Google’s January Updates and What They Mean For SEO

Google, Updates

Authorship Reduction

A new year often means new changes and Google is no exception. In January, we saw the results of the great Google Authorship “purge”. But this reduction of Authorship was brought to our attention as early as October 2013. Take a look at the graph below to see the timeline of Authorship reduction since this first public announcement of changes to come:

authorship-30day

As you can see, Authorship in search results have dropped greatly in the projected 30 day period.

What Does It Mean?

Losing Authorship on your search terms can be a big hit to your business. The problem is that Google felt like there were too many Authorship results, and rich snippets to begin with. Which is why they were working to tone things down. The important thing to remember is that there is no clear answer at this point.  Some experts speculate that the loss of Authorship can be attributed to: certain industries, Authorship authority (or Author Rank) and even website authority.

One thing does go without saying, you can’t depend on Authorship showing up as a guarantee. Because there is so much that is unclear, the best we can do is to keep doing what we’re doing: work on your reputation by building up website and Authorship authority. But don’t forget to stay tuned for the latest news.

Exact Search Queries in Webmaster Tools

If you’ve checked Google Webmaster Tools recently, you may see a vertical line at 12/31/13 indicating that there had been a Google WMT update. From this point on, Google will report the exact number of search queries, instead of displaying a rounded number. This may be a result of Google wanting webmasters do a better job in analyzing website data. Or it could be a result of criticism that Google doesn’t give website owners enough information. People are going so far as to use third-party tools (like StatCounter), which Google probably doesn’t want to promote the practice of.

What Does It Mean?

Google Webmaster Tools is now more accurate, with the ability to give you exactly what you’re looking for, including exact impressions and clicks for a given keyword or page. You can even search for a specific date or a given date range. If you have any more questions, check out the Official Google Webmaster Central Blog post here.

Google Adding Dates to Your Content

This post on Google Product Forums gives an example of when Google automatically adds a date to your content. Interestingly enough, this page no longer ranked in Google once that date was added to the page’s snippet. There are many questions to ask in this scenario: Why would Google add a date to a page? How can a date affect the page’s CTR? Is this just a fluke or something Google is working on implementing on a wider scale?

What Does It Mean?

Since this specific example didn’t have a specific answer, we can only assume that it’s a bug that will be fixed once it’s passed onto the team. But it does raise the concept of keeping fresh content on your website. Snippets for in-depth articles come to mind. Even if it’s not something that I’ve seen in results, it still means that something is in the works on Google’s end!

 

Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.

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