penguins, pirates and css

google’s autumn/winter wardrobe

Two weeks ago Google began cleaning out their summer wardrobe, it was time for an autumn/winter update.

Edith Head Google Doodle, image courtesy of Google

Within 3 weeks they had updated 2 algorithms and their webmaster guidelines, resulting in many website and SEO specialists frantically searching to see if their websites had been hit. Here’s our breakdown of what changed and what it meant.

 Penguin - Cardiff SEO Penguin – 17th October 2014

This is the 6th update since Penguin begun but it hasn’t had a recent update in over a year. The latest rollout begun Friday 17th October and was set to last a few weeks before completion.

This update targeted spammy sites and those in violation of Google linking guidelines, which means it penalizes unnatural, and manipulative links to your site. If you’re hit by this update, even if you make the changes straight away, you won’t know if they’ve been effective until the next penguin update comes around.

If you see your rankings drop, this may not mean you’ve been hit by this update. This Penguin update has caused many links to be discounted, so the previous credit the link was passing has been removed, therefore reducing rankings.

Pirate -  Cardiff SEO Pirate – 21st October 2014

This leads nicely into the next update that happened a week later, Pirate. Just like Penguin and Panda, this was an algorithm update but instead of targeting spammy or poor-content sites, this algorithm specifically targeted illegal streaming sites.

Google placed all known pirate or streaming sites through a filter, any deemed to be in violation of the algorithm were downgraded. They first ran this algorithm 2 years ago and this is its first update.

Google has also implemented an update to their autocomplete feature, stating that it will show fewer terms in the autocomplete box for websites that have been hit by the pirate algorithm. Google is hoping that this will reduce the ability for users to search for streaming sites.

webmaster guidelines -  Cardiff SEO Webmaster Update – 27th October 2014

Finally, Google updated their webmaster guidelines. Within the new guidelines they made a specific note regarding the blocking of your CSS or Jacascript files. This may have a negative effect on your search rankings, meaning that you should allow Googlebot to access these files and image files to allow optimal indexing.

If these files are blocked, it means that Google’s algorithm is unable to render and index your content, which can result in lower rankings.

Another update to the webmaster guidelines was mobile usability reports. These allow users to track mobile usability issues, ensuring that they can be fixed, improving the mobile experience on a site.

These include:

  • Font size
  • Meta tags for mobile pages
  • Fixed-width viewpoints
  • Clickable buttons that are too close to one another

Nothing yet has been mentioned about these being included within Google’s algorithms, but it’s a fair indication that it might at some point in time.

With the use of internet search on mobile devices increasing, and recently exceeding PC usage in America, it would be crazy not to include mobile sites in future algorithm updates.

While the algorithms and guidelines may have changed, one piece of advice remains the same. So as long as you keep away from spammy links, write amazing content for your visitors, avoid illegal streaming, and make your mobile site the best it can be, you won’t have a problem with Google and they’ll keep seeing you as a worthwhile site in the search rankings.

Written by Claire Fisher, SEO Account Executive

Categories: Digital Marketing

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