May 4, 2017

Understand Google’s Algorithms before creating a Seo Strategy in 2017

Throughout the years, Google’s algorithms have grown more complex and intelligent; and they seem as influential on SEO and content marketing as these two things are on the very construction of these algorithms. Though the mainstays of search engine optimization like keywords, meta descriptions, and link building remain a popular focus, knowing how to appease Google’s algorithms is integral to getting onto the first page of the SERPs.

Meet the Google Algorithm Updates that Seos need to know about

It is important to know the names of the algorithms and how they affect SEO and marketing content. These are the names of the biggest overhauls that continue to function today:

  • Panda – A search filter introduced February 2011. Panda put a stopper on poor quality content working its way into the top rankings. Since 2011, Panda has gone in stealth mode, knocking your site down in rank whenever it finds spam and other misleading or unsavory content.
  • Top HeavyFirst appearing in January 2012, Top Heavy provides a means to stopping websites that were built up with ads. Excessive ads are penalized under Top Heavy.
  • Penguin – Originally released in April 2012, Penguin has undergone some updates and is now in version 4.0. Similar to Panda, Penguin catches sites using underhanded techniques, particularly buying links or obtaining links from networks “Link Schemes” that were designed to boost Google ranks.
  • Pirate – Introduced in August 2012, this is the algorithm that blocks websites with copyright infringements through the DCMA system. Updates are done regularly to catch any sites that may have originally slipped through the filter.
  • EMD (Exact Match Domain) – Rolled out in September 2012, EMD prevented poor quality websites from ranking solely based on their domain matching the exact words of the search. Whenever EMD is updated, previously impacted sites that are reputable will go up in rankings while sites with poor content are potentially decreased.
  • Payday – A July 2013 update that targeted the cleaning up of search results that are historically spam-ridden, like payday loans, pornography, and the like.
  • Hummingbird – Put into action in September 2013, the name is derived from the “precise and fast” behaviors of a hummingbird. This update reworked algorithms to focus more on the meaning of words rather than just the word.
  • PigeonLaunched solely of U.S. English results in July 2014, Pigeon allowed of local search results (like “near me”) to be more useful and relevant. This algorithm also improved distance and location ranking parameters.
  • Mobilegeddon – This algorithm was released on April 21, 2015. Through this update, mobile-friendly websites received a huge boots in mobile SERPs.

Recent Google Updates

There were two very recent updates to Google’s algorithms, and the online community continues to report on the effects. These updates (February 6th, 2017 and March 8th, 2017—nicknamed Fred by some SEO specialists) created some turbulence. Site rankings were heavily impacted depending on the tactics your site had previously used to get into top ranks. Black hat practices, like aggressive ad placement, broken UX elements, deceptive monetization, an overuse of popups and interstitial, and anything else that would impact users negatively, caused rankings to drop exponentially.
Insomuch, Google’s QRG, or “quality rater guidelines,” are now more essential than ever.
Since the February 6th update, you will notice that the relevancy of search engine results has greatly increased. These new results are not keyword-stuffed articles but ones with content that directly answers the question you were seeking to resolve. That means that Google’s Panda algorithm is foraging more relentlessly than ever.
Recently, you may have also noticed that Google is getting some criticism for their inaccurate search results that inadvertently promote false news. A lot of data, like search volume data, data in Adwords, and in Google Search Console (previously known as Webmaster Tools), may also actually be unreliable and skewed. From here on out, an expectation would be the complete restructuring of accuracy and precision for both SERPs and other statistics.

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Here are some other factors that affect your site’s ranking with Google’s algorithms in 2017:

SERP Enhancements

More than ever, Google is revealing more data and marks in SERPs. That includes star ratings, stock market information, social media profiles, related images, and much more. There are dozens of feature that can be turned on by a user to help them see more information all at once. You never know what people are going to dig up through SERPs next. Make sure your online presence is presentable.

Link Building

Since 1998, link building, especially the use of credible, authoritative sources, has been pivotal. This need for authenticity has not changed much. Yet, since 2010, the naturalness of the link being incorporated into the article matters much more than it used to. For example, if you are talking about marketing and anchor a long-tail link to something on Amazon with no relation for a pay-per-click credit, you are going to get penalized.

Authoritative Sources

Though mentioned above, credibility counts. Simply put, creating fantastic content and putting on the internet with a degree of regularity is one of the most valuable marketing strategies out there. It is called “thought leadership,” and Google algorithms eats it up like cake.

Multi-Device Responsiveness

A mobile platform for your website is now going to be visited more than one crafted solely for the PC. That said, Google has been ramping up the need for a rich mobile UX for years now. Your site needs to function with issue on multiple devices. That means no slowdowns, limited pop-ups, and no overlays. This also includes instant answers. People want their answers uninterrupted; and to Google, this is key for engagement

Plus, you have to be able to compete with Google, master of the instant answer. Is that difficult? Of course, so you need better content than what Google alone can offer.

Site Speed

To get a bit deeper into the importance of site speed, users have a preference with websites that load more quickly over ones that do not. If a site takes longer than 3.5 seconds to load, the potential customer is going to go elsewhere. Plus, Google is going to look at your slow loading site and penalize it for every 0.5 seconds it spends building beyond that 3.5 seconds. This is why mobile platforms or Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), a unique way of coding, are so important right now.

Long-Tail Keywords

When someone types in “blue travel backpacks,” Google algorithms are going to do whatever they can to make sure that person sees all the pages with highly specific pages solely about “blue travel backpacks,” not just “travel backpacks,” “backpacks,” or “travel.” That is why you need to focus on long-tail keywords and extremely specific page on your site. Does that mean you make a page for every single variation of that keyword? No.

Clear Labeling of Information

A confusing set-up is not only going to deter buyers, it is going to addle the algorithms too. Information on your website must be identified, labeled, and comprehendible by both human and machine. While that may be a blow to your creativity, think about the user experience. Every single defined section should have a header. Take this article for example. Each factor you are reading about is placed into its own section, allowing you find quickly scan and find information.

There are other formatting elements that help with this, like lists, images, and widgets or plugins. The more organized and intelligible the information on the page is, the more Google’s algorithms will see it as favorable. Furthermore, Google Local (also known as Google My Business) relies greatly on using the information on your website (especially access and contact info) for verifying the authenticity of local businesses.

Intent Over Keywords

Starting with Google’s Hummingbird and continuing with RankBrain is a focus on intent. Rather than putting a mind-numbing amount of keywords into your online content, meeting the searcher’s intent halfway is becoming more emphasized. Are you adding the buyer on their journey of becoming aware of an issue and needing answers?

This is not a call to completely erase keywords from your content. How else would searcher’s find your website then? No, what you need to understand is how the searcher is wording their searches, and what they are thinking about. In other words, you need to do some market research on what is trending.

Advice for the Future

We are already approaching the halfway point for 2017. Knowing how these factors are going to be affecting your website, how can you restructure your marketing practices to better suit the algorithm updates and changes on the horizon?

Do these things, and you will never stumble over an update again:

  1. Know your website. Weed out low-quality content, broken links, poor user engagement, aggressive ads and pop-ups, over-monetization, multi-platform incompatibility, and so on;
  2. Run a Panda report to see if there are any serious issues going on with your site and user experience;
  3. Perform routine crawl analyses and audits. There will help you locate any problems you may have missed;
  4. Test your site updates repeatedly so that you do not have flawed content and cause bigger issues than necessary;
  5. Try to recover as quickly as possible by incorporating white hat practices, performing routine audits, and adhering to the updates before a new one comes around.

In conclusion, Google algorithm updates play a substantial role in the overall rank of your website. Depending on what the algorithms are built to attack and regulate, your site could see a positive effect or disappearing from the rank you worked extremely hard to achieve. While recovering from a negative hit may seem impossible, understanding what is affected by each update and what the algorithms favor can bring you back to the rank you once had.

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