Here we are already in the third month of 2014. How are your search engine rankings fairing? Have you sunk, swam or treaded water? In one of our New Year’s blogs we discussed the tricks of SEO optimization as they applied to the latest and greatest Google algorithm updates. After seeing three major algorithm updates in 2013, it isn’t surprising to see 2014 already graced by yet another Google update.
It was bound to happen. As the face of search engine optimization continues to evolve, Google unleashed their first algorithm update of 2014. According to Search Engine Land, the update specifically targets websites that are “top heavy” with ads.
Matt Cutts, Google’s lead of web spam, released the announcement on February 6, 2014, stating it was a “refresh” of Google’s Page Layout Algorithm, otherwise known as the Top Heavy Algorithm. This marks the third confirmed update to the algorithm, which aims to penalize websites featuring pages that are top-heavy with advertisements. What does this mean for you?
Simply put, if your website buries content under lots of ads, you were in trouble back in 2012. If you’re still cramming ads in above your content today, you’re about to end up in even more trouble. According to Search Engine Land, sites choosing to use overlay, pop-up and pop-under ads are not impacted by this algorithm.
How much top ad is too much? There doesn’t appear to be any set ruling. However, you should take into consideration how your page displays. Content should be the anchor of every page. Ads are simply additional icing, meant to decorate not overtake. Remember: Google’s updates are all about improving the user’s experience. Users want to see more beneficial content and fewer advertisements.
Before refreshing the Page Layout Algorithm, Google made what DejanSEO called the 6th largest update in a year. It caused a search engine results page shake up that shook cyberspace like an earthquake for the first time in a year. DejanSEO reported a culmination of “a massive 2.91 roos.”
What exactly did the cyber earthquake do? Near as we can tell, it shook up and rearranged where many websites placed on the SERPs. A prime example of this comes from Search Engine Journal, where Hin Lai shares the shocking news that after the quake their website dropped nearly 130 spots.
The updates to algorithms in 2014 beg the question we posed in the opener: how are your search rankings fairing? Have you sunk, swam or treaded water?
If you’ve managed to tread water, then you’re obviously doing something at least partially right. And you’re likely breathing a sigh of relief, thanking the search engine gods. Breaking even is always better than coming up short. Now, how do you improve?
If you’ve swam so far this year, then your search rankings have risen; you’ve definitely got the hang of 2014 SEO. However, if you’ve had the unpleasant experience of sinking, you’re no doubt trying to claw upward. You need air, and you need it now, before the first quarter of the year is out. Survival instincts are kicking in!
But can you raise the submarine before the first quarter of 2014 passes? After all, isn’t Google hardcore about penalizing offenders, keeping their heads held staunching underwater to teach them a hard learned lesson? Based on Hin Lai’s experience, you might not feel your head held underwater for too long.
Once Lai realized the search ranking drop looming before him, he did something not all of us would think to do at a moment of crisis: create a timeline of events. Google’s first update of 2014 hit on January 8th, and at Search Engine Land Lai recorded the following timeline:
As you can see, the website seems to have been able to regain ranking almost as abruptly as it was stripped of it due to good changes—the kind that Google smiled favorably upon. So, what can we learn from this example? How can you recover from falling search rankings in 2014?
We can learn a lot from what Lai did to recover his rankings. He points out some interesting lessons, and we’d like to expand on these lessons (or means of repairing the sinking ship):
What is a natural flow? When it comes to content, it’s that euphoric flow that makes an entire piece of content sing. You can start reading at the top and feel amazed when you reach the bottom because the flow was so coherent and smooth that you didn’t realize you just read the entire piece. A natural flow is also present when you can read a piece of content out loud without stumbling over awkward word usage, oddly constructed phrases or long sentences that lose you.
When it comes to search engine optimization, one way we achieve natural flow is through well written, quality content. But as pointed out, you cannot rely solely on content. So, just what does look “natural” in the eyes of Google? Here are a few ideas, based on Lai’s experience:
The true takeaway point is that there is no single, all-powerful ingredient to increasing your search rankings. If you’ve experienced setbacks this year, you can turn it around—likely before the end of the first quarter. The key is making the right changes. As you institute changes, take a lesson from Lai and record an event timeline. This simple tool will allow you to determine whether or not the changes you make are truly in your best interests and generating results.
Search engine optimization for search rankings is all about diversity and balance in 2014. If you familiarize yourself with the current SEO trends and do your best to incorporate all aspects of SEO, you will see search ranking results. In fact, it’s probable the websites successfully weathering the New Year have adopted and used a diverse set of SEO tools based on current news and trends. It’s also likely that such websites are manned by companies who focus on their audience, and do everything in their power to provide the best user experience possible.
Are you one of the elite weathering the New Year with solid search rankings? What steps have you taken to batten down your hatches and ensure your ship is sea worthy in the search ranking sea? If you’ve experienced success, or successfully pulled your ship from the depths of the sea this year, share your experience. Together, we will make a stronger Internet in 2014; an Internet populated by fantastic user experiences, compelling and engaging content and—most importantly—the increase in sales and search rankings that we all want to see!
The post 6 Ways to Recover If You’ve Lost Web Page Rankings Since 2014 Begun appeared first on Express Writers.