5 Google algorithm updates that affect your Web traffic

tagged with

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is affected on a weekly basis by Google algorithm updates. But, there are five algorithm changes that could be reducing your Web traffic levels and compromising your earning potential.

When it comes to Google algorithm updates, it pays to stay informed. Some updates may lead to penalties that can inflict instant and devastating traffic losses, while others may lead to a slow but steady decline in traffic over weeks or months.

Not all drops in traffic are "penalties". Many algorithm changes are designed to make search results better, so drops in traffic are more like corrections to search results, and not explicitly penalties against your site.

The good news is that Web traffic losses as a result of Google algorithm changes are easily fixed - provided you know what to look for. This article will talk about 5 recent Google algorithm changes and discuss show how you can quickly recover from any losses of Web traffic.

1. EMD (Exact Match Domain)

The EMD update targeted low quality websites that used exact match domain names to appear higher in search results than the quality of their content merited.

What this means is that there is now little point in selecting a domain name based on the search terms or phrases you intend to rank highly for in search.

The only way to rank high in SERP (Search Engine Result Pages) is to create high quality, high value content. Do this, and you'll get to the top of the search results, regardless of what your domain name is.

2. Top heavy

After receiving and collating search useability data, Google concluded that Websites offering little to no content above the fold (that is, the part of a webpage that is immediately visible upon page load), were not producing satisfactory browsing experiences for users.

As a result, sites that are top heavy in advertisements will start to see drops in their page ranks.

If you suspect that your site is affected by this change, simply make more room for content above the fold, and wait a few weeks for Google to re-index sufficient pages to put your pages back up.

3. Panda

Panda (named after a Google engineer, not the animal) landed like a bomb. Overnight massive websites that had made lots of moola offering poor quality content (but well SEO'd) disappeared from Google's search results.

The Panda algorithm is like a lone gunslinger that focuses purely on page and content quality. The only way to get around Panda is to start creating high quality, relevant content that people want to consume.

If your site is based on low quality, highly SEO'd content, you might want to trash it and start again from scratch as the days of poor quality content ranking highly in search are numbered.

4. Penguin

Penguin, unlike Panda, focuses on spammy linking (or webspam) techniques that were, in the past, used to trick search algorithms into overestimating the popularity of content.

By engaging in link farms, buying links, and so on, unscrupulous sites and SEO services could push poor content above better quality content in the SERPs.

If you think you have been penalized as a result of poor linking practices (i.e. you have thousands of backlinks that you paid for), the best thing to do is get rid of them as best you can.

Google now offers a link disavow tool that might help with this issue.

5. User context

As Google learns more about what people want from search, and how they use it (bearing in mind that this changes all the time), they have come to realize that the majority of searches are actually looking for local information.

The user context algorithm helps Google to better understand a user's context so that it can return locally refined search results automatically.

The upshot of this is that, if your business or revenue stream relies on local industry, you might wish to consider altering your marketing or content creation strategy to include plenty of local information.