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Google says new algorithm changes will impact 5% of queries

Google has announced that as part of its ongoing efforts to combat spam and improve the relevance of its search results, it has begun removing pages from its indexes in what it calls a series of algorithm changes.

As of this month, the search engine’s spam and hacker experts will begin to de-index pages that it considers to be a result of spam or hacked content. It has warned that as a result of its efforts, users will likely notice fewer pages returned for their search queries.

The announcement is one of a wide number of changes implemented by the search engine as it refines its tactics for dealing with low quality content. It recently overhauled the way hacked sites are dealt with and penalized, making it easier for webmasters who have been hijacked by hackers to restore their domains to good standing. In September, Josh Feira and Yuan Niu, from the Google Search Quality Team reported that there has been a 180% increase in the number of sites being hacked this year, and a 300% increase in reconsideration requests due to hacking. It pledged to focus on three core areas to fight hackers:

  1. Improved communication

  2. Better tools

  3. Continuous feedback loop

The news that some pages will no longer appear for search queries falls under the better tools category. Ning Song, Software Engineer said in a blog post that Google is removing a large number of hacked spam pages from its system, leaving fewer pages in the index and fewer search results for users. The quality of the search results will be higher, as Google gets smarter about identifying sites that have been hacked or had spam content injected into some or all of their pages.

In the blog post, Song says that many webmasters leave their sites vulnerable to such attacks, with hackers able to inject spam content – such as adverts for illegal pharmaceuticals – or to send traffic to low quality sites. Google is now ‘aggressively targeting hacked spam’ to protect users and webmasters and put spammers and cyber criminals out of business. Its research shows that no one type of site is targeted – legitimate sites falling victim to hacked content include small business sites, universities and even government sites.

The new algorithm changes are already in play and will continue to be rolled out over the coming months. For webmasters with hacked spam within their domains, these pages will be filtered out from Google search results. Those concerned about the changes can share their opinions with Google on the Google Webmaster Forum or, report problems and access resources to combat hackers via the Search Console.

Posted in: Blog, Google Updates, Latest News

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FAQs about the April 21st mobile-friendly update

FAQs about the April 21st mobile-friendly update

We’d like to share answers to your frequently asked questions. For background, in February, we announced that the mobile-friendly update will boost the rankings of mobile-friendly pages — pages that are legible and usable on mobile devices — in mobile search results worldwide. (Conversely, pages designed for only large screens may see a significant decrease in rankings in mobile search results.) To get us all on the same page, here are the most frequently asked questions:

General FAQs

1. Will desktop and/or tablet ranking also be affected by this change?

No, this update has no effect on searches from tablets or desktops. It affects searches from mobile devices across all languages and locations.

2. Is it a page-level or site-level mobile ranking boost? 

It’s a page-level change. For instance, if ten of your site’s pages are mobile-friendly, but the rest of your pages aren’t, only the ten mobile-friendly pages can be positively impacted.

3. How do I know if Google thinks a page on my site is mobile-friendly?

Individual pages can be tested for “mobile-friendliness” using the Mobile-Friendly Test.

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Test individual URLs in real-time with the Mobile-Friendly Test.
To review site-level information on mobile-friendliness, check out the Mobile Usability report in Webmaster Tools. This feature’s data is based on the last time we crawled and indexed your site’s pages.
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Mobile Usability in Webmaster Tools provides a snapshot of your entire site’s mobile-friendliness.
4. Unfortunately, my mobile-friendly pages won’t be ready until after April 21st. How long before they can be considered mobile-friendly in ranking?
We determine whether a page is mobile-friendly every time it’s crawled and indexed — you don’t have to wait for another update. Once a page is mobile-friendly, you can wait for Googlebot for smartphones to naturally (re-)crawl and index the page or you can expedite processing by using Fetch as Google with Submit to Index in Webmaster Tools. For a large volume of URLs, consider submitting a sitemap. In the sitemap, if your mobile content uses pre-existing URLs (such as with Responsive Web Design or dynamic serving), also include the lastmod tag.
5. Since the mobile ranking change rolls out on April 21st, if I see no drop in traffic on April 22nd, does that mean that my site’s rankings aren’t impacted?
You won’t be able to definitively determine whether your site’s rankings are impacted by the mobile-friendly update by April 22nd. While we begin rolling out the mobile-friendly update on April 21st, it’ll be a week or so before it makes its way to all pages in the index.
6. I have a great mobile site, but the Mobile-Friendly Test tells me that my pages aren’t mobile-friendly. Why?
If a page is designed to work well on mobile devices, but it’s not passing the Mobile-Friendly Test, the most common reason is that Googlebot for smartphones is blocked from crawling resources, like CSS and JavaScript, that are critical for determining whether the page is legible and usable on a mobile device (i.e., whether it’s mobile-friendly). To remedy:
  1. Check if the Mobile-Friendly Test shows blocked resources (often accompanied with a partially rendered image).
  2. Allow Googlebot to crawl the necessary files.
  3. Double-check that your page passes the Mobile-Friendly Test.
  4. Use Fetch as Google with Submit to Index and submit your updated robots.txt to Google to expedite the re-processing of the updated page (or just wait for Google to naturally re-crawl and index).
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The most common reason why a mobile page fails the Mobile-Friendly Test is that Googlebot for smartphones is blocked from crawling resources, like CSS and JavaScript, that are crucial for understanding the page’s mobile-friendliness. 
To reiterate, we recommend that site owners allow Googlebot to crawl all resources for a page (including CSS, JavaScript, and images), so that we can properly render, index, and in this case, assess whether the page is mobile-friendly.
7. What if I link to a site that’s not mobile-friendly?
Your page can still be “mobile-friendly” even if it links to a page that’s not mobile-friendly, such as a page designed for larger screens, like desktops. It’s not the best experience for mobile visitors to go from a mobile-friendly page to a desktop-only page, but hopefully as more sites become mobile-friendly, this will become less of a problem.
8. Does Google give a stronger mobile-friendly ranking to pages using Responsive Web Design (which uses the same URL and the same HTML for the desktop and mobile versions) vs. hosting a separate mobile site (like www for desktop and m.example.com for mobile)?
No, mobile-friendliness is assessed the same, whether you use responsive web design (RWD), separate mobile URLs, or dynamic serving for your configuration. If your site uses separate mobile URLs or dynamic serving, we recommend reviewing the Mobile SEO guide to make sure Google is properly crawling and indexing your mobile pages.

9. Will my site / page disappear on mobile search results if it’s not mobile-friendly?
While the mobile-friendly change is important, we still use a variety of signals to rank search results. The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal — so even if a page with high quality content is not mobile-friendly, it could still rank high if it has great content for the query.

Specialized FAQs

10. What if my audience is desktop only? Then there’s no reason to have a mobile site, right?
Not exactly. Statistics show that more people are going “mobile only” — either because they never had a desktop or because they won’t replace their existing desktop. Additionally, a non-mobile-friendly site may not see many mobile visitors precisely for that reason.
The mobile-friendly update will apply to mobile searches conducted across all sites, regardless of the site’s target audiences’ language, region, or proportion of mobile to desktop traffic.
11. I have pages showing mobile usability errors because they embed a YouTube video. What can I do?
We suggest paying close attention to how the YouTube video is embedded. If you are using the “old-style” <object> embeds in the mobile page, convert to <iframe> embeds for broader compatibility. YouTube now uses the HTML5 player on the web by default, so it’s mobile-friendly to embed videos using the <iframe> tags from the “share” feature on the watch page or from the YouTube iFrame API. If you have a more complex integration, that should also be mobile-friendly, since it’ll instruct the device to use the device’s native support.
For Flash content from sites other than YouTube, check if there is an equivalent HTML5 embed tag or code snippet to avoid using proprietary plugins.
12. Is there a clear standard for sizing tap targets?
Yes, we suggest a minimum of 7mm width/height for primary tap targets and a minimum margin of 5mm between secondary tap targets. The average width of an adult’s finger pad is 10mm, and these dimensions can provide a usable interface while making good use of screen real estate.
13. To become mobile-friendly quickly, we’re thinking of creating a very stripped down version of our site (separate mobile pages) until our new responsive site is complete. Do you foresee any problems with this?
First, keep in mind that we support three mobile configurations and that your website doesn’t have to be responsive to be mobile-friendly. In response to your question, please be cautious about creating a “stripped down” version of your site. While the page may be formatted for mobile, if it doesn’t allow your visitors to easily complete their common tasks or have an overall smooth workflow, it may become frustrating to your visitors and perhaps not worth the effort. Should a temporary mobile site be created, once the RWD is live, be sure to move the site properly. For example, update all links so they no longer reference the separate mobile URLs and 301 redirect mobile URLs to their corresponding RWD version.

Recommendations

If you’re totally new to building a mobile-friendly site, it’s not too late! Check out our Getting Started guide in theMobile-Friendly Websites documentation.
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Get started on your mobile site at https://developers.google.com/webmasters/mobile-sites/.

 

If you already have a mobile site, investigate the Mobile Usability report in Webmaster Tools to make sure that Google detects your site’s pages as mobile-friendly.

Source: Google Blog

Posted in: Blog, Google Updates, Latest News, Mobile, Website Design & Optimisation

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Forget Keyword Search, Think Knowledge

Google has realised that people are searching for real objects and not a random selection of “keywords”. It is important when creating content for your website that you think about answering a question that your customer is seek an answer for. Google has developed the Knowledge engine to link the two together, see the video below:

Posted in: Google Updates, Latest News, Website Design & Optimisation

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How Google Search Works: 60 Trillion Pages and Counting

According to Google there are more than 60 Trillion pages they now store in their database. Watch and scroll through the story to see how it all works. How Google Search Works

An old 2010 video by Matt Cutts helps explain how Google searches the web

Google Uses more than 200 ranking factors. See the graphic below:

200 Google Ranking Factors

Posted in: Blog, Google Updates, Latest News, Matt Cutts, Search Engine Optimisation, Website Design & Optimisation

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Do Not Use Article Directories: According to Matt Cutts

If you’ve worked in the SEO industry for more than a couple of years, you probably remember the days when article directories were all the rage. You could write a quickie article, submit it to literally hundreds of article directories, link it to your site, in hopes others will publish it on their own sites to add content.

However, with duplicate content filters and link penalties, article directories definitely fell out of favor for many webmasters. That said, there are many article directories that are still actively soliciting articles and publishers who continue to republish that content.

What is Google’s official stance on article directories such as Ezine in 2014 – good or bad? This is the topic of Matt Cutts’ latest webmaster help video, which begins with a history lesson on the rise of article directories:

Over time article directories have gotten a little bit of a worse name. So just refresh everybody’s memory, an article directory is basically where you write 3-, 4-, 500 words of content and then you’ll include a little bio or some information about you at the bottom of the article, and you might have three links with keyword rich anchor text at the bottom of that article. And then you’d submit that to a bunch of what are known as article directories, and then anyone can download them or perhaps pay to download them, and they’ll use them on their own website.

While the video specifically mentions ezine.com, there are hundreds of similar article directories that all accept articles from site owners and publishers. While the sites often make money from advertising of the articles or even from spyware and malware, writers hope that others will syndicate it and they will get links out of it, or at least a bit of traffic.

The theory behind that is if somebody finds it useful and puts it on their webpage, then you might get a few links. Now in practice what we’ve seen is this often tends to be a little bit of lower quality stuff. And in fact we’ve seen more and more instances where you end up with really kind of spammy content getting sprayed and syndicated all over the entire web. So in my particular opinion article directories and just trying to write one article and just syndicating it wildly or just uploading it to every site in the world and hoping that everyone else will download and use it on their website, I wouldn’t necessarily count on that being effective.

SEOs largely abandoned article directories many years ago, but there are still new webmasters who see the opportunity, think it’s a great idea, but don’t realize the implications of it. The reality is that article directories have become overwritten with low-quality, stolen or spammy content but many just don’t realize it.

Cutts also hinted that their search algorithm is filtering, or perhaps even penalizing, mass article directory spam.

“We certainly have some algorithmic things that would mean is probably a little less likely to be successful now compared to a few years ago, for example,” Cutts said. “So my personal recommendation would be probably to not upload article like that.”

While many SEO practitioners haven’t touched article directories for several years, clearly some webmasters still don’t realize it’s a bad idea. Right now, the most useful things a webmaster can use an article directory site for is to simply get topic ideas and then rewrite in their own words for their own sites, because there is no ranking perk from submitting to them.

Source: Searchenginewatch.com

Posted in: Google Updates, Latest News, Matt Cutts

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Hummingbird: Google’s Biggest Change in 12 Years Launched Today

It’s probably going to be more important than ever to give Google as much information about your site as possible, so that it “understands” it. I would imagine that Google will continue to give webmasters new tools to help with this over time. For now, according to Google (per Sullivan’s report), you don’t need to worry about anything, and Google’s normal SEO guidance remains the same.

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. Luckily, Hummingbird presumably still consists of over 200 different signals that webmasters can potentially take advantage of to gain a competitive edge.

In particular, Google said that Hummingbird is paying more attention to each word in a query, ensuring that the whole query — the whole sentence or conversation or meaning — is taken into account, rather than particular words. The goal is that pages matching the meaning do better, rather than pages matching just a few words.

Does this mean SEO is dead?

No, SEO is not yet again dead. In fact, Google’s saying there’s nothing new or different SEOs or publishers need to worry about. Guidance remains the same, it says: have original, high-quality content. Signals that have been important in the past remain important; Hummingbird just allows Google to process them in new and hopefully better ways.

Here is the latest information on Hummingbird by Danny Sullivan

Posted in: Google Updates, Latest News, Search Engine Optimisation

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Google Launches Hashtag Searches, Shows Google+ Posts On Search Results Page

According to Matt McGee

“The integration of Google+ across Google properties continues in a big way today with the launch of hashtag search.

Simply put, if you search Google for a hashtag, you might see Google+ posts using that hashtag to the right of the regular search results.” However this is currently only available on Google.com and Google.ca although it is expected to be rolled out globally following testing.”

http://searchengineland.com/google-launches-hashtag-search-shows-google-posts-on-search-results-page-172725

Posted in: Blog, Google Updates, Latest News, Search Engine Optimisation

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Google Does Not Use Keywords Meta Tag

Since we get asked many times each week about keywords, I thought it would be a good to reiterate the fact Google does NOT use the keyword meta tag and has not for many years.

We have been telling all our clients for well over 2 years that Google does not use this tag and it was finally stated by Matt Cutts, Google in a video they uploaded to the Internet on 21st Sept 2009 !!!

Posted in: Blog, Google Updates, Matt Cutts, Search Engine Optimisation

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