Few things can cause such a stir in the SEO world as a significant change in Google rankings, not least because such changes are so unusual. However, this is exactly what many commentators are reporting to have happened on 1st or 2nd September 2016. But what exactly has happened, and what does it mean for SEO professionals and businesses that rely heavily on their online traffic?
Was there a Google update?
While Google has not commented definitively, many experts are convinced that two different updates took place around the date in question.
The most significant was thought to be around core web search. A number of threads sprang into life on Twitter and other fora discussing significant changes in ranking, with sites seeing shifts of more than 100 places up or down from specific keyword searches.
The second issue was around local Google rankings, where similar SEO discussions reported the biggest change to local rankings that had been seen in a long time.
Google has not confirmed that any update took place at all, and this in itself is causing further debate within the general search community. What is certain is that something caused some significant changes to rankings and that it was seen across all industries and verticals.
Or was it something else? Ask Google!
If it was not an update, then what else could have caused this phenomenon?
Three days after all the excitement, Google reported that a system error dropped all Search Analytics data from 01 September to 06 September. But while some experts were still forming the words “That explains it!” others were quick to point out that this issue could not be related to the fluctuations in rankings.
Google also confirmed categorically that the rumoured update was not Penguin related. Google’s John Mueller stated on both YouTube and Twitter that Google is constantly updating, but that in terms of any update on 1st or 2nd September, Penguin could definitely be “ruled out” – the penguin is sleeping!
How much does it matter anyway?
While the updates, non-updates or system errors have provided plenty of fuel for speculation, some in the community feel that the whole thing is a non-issue.
Marketing professional and online commentator Larry Madill noted that the majority of Search Engine Results Page (SERP) results that he monitors returned close to their previous positions after a few days.
He felt that the incident followed a familiar pattern that he had seen many times before following an update (whether acknowledged as such or not). The phenomenon he reported was that the SERPS “get tossed around for about four days then slowly go back to normal.”
Bizarrely, Madill noted that it was the larger names in retail that took the biggest hits from the phenomenon, with companies such as Home Depot and Amazon losing several places on two significant SERPs.
This has led to some giving the phenomenon the nickname “The Big Brand Update.”
The only thing that is known for certain is that chatter was still rife long after the effects had all but disappeared.
Keyword Explorer Launched For SEO Experts
Moz has launched a new tool called Keyword Explorer which is designed to simplify and improve the method of researching keywords for a successful SEO campaign.
Great news for the world of SEO as Moz has launched a new keyword research tool known as Keyword Explorer or KWE. Keywords are the foundation stones that the SEO industry is built upon so it is exciting to have a new comprehensive overview of the best keywords to use to enhance the position of a site in SERPs.
Although there are other keyword services being utilised within the industry, the new offering from Moz is already standing out as a particularly superior style of tool. It contains many unique features such as metrics and advanced functionality which exist to add value to the keyword gathering process whilst saving precious time for SEO consultants.
Spans The Entire Keyword Research Process
Keyword research is one of the most important phases in any SEO campiagn. Explorer has been designed to assist you throughout your entire keyword journey. It begins with the discovery stage of offering keyword ideas and then takes you through various steps such as getting metrics, building a list, keyword filtering and easy prioritisation of keywords you wish to target.
Reliable Volume Score
The inbuilt volume score is one of KWE’s greatest features and goes beyond what Adwords currently reports. By using a volume bucket methodology, Moz receives anonymised clickstream data from around 1 million real searches in the US and then manages to predict the search volume of a particular keyword. This approach provides keyword reports with a 95% accuracy rate. Google’s own keyword planner has attracted much criticism for being inaccurate as it is based on rounded averages.
Opportunity, Importance And Potential Metrics
On top of the typical volume and difficulty metrics that are featured in other keyword tools, KWE also provides information on three other essential pieces of information in keyword metrics – opportunity, importance and potential. ‘Opportunity’ delivers an estimate on the click-through-rate (CTR) of the organic results in search. ‘Importance’ is a variable which allows users to mark how vital a particular keyword is to the strength of their own campaign. The ability to track a combination of all the metrics in order to create a keyword prioritisation list is known as ‘Potential’.
In the past, SEOs relied on the manual recruitment of keywords from a wide variety of sources including Keyword Planner data, Google Suggest and Related Searches. KWE makes all of these available in its tool as well as topic-modelling ideas, keywords from the clickstream data and alternative keywords related to existing ranking pages.
Ease Of Import And Export
KWE is built with SEOs in mind. It realises that people have their own research methods and therefore supports easy import and export functionality. If an SEO consultant already has a keyword list, then they can upload it into Keyword Explorer to obtain metrics. Alternatively power users can use the KWE metrics process but then export the data to Excel if they have specific niche analysis that they want to perform outside of the platform.
Keyword Explorer is currently available as a freemium model – you can execute two free searches per day without logging in, up to five if you have a community account with Moz and unlimited if you hold a Pro Subscriber account.
KWE will give SEOs the edge in gaining an advantage over the competition in SERPs. Make sure you hire an SEO firm who always utilises the best and most innovative tools on the market to ensure incredible results for your brand.
Bing Gains Ground As Google Loses Browser Contracts
Bing has reached a record-breaking 21% share of the search engine market. Find out what this means in relation to the current market leaders, Google.
Imagine a world where we ‘Bing it’ to get the answer to a burning question rather than ‘Googling it’. 2016 could well be the year that sees this become a reality.
The Rise Of Bing
Bing, the search engine owned by Microsoft, is rapidly gaining ground on Google, who have been the dominant search engine giant for more than a decade.
Bing hasn’t always been a success story. In recent history, the Microsoft search engine was costing the company roughly $1 billion per quarter. There were calls by many to ditch the search engine market altogether. However, Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella saw something in Bing that others did not and committed to investing in the service. His instinct has paid off and Bing is now making a profit of approximately $1 billion per quarter.
It is likely that the increase in profitability has come from the mass release and rollout of Windows 10 and Surface devices, both of which use Bing as their default search engine. Similarly the Windows 10 Mobile and Windows Phone operating systems are also pre-installed to have search results powered by Bing.
The Proof Is In The Stats
The search engine market share statistics speak for themselves. Bing has now reached a 21% share of the search engine market for the first time, whilst Google hangs on to a massive 64%. Google is of course still comfortably in the lead, but the speed at which Bing is increasing their grip on the market is likely to make them uneasy given that search results are Google’s core business.
An honourable mention should also be given to Yahoo who are hanging on to a market share of approximately 12%.
Companies Ditch Google
In January of this year, an enormous ten year contract begins between AOL and Microsoft, which sees AOL introduce Bing as their default search engine. AOL, which is now owned by Verizon had previously been using Google for their search results. Unfortunately, a comparable story occurred last year when Google also lost their contract with Mozilla, who chose to use Yahoo as the default engine in its browser. This was huge news at the time as it represented Google’s largest loss in search engine market share since 2009.
In addition, there are rumours that Apple Safari, who currently use Google on their iPhone devices, might also be considering going with Yahoo, Bing or even their own in-house program. This would be a significant blow to Google, as reportedly more than half of mobile traffic in the USA comes from Safari, according to data collected in December 2014.
If Google continues on this downward spiral at the same time that Bing are on the up, then it’s only a matter of time before the two shall meet in the middle. However, when it comes to Google, it’s safe to say that they like a challenge and aren’t scared to shake things up. However, the same question was asked last year, and the change was not as dramatic as expected. Watch this space to find out what developments the current search engine market share leader will come up with to hang onto the crown in 2016.