Thursday, October 3, 2013

Big SEO News: Google's New Algorithm

If you're a regular reader of The Organic SEO Blog, you probably know that we're obsessed with Google's "algorithm." If you're not a regular reader, and you're just learning about organic SEO, perhaps you're asking, "Google's what?" Well, if you're not familiar with Google's "algorithm," Google's own explanation is precise and helpful:

"For a typical query, there are thousands, if not millions, of webpages with helpful information. Algorithms are the computer processes and formulas that take your questions and turn them into answers. Today Google’s algorithms rely on more than 200 unique signals or “clues” that make it possible to guess what you might really be looking for. These signals include things like the terms on websites, the freshness of content, your region and PageRank."

Google's algorithm evolves over time. Over the years, we've seen a few entirely new algorithms and many "updates." (For the difference between a new algorithm and an update, check out the first paragrph of this helpful article from WebProNews). However, even as Google's experience improves, the algorithm changes might not be apparent to most browsers. For the trained SEO specialist, though, even the slightest change should be apparent.

Now, any SEO specialist worth his or her salt will watch Google's algorithm like a hawk. In one sense, this is the greatest value an SEO specialist can provide for your website. The best specialist will stay up-to-date with Google's algorithm, and will continually apply changes to your website's infrastructure and content to meet the evolving demands of the algorithm. This is the true work of organic SEO. If the algorithm never changed, SEO specialists would find dramatically less work! Websites could be optimized once and forever.

Happily (for everyone, we believe) the algorithm does change. To meet the evolving demands of today's browsers, continually Google strives to deliver the most relevant results. So recently, Google announced its first entirely new algorithm in twelve years: Google Hummingbird. This new algorithm, which will effect up to 90% of Google's results (source: USA Today), was made to accommodate the recent increase of voice-based searches as well as more complex searches. As the USA Today notes in its article about the new algorithm:

"The change comes as people become more comfortable asking long, complex questions when they use Google to search the Web, rather than single words or simple phrases...Google is also making the change to ensure its search results work well with voice-based queries. When people speak, rather than type on a computer, they use more complex phrases and Google had to update its algorithm to handle that."

How will this change effect your business? Well, that's a good question for your SEO specialist. If you do have an SEO specialist, make sure you make a plan with him or her. Ask yourself--and your specialist--how, exactly, how you will update your site to meet Google's new demands?

If you tend to think about your product or service in terms of a simple keyword--"denim jeans," for example--now might be the time to update your website to adequately answer today's browser's longer and more complex questions. Browsers in the past might've simply searched for "denim jeans." But today's browser, working from a smart phone, might search for: "slim fit denim jeans to wear with dress shoes." Whoa! Of course, this might not be your product at all. The point, though, is to clarify your offering as precisely as possible. To do so, add new content to your website--and make sure it's relevant.

If you do not have an SEO specialist, now is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of natural website optimization. Of course, we recommend our very own sponsor, Stepmans PC. Alex Stepman is a small business owner who understands your need to spend money efficiently. He is also an incredibly astute algorithm-watcher, as up-to-date as any SEO specialist on the planet.