Posted by The Marketing Team,
Aug 18, 2014
It’s that time again! Google has rolled out another update to their increasingly intelligent algorithm, taking yet another step towards providing the best possible search results for their users.
Broadly, there are two types of updates; little tweaks and fixes that are quietly rolled out, and big updates that change the game.
The latest update is a mixture of the two – it’s been big enough to make the news on most SEO blogs, but hasn’t seemed to be worthy of having its own name. So what has it done exactly, and how can we make sure we stay on its good side?
It’s all about local
Local search is one of the areas in which Google has recently focused a lot of its efforts. People now expect to find local businesses and services right there on the search results, and the quality of the results is becoming more important than ever. It’s not like the old days anymore – instead of simply having links to websites, Google local now displays a huge amount of information at a glance, such as opening times, pictures, maps and reviews.
This latest update seems to be aimed at further improving their delivery of local search results, and making it more relevant to longer tail and phrase-based search queries. Currently it only applies to US English, but will most certainly roll out to other countries soon enough.
What’s the impact?
This new update will be tying in more deeply with current search capabilities, refined more towards local search along the hundreds of ranking indicators that the algorithm takes into account when serving up results. It is likely to better understand query-led keywords and will undoubtedly make further use of their Knowledge Graph, which is becoming more and more detailed as time goes by.
It’s still too early to fully know what impact it has had for businesses and their local rankings, but there is likely to be fluctuations in rankings until things level out again. Google has not yet commented on the percentage of queries that were impacted, but webmasters have already noticed some changes.
Why make the change?
So why did they make the change? Well, the official and typically vague story is that the update was implemented to improve local search results, but there may be other factors at play here. Local directories such as Yelp have recently accused Google of putting their own local listings in front of other competitors, even if users included ‘Yelp’ in their search terms. It appears that Google were a little too keen to include links to their Google + pages and reviews in favour of more neutral results. After the update, Yelp have once again seen more natural and neutral rankings when Google is queried for local businesses.
What you can do
As with any algorithm update, the best thing you can do is carry on with current optimisation campaigns to improve organic rankings. This is assuming that you have not been trying to cheat the system through loopholes, sneaky tactics and poor link building. Local is a really important part of any normal search campaign, so we recommend that you look into making sure you are listed with all the big local directories such as Yelp, and industry specific websites such as TripAdvisor, if you are a hotel for example, or Urbanspoon if you have a restaurant or café. Of course make sure you have a Google + account as well, with a confirmed address for their mapping facility.
Written by the SEO Team from Total Media
The SEO team have a passion for search. They love cups of tea, chocolate biscuits and all things online.