A boring Christmas...Cheers Google!
Christmas 2016 was a great time for us SEOers. Honestly, Google just gave us the best Christmas present, because nothing happened. There were seemingly no Algorithm updates this, In fact it was positively boring.
I keep remembering a couple of years back, might even be a few years ago now, but ever since I can remember Google has waited until the holiday season and then launched some massive update that required some form of attention. But they have claimed on so many occasions that they wouldn't possibly be so evil as to launch updates around the holidays. I can't say I've ever massively suffered, but a few years ago I was an account manager and having to explain that Google has launched an update and that we are monitoring it is still a pained e-mail to send near Christmas.
Do Google launch algorithm updates around holidays?
Here is a few of my faves from the last few years:
January 2016 - Unnamed Update? - A load of tracking tools saw "movement" and Google confirms a Core Update.
December 22nd!!! 2014 - Pigeon Expands - What??!! You just changed the local SERPs and it is rolling out across the holidays! Cheers Google Merry F***ing Christmas. and this after a Penguin roll-out (unconfirmed)
December 6th 2014 - Multiple Penguin updates - "Unconfirmed", but you know what you did!
December 19th 2013 - Authorship Destruction - Bye, bye authorship thanks for being the focus of my life for the first few months earlier in the year. So glad I get to tell my clients that that advice we gave you on how this is going to turn into something important is now redundant.
December 21st 2012 - Panda #23 - A Panda "refresh", "hey remember that terrible content on your rivals site, well we don't like it any more so have a rankings boost!" said about 3 people that day.
So do Google do updates around the holidays? Yes, yes they do. But they lie about it too so that is nice:
@Bessian Actually, we try to minimize major updates right before the holidays.
— Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) 18 December 2013
So why was 2016 different?
Well in truth it wasn't.
2016 saw the role out of (or rather the role in) the major algorithm updates into the core. This means that penguin and panda, two of the main nuisances for sudden algorithm changes see small subtle changes over smaller timescales. This has minimised the amount of sudden and horrible fluctuations that we have seen over previous years.
The addition of Penguin within the core means that the links built to sites and associated with pages get quicker recognition or punishment depending on how natural they appear. The addition of Panda has meant that duplicate content issues get picked up quicker, and the high quality content that is produced get rewarded and over takes the outdated rubbish content.
Basically, we used to see a sporadic update, which changed the SERPs a lot all in one go. So a launch on the 22nd of December for example would mean a massive instant change in rankings. However now, the changes happen constantly, roll out quicker and more frequently so the changes that happen are less dramatic.
So what difference does the new Google core algorithm set-up have on SERPs?
The great thing about the new set-up is quicker feedback. From having monitored our clients campaigns over the last couple of months, we have noticed a much quicker response in ranking increases when we build high quality links.
This has even been the case for content created, that has been specifically targeted to pick up long-tail keywords. One of our clients has seen a 770% increase in Organic Traffic Year on Year as a result of a combination of better targeted keyword rich copy and the promotion of those regular content pieces in the form of link building.
The campaigns that we have produced that get picked up across reliable news sources, even those that have picked up a large majority of "No Follow" links have helped clients sites do two things that previously would of taken a couple of months to see.
Firstly, we have seen a quicker increase in core tracked and targeted rankings
Secondly, we have seen a quicker increase in the range of long-tail rankings.
bold statements made with no data to back it up, but as this is a personal blog and nothing to do with work, I'll prove it in a post for the company.
I should also point out, that I am also monitoring quite a few rankings that have been gained from this method to see if and how quickly they drop as a result of a lack of constant reinforcement of the long-tail terms.
So thank you Google. Here are some pics of me enjoying Christmas because you decided to be nice this year.