Search Engine Optimization

by Stephanie on October 19, 2016

white tile with the letters S E O on it

geralt / Pixabay

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of getting traffic from the organic searches on Google, Bing, and Yahoo.   Google accounts for 95% of such traffic.  Most SEO attempts are aimed at showing up on the first or second page of Google search results.  Goggle uses an algorithm to derive the rankings for each page it “crawls,” or examines.  The better the score on the algorithm, the higher the page appears in a search.  This sounds simple until you understand that Goggle does not release its algorithm, so you are left to guess what things you need to do to rank high on a search.

Google is King

While Google makes minor changes to the algorithm around 400 times a month, they role out major changes at a much slower pace.  Google does give some broad hints with each major revision of its algorithm as to what the new parameters are for ranking well in the search engine.  For example, some of the big updates were named and the general target of each change was mentioned.  Some of these are listed below:

  • Panda — February 23, 2011.  This change was aimed at thin content, content farms, sites with high ad-to-content ratios, and a number of other quality issues.  It severely effected about 12% of sites.  There were several versions put out that fixed minor quirks in the software that did the searches.
  • Freshness update — November 3, 2011.  This update effected around 35% of queries and targeted websites that were not updated regularly.
  • Ads above the fold –January 19th, 2012.  This update penalized sites with too much ad space above the fold.
  • Penguin –  April 24, 2012.  Google rolled out changes that penalized link farms, keyword stuffing, and impacted an estimated 3.1% of English queries.
  • Link Warnings –July 19, 2012.  Google warned they would penalize unnatural links on sites.
  • Pirate –August 10, 2012.  Google stated they would now penalize sites that violated copyrights repeatedly.
  • 7 result SERPS — August 14, 2012.  Google said it would only show seven results on the top page instead of ten.  This impacted about 18% of keywords.
  • Exact match domain update –September 27, 2012.  Google changed the way it was handling exact match domains.  This led to large-scale devaluation, reducing the presence of EMDs in the MozCast data set by over 10%.
  • Payday loan update –June 11, 2013.  Google targeted this update to sites with lots of spammy results, specifically mentioning payday loans and porn.
  • Knowledge Graph Expansion — July 19, 2013.  Queries with Knowledge Graph (KG) entries expanded by more than half.
  • Hummingbird — August 20, 2013.  This was a core algorithm update.  It powered changes to semantic queries.
  • Authorship shake-up –December 19th, 2013.  Authorship mark-up disappeared from roughly 15% of queries
  • Pigeon –July 24, 2014.  This modified how Google interprets location cues.  It had a major impact on local sites.
  • HTTPS-SSL update — August 6, 2014.  Would give increasing preference for secure sites in web searches.
  • Mobile update — April 22, 2015.  Google said mobile friendly sites would be given preference to mobile unfriendly sites in searches.
  • Awards shake-up–February 23, 2016.  Google made major changes to AdWords, removing right-column ads entirely and rolling out 4-ad top blocks on many commercial searches. While this was a paid search update, it had significant implications for CTR for both paid and organic results, especially on competitive keywords.
  • Possum-September 1, 2016 –This update significantly shook-up local SEO and also heavily impacted organic results.
  • Penguin 4.0 September 23, 2016.  Penguin is now real time and is integrated with the core algorithm.

I realize that this is an incredibly boring list of changes.  The point is that the Google algorithm is changed many times a month with major changes coming around fairly frequently, too.

Managing SEO changes

Most business owners do not have time to keep track of this constantly moving target.  However, I can keep up with Google’s changes and suggest any changes you need to make to your website, blog, and social media.  I can also execute these changes so you can work on your business, not your website or blog.  Give me a call at (903) 268-9622, email me at, or fill out my contact form.  The consultation is free and together we can see what can be done to protect yourself and your search ranking.


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