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The "Year of The Brand" - What's New in Search for 2015

Mar 3, 2015
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SEO for Brands in 2015As many of you know, Google is always looking for ways to make search more and more organic as well as customized for the user to insure they get just what they are looking for. This means they are constantly tweaking and updating their algorithm to make their product, Google Search, the best on the web. 

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Sometimes these changes are huge and impact sites greatly. Other times the updates are so small, none, if any sites really get effective. As we begin a new year, let’s take a look at how search has changed and see how we can set ourselves up for success in 2015.

  • Google Panda Update
  • Google Penquin Update
  • Google Humming Bird Update
  • Google Pigeon Update

Over the last few years we have seen updates like Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird, and this past summer Pigeon. For those of you who don’t know, these are just crazy names are for the algorithm updates made by Google. Many of these had large impact across the web and caused a number of sites to shift drastically in the rankings. Why am I bringing these past updates up? Simply, you have to know where you’ve been to get to where you are going. If you need help with your SEO or online branding contact us today. Before we focus on what’s next, lets take a look quickly at what has happened already.


“Google’s Panda Update is a search filter introduced in February 2011 meant to stop sites with poor quality content from working their way into Google’s top search results. Panda is updated from time-to-time. When this happens, sites previously hit may escape, if they’ve made the right changes. Panda may also catch sites that escaped before. A refresh also means “false positives” might get released.” – via Search Engine Land


"Google launched the Penguin Update in April 2012 to better catch sites deemed to be spamming its search results, in particular those doing so by buying links or obtaining them through link networks designed primarily to boost Google rankings. When a new Penguin Update is released, sites that have taken action to remove bad links (such as through the Google disavow links tool or to remove spam may regain rankings. New sites not previously caught might get trapped by Penguin. “False positives,” sites that were caught by mistake, may escape." - via Search Engine Land


“Hummingbird is the name of the new search platform that Google is using as of September 2013, the name comes from being “precise and fast” and is designed to better focus on the meaning behind the words. Hummingbird is paying more attention to each word in a query, ensuring that the whole query — the whole sentence or conversation or meaning — is taken into account, rather than particular words. The goal is that pages matching the meaning do better, rather than pages matching just a few words. Google Hummingbird is designed to apply the meaning technology to billions of pages from across the web, in addition to Knowledge Graph facts, which may bring back better results." - via Search Engine Land


"Launched on July 24, 2014 for U.S. English results, the “Pigeon Update” is a new algorithm to provide more useful, relevant and accurate local search results that are tied more closely to traditional web search ranking signals. Google stated that this new algorithm improves their distance and location ranking parameters." - via Search Engine Land

So what does all this mean? Well, when Google updates they usually build upon, not replace. This means a lot of what we have learned over the past few years still apply to search today. In order for you site to rank, you must build trust not only with users but the search engines as well. This means playing by their rules. Long gone are the days of spamming your way to the top. Google's algorithm is smarter and more precise than ever. That being said, sites that build trust and play by the rules can have a ton of success in search.

>Branding GoalsGoogle's focus is leaning more and more towards user experience. This means they are paying a lot of attention to how your site looks and feels and your content. When is comes to content, more isn't alway better. They are looking for quality. Sites that engage the users and have authoritative content. The old adage is still true, "Content is King". Having a content marketing strategy for 2015 will benefit your company greatly. This will not only build your site as a great source of information to your users it will also draw natural links, the kind Google really wants to see (Yes, link building still matters). Google is looking for you to build more than just a good site with decent content. They are looking for you to build a brand that has weight in its particular industry.

As businesses we have to give the search engines a reason to rank us over the competition. You can out rank a site with more links and a "better SEO campaign" if you have a good content marketing strategy (Any good SEO company would have a content marketing strategy) because you are building trust with the search engines as a reliable source to send users to. But user experience goes beyond on just your content. Search has become something so much more than just links and meta tags. Google looks at all aspects of your site. Your design, load time, bounce rate and images all play a huge factor in how they interpret your site.

As you begin this new year you need to start testing your site to see how it's performing. GTmetrix, PageSpeed and Pingdom are all great FREE tools that will give you great insight on how and why you site is preforming a certain way as well as suggestion on what to fix. If you are unable to fix or need professional help, we would be glad to assist you. 2015 is the year of "The Brand". In order for your business to success online you need to establish yourself and your brand to users and to Google. Stop focusing on rankings and start focusing on getting results. By building your brand, which starts with a website that creates are great user experience and content that shows you're an expert in your field, you are setting yourself up for success in not only 2015 by the years to come.

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Ryan Shelley, CPBI

By Ryan Shelley, CPBI

Ryan is passionate about helping companies make a more personal connection online with their customers and prospects. He is a regular contributor to Search Engine Land, the largest and most popular SEO news site on the web. His works have also been featured on the HubSpot Blog, Business2Community and by LinkedIn Marketing Solutions.

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