Google Algorithm Changes January 2012

The following are Google’s list of algorithm changes for the month of January and my thoughts on each:

Fresher results – In my opinion, fresher results are good for SEO and good for Internet marketers and users. In the old days, Google would not update there algo for 4-8 weeks at a time, and when an update happened it stayed for the remainder of that time. If the results were bad for a site it was screwed, and that was also bad for users. The fresher the results, the better for everyone. I am all for this.

Faster autocomplete – This is not overly relevant to SEO. It is more related to usability of Google.

Autocomplete spelling corrections – This will not have a major impact on SEO.

Better spelling full-page replacement – Same as above.

Better spelling corrections for rare queries – Rare queries will not have significant impact on SEO and therefore this is not big news.

Improve detection of recurrent event pages – This will affect how Google determines the date of a document. This could affect news search, or searches related to time based queries. It may also impact attempts to fake freshness.

High-quality sites algorithm improvements – This appears to be related to the Panda update that devastated a number of sites back in April 2011. There is room for improvement here on an ongoing basis. While the original update did wipe some low quality sites from the top of the rankings, there were some good sites that got hit as well. Continued improvement is a good thing for white hat site marketers and users.

Cross-language refinements – This will mostly affect those searching in a Google site that is not default in their language. Google will detect that and make suggestions in the language of the users queries.

English on Google Saudi Arabia – I do not currently do any work in Saudi Arabia, but this could be helpful for English speaking users of google.com.sa.

Improved scrolling for Image Search – I don’t see this having an impact on SEO.

Improved image search quality – This update is supposedly going to give an emphasis to images with high quality landing pages in image results. This could be good if Google is able to detect redirects or image spam better as a result.

More relevant related searches – This is related to the “Related Searches” that pop up at the bottom of the page after you do a search. Many people aren’t even aware that these are there and I don’t believe they drive a ton of traffic, still it is important for SEOs to monitor and see what queries they are showing up for and what sites are showing up for queries related to their business name. Studying these results is a good way to broaden your target keywords.

Blending of news results – Universal search continues to blend results from different areas of search. It is important that your campaigns are broad and encompass multiple areas of search, and not just organic. It is important to be in Local, Shopping, New, Images, Video, Social, etc…

Automatically disable Google Instant based on computer speed – While I am not so concerned personally about this based on speed of Internet or computer, I say thank goodness that they are making it easier to opt out of instant search. I find it incredibly annoying and find no benefit to it. To opt out you can go to search preferences.

Compiled by Chris Powell

Advertisements

A Closer Look at Google Adwords Spending in the Online Travel Industry and its Effect on SEO

A recent analysis by search engine marketing firm WordStream shows the travel sector as the third largest spender on Google AdWords over the last year at $2.4 billion behind only the Finance & Insurance industry at $4 billion; and Retailers & General Merchandise at $2.8 billion. $2.4 billion is truly an astonishing number when you think about it on a daily basis. That comes out to $6.5 million per day in revenue for Google via Adwords.

According to the report, the biggest spenders from the travel industry were the following:

Booking.com, $40.4 million ($110,000 per day)
Expedia, $28.9 million ($79,000 per day)
Kayak, $28.7 million ($78,000 per day)
Marriott, $20.9 million ($57,000 per day)
Priceline (which owns Booking.com), $19.6 million. ($53,000 per day)

The amount of money that is being spent on Google Adwords really increases the value of organic search engine optimization for the travel industry. Although most of the big travel companies have extensive SEO departments, many small to medium sized companies are either overlooking organic SEO or just touching the tip of its potential.

One mid-sized travel company I worked with back in the early 2000s was at the time spending nearly $250,000 per month on Overture and other pay per click ads, and yet until I arrived had virtually no SEO presence. It was so bad that their technology actually did not allow spiders to index any of their pages. We were able to work with the technology team to get the entire site functional and optimized for search engines and traffic quadrupled. Shortly after we completed the organic SEO, they were able to sell the company for a rather substantial price.

While travel search engine optimization is far more complicated than it was back in the earlier days of SEO, the basics remain the same. These factors include; search engine friendly technology, well implemented SEO elements throughout the site, large amounts of indexable content, and intelligent link popularity. The biggest difference between then and now is the focus on truly unique content throughout the site. While this has always been important, it is even more significant today.

If you are interested in SEO for your travel related website contact us today for more information and a free site review.


Interesting Article on PPC and Search Engine Optimization in the Travel Industry

Just read an interesting article/interview on Eye for Travel. It is focused on travel search engine optimization, PPC and social media, but a lot of what they discuss is pretty relevant across business segments.

A few things that stuck out to me where the following:

Adam Crawford, Senior SEO Manager of Europe for Cheapflights Media believes 2012 will see a continued increase is personalization of web results. He also believes that Google+ is a very obvious signal that Google will be moving in this direction. However, overall he states that the core “best practices” that really impact a site’s search engine rankings and overall SEO have not changed much in the last 10 years.

I tend to agree with him on all of the above. It is clear to me that personalization or personalized results are one of the biggest changes we have seen in the search engine optimization world in years, and it is the social media connection combined with your physical location at this point that are leading to most of the personalization. With Google+ coming into play we can definitely expect that to start to play more of a role, and for results to become even more personalize.

I also agree however that the core best practices have not changed. All the things we have always had to do are still important. This list includes building links from reputable sites, building quality content that search engines can easily index, focusing your title tags and content on high impact keywords and key phrases while still building user friendly content.

The tricky part for a lot of people is implementing the “newer” core best practice techniques. This includes making sure that your sites have a positive reputation online and that there is a “busy” social presence. I envision this becoming a little bit like link building in the early days of SEO when it was a free for all with link farms, FFA pages, etc. Google and Bing will catch shady tactics and those sites will take a hit. The tricky part as with everything in the past will be how to do it right.

I still think the answer as it has always been is to build high quality useful sites that users love. Of course that is not as easy as it sounds. If you want to check out the interview, you can read it here.