28 Dec December SEO and Social Update
Here is the SEO and social update for last month:
General Rank Trend
Over November we had a wild ride when it came to rankings. There was a ton of volatility and shifting in our ranking data. Overall our trend was positive but we did experience some major fluctuations during the month.
In reviewing our data and various notes/reports from partners we discovered that one major issue plaguing our rankings was the recent localization update by Google. This is the likely culprit that was causing larger than normal shifts in our rankings data.
The dev team worked hard to come up with a practical solution that helped balance the localization update. After the internal solution was pushed most of our data returned to what we consider normal fluctuation patterns.
Rank Fluctuation and Influencers
Whether at Boostability, another job, or on our own websites, I’m sure we’ve all watched rankings shift, sometimes in a matter of seconds. Most shifts are completely normal and can be attributed to a variety of factors. This begs the question: “if the SERPs can be so volatile and change so quickly how can we determine ‘accurate’ keyword rankings?”
To answer that question we first have to understand what factors influence rankings when we search keywords. The most common issue is personalized search. This is where you have previous behavior, cached content, or saved links that can influence and tailor the search result to you. Searching using an incognito browser removes most personalization.
Another major factor is region and exact location when conducting a search. While this issue isn’t new, there have certainly been some recent updates that make search location more complicated than before. One way to make sure your location isn’t affecting your search results is to go to your search settings (when incognito) and manually change your desired location. While this is not an exact location solution it does better at matching results for a general region.
Finally, your preset language can influence your results as well. It can cause the search engines to interject sites with translations or content sections that match your preset language. This does dynamically impact the SERPs and the results that search engines serve you when searching. The fix for this is similar to solving location: simply set your default language to match the region you are wanting to query when doing a search.
We traveled to Las Vegas for Pubcon and had a chance to spend a few days learning, discussing, and theorizing about the various aspects, processes, and products of digital marketing. It was also a great chance to hear from a few Googlers and get updates on major search projects and initiatives. Below is a quick recap of key takeaways from attending Pubcon:
- No real news or updates on RankBrain or machine learning for search.
- Mobile-first index is coming next year:
- Sites that are ready for mobile are being added to the mobile-first index. Those that are not mobile friendly are not being moved.
- Sites that are responsive are good to go already.
- More specific query types (jobs, recipes, etc.) will be coming next year.
- Adding structured markup to your page should be a focus.
- Conducting local searches on international versions of Google won’t change search results. (Example: If you search for a plumber in Vegas on Google.ca you will get results as if you searched on Google.com.)
Key SEO and Social Articles
- November Algorithm Update – Many forums and ranking monitoring tools showed major signs of updates, despite nothing being confirmed. (Source)
- Duplicate Content Consolidation – A great case study testing consolidating content and seeing the benefits of removing thin content. (Source)
- Evolving Panda and Penguin – Google confirmed they are still making tweaks and adjustments to their Panda and Penguin algorithms. (Source)
- Audio Books in Search – Search results for books will now show available audiobooks. (Source)
- 280 Characters for ALL – Twitter officially announces the 280 character limit is available for everyone. (Source)
- Facebook Ad Transparency – An in-depth review of the recent changes and updates to facebooks advertising policies. (Source)
- Pros and Cons of 280 Characters – A nice infographic covering some of the benefits and negatives of the updated twitter character count. (Source)