithm change history.
However, when Google releases a core update, it is much more difficult to pinpoint the cause of drops in search – it is also difficult to determine why a website might start performing better.
The Unnamed Update
On January 12, Google’s Gary Illyes announced on Twitter that there was a Google core algorithm update, but not the Penguin one that everybody is still waiting for.
There have been rumours that Google plans to merge the Penguin updates into its core algorithm, and this may form part of the “real-time Penguin” change that is also expected. This is a strong indication that Google feels that its work on Penguin is mostly complete and from now on it only needs to implement quality updates to the search algorithm.
200 Unique Quality Signals
Google is often quick to remind us that its search engine analyses around 200 unique signals to determine how a page is ranked. SEOs tend to focus on only a handful of these – usually page content, site navigation and links.
The most successful SEO campaigns are those that aim to optimise across the Google search spectrum. Other, less talked about ranking signals include freshness, query understanding, snippets, image search, videos, the Knowledge Graph, internationalization, page quality and user context, to name but a few.
Our goal for 2016 is to provide a more comprehensive SEO strategy for our clients. We start this process by carrying out our new 30 point SEO checklist, which forms the foundation of all of our search engine optimisation strategies. If you would like to learn more about how we can help your business grow online, call FSE Digital today.