The past twelve to sixteen months has seen unprecedented change in Search. With Google in particular, their index has grown enormously with their rollout of their Caffeine search index. As part of this rollout, the number of low quality or pieces of spam content that has been produced is great. As a result Google is continuing to update their algorithms to reduce the amount of webspam that searchers are experiencing. Hence the rollout of major updates such as:
- Google MayDay Update – late April 2010
- Google Panda – also referred to as “Farmer”
- first phase Jan. 26, 2011
- second phase Feb. 25, 2011
- rollout to international, English speaking countries (i.e Google.ca) Apr. 11, 2011
- more updates to come
These recent updates have impacted upwards of 14% of all searched conducted on google.com. This is most likely the largest impact from an algorithm update ever. One thing that is becoming clear is that Google is trying to define (and have users define) just exactly what high quality content is so that they can display the most relevant results based on a given query. As a result, Google appears to be adjusting their ranking factors accordingly and new elements are getting a lot more attention. The element getting the most attention is social engagement and overall engagement with a website.
SEOmoz has done a great job of trying to dissect key rankings factors with their ranking factors survey. (Look for an updated version of this to come out soon.) In 2009, industry leaders suggested that top ranking factors included:
Eric Enge from Stone Temple Consulting has added his take on how these ranking factors have changed with the rollout of Google’s recent updates. He suggests that Engagement Metrics have gone from 6% important to now becoming the second most important ranking factor at about 20%.
Based on what we have seen with Google, this is not that far off. Google has hinted that they are now and will continue to leverage social engagement and social signals as part of their ranking algorithm, going so far to create their own +1 button to act as a popularity measure (similar to Facebook’s Like button).
In addition, Google has also rolled out a “block this site” option within their search results to allow users to block sites from their results in which they deem as not relevant to their query. Again Google has stated that they will be leveraging this as part of their ranking algorithm. (Note: This element can obviously be easily abused, so some have suggested that Google was /is possibly using this data for other purposes.) Enge goes on to update the potential ranking factors further:
Engagement Metrics to Track
Labels: SEO engagement optimization
It's great that Google is still working to improve its product. Within the past year Google has been getting attention for increased spam and low quality search results and Bing has seen an increase in market share. Competition is good for the industry.