The world of online “Search” is a complicated one. Spend a little time with a search engine optimisation (SEO) specialist and it won’t be long before you’re wondering if a new language has been invented and you missed the news alert announcing its launch.

Google's Penguin 3.0 one of 3 recent algorithm updates
Google’s Penguin 3.0 one of 3 recent algorithm updates

I don’t profess to be an SEO specialist so my language will hopefully be plain with just the odd tech word thrown in, mainly because there are no alternatives. The aim here is to simply share a little information on where we are currently. My motivation to do this was actually due to reading another article which was so far removed from reality, offering up entirely the wrong advice that it should’ve carried a Google health warning.

I researched the current position and also have participated directly in search activities for a number of years so whilst I’m not an expert I do retain a level of practical experience.

As you may well be aware Google recently produced 3 algorithm updates, Panda 4.1, Penguin 3.0 and Pirate 2.0. Without getting into the technical minutiae of how this impacts search results I can confirm that the vast majority (95%) of businesses won’t be negatively affected. Those who have suffered will have been affiliate marketers, and those running websites that had continued to use deceptive and aggressive tactics to put their ranking at the top of page one.

  • Panda affects the ranking of a whole site or section of a site rather than individual pages. Its primary aim is to remove low quality sites that offer poor or duplicated content. This is the one that has caught a number of affiliate marketing sites.
  • Penguin the latest update was actually reported as a simple “refresh” of the algorithm but the key objective remains; to demote sites that are still using bad links to sites that are either spammy, malicious or are simply bad links.
  • Pirate updates are looking at the infringements of sites that use illegal copies of software or digital media.
  • The challenge to get your business to the top of the rankings is still a stiff one for most of us working in competitive sectors. Current “best practice” is to adopt a broad range of tactics that deliver a consistent and entirely appropriate content message to your audience. Well authored copy, original articles and news comment on your sector, profiles of key individuals and where possible more detailed pieces demonstrating the knowledge and capabilities of your team, company, products, services. Any links should be entirely appropriate for your business, not spammy and certainly “alive” with genuine quality content. The other increasingly important factor is to ensure your website is fully responsive…that is completely compatible with smartphone and tablet devices. Why is this important? If you have a mobile website rather than a responsive site you will very likely have duplicate content shared on the two platforms. Duplicate content is a negative marker for SEO and your site can be penalised whereas with one site that can be seen on multiple devices that problem is eliminated.

    In other news…..

    Google have recently undertaken further research into browser behaviour, specifically the movement of eyes over search engine results pages (SERPs). Download the report here
    Without looking at the “hot spot” graphs you would of course expect eyes to be trained on the top of the page, this is still mostly the case but with Google moving the top natural search results further down the page we appear to have modified our behaviour to compensate. In 2005 the eye tracking results produced a “golden triangle” hot spot showing eye movement concentrated over the top left side of pages. One of the reasons for a vertical shift in eye movement is our use of mobile devices and scrolling for data.

    I would recommend reading this report, it does use a surprisingly small sample for their survey but the findings immediately resonated with me and my own experience of browser behaviour. The advantage of this report is that they’ve applied specific “eye tracking” software and techniques to map and present the movement of the eye….fascinating stuff.

    I’ll be blogging on the topic of search again shortly but in the meantime if you have any questions feel free to fire them my way.

    David Laud

    Pirates, Penguins and Pandas – Search Lite Update
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