Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Google's latest updates and how to respond to them

Changes to Google’s Search Algorithms

Google changes its search behaviour up to 600 times every year, mostly small refinements to the way that it processes queries and ranks web sites. However, there have been several major updates that have made a significant difference to the performance of web sites, up to 3~4% of searches in some cases. Therefore, it is worthwhile understanding what Google is up to, and what its (stated and unstated) objectives appear to be. Lets have a look at the recent major Google updates:


Google’s Panda update programme first rolled out in early 2011. The purpose was to remove web sites from the listings that have poor quality or duplicated content. The last significant change was on 18 July 2013, which implies that Google is continually refining these algorithms to drive spam levels even lower. ‘Spam’ means content that is not genuine, created by people who are trying to ‘beat the system’. Google reported changes that impact on sites that copy others’ content and sites with low levels of original content. For instance, Wikipedia reports that a content farm (or content mill) employs large numbers of writers to generate large amounts of written content. These articles from content farms may contain identical passages. Therefore, it is important to check your web diagnostics and avoid accusations of duplicated content. We have noticed that duplicated pages can be reported if the web addresses are not set up properly, so-called ‘canonisation’ problems.

Penguin 2.1

While Panda examines content, Penguin looks at links. Penguin version 1 was released in April 2012, and the latest incarnation, Penguin 2.1 was effective from 4 October 2013. Google uses inbound links to measure how popular your site is. Hence, if there are good links from authorative sites such as Government, national institutions or other high-rated sites then Google will perceive your content to be valuable. As you can imagine, many people tried to bypass the system by generating lots of backlinks on the cheap, using ‘link farms’ and other means. Penguin will penalise sites with poor-quality or unnatural links. Some experts recommend monitoring your organic traffic in Google Analytics over a period after an update looking for a dip. A dip in traffic occurring on this date may indicate that your site has been hit by one of Google’s changes.

You should analyse your back-link profile carefully. Make sure that you do not have a large number of sites linking with an exact match for your key target phrase, and don’t have one site generating lots of links to your site. You may have been targeted by negative SEO, where a competitor has created bad links to your site, which makes validating your links doubly important. You can contact the source to remove poor links, or you can use the ‘disavow link’ tool in Webmaster Tools. If a whole linking domain is poor, then you can disavow the entire domain. Even so, you could actually have an increase in traffic, if a competitor who had been ranking higher got hit by Penguin 2.1.


Google announced this update in late September 2013, but stated that it had already rolled out a month before. Hummingbird is apparently the biggest change to Google’s search algorithm in twelve years. As such, it incorporates Panda and Penguin as described above. Although it’s a massive change, it does not appear to have such an immediate effect on some web sites like Panda and Penguin did. It will however have a long-term impact on web-based searches.

Hummingbird is paying attention to the meaning and context of each search. Rather than just relying on a list of keywords, Hummingbird is trying to respond to the whole query, rather as we would person-to-person. The implication is for better interpretation of longer questions, which may include more obscure key phrases. These are known as ‘long-tail’ key phrases, as statistically they don’t get searched for so often, but they can bring a lot of traffic. Webpronews says “The goal is that pages matching the meaning do better, rather than pages matching just a few words”

What is Google up to?

Google’s ongoing strategy is to rely less on keywords. This implies a sea-change in the techniques needed for SEO, which is going to rely more on quality and content and less on processes to promote keywords. At the moment, Google’s SEO guideines have not changed, but we could expect new tools and processes in the future. Google’s declared focus is on returning high-quality, relevant content in response to searches, and an enhanced user experience. Webpronews says that it’s clear that keywords are becoming less and less important to search engine ranking success as Google gets smarter at figuring out what things mean, both on the query side of things and on the webpage side of things. Google is restricting data about key phrases in it’s analytics tool as well. Hence it is more difficult to work out which keywords are working best for you. Another point is that Google is delivering content on it’s own pages. For instance, if you search for a celebrity or pop star, you’ll get a potted biography on the Google page. In this way, Google keeps your attention on their pages, and therefore not on yours.

A strategy to handle Google’s updates

Concentrate on high-quality, high-depth content which will have lots of related ‘long-tail’ phrases.
Don’t base your strategy on a limited set of key phrases; this will progressively become less competitive.
Keep your XML site map up to date. Make sure that Google (and other search engines) can find your content.
Also, have a clear site structure with a strong home page, with static links to your valuable pages. Ideally these should be within 2 clicks of your home page.
Promote your content so that valuable and relevant web sites link back to yours. Audit your backlinks, and remove or ‘disavow’ any poor or negative links.
Promote your site on social media, such as Google+ (which pays dividends with Google), Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. This generates good backlinks and also gives an alternative platform for searches and user interaction. Also consider visual media on Youtube, Pinterest and Instangram.

For more about this check out PDC Internet Solutions.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Internet trends for 2012

The battle for peoples' online attention continues unabated. Social media continue to grow in influence, including Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. Google+ is growing very rapidly and may well challenge Facebook in due course. Another significant factor is that there is evidence published that Google+ is influencing Google search results.

All of these social media are starting to focus on the commercial sector as well as the end-user. This gives more opportunities for companies to present their products and services. See our social media web page.

Responsive web design is the other key trend. Web traffic is moving onto smartphones and tablets so that web sites need to be delivered on this hardware. Some web applications are now being superceded by phone/tablet applications. Cloud computing enables the user to access data and documents from their mobile device.

Google remains the dominant search engine in the UK for 2012. The 'panda' update in 2011 focussed on quality and content of sites. The 'freshness' update is now looking for more recent information, which implies that sites, however full of content, need to be kep up-to-date with the latest news.

Google is now tending to include local information in results for some searches, if it believes it knows your location. Otherwise the location that Google assumes can give confusing results. All this places growing emphasis on local searches and recommendations on sites such as Qype, Bizwiki and Google Places itself.

As the internet world becomes more competitive it is an absolute requirement to achieve the highest quality.

Here is an interesting article giving the top 15 web trends for 2012.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Social Media Training Courses

This training will show you why you should engage in social media, what you need to do and how to get started in a time and cost-effective way. Learn how to grow your business with:

Plus much, much more.

We have availability for our next courses taking place on: Wednesday 14th September 2011 and Wednesday 21st September 2011

Book now at:

Contact us now on 01455 290 222 or e-mail
PDC Internet Solutions, Market Bosworth.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

International business networking

Business networking

Business networking is a very effective method for finding new customers, and forging new business relationships. It is a business strategy that can be used by anyone from large corporations to small home-based business owners.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

ACG launches online Cleantech Meeting Space, and invites cleantech companies to join

Asia Cleantech Gateway (HK) Ltd. launched its online networking platform aimed at facilitating East-West cleantech business at the 2011 Hanover H2+FC Fair.

After 6 months in development, ACG aims to grow the platform into the leading web-based tool for identifying and making contact with potential clients and partners for companies in the cleantech sector.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Control your Facebook business page with ease!

It has always been a bit of grey area...

Do you want a Facebook profile for social use and then a separate Facebook profile for business?

Should you use one or both of your profiles to administer your Facebook company page?

If you're struggling to find the answers, then hopefully Facebook's latest updates could make life a little easier and all being well a little less stressful...

With the recent changes made by Facebook you now have the ability to switch your account settings so you can browse, post and interact fully as your business page. Previously when liking, posting or commenting on another business page or even personal profile it would be through your personal account, very frustrating at times!

Thursday, 10 March 2011

A practical approach to ROI for Social Media

Measurement and analysis are key to an online marketing strategy. The objective of the activities is to increase the number of contacts and expand the business. Therefore it is important to establish where new clients are coming from. It is likely that the website and social media will be used to confirm a client’s view of your company. Using LinkedIn or Facebook will mean that the potential customer already has a business relationship with you.

At this point, it is not really possible to attribute participation in social media to a direct financial return, unless perhaps you are retailing online.

What matters are new customers, new relationships and increased sales. At the same time, it is so important to measure your social media marketing efforts. Then you can tweak and improve your actions and eliminate the activities that waste time.