Recent updates to Google search results explained

FRED:   March 2017
The latest of Google’s confirmed updates, Fred targets websites that violate Google’s webmaster guidelines. The majority of affected sites are blogs with low-quality posts that appear to be created mostly for the purpose of generating ad revenue.

How to adjust: Review Google Search Quality Guidelines and watch out for thin content. If you show ads, make sure the pages they are found on are high-quality and offer relevant, ample information. This is basically it: Don’t try to trick Google into thinking your page is about something when it really is a gateway page full of affiliate links. Most publishers make money off ads, and that’s totally legit as long as you are not cheating.


POSSUM: September  2016
The Possum update ensured that local results vary more depending on the searcher’s location: the closer you are to a business’s address, the more likely you are to see it among local results. Possum also resulted in greater variety among results ranking for very similar queries, like “dentist denver” and “dentist denver co.” Interestingly, Possum also gave a boost to businesses located outside the physical city area.

How to adjust: Expand your keyword list and do location-specific rank tracking. Local businesses now need to be targeting more keywords than they used to, due to the volatility Possum brought into the local SERPs. As you check your rankings, make sure you’re doing this from your target location (or, better yet, a bunch of them). You can do this in Rank Tracker under Preferences > Preferred Search Engines. Click Add Custom next to Google. Next, specify your preferred location — you can make it as specific as a street address.



RANKBRAIN: October 26 2015
RankBrain is part of Google’s Hummingbird algorithm. It is a machine learning system that helps Google understand the meaning behind queries, and serve best-matching search results in response to those queries. Google calls RankBrain the third most important ranking factor. While we don’t know the ins and outs of RankBrain, the general opinion is that it identifies relevance features for web pages ranking for a given query, which are basically query-specific ranking factors.

How to adjust: Optimize content for relevance and comprehensiveness with the help of competitive analysis.

Using negative keywords in Adwords

Maintaining a relevant list of negative keywords & phrases is a great way to ensure that you Adwords spend is being used wisely.
However, you need to be sure that you’re not adversely impacting your campaign by selecting the word ‘negative’ words.

1. Make negatives phrase match unless you have a well thought out good reason not to even if it is just one word.
If you use the broad term ‘free’ without being a phrase match you might stop freedom or freelance. 

2. Don’t just make something a negative because you think it is irrelevant.
It could be relevant and you just don’t know why. I never assume I understand searchers. It could be you should be making a new ad group, not a negative. Remember, not everybody thinks like you. 

3. Audit your negative list every once in a while. Things may have changed. Keywords that used to not work might work now. 

4. Be very careful when using conversion data to pick negative keywords. If you ever go look in your “Top Conversion Path” report in Google Analytics and set it to “search query” you will see that many times people try lots of different keywords before they buy something.  The important thing is to make sure any keyword you set as a negative was not part of a chain. It is ok to break the chain if it is a bad chain. Just make sure you have all the information before you ban that keyword. 

5. Use a lowest common denominator approach. Don’t do exact match negatives that are long. Find 2 or 3 words that are clearly bad as a phrase or broad match and use that. It will help keep your list manageable. You can block a thousand search queries by just using a good phrase match.

Create content that will be read

It’s a sad fact, that four out of five people that visit your page will not your entire article.  The most common reasons people don’t complete reading is  “they don’t have time for reading.” “they mainly scan,” or,  “they just read the headline and move on”.

However, as legitimate as these answers are, there are issues that we, the writers are a part of the problem.  Our pages may be too long or they find the bad design to be awful, the subject matter is too complex or badly written or the writing lacks credibility and trust.

So, if people aren’t reading our content – especially on our landing pages they surely have no interest in navigating to other pages on the site.  If people aren’t reading our content or roaming around our websites we will not be able to promote our products and services….. so what was the point.

So, how can we do it differently,
Basic research indicates that providing content that compresses longer form content into smaller articles results in longer reading time.  People are more likely to spend 10 minutes reading 1,000 word articles than they are spending 5 minutes reading a 10,000 word article (regardless of content quality).
So, we need to be mindful and yes, it’s harder to write complex material in less than 1,000 words, but the reality is that that is our challenge.

If you find that it’s not possible to frame your material in such a short article, we suggest breaking the article into mini-blocks.  Present each mini-block with thoughtful meta-paragraphs which if read in isolation could be a complete article, but each of which offers a “read more” option which allows interested readers to explore particular blocks in more detail.  



How to choose a domain name

There are a number of elements to consider when it comes to selecting a domain name for your business.

Your business name
Its probably quite obvious, but if you’re creating a business website you should consider reserving your business name.   In some cases this is easy because the name is made up of one word such as ‘aurtra’ or ‘tetraq’.

In other instances, it’s not so straightforward, such as when there are multiple words involved such as ‘dusitbrookwater’ or ‘petejarvis’.  In this instance you could separate the words with a hyphen, but you really need to consider if the visitor is inconvenienced by having to type the hyphen.  (is pete-jarvis better than petejarvis)

And then there are instances where the name of your business might be just too long ‘paddington chiropractors’ or ‘auto carburetors’, which we shorted for convenience sake to ‘paddingtonchiro’ and ‘autocarbs’.

In all the cases above, our goal is to reflect the brand, keep it short and to make it memorable.

Should it be a .com or a
If your business is solely Australian it is far better to choose a domain name.  Google is more likely to index your business for Australian searches if the domain name reflects the fact it is based in Australia

You need to bear in mind that you need an ABN to register a domain name and that there is a minimal 2 year period for booking such names.

You don’t have to have a name, in fact you might choose a .com name if you want to attract customers from outside Australia.

Check for Trademarks
You’ve checked for availability and you’re established that your preferred domain name is available.  You should still consider if it’s legitimate for you to use the name.

For example, if your business name is “Sidyney Olympics’ you might want to check if that name infringes upon the “Sydney Olympics Games” before you book the domain name ‘’

Keywords in the name
Keywords in a domain name can help make it memorable for people and for search engines.   Google says it doesn’t place importance on domain names that match keywords, but anecdotally it doesn’t seem to hurt and the anchor text you get from people linking to your domain can help.

There are lots of other things to consider, but this list will really help.
Call us and let us help you choose your domain name.


SEO factors that are over estimated

There are so many factors that determine where your webpages appear on a Google search engine results page (SERP).
Here are a number of factors we know have a position impact where your site appears on Google.

  • Quality backlinks from high ranking or authority websites
  • The number of clicks to the page
  • The quality of the content
  • Is the site responsive
  • Does the site support HTTPS

But, lets have a look at some seo factors that are overestimated.

1. Domain age.
According to Google, age does not matter.  If you have a site that is only a few years old and it is already being recognised for great content, that site will always rank above a site that is 10 years old and has little new or relevant content.
Of course if neither site has content worth showing, the older one may appear about the newer one, albeit well down the ranks away from page one.

2. Likes and shares.
We all know that you can purchase likes for any platform from service provides such as Fiverr.  Should you buy them ?  Probably not.
Unless people who shared the link demonstrate some related click-through-activity, Google will ignore it an may even penalise your site.

3. Bounce rate.
In the past this has been considered a very influencial factor, but it seems Google has matured and altered how it works with this measurement.  For example, if the visitor found exactly what they needed right way (phone number, answer to a question) why should they be penalised.
Instead, Google pays attention to what the visitor does next.  Do they continue searches (in which point Google might feel that you didn’t provide answers)

4. Shared hosting.
Shared hosting is cheap and most of the time it’s reliable.  Google doesn’t care if you used shared services or if host your site on a dedicated, cloud or virutal server.  The only time this might be a factor is if the shared server is extremely slow, or if a site on the shared server has a bad reputation (spam) and is dragging the rest of the sites down by association.

5.  H1 tags?
There is a perception that by putting titles inside an H2 rather than an H1, Google will consider it a little less important.  This isn’t true.  Google looks at the top and the page and works it’s way down.  It will assume a heading at the top which is bigger and bolder than the rest of the text is the main heading and rank accordingly.