How to Keep Up-to-date as an SEO Specialist

Search engine optimisation isn’t an easy gig. It’s not just that SEO services are constantly evolving, so too is the landscape which an SEO specialist is forced to navigate.

We’ve all panicked in terror at the thought of mobilegeddon, or trembled in fear at whispered stories from Google of changes to how page speed will impact mobile search rankings. The reality is that SEO is driven by best-practice understanding of an operating environment in which the big players like Google hold the cards. Thankfully, with extensive experience, and a very collaborative community, we can work to deliver the best possible solutions for our clients.

In the spirit of this fine community of collaboration, we’re going to explore some crucial understanding and essential resources to keep you informed and up-to-date with your SEO knowledge.

We speak Google

First and foremost, let’s deal with the elephant in the room. We talk about Google a great deal when we discuss SEO. The observant amongst you will be quick to point out there are a number of other search engines out there. You’re right.

The fact is though that Google has a dominant position globally, and by some measures as much as ~97% market share in Malaysia. Sure, Baidu is the King of China, but unless you’re directly and exclusively marketing to China, Google is almost certainly where it’s at.

So when we talk SEO, we’re talking Google. Sorry Bing! Don’t worry though, the major search engines aren’t so radically different that optimising for one will mean you’re un-optimised for another.

Now that’s done with, let’s look at where Google has made big changes with a big impact, and what that impact has meant.

Important Google Updates

There’s a whole, strange and confusing world of Google updates out there. It would be impossible to list every single one, so here are 8 important Google updates to always keep in mind as an SEO professional.

  • Panda, 24th February 2011: Designed to identify and down-rank duplicated, copied or plagiarised content while tackling the terror of keyword-stuffing.
  • Penguin, 24th April 2012: Addressing bad link-building practice to downgrade sites which previously benefited from manipulative or low value links.
  • Hummingbird, 22nd August 2013: Further evolution to address keyword-stuffing and poor quality content to offer search query results that present high-quality and relevant answers.
  • Pigeon, 24th July 2014: An algorithm update designed to improve local searches, helping better deliver relevant, local answers to searcher queries.
  • Mobile, 21st April 2015: Oft-cited ‘mobilegeddon’ designed to ensure mobile-friendly search results display prominently in mobile searches, down-ranking those not mobile-friendly.
  • RankBrain, 26th October 2015: A transformation of the Hummingbird update, designed to further enhance high-quality content and better understand query-specific ranking factors.
  • Possum, 1st September 2016: An unconfirmed but often referenced shake-up of local searches to make competing for local results more relevant and competitive.
  • Fred, 8th March 2017: A series of updates designed to downgrade ranking of websites that fail to meet Google Webmaster Guidelines.

Where can I keep up-to-date with updates?

You can see the challenge here. Even the updates we do have confirmed are shrouded by a strange digital-mystery. Google doesn’t just roll out big updates with lots of fanfare. It’s constantly tweaking and adapting its algorithms and methods to improve the results it’s feeding users.

So what’s an SEO specialist to do? Here are some key resources to help you stay informed.

  • Google Webmaster BlogThe official Google Webmaster Blog is your first port of call to explore upcoming changes and confirmed updates.
  • MOZ Google UpdatesGoogle doesn’t always reveal information on updates, so a great place to find out about the ones with impact is Moz’s history of Google algorithm changes.
  • Search Engine Land – Google Algorithm Updates Search Engine Land offers some great insight with news and discussion about updates in their Google Algorithm Updates section.

Resources to keep your SEO knowledge fresh

It’s all well and good keeping your finger on the pulse, but best-practice is also about knowing how to react. A great deal of that is down to experience, but even the bright star in the SEO sky is going to have trouble understanding every nuance of this complex landscape. These 3 essential resources should shine a light in the darkness

Moz BlogThe team at Moz might well offer the go-to resource for SEO best-practice. Their blog not only takes the best of their own learnings, but curates expert insight from around the globe on topics as diverse as optimised content to detailed back-end technical analysis.

Search Engine LandAnother huge and valuable resource for curated industry knowldge, Search Engine Land provides easily-referenced categories that offer insight into the broad range of search engine optimisation techniques.

Search Engine Journal –  Much like their similarly-named peer, Search Engine Journal explores a wide range of SEO best-practice and industry insight through expert opinion and detailed studies.

There’s a lot to keep up with when it comes to SEO. The resources above provide a helpful go-to guide for all those niggling questions and optimisation fears. The important thing to remember is that in a landscape that’s constantly evolving, working to maintain your own understanding is essential to keeping up. That’s how as an SEO specialist can deliver the best possible search engine optimisation for their clients.

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