Most of you have heard about Google Caffeine which launched last month and the algorithm update made in May, nicknamed Mayday. For many B2B sites, the algorithm change resulted in a loss of rankings and traffic. Now that several weeks have passed, marketers are wondering how these changes affect their website and what changes (if any) they should make. This column offers practical advice for B2B marketers regarding these recent Google updates.
First – don’t panic.
Marketers must first understand what each of these updates mean. Below is a quick summary of the changes and my recommendations on actions B2B Marketers should consider taking, if affected.
For starters, here are a few Search Engine Land articles that explain the updates in detail: Google Confirms “Mayday” Update Impacts Long Tail Traffic and Google’s New Indexing Infrastructure “Caffeine” Now Live.
The Mayday update – algorithm change
Google’s Mayday update included many changes such as unveiling a new logo, adding new search features and updating the algorithm. The major emphasis of the algorithm change is an increased focus on long-tail keywords and page speed. As a result, many B2B websites have seen a drop in rankings and organic traffic.
Increased focus on long-tail keywords
Long-tail keywords (phrases that include three or four terms) are commonly used by B2B search marketers and are proven to generally have a higher conversion rate than shorter, more general words.
According to Google, long-tail keywords are indeed affected by the algorithm update as they are trying to find the best sites that match-up with searchers’ long-tail queries. This reinforces what Google has always stood by, reporting the most relevant results for any search query.
If you’ve experienced a drop in organic rankings and/or traffic since May, here are a few ideas to consider:
- Add more content, or update existing content, to ensure that it includes the long-tail keywords you want to be found for.
- Incorporate long-tail keywords in optimized META descriptions, page titles, anchor text links, videos, images and blogs.
- Include long-tail terms in your off-page SEO efforts too, whether that’s social media or incoming links to help build the quality of these terms.
Increased focus on page speed
The other significant algorithm change that Google made is that they now include site speed as a ranking factor. Recent Google research shows that fast load speed increases conversions. In fact, they stated that a page that takes even less than a half of a second to load can have a negative effect on the user!
This increased focus on load speed may have an impact on B2B websites since many business sites include video, flash, product demos, product specifications, and other forms of rich media.
- Evaluate your home page load speed by using the Google Webmaster Site Performance tool.
- Review your average load time and how your site compares to other sites on the web.
- This will help you determine if performance should be a priority.
- Install the Page Speed Plug-in — this open-source Firefox/Firebug add-on can be used on any site and will give you a score and provide a prioritized list of items to work on to improve site performance.
Based on the recent Mayday update, long-tail keywords and load time are two factors you should include in your SEO improvement efforts, but remember — Google has over 200 factors in their algorithm — and content and relevancy are still primary.
Next, let’s review how Google Caffeine is affecting many B2B marketers…
Google Caffeine: a new indexing system
In early June, Google announced that their new indexing system went live, Google Caffeine. Google states that:
Caffeine provides 50 percent fresher results for web searches than our last index, and it’s the largest collection of web content we’ve offered. Whether it’s a news story, a blog or a forum post, you can now find links to relevant content much sooner after it is published than was possible ever before. Source: The Official Google Blog
So what does this mean for B2B Marketers? Since Caffeine speeds up the time it takes for Google to update its index — when you change or add content on your site, it will now be available to searchers in less time. This is good news! What used to take up to a week or two to be live on Google now may only take one or two days.
B2B search marketers don’t really have to do anything different due to Caffeine. Simply continue to offer fresh, relevant website content on a regular basis including your social media efforts, press releases, blogs, newsletters and video.
Stick with proven SEO best practices
Regardless of these recent Google changes, marketers should continue to adhere to proven SEO best practices. I do recommend that you analyze page speed and determine if load time is an issue for your site, and continue to focus on long-tail keywords.
The bottom line is no different than it always has been when it comes to SEO — keep your content fresh, relevant and optimized to ensure maximum organic search marketing results.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.