Google has unleashed yet another of its algorithm updates on the world, but don’t stress out about preparing for the changes – they’ve already arrived. Yesterday Google announced the latest algorithm update, Hummingbird, at a press conference located in the garage where founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page first started the search engine back in the 1990s. The Hummingbird update will affect 90% of searches, and is designed to better answer specific questions. Google senior vice president Amit Singhal said the algorithm – which powers the entire system of how Google ranks and judges content – has undergone a “fundamental rethinking”. Various reports from those at the event say Google described the update as helping quickly answer full questions, as opposed to the current system of searching for long phrases by individual words. “We’ll keep improving Google Search so it does a little bit more of the hard work for you,” the company said in a blog post. “This means giving you the best possible answers, making it easy to have a conversation and helping out before you even have to ask.” No further details have been given. But Jim Stewart, head of StewArt Media, says the algorithm might go further than just helping answer questions. Lately, he’s noticed his clients have seen improvements in the way their content has been ranked – particularly if it’s of good quality. “Our clients that have sites that were updating regularly with content like blogs and so on were getting rewarded across different keywords,” he says. “We’re not monitoring long phrases or questions, but that content seems to have been rewarded if you have a good strategy.” While Stewart says he can’t say for sure whether these improvements have come as part of the Hummingbird update, it’s not unusual for an upgrade to hit more than one specific feature of search at once. For businesses, this means the solution is the same as it has been for years – create good, fresh and original content, updated on a daily basis. The more it’s shared among users, the more likely your results will appear on the first page. “The top results aren’t as cluttered with backlinks now, so maybe this has something to do with that change. “The algorithm update may have inadvertently been favouring these sorts of sites.” This story first appeared on SmartCompany.
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.
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