So here we are at the beginning of Spring, looking ahead at the exciting changes that await all of us who work in search marketing this year. However, we feel it’s important to take a second to review the key talking points in the industry throughout March 2016. We want to make sure you didn’t miss anything important; so enjoy and we always love to hear your opinion at the end!
The Toolbar PageRank Is No More
Google removed the ‘toolbar’ PageRank in March 2016, meaning there will not be any data shown at all.
In case you didn’t know, here is Google’s top level explanation of PageRank as: “PageRank relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the web by using its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual page’s value. In essence, Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B.”
The ‘toolbar’ PageRank was used by many SEO’s, however it became an issue when search professionals began to fixate on obtaining links from webpages with high PageRank, whilst not considering the context of the webpage linking to their website.
Furthermore, there is difference between the ‘toolbar’ PageRank, and the ‘internal’ PageRank score which Google used as a core part of it’s ranking algorithm. The public-facing ‘toolbar’ PageRank was only every updated every couple of months, and therefore it wasn’t an accurate metric. Google retained it’s ‘internal’ PageRank score.
We hope that this withdrawl of the ‘toolbar’ PageRank will encourage more SEO’s to develop link acquisition strategies that focus on earning backlinks from contextually relevant domains – rather than focusing on getting backlinks from any domain which has a perceived high PageRank.
Source: Search Engine Land
Google Confirms They Do Use Site Authority Signals for New Pages
Barry Schwartz highlighted on Search Engine Roundtable that John Mueller had made a statement on Google+ Hangouts that Google uses site-wide domain authority signals for new pages.
This means that if a website has a high site-wide domain authority, then Google will use this as a metric when gauging where new pages should rank if they do not have any previous signals (e.g. backlinks).
John Mueller said the following on how Google ranks new webpages: “For the most part, we do try to understand the content and the context of the pages individually to show them properly in search. There are some things where we do look at a website overall though.
So for example, if you add a new page to a website and we’ve never seen that page before, we don’t know what the content and context is there, then understanding what kind of a website this is helps us to better understand where we should kind of start with this new page in search.
So that’s something where there’s a bit of both when it comes to ranking. It’s the pages individually, but also the site overall.”
So if you’re producing content for a website which excels in a specific topical niche, you can expect to receive an advantage when it comes to ranking for new target keywords, should they be relevant to your expertise and the page is optimised.
Source: Search Engine Roundtable (Barry Schwartz)
Google Announce That Mobile-friendly Ranking Factors Will Be Boosted in May 2016
In April 2015, Google released it’s mobile-friendly ranking algorithm – dubbed ‘Mobilegeddon’ as I’m sure you’ll remember – however, in March 2016, Google announced that the mobile-friendly ranking algorithm factors will be given a boost from May 2016.
The mobile-friendly algorithm is a page by page signal, which means it takes Google a while to evaluate each page, and subsequently results in a gradual roll-out across the web.
Google stated: “If you’ve already made your site mobile-friendly, you will not be impacted by this update.”
Google ended their announcement with the following statement: “the intent of the search query is still a very strong signal — so even if a page with high quality content is not mobile-friendly, it could still rank well if it has great, relevant content.”
However, we would advise that if your website is not already mobile-friendly, that you heed this announcement as a warning to allocate resources on updating your website for mobile UX. If your resource is limited – start with your priority pages.
Google Are Re-designing AdWords for Marketing In a Mobile-first World
Google provided an early look into the new AdWords user interface, commenting on how this material design focuses on three key areas of the platform. Google state three key areas of their AdWords mobile-first redesign:
- “Adwords should be more about your business, and less about our product”
- “You want the data you care about at your fingertips.”
- “You need simple yet powerful tools”
Google claim they will continue to build out the new mobile-first AdWords experience throughout 2016 and into 2017. Jerry Dischler, Vice President of Produce Management for Adwords said they will continue to listen to feedback from their customers.
Source: Google Adwords Blog
March 2016 Google Algorithm Updates – Panda, Quality Updates or Penguin Tests?
You can see from the SERPmetrics top100 flux that there were significant ranking fluctuations reported in the first half of March 2016.
So we’re all waiting on Penguin, which is due to be refreshed in the Spring 2016, however, a number of people have seen fluctuations which resemble trademark Google Panda and quality algorithm characteristics.
Glenn Gabe reported that he’d been working with a number of websites which had been affected by the Google Panda or quality algorithm, and they saw an increase or decrease in overall SERP visibility suggesting a correlation.
Barry Schwartz was monitoring the ‘chatter’ in webmaster forums, and noted a key quote: “Something started yesterday evening. Sudden drop in traffic. The remaining google traffic are full of homepage visits then exit. Last time is saw something bad like this, a new panda was released.”
Google is Testing Adding Clickable Phone Numbers to Organic Search Results
Barry Schwartz reported on Search Engine Land that Google had been testing adding phone numbers to organic search results. Have you seen clickable phone numbers in the search results before? Probably. However, they would have been from paid advertisements, or local search results.
Source: Search Engine Land (Barry Schwartz)
From all of us here at Semetrical, we hope you have found this interesting, and we warmly welcome your thoughts on the key talking points from March 2016. We hope to see you again soon!