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SEO update time as Google rankings shift, expert warns

Monday, 6 May 2013 | By Patrick Stafford

Australian businesses have been warned to give their search engine strategies another tune-up, with rankings for several popular keywords having undergone some curious shifts in the past few days.

 

The change could be another one of Google's algorithm updates, which affect how businesses rank whenever people search for particular keywords.

 

Google was contacted this morning by SmartCompany, but referred to the Google Webmaster blog where no specific mention of any update has been announced.

 

Jim Stewart, chief executive of StewArt Media, told SmartCompany he monitored several changes to clients' rankings on Friday afternoon, after first noticing some changes to the Google Places page.

 

"Last week we noticed a missing drop-down menu in Google, where you could click on 'places' in a Google search. That disappeared on Wednesday."

 

The 'places' category allows users to locate nearby businesses which have some sort of relevancy to the keyword used in a search.

 

"Now we've noticed a whole bunch of clients' rankings for single words have changed. We've seen a similar experience across a number of clients."

 

The keyword 'flowers', for example, delivered significantly different results from just 24 hours previously, Stewart noted. The keyword 'lighting' also saw changes, with some businesses dropped out of the first page altogether.

 

"It looks like Google is changing its Places regime, and at the same time, it appears to be doing some updating with regard to sites with dodgy backlinks."

 

The common factor seems to be location, Stewart says. Those business websites which mention specific cities and other locations are more likely to be ranked even higher in the current update – although Stewart emphasises without Google clarification, it's difficult to say what exactly is being given priority.

 

"It could be ranked by Google Place listings themselves, so for that you'd have to update your information. We could see this emerge more over the next few days."

 

Stewart says, nevertheless, companies need to be mindful of the location data on their websites. Those pages which specifically feature location data are more likely to be ranked higher.

 

"If you don't have an address on your website, you probably want to get to that pretty quick, and for wherever you have an office as well."

 

This story first appeared on SmartCompany.