July 13th – July 19th, 2015
Search engines records all the pages on the Web through programs called Web crawlers – Google’s are known as Googlebots. The programs log each page and scan it for keywords. The search engine then applies an algorithm to each keyword listing to work out the order that pages will appear if anyone searches on that keyword. This is the ranking algorithm. Periodically, Google applies other programs that adjust those rankings. These programs are called filters. The most important filters are called Penguin and Panda. Tweaking your law firm’s website pages to catch a rankings boost from either Penguin or Panda is the main focus of SEO these days. There are filter runs in the pipeline and it is always worth keeping your ear to the ground on when they will occur. Search Engine Roundtable is an especially good source of information on what Google is up to. Search Engine Watch and Search Engine Land also have information this week on the topic of filters.
This article gives an excellent explanation of filters and the effects they can have on the rankings of your law firm’s website. The writer makes the distinction between losing ranking through a manual penalty and losing rankings through the results of a filter. The core ranking algorithm runs almost constantly, but the filters are only applied periodically. If you see your rankings slide and do something about it, you won’t detect any immediate benefits from those changes. You have to wait until Google runs their filters again, but they don’t run them on a regular schedule and they don’t warn when they are going to do it. Just to add to the confusion, they often adjust the filter programs, so that factor that lost you rankings last time around may not exist any more as a down-ranking factor in the filter.
Barry Schwartz is the person to follow in order to keep track of impending algorithm changes or filter runs. He is the editor and main contributor to Search Engine Roundtable. However, as a legal practitioner, you may find that site a little too techie for your palate. Luckily, Barry also contributes to Search Engine Land, which is a lot more human-readable than Search Engine Roundtable. This article is an example of important search engine news that is the bread and butter of Search Engine Roundtable, but is so important that Search Engine Land got Schwartz to write a less technical version of the story so that the rest of the human race could understand it. This piece includes a list of the dates that Google has adjusted and reapplied its Penguin filter. As you can see, the operation of this program is sporadic. The company plans to make the filter into a constantly-reapplying algorithm.
This article is typical Barry Schwartz output over at Search Engine Roundtable. Barry specializes in following chatter on algorithm and filter updates. Here we read that an SEO consultant noticed a sudden change in a client’s rankings and put out the word to find out whether others experienced the same movements. Barry did his own research and concluded that there hadn’t been a reapplication of the mobile-friendliness filter. You may detect sudden changes in your law firm’s rankings on certain keywords. When that happens, it is always a good idea to check with Search Engine Roundtable to see whether that movement was caused by a filter.
Here is Schwartz reporting again on another adjustment that some SEO consultant had detected. In this instance, the talk is not about a change in one of Google’s filters, but in its core algorithm. If the keyword rankings of your law firm’s website suddenly fall, it could be because of a filter application or a core algorithm change. If you check with Search Engine Roundtable and there is no news of any such event, you may have incurred a manual penalty. If your rankings suddenly shoot up and there are no reports of any changes in Google’s programs just thank your lucky stars.
Panda is probably the filter you should keep your eye on most. In all likelihood you invest most of the digital marketing effort for your law firm in content for your website. The Panda filter rewards and punishes sites over their content. This article, also by Schwartz, illustrates the constant frustrations in the SEO world that Google’s management of Panda causes. A lot of Google watchers have been digging for months to try to work out when the Panda filter will be applied again. They thought they had pinpointed a date, and then it didn’t happen. If your rankings get hit by a Panda run because of shoddy content, you will rush to fix all those problems. You might even pay a consultant a lot of money to sort it out for you, and then get no benefit at all for the outlay. This is because you are stuck with that low ranking until Google runs Panda again.