Articles in the Algorithm Updates & News Category

If you depend on Organic website traffic for new and returning business, it’s important to understand the effects that search engine algorithm updates can have on your web traffic. Usually run to prevent search spam and improve the SERPs, search engine algorithm updates can be confusing for web masters and interactive marketers. Learn about the latest algorithm updates and what they mean for your website.

Protecting Your Website from the Heartbleed Bug: Here’s What to Do

April
9
2014

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There’s a new bug making its rounds and this is one we’ve all got to worry about. On Monday, a team of Codenomicon and Google Security engineers unearthed an existing vulnerability in OpenSLL data-encryption standard. The flaw allows hacker communities to exploit a ‘keep alive’ or ‘heartbeat’ script used at the transport layer in the Open Systems Interconnection model (OSI) to reveal more data from the server than intended.

In tricking the security software, hackers could write hacks to access additional server data. It was in that additional data, the hackers could steal personal information such as user and password information from the server.

While it looks like only the 1.0.1 and 1.0.2-beta releases of OpenSSL are affected, it’s important to check your site’s vulnerability. Heatbleed bug testing tools are already available here.

I hope your web site passes this test!  If not, visit with your Certificate provider and inquire about revoking and renewing your existing certificate as a possible solution.

As always the case in IT, there is a bright side to a reported bug of such deep reach, and that is allocation of a programmer’s time to fix the software and update. Upgrading security software will bring stronger encryption and greater security of our privacy. In addition, many individuals will update their passwords and hopefully use software to generate one and stop using “Password123”.

Google Hummingbird & Semantic Search

October
8
2013

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On September 26th Google turned 15 and celebrated by releasing information on their all new Hummingbird algorithm. This was not simply an update to the old search engine algorithm like Penguin and Panda, but an entirely new search algorithm. The new Hummingbird algorithm was launched over a month ago and was switched over almost seamlessly.

You may be asking yourself: Why Hummingbird? Why now? What does it do differently? And, Is SEO impacted? All very good questions.

The reason for Hummingbird is simple, Google is always trying to improve search results. This time they’re improving it by getting better at semantic search, or “conversational search.” With semantic search, Google looks at your entire query, and even a succession of queries, to provide you with results that are the most relevant to your search.

Let’s say you are looking to find out the date/ time your favorite NFL team is playing next. This type of search may have brought up blog posts, news articles about past games and possibly different sports networks you could go through to find out when their next game is. Now with Hummingbird and Google’s Knowledge Graph, you will get results like the screen shot below that gives you the information for the next game with results from your team’s website right below it. Think of it as being fast & precise (hence “Hummingbird”).

hummingbird-knowledge-graph

Now as far as SEO is concerned, none of these changes are alarming, and they should only help sites that are being optimized properly. If you have been diligently working on an onsite SEO strategy, including both content and technical considerations, there is no need to worry unless you have seen drops in your rankings within the past month. For more information on this, check out our recent post about what Hummingbird means for your content strategy.

Interpreting Organic Traffic in the Age of “Not Provided”

October
7
2013

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If you regularly use Google Analytics to interpret your organic search traffic, you may have noticed a surprising change to the platform as of late – the words “not provided.”

If you haven’t seen it, “not provided” looks like this:

not-provided

This is happening because Google has switched 100% of its search traffic to its secure (HTTPS) server. As a result, all of the keyword data for Google’s organic search traffic is cloaked beneath the “not provided” moniker.

This means that, while you are able to see search volume, you cannot know which keywords users searched to access which pages.

In other words, marketers now have a lot less data when it comes to analyzing how their target audience is finding them. This includes understanding which pages are “working,” organically, and which still need improvement.

What You Can Do

Luckily, there are a few workarounds that, although they may seem tedious at first, will help you and your overall SEO goals in the long run.

  1. Ensure that you have a strong site architecture. This way, you can easily identify and segment similar sections of your website to target specific persons / businesses / markets. These sections can then be much more easily analyzed as a group to see improvements within analytics platforms.
  2. Match keyphrases to specific pages on your site, and optimize them well. You will then be able to draw conclusions based on increases to your organic traffic.
  3. Once you have targeted the pages on your website to specific keyphrases, you can use a combination of rank tracking tools, including Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools to correlate specific pages with the keywords that you have optimized for. This will help you to identify what words may be driving the best traffic and the most conversions.
  4. Utilize data in Google Webmaster Tools to identify words and phrases that users are searching on to find your site. You must have access to a Google Webmaster Tools account for your website in order to access this data. If you do not, the account is free to set up and you can find more information about it here www.google.com/webmasters/tools/‎.

What “not provided” means, as you’ve probably guessed, is that marketers will be feeling around in the dark for a while as they adapt to this change. This will take some getting used to. But there will likely come a day when the steps recommend above will be so second-nature, old SEOs will sit around and say, “hey, remember when Google used to tell us what keywords were being used to access our sites?” Ah, the good old days…