SEO Today

Commencing in 2011, Google made four major algorithm changes with the objective of ensuring the most relevant results appear at the top of the SERPS (search engine results pages), rather than results artificially positioned there by the so-called “Black Hats”: those who bent or broke the rules and took whatever shortcuts might exist, hoping their tactics would remain undiscovered.


The first change introduced during February 2011 was designed to prevent sites with poor-quality content working their way into Google’s top rankings. With its focus firmly on a quality user experience, Google came down hard on thin-content sites, content farms, and sites with a disproportionate number of advertisements compared to content. This change affected some 12 percent of searches.


The second change, launched in April 2012, was implemented to crack down on sites using “black hat” techniques such as keyword stuffing and paying for links. This change affected just four percent of searches, but those caught in the net were hit hard. Businesses that focused on value, content and user experience, on the other hand, were positively boosted. Essentially, Penguin penalises any practices that violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.


The third change, implemented during August 2013, was designed to increase relevancy. It helped Google move away from specific keywords towards Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI), which essentially allows the words in sentences or phrases based on mathematical computations to come up with similar words or phrases that match the original wording structure. So if, for example, you search for “Best Australian Holiday Destinations”, Google finds similar terms such as “Top Ten Places to Stay in Australia”, which matches the keyword search semantically. The idea behind this was to stop the practice of repeating the same keywords throughout the content in order to rank high. Certainly, keywords are still important, but the old SEO practice of keyword stuffing is detrimental.


The fourth change, which commenced in April 2015, had the greatest impact on searches, affecting 60 percent. Effectively, Google searches now favour sites that are mobile friendly – and quite understandably as the world is moving away from desktops and laptops and increasingly to mobile phones, tablets and wearable technology. Google wants your website to look good across all devices, which means you need to approach your content from a design perspective as well as a value perspective to ensure it’s viewable on everything from a Watch through smartphones and tablets to desktops and laptops.

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