Did you notice that your website rankings changed recently?

If you did, you’re not alone. September 2016 was one of the most active months on record for the volume of changes in Google rankings.  With multiple large algorithm changes, many website search queries were affected.

Local Result Updates

Over Labor Day weekend, an unannounced update was done that had major changes to local searches.  By local queries, we’re talking about results that show local companies as the result.  Some examples of queries in this category would be “plumbers madison wi”, “lawyers near me”, “pizza delivery in verona”.

The requirements for being considered “local” before oftentimes required that your business have a physical address that is located in that city.  For us in Verona, that made it difficult for us to rank well for Madison terms.  However, after this update, Google loosened up the requirements, and is including more quality results from nearby physical addresses.  This is great for businesses that are trying to attract new customers from nearby communities.

Some other local changes include an emphasis on the searcher’s location, filtering out similar results with the same address, and creating more emphasis on exact keywords (vs similar).

Less Media Results

While it probably won’t affect most of our clients as much, Google drastically reduced the number of search queries that show media results.  This includes images, videos and news stories.  This is not to say that creating media on your website isn’t valuable, but it is less likely to show up on the results page as a standalone item, separate from the page it’s located on.

More Link Penalties

A major factor in ranking well is to have inbound links.  This is, another website that links to your website.  Having inbound links is a sign to search engines that your website has valuable content.  However, not all links are created equal, and many website owners were placing links to their websites all over on paid directories to try and cheat the system.

Back in 2012, Google began to do what it dubbed “Penguin” updates.  These were algorithm changes that focused solely on targeting the influence of spammy links on a website’s ranking.  Last month, they implemented the next iteration of these updates.  Websites that have spammy inbound links saw a further change in the way they were ranking on many search queries.

This change should only have a positive impact on websites that are doing SEO the ethical way, and building good inbound links. If you for some reason do have spammy inbound links pointing to your website, you are able to disavow them through your website’s code.