Google’s Algorithm recent updates ~ overview

Google’s Algorithm recent updates ~ overview

There’s been a lot of activity with Google algorithm updates recently and over the past year. Whilst these Google updates can be immensely complicated Google is simply trying to do what it does best. That is it tries to provide searchers with the best and most relevant information that they need, matching searches with websites that provide the relevant information.

These updates can affect your website search engine results rankings. You may have heard the terms Google Panda, Google Penguin, Hummingbird and the Google Payday Loan algorithm updates.

These algorithm updates look at many, in fact sometimes hundreds of different factors in order to rank websites. So what do the most recent Google updates all mean? Well here’s a very basic, straightforward guide as to what they are about. The explanations below are very much simplified and designed not to overwhelm you with technical details, just to provide a basic understanding of what’s been happening and what could be affecting your website search engine results page rankings.

Google’s Payday Loan algorithm

This is the most recent of Google algorithm updates (v2.0) and has been occurring over recent weeks (the first version v1.0 was announced around 12-months ago). According to “the Guru” at Google Matt Cutts advised that it targeted spammy type websites. The information surrounding this update remains “unelaborated on.” The Payday Loan algorithm targets search queries such as “viagra”, “casinos”and other keywords that are often targeted by spammers. Unfortunately, Google (as they often do) does not explain what this means in detail.

SEO-services-melbourneGoogle Panda and Google Penguin

The Panda algorithm targets websites with low quality content. For example, the Panda algorithm makes sure that web pages with automatically created or very shallow content don’t get high rankings in Google’s search results. This also applies to such things as duplicated content, the same or similar pages, or blog articles utilising very similar or slight variations of keywords, whereas the Penguin algorithm targets website that get artificial links. Links are important to your website, in a way they are like a positive vote for your site ~ that is provided they are relevant and respected. The Penguin algorithm targets website that get artificial links, for example it may penalize websites that are linked with paid links. In many cases these paid links have no relevance to the linking website. Overall Google doesn’t like links from automated linking schemes and this is not encouraged for quality search engine optimisation, whereas good quality relevant links are generally positive for a website.


The Hummingbird algorithm’s goal was for Google to better understand a user’s search query and subsequently provide the user with the most relevant results. There is some speculation that changes were necessary in order for Google’s voice search to be more effective, that is being able to interpret what the user is actually asking or searching for. For example if someone searches for say, “Best place for a family lunch in Ringwood, ” Hummingbird is able to interpret that by “place” the user would most likely be interested in results that show “restaurants.”

What does this all mean for my website?

The Internet is becoming increasingly competitive and complex. Websites and their content are really a ‘living, evolving, active being.’ All websites should be regularly reviewed and updated, the focus should be on creating the best website possible for users. Google’s goal is to deliver the best answers to people who are searching. If you can produce regular, up-to-date relevant content, as well as content that answers people’s search queries and questions, refrain from using unscrupulous SEO tactics, avoid buying links, conduct positive link building and invest in quality SEO services then you’re on the right track to good search engine results page rankings.

Have you experienced any drops or increases in rankings? Let us know by commenting below.

Google Changes to Title Tags

Google Changes to Title Tags

Google’s search results page design changed last month. That is, the page that shows a list of websites when you do a Google search.

A number of changes to the search engine results page have now occurred that can affect how your website listing is displayed in the search results. Underlined text has now gone; Google AdWords adverts look different, with background shading removed and the addition of a small Ad notation.

However we would consider the most significant change being to the Title Tags. The Title Tag font size is now bigger. It is now 18pt larger than it was previously being at 16pt. A minor change you may think, but what impact does  this have on how your Title Tags appear in the search results?

Well, with a bigger font size the Title Tag length you can use on your website pages is now reduced. Each page on your site should have a carefully scripted Title Tag written to include the relevant keywords the page is targeting to assist and encourage visitors to click-through to your website. Your page Title Tags combined with your Description Tags form the basis of the search results. Following Google’s redesign to their interface your Title Tags may now be cut off and not appear as you initially intended them to!

Google originally suggested up to 70 characters (including spaces) for the Title Tag that appears in search results. If the title went over 70 characters (including spaces) it would get cut off. Google now no longer uses a fixed character limits, instead, they use the pixel width of the characters to determine title length.

Old Google Interface – Title Tags



Each character on a keyboard has a different width when typed, and the combination of character widths that make up the Title Tag needs to fall below Google’s limit. This means that it’s now more difficult to recommend a specific number of characters for Title Tags, since the length can vary  even though the character count remains constant. Each character can take up a different amount of space. For example if you use CAPITALS or M’s, W’s or other wider characters, the number of characters you can include in your title tags may be less. If you Title Tag is too long it will now chop off in the middle of a word.

So what’s the optimum length of a Title Tag now? Unfortunately this isn’t a straightforward question to answer! As explained the space that each character takes up has always had some influence on the number of characters you can use in a Title Tag, but following the text size increase this now  has greater impact.

New Google Interface – Title Tags

The below shows the same three title tags above and how the new Google interface displays them on the search results page without any adjustments.


 Title Tags – What should you do?

Fortunately, some in-depth analysis has been conducted which is quickly becoming the new best practice to follow. If you aim for 55 characters in your title tags you are likely to be ok 95.8% of the time.

So our advice is to review your Title Tags and where necessary aim for 55 characters with spaces. Why? Statistics have shown that search click-through-rates are generally higher when the full Title Tag is visible and correctly formatted to the user, however the bottom line is it shouldn’t affect your rankings, but it may affect your click-through-rates.

Have you seen changes or have had to make changes to your Title Tags? We would love to hear your stories, let us know by commenting below.


5 Reasons Why You Should Add a Blog to Your Website

5 Reasons Why You Should Add a Blog to Your Website

Having a blog on your website is a powerful way to cost effectively market your business online. Here’s 5 ways that adding a blog to your website can benefit your business:

1. Boost your websites SEO

Search engines love websites that are constantly updated with fresh content and posting regular blog posts is one of the best ways to do this. Also, more content on your website means more pages of yours to be found in the Search engines. See #2 below for the third SEO benefit that you get when your content is shared.

2. Reach more potential customers when your blog posts are shared

You don’t often see product and service pages being shared online, but blog posts with interesting or helpful content do get shared through social media, email and other websites. Having your content shared means two things: More people visiting your website through the shared link, and SEO benefits from these inbound links to your site.

3. Show your credibility and gain more trust

Sharing the valuable knowledge you have in your field through informative, helpful or insightful blog posts shows your customers that you know what you’re talking about and that you can give them the right advice. This extra insight into your knowledge allows you to gain trust and credibility with your customers.

4. Engage with your customers

The comment section at the end of each blog post is a great way to engage with your customers. Whether they have questions about the content you’ve posted, want to learn more about your business, or just want to say “thanks” for the helpful information you’ve provided, this interaction is an excellent way to also build rapport with your customers.

5. Differentiate your business from your competitors

Having a ‘voice’ online through a blog allows you to differentiate your business from your competitors by showing the unique personality and knowledge in your business.

Have you added a blog to your website? Let us know by commenting below and how it has been of benefit?


Keyword use and SEO

Keyword use and SEO

Using keywords correctly on a web page and throughout a website is critical when you are trying to improve search engine ranking. It is just one of the many factors needed for successful on page Search Engine Optimisation.

The number of keywords a site targets for organic SEO will depend on the particular business and what type of keywords will bring the site properly targeted, profitable traffic. Finding the right keywords to target takes a great deal of research and analysis, and is a whole other topic in itself.

But what should you do once you have your keywords selected?

Here are five important quick tips:

1. Include the keywords in the page URL

URLs describe a site or page to visitors and search engines. A correctly structured URL which is relevant and contains your keywords is one key to ranking well.

Poor URL:

Good URL

2. Keyword use in headers

Place your primary keywords in your headers and sub-headers. These areas of content give the keywords a greater weighting and relevance to search engines. Headers are generally in a larger font and are represented by heading tags that look like <h1>, <h2> etc. in the website code. The <h1> tag is the most important to the search engines, and it is used for the main heading on the page. The other tags from <h2> through to <h6> are generally used for subheaders and have less importance.

3. Keyword proximity & density

Where you can, place your primary keyword or keyword phrase as close to the beginning of the first sentence of your text content. The close proximity to the start of the article continues to tell the search engines that your page is relevant to the keyword you are targeting.

Keyword density is the percentage of times a keyword or phrase appears on a web page compared to the total number of words on the page. There is no optimal ‘keyword density’ percentage, however having a really high keyword density will by no means translate into higher rankings. In fact, over-using the keywords (known as keyword stuffing) can cause a penalty.

4. Keywords in body content

Include the keywords in the body content of your text, but don’t use them un-naturally or out of context. Make sure the way your keywords are incorporated is relevant with the rest of your content on the web page.

5. Keywords in image file names and ALT tags

Google and other search engines are basically visually impaired! But there are two ways you can optimise your images to help the search engines understand what they are.

The first is optimising the file names of your images. (See our article on Optimising Website Images for SEO). Your image file names should indicate what the image is and include your keyword. For example driveway-repairs.jpg rather than the non-descriptive names that are generated by the camera like IMG1234.jpg or DSC12778.jpg.

The second way you can optimise your images is through ALT tags that are descriptive, relevant to the image and contain the keywords where applicable. An ALT Tag is a caption that will replace the image when it cannot be viewed by a browser or a Search Engine crawler.

Optimising Website Images for SEO

Optimising Website Images for SEO

A picture or an image might be worth 1,000 words, and can be attractive on a website. They can make the user experience more memorable, but they also need to be read well by Search Engines to be of benefit your website’s Search Engine Rankings and SEO.

Images may seem like a straightforward component of your website, but often many websites don’t perform as well as they should because of a few critical image factors that, if done correctly in the first place can improve the website design and also benefit your SEO results. We’ll briefly look at just three of them:

  • Image File Names
  • Image ALT Tags
  • Image Size and Resolution

For us humans to view an image and register what it is it takes a combination of the human eyes and brain to do so. However for Google and other Search Engines they are basically visually impaired! It is therefore important to ensure your images are correctly formatted and have the correct file names and ALT tags that help Search Engines understand what they are.

Image File Names

Giving pictures an appropriate file name will help Search Engines determine content. In other words, name your image files something that is indicative of what the image is, for example web-design-melbourne.jpg rather than what is generally recorded from the camera e.g. IMG1234.jpg or DSC12778.jpg.

File names are best when they’re short, relevant and descriptive. When renaming images use hyphens, rather than underscores.

Web-Design-MelbourneFile Name: Web-Design-Melbourne.jpg





Image ALT Tags

The ALT Tag attribute provides alternative information for an image if a user for some reason cannot view it. This is a caption that will also replace the image when it cannot be viewed by a browser or a Search Engine crawler. As Search Engine crawlers are basically visually impaired, they use the ALT Tag to read an image and work out what it is about.

Therefore it is essential for the ALT Tag to be descriptive and relevant to the image, where it is applicable we highly recommend using a keyword in your ALT tag name.

Below is an example of what Google and other Search Engines read when they come across and image, the ALT tags are shown.



Google recommends you be as descriptive as possible. The following is an example of what Google would deem bad, better, and best alt text for an image:

Bad: alt=”” (just left blank)

Better: alt=”design” (not descriptive enough)

Best: alt=”web-deign-melbourne”

Google also advises against using an alt text by simply over stuffing the Alt Tag loaded with keywords.

Avoid: alt=”web-design, web-design-melbourne, website-design, web-page-design, web-site-design-company, web-site-design-company-melbourne, …..etc ”

Image Size and Resolution

Web images take up the majority of the download time in most website pages. The speed of a website is important to visitors. You need to capture their attention quickly and convince them to look further. If the website page takes a long time to load, a potential customer visitor will be lost. Slow website pages can also cause a website to be downgraded by the Search Engines.

Most digital cameras take photos that are way bigger than the average web page can display; what’s more these images generally have large file sizes. Therefore having a good imaging manipulation program that can optimize images for website use (resize/crop/ adjust/ optimize) is essential to help manipulate images direct from your camera before they are uploaded to your website.

Many aspects make up getting an image “just right” for the web, however these are too numerous to detail in this brief article. One aspect however that is often overlooked to help reduce the file is by adjusting the image resolution to 72dpi.

Again you’ll need to check the image properties in your imaging program and if the image shows a resolution of 200 or 300dpi then use the program to resize the image to 72dpi. To simplify ~ this will help to reduce the file size. For example a 200 x 200 pixels image at 72dpi, 150dpi, or 300dpi will all display exactly the same on the web, however the 72dpi file will be smaller in size and therefore load quicker!

If there’s anything you think we’ve missed that you want to know? Do you have anything to say about optimising images for SEO? Let us know by commenting below.


Web Redesign Melbourne & SEO Case Study

Web Redesign Melbourne & SEO Case Study

Client Background Information

CMD Bathroom Renovations and Plumbing Services are a bathroom renovation specialist situated in Melbourne’s Eastern suburbs. They initially engaged another Melbourne web designer to develop and build their website. Unfortunately after 7 months it was not finished to their satisfaction. Visually, content and navigation were poor. The site had no Google presence.

Website Before


What We Did To Rescue Them:

The first course of action was to gain a full understanding of their business and the type of clientele they wanted to attract by having a website, and their website objectives. It was immediately obvious the original site did not covey the right information, messages and imagery about what they offered, who they were targeting and the level of craftsmanship they produce when completing a bathroom renovation. The website needed a total overhaul!

Clark Marketing & Design had to work with the original website theme. All content and text was revised and implemented after important keyword research and competitor analysis was completed. Headline statements and text now showed what the site offered in less than three seconds. Hero Images showing the quality and craftsmanship of their bathroom renovations were added. Value content was added in the form of a frequently asked questions page, and elsewhere throughout the site. Easy navigation was incorporated and tailored to other key aspects of their business and their desired audience. A strong call to action on every page was paramount and consistent for when a prospective client needed to act. Finally close attention was paid to all Search Engine Optimisation factors.

The number one search that they wanted to aim for was a high ranking for the high volume key search term Bathroom Renovations Melbourne.

Results Website After:


Cleaner, content rich, highly search engine optimised website.

In the first month or so after launching the redesigned web site traffic began to increase steadily. For the client the phones began to ring and inquiries via email also increased. Clark Marketing & Design were reengaged to conduct on-going Search Engine Optimisation and web reviews. Within two months website traffic had increased nearly 9 fold with a significant number of hits, leads, quotes and jobs being secure daily.

Late in May 2013, the key search term Bathroom Renovations Melbourne, saw the new website achieve Google Page 1, Number 1 position ranking. Over the next few months a further 8 key search terms achieved Google Page 1, Number 1 position rankings!





See the website live here

or Google Bathroom Renovations Melbourne

What The Client Said:

“Wow! I just wanted to say that you have turned our business around! In 13 years of being in business, business has never been so good.!!! What you suggested and advised for the website has worked. The phones are running hot and what can I say, you have gone above and beyond what we expected – 8x GOOGLE PAGE 1 RANKINGS for all key search terms and phrases. Thank you so much!”


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