Its Search Captain – But Not as we Know it!

Its Search Captain – But Not as we Know it!

26th April 2012

The last couple of weeks have certainly been interesting . If your like me, you will have spent many of the last couple of days evaluating the new search landscape that we now find outselves operating within. Since the turn of the year, we have seen a renewed focus from Google, with a number of far reaches improvements made to the search results, and with it a significant number of web operators impacted – some for the best – but for others it has significantly operated much of the search landscape.

In particular I would suggest there are three significant updates I think need significant focus, two of which were announced during the recent raft of Google announcements. When Google announced a number of improvements to their results back in late March, many of us had to dig dip to see which ones may affect us. However two stood out, namely that of ‘iotfreshweb’ or Freshness and about 20 or so points down the mention of an update called Google Venice

This is something I think that passed with only a limited amount of coverage, certainly I did notice Patrick Altoft and a couple of other blogs picking the early parts of this out, however I for one think the impact of that update has been significantly under appreciated by many, who remain from discussions I have had just as to the impact that the Venice update has actually had not just on the % of local and local/hybrid results but on the volume of phrases affected by localisation. Much of the impact on this I can’t feel can be lost due to the impact of personalisation and other recent algorithmic updates, but in my opinion this could be one of the most significant updates many SEO’s will have to deal with – and one that may not just change SEO strategies but wider business strategies potentially as well – particularly those reliant on the internet as a source of potential traffic and leads to the sites.

With Google announcing a number of impending tweaks to the algorithm, it can be increasingly difficult to evaluate potential causes as to visibility increases/decreases – and I would go as far as I have noticed a number of pre-emptive posts in response to the announcement by Google as to a forthcoming ranking update. None of these should be taken in isolation – and I for one can’t help thinking some of these may be a bit ‘early’ in terms of evaluating the potential impact of these updates – and correlating rank changes to causes which may have nothing to do with it whatsoverer.

Furthermore, I would suggest context of phrases has become more important than ever before, not just in terms of its potential to convert but increasingly as to the potential for that term to be impacted by any one of Google’s recent updates. Take for example, a phrase which may be impacted by spikes in activity,such as Grand National or Olympics is going to have a far more volatile SERP – and far more prone to any Freshness related updates. On the counter side, the Venice updates brings into play a number of local factors – take for example a search for pizza, estate agents, or even something potentially more generic in nature such as accident claims. Such instances are far more difficult to understand without further evaluation. Single source rank checking solutions won’t identify the whole of the problem as many such tools only operate from a single location – and thus will miss the impact of these on a wider scale. This in itself brings about a whole new potential issue for any SEO looking to fully understand the impact of the campaigns on a more granular scale.

Further more, recent link issues have further changed the landscape for SEO’s something from conversations I have had with many is increasing in terms of its coverage. From a contact in the industry,the recent changes were described as ‘google are really messing the link buying world’, but one has to argue that this is one of the motives behind these recent updates. One has to argue that anything Google can do to remove low quality content from the index has to be good – however one also has to consider that in many cases it would appear to be Google often throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

We are currently in the process of evaluating much of the areas I have discussed above, and I will be releasing a number of posts on my blog around these over the coming weeks. One things for sure, this year has started with a bang – and we as SEO’s/Inbound Marketeers etc are going to have to think differently to the way we approach SEO as we are now working in an environment affected by localisation, frequency, personalisation and more. Standing still using outdated methods may work – but one has to suggest its only a matter of time before that landscape will change.

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Written By
Peter has been around the industry for a while now, having previously headed up both search and SEO operations at Connectpoint (now Amaze), Mediavest, Brilliant Media and now Search & Social Director for Mediacom.
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