New Algorithm Changes from Google: The Impact on SEO this 2012

“Improvements to ranking for local search results [launch codename “Venice”]. This improvement improves the triggering of Local Universal results by relying more on the ranking of our main search results as a signal.

Improved local results. We launched a new system to find results from a user’s city more reliably. Now we’re better able to detect when both queries and documents are local to the user.

– “Search quality highlights: 40 changes for February”, Google (2/27/12)
For the full blog: [http://insidesearch.blogspot.com/2012/02/search-quality-highlights-40-changes.html]

This direct excerpt from Google ignited another jolt for the SEO world since the algorithm change last year, also around the same time. While the change is not a surprise, it does create a great impact to how rankings are determined by search engines. In order to fully understand what needs to be done to maintain good rankings on the search engines, BLL has come up with several theories to answer the need for “quality/legitimate content” which Google can flag as “highly relevant.”

What type of search results will we be expecting?

This part has not changed much. The priority for organic search results is still the status quo. Organic search results are basically unpaid or non-sponsored content. These organic results will further be filtered to localized ones, depending on the geo-modifier that you typed in. Search patterns of consumers on Google have not changed and the standard formula of [Keyword] + [City/geo-modifier] still dictates the importance of localized organic search results. Some national results will sneak in once in a while which should also be seen as an opportunity to take advantage of. (You can possibly rank high nationwide!) But that’s beside the point at the moment.

Business listings on Google Places and those from other directories will still be appearing on the 1st page—and so will consumer reviews from sites like Yelp, CitySearch, and Insider Pages.

The big “But”…

BUT, Google has become more careful when it comes to showing these types of results. Their new system will base results on “relevancy” and no longer on quantity of listings and star reviews. The usual list of 5 to 7 local map results are reduced to just 3 and the rest will all be results based on the main keyword(s) and location.

It’s a slight change but has a big impact to SEO strategies. Here’s a screen cap of the results for “Transmission Repair + Tampa” we did today:

As you can see, star reviews from Yelp, Insider Pages, and City Search are out of the picture and results relevant to “transmission repair” + “Tampa” shows up.

BLL’s call-to-action:

• Re-evaluation and adjustment of meta-tags and keyword focus. Google crawlers will not only look at the meta-tags on a website’s description but will also cross-reference these tags to their listings on Google Places. The crucial action is to match them all. This has long been a practice of BLL but further tweaking needs to be done.

• In relation to meta-tags and upon reading the entire blog from Google, the need to create or recreate customer websites to make them “official” is a must. Codename “WRE” is a system that detects official websites and “eliminates” poorly coded ones (from free sites and flash-heavy sites). BLL’s initiative is to help customers assess the legitimacy of their website and recommend necessary changes to keep them from being misidentified.

• Creation of high quality and relevant contents is still and will always be on the table. Article directory results may no longer be on the top results unlike 2 years ago but the need to have indexed content remains to be a good foundation to maintain long-lasting rankings. As long as quality articles are put out there (minus the use of automated submission software), then customers are guaranteed spots on the top ranks.

• Maximize social media with the integration of Google+. “Related results” on Google have further been streamlined based on relevancy and social sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Youtube, and now, Google+ are expected to appear in this list. Further development of social media marketing practices is in the works in BLL and they will be rolled out in the next month.

The adjustments are not as dramatic as those of last year’s but adaptation to these 40 new algorithm changes is part of the job. The staying power of a business on the top ranks has just become a competition for greater relevance and legitimacy (at least in Google’s eyes). This means the smoke and mirrors of a lot of SEO companies that promise 1000 listings and 100 article submissions have become invalid to what is really needed at hand.

BLL has managed to maintain customer results with its long-standing basic strategies. As an SEO company that has been around for quite some time now, we’ve learned that the key to our and our customer’s success is adaptation.

Stay tuned for updates on new strategies from BLL.