Nothing ever remains the same way for long in the world of SEO. The experts at Moz report that Google typically updates their algorithm between 500-600 times each year! While most of these tweaks go unnoticed, we’ve recently weathered an abundance of rewrites and changes that could affect how your company approaches your content marketing strategy.
To help you stay informed about the ever-changing inbound marketing landscape, here are 7 pieces of critically-important SEO news:
1. Google is Tough on Repeat Offenders
One of the most fascinating and little-known areas of SEO news is Google penalties. When websites break Google’s webmaster guidelines with outdated tactics like buying links, they’re typically caught. The search engine responds with an official spam warning, and may eventually ban some websites from appearing in search results. Recovering from these issues can take months of hard work.
Google’s head spam fighter, Matt Cutts, recently revealed in a Q & A session that it’s much harder to come back and rank well after a second or third penalty. In fact, his recommendation for websites who are trying to improve their SEO after past use of purchase links to use the disavow tool to wipe their backlinks completely. If you’re unaffected, take this as evidence that it’s crucial to be pay attention to SEO news and avoid breaking any rules.
2. Rich Snippets Could Be Rolled Out Soon
The author photos which appear next to search results once you’ve earned Google authorship are a form of rich snippet. However, it appears the world’s biggest search engine is considering leveling the playing field. SEO News reporter Matt Southern shared that Google is currently testing the idea of including embedded images in search results, which are visible with certain searches:
If you haven’t started enhancing each of your website pages with images, this SEO news indicates it’s probably wise to make that your next project.
3. In-Depth Results aren’t Going Anywhere
Back when Google’s Hummingbird Algorithm re-write was launched, the search engine announced they’d be sharing in-depth search results for around 10% of queries that may require more complex answers. Recent SEO news have indicated that the in-depth articles initiative continues, and that every web master has an opportunity to have their content featured among these top results:
While many of the websites featured in in-depth results have extraordinarily high site authority, the Google webmaster blog announced the SEO news that you can improve your chances of being featured here with the following tactics:
- Use schema.org “article” markup,
- Apply for Google authorship and include the markup,
- Use rel=next and rel=prev for paginated articles (also watch out for common rel=canonical mistakes),
- Provide information about your organization’s logo,
- Create compelling in-depth content.
4. Google to Index App Content
If you haven’t yet built an app for your business, there may be even more incentive to get started now. Some of Google’s latest SEO news is that content from Android apps would soon be indexed like regular web pages. This concept is illustrated below using real estate website Trulia:
It isn’t easy to set this up - it requires advanced SEO capabilities to edit your Sitemap file, and a working knowledge of Google Webmaster tools. However, once it’s up and running, you’ll be able to provide a seamless mobile web experience to your customers. This is undoubtedly mobile marketing at it’s best!
5. Google PageRank is Now Up-to-Date
In perhaps the most shocking piece of SEO news in months, Google PageRank was quietly updated on December 6, 2013. Prior to 2012, the tool bar was updated on a quarterly basis, allowing SEOs and content marketers almost real-time access to their site’s authority in the eyes of Google. However, this year it wasn’t updated once and Cutts stated it probably wouldn’t be - causing many to speculate that PageRank would become secret data like keywords.
The updates are now live, and you can scope out how your site’s authority has increased in the past year. Regardless of when the next update occurs, you can rest assured that your site’s authority is updated in the eyes of Google on an hourly basis - even if you can’t see it.
6. Semantic Search is on the Rise
Anyone who’s been using web technologies for more than a decade remembers Boolean search operators. Early search engines weren’t smart enough to pick up on things like plural words, and you had to join your queries together with specific terms like “and”, “or”, and “else.” However, the deployment of Google Hummingbird, Bing’s Satori and Facebook’s knowledge graph in 2014 is clear evidence that search engines are getting much smarter at picking up on the variation behind phrasing choices, a concept known as semantic search.
SEO news expert Colin Jeavons writes that search engine’s increasing ability to use natural language processing has already transformed SEO from a highly rigid practice to a science that’s a mixture of quality, social signals, and optimization efforts. If your primary SEO tactic isn’t quality content above keywords, it’s time to make the switch.
7. Google Penalizes Excessive Linking
Cutts recently addressed the long-standing belief that you should never exceed 100 links per page on your website. Turns out, it’s still a wise best practice. In the early days of search, major engines had trouble indexing content with more than 100 links. While the capability is now there, excessive linking can be a pretty serious red flag that someone’s being spammy. Cutts recommends that content marketers stick to a “reasonable number” of links. If you hit 102 or 110 links on a particularly long and research-heavy piece of content, you’re probably in the clear. If your links begin to interfere with the readability of your content, it may be time to take a step back.
For more SEO news and recommendations, check out our article How to Optimize Your Blog for SEO: an Easy-Peasy Guide.