Tag Archives: search engine

Written by Sam Yadegar on Jan 10, 2022

Search engines like Google roll out algorithm updates approximately every day. These tips can help you be prepared.

Here, you’ll find:

  • How to keep track of core updates
  • Ways to prepare for an algorithm update
  • When to start panicking (spoiler: never)
  • Tips to bring your rankings back up

For search engines like Google, the ultimate goal is to help users through surfacing accurate query results. 

This process, which was started by matching key phrases to a search query, has turned into a plethora of complex algorithms. 

Google and other search engines (like Bing, DuckDuckGo, and Yandex) are always trying to enhance the user experience — and keep the latest black-hat techniques from skewing results. As a result, major algorithm updates can roll out multiple times a year. 

Minor updates happen more or less daily. Sometimes, these updates will be announced. Other times, they’ll be reported on by industry publications, but not officially confirmed.

The problem arises when a tweak in these algorithms causes your rankings to plummet out of nowhere. While it’s not possible to completely safeguard your rankings from being affected by future updates, you can prepare yourself for the changes and adjust tactics quickly.

Let’s take a closer look at how to prepare for algorithm updates, and what to do if they tank your rankings.

How to track algorithm updates   

Google reportedly updates its algorithm once or twice a day. While most of these changes are minor, core updates — the bigger, more involved updates — can have a significant impact on your rankings.

Often, websites will see dramatic fluctuations as an update rolls out, and rankings will go back to “normal” once the rollout is complete. 

One easy way to prepare for an update is to know about the changes in advance. Since these search engine companies don’t always offer a heads up, it’s worth taking note when they do, such as with the Core Web Vitals update.

Some ways to stay in the loop about major algorithm updates include:

  • Subscribe to reputable digital marketing news resources such as Moz and Search Engine Journal.
  • Set up Google alerts to monitor the key phrase “Google algorithm update” on Google Alerts and send mentions via email.
  • Read Google’s Search Central blog to find out about upcoming algorithm updates. It’s also an excellent source of other important SEO-related information.
  • Follow key players on Twitter such as Google Search Central, Search Advocate John Mueller, and Google’s Public Search Liaison Danny Sullivan. You can also follow hashtags such as #GoogleAlgorithm or #BingUpdate.

If you miss a warning about an algorithm update, you could end up blindsided by its effect on your website metrics. When you’re aware ahead of time, you can be better prepared for ranking fluctuations.

person's hand holding smartphone on google search app

If you want to try to prevent your rankings from taking a dive, take a look at your current SEO strategy. (Image via Unsplash)

How to prepare for new algorithm updates

The bad(ish) news: When Google offers a heads up about an impending update, it’s probably going to be significant. The good news: Getting notice ahead of time means you can prepare.

For example, Google announced its Core Web Vitals update about six months in advance, so marketers had the chance to test and tighten up their sites before the update officially rolled out.

Another reason not to panic is that, as Search Engine Land explains, if you’re following the best SEO and content practices, your rankings probably won’t permanently suffer from updates. In fact, it may be just the opposite — these updates could improve your position on the search engine results page (SERP).

If you want to try to prevent your rankings from taking a dive, take a look at your current SEO strategy. See how well they line up with Google’s general recommendations for update preparations. These include:

When a major update rolls out, your website’s rankings may experience a hiccup. But resist rushing into making serious changes to your content, website structure, or linking tactics. 

Most likely, your standard efforts will be sufficient to bring your rankings back to normal shortly.

Pro tip: Seeing website traffic drops that don’t appear to be algorithm related? HubSpot explains various ways to diagnose and fix traffic drops.

woman at computer frustrated holding her head in her hands

If you aren’t sure what caused your rankings to plummet, look for patterns. (Image via Unsplash)

What to do when algorithm updates tank your rankings

OK, worse-case scenario: An algorithm update does end up hurting your rankings substantially. There are ways to bounce back as soon as possible. Here are a few tactics to keep in mind.

1. Study the update

While the common purpose of all updates is the same (to improve the accuracy of results for a better user experience), each one addresses specific problems. 

If the search engine does decide to share extensive details, you can get the information from official resources. If not, you can review what other SEO experts have to say about the update.

Knowing which pain points are addressed or what types of sites have been affected can help you make targeted changes to your content. You may luck out and only need to make a few tweaks.

2. Check the patterns

If you aren’t sure what caused your rankings to plummet, look for patterns. 

Did only certain content types or formats experience the decline? Single out the pages that were affected the most and figure out what they have in common.

In Google Analytics, you can navigate to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages, set the period for the time when the update went into effect, and compare the data to previous periods.

3. Review old content

While your new SEO and content marketing tactics may be in tip-top shape, your old content may be inaccurate or outdated. That’s why we recommend conducting regular content audits to pinpoint which pieces, if any, need a revamp. 

Audits are a great time to check for things like duplicate articles, dead links, outdated data, and any black-hat tactics that need removing.

4. Conduct competitor analysis

If your rankings are dropping after an update, part of the reason could be that your pages are now being outdone by the competition. 

If it’s been a while since your last competitor analysis, a new algorithm update is a great time to revisit it. Not only can you see how and where they’re outranking you, but it may offer helpful inspiration for new things you can try (with your own unique twist, voice, and perspective, of course). 

5. Publish new content regularly

Valuable content is a key SEO pillar, and it’s a great way to work towards improving your rankings. 

If you already have excellent quality and value content practices in place, see how you can amp up promotion and even repurpose your most successful pieces.

For example, a popular blog post could become a webinar, or an exclusive data point could be built out into a social media post or even an infographic. 

The takeaway

While somewhat scary and unpredictable, algorithm updates have a noble goal in mind. What’s more, if you follow the best SEO and content practices, you shouldn’t feel their effects too drastically.

If you do see a rankings dip, hopefully you’ll feel prepared to find out what the update affected and how you can move forward to get your site back up where it belongs.

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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Written by Sam Yadegar on Aug 30, 2021

Google’s MUM update is a huge technological leap forward. But what tangible changes will we see, and what will it mean for marketers?

Here you’ll find:

  • An explanation of this new Google technology
  • The changes you can expect to see
  • How marketers will be affected by MUM
  • How to keep your site compatible

These days, when you type an inquiry into Google, chances are high that it’ll understand what you’re looking for and serve up the proper results. But as far as the search engine has come, it’s still not perfect.

That means queries still sometimes get misinterpreted, leading to unrelated results on the search engine results page, or SERP. Maybe you wanted facts about the song “Hotel California” but got results for the best hotels to stay at in California instead.

Thanks to Google’s new MUM update, these instances of the search engine not understanding search intent may continue to become even more rare. However, that’s not the only thing that will change, and marketers should know what to expect. 

Let’s go over this pending update, including what it is, what it does, and how your marketing efforts like search engine optimization (SEO) may be affected.  

What is the Google MUM update?

Google has been working on a new update to implement an artificial intelligence-based machine learning model that they call “Multitask Unified Model,” or MUM.

It’s such a huge advancement in search, AI, and machine learning technologies that it’s reportedly one thousand times more powerful than their previous BERT update released just two years prior. 

The goal is to make it easier for users to find answers to complex questions that can’t be resolved with Google’s standard couple-sentence summary snippet.

woman sitting outside with a laptop

MUM will allow Google to process your query, identify the full search intent, and source answers to each step of the problem. (Image via Pexels)

How will MUM affect Google Search?

According to the search engine itself, users currently need an average of eight search queries to accurately address complex, multi-step problems. MUM is meant to tackle them faster, easier, and more naturally. 

Responses will more closely resemble the answer a seasoned expert would give that addresses the intent of the question rather than just the individual words used. It does this by implementing a few key changes.

Fewer questions, better answers

Google’s new MUM model uses advanced language processing technology called a T5 text-to-text framework along with other state-of-the-art machine learning methods to better comprehend language. This allows it to understand complex questions more fully and provide nuanced, multi-step answers.  

They use the following scenario as an example:  

“You’ve hiked Mt. Adams. Now you want to hike Mt. Fuji next fall, and you want to know what to do differently to prepare.”

While this would typically require multiple searches for each difference (e.g., weather, elevation, difficulty, gear, etc.) MUM will allow Google to process your query, identify the full search intent, and source answers to each step of the problem. 

This way, they’ll be able to provide a comprehensive and useful response that includes all the info you’ll need.

A global source of information

It stands to reason that the most accurate and specific information about Mt. Fuji would likely be written in Japanese. However, Google traditionally only provides results written in the language used to perform the search. 

As you can imagine, this severely limits the results.  

MUM, on the other hand, can understand 75 different languages, allowing it to respond to a query in one language using information written in another. This basically gives you access to 75 times as much information as before.

Thinking outside the text box

Another big MUM advancement: being able to understand information presented in different forms. This includes images, videos, and audio. 

If you ask a question that was recently addressed in a podcast or YouTube video, you’d usually be out of luck. With MUM’s new capabilities, it can better understand the audio and provide that information in its response.  

Answering questions instead of matching keywords

As marketers are well aware, search relies on keywords to identify the most relevant results to a query. 

But just because a result contains the same keywords, that doesn’t necessarily guarantee it’s relevant to the question asked (as the scenario at the beginning of this article illustrates).

A better understanding of language and meaning allows Google to identify answers that genuinely match the searcher’s intent, even if none of the keywords used are present in the results. 

It will present information with a meaning that answers the question, not just ones containing the same phrases. It could even present subtopics for deeper research.  

robot and human hands reaching for each other

Google presenting information from sites in 75 different languages and translating them for users means we’ll all have more competition than ever before. (Image via Pexels)

What does the Google MUM update mean for marketers?

The answer to this question is complex. The nature of machine learning or AI technology means that it will, by definition, evolve over time. 

However, it’s possible that Google’s ability to aggregate information from multiple sources and provide a response will mean less traffic. If Google answers the query fully on the SERP, there’s less incentive to click, though users may still visit the page for context.

Many have speculated that this could eliminate the need for SEO altogether. But John Mueller, Google’s senior webmaster trends analyst, doesn’t see this as a realistic possibility. He believes that SEO will evolve, as it has for years, but it will always be needed. 

Marketers will likely adapt just fine, as we always have.  

Here’s what we know for sure: Google presenting information from sites in 75 different languages and translating them for users means we’ll all have more competition than ever before. On the plus side, it also means a wider potential audience.

Pro tip: The MUM update means you’ll be able to use non-text media like videos more often without a penalty. Once the changes take effect, you can slowly start implementing more types of media that have been traditionally barred from SEO benefits.  

Keeping your site compatible

There’s good news: You don’t need to do anything different right now to account for MUM.

As long as you create content with the intent of providing users the best information and most accurate answers possible, your materials are already optimized for the way MUM works. For now, especially since the rollout will be lengthy and could take years, nothing will change.   

The takeaway

This is yet another new and exciting shift in the world of search. It can also be scary, as the unknown often is. 

But you should take comfort in a few things. First, if you were optimizing correctly for the old system, your work is already done. Also, your reach and the kinds of content that can be useful for attracting organic traffic are about to grow significantly.

With an AI that understands your content as well as a human and without a need for keywords, there are fewer tricks others can use to gain favor. That means we’re all on a level playing field. 

As always, it’s best practice to create the most high-quality content you can. Beyond that, all our fates are in the hands of a higher power now — a thousand times higher, to be exact.

This is a complex topic. If you’d like help making sure your site is as optimized as possible before the changes take effect, let’s talk!

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

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Written by Sam Yadegar on Apr 21, 2021

Here’s how to improve your site and reach more of your target audience with Bing Webmaster Tools.

Here, you’ll find:

  • Why marketers should pay attention to Bing
  • What Bing Webmaster Tools are all about
  • Benefits of using Bing Webmaster Tools
  • How to get started with these tools

Living in Google’s shadow is tough. But while Microsoft’s search engine Bing may not pull quite the numbers that Google does, it’s still worth your attention as a digital marketer.

That’s because Bing attracts almost a billion unique monthly visitors itself. Meaning, it’s possible that a large segment of your target audience uses or has used Bing for searching. 

Bing Webmaster Tools is the search engine’s own version of Google Search Console. Armed with a user-friendly interface, the service allows you to manage your website, improve SEO efforts, and more.

girl in chair on computer

While Bing owns a little over 6% of the search engine market share, it’s still a powerful engine with high potential. (Image via Unsplash)

Why Bing can’t be ignored

In the race to win the top spots on Google’s result pages, many companies overlook the power of Bing. Here are a few points to consider when deciding whether to dig deeper into Bing and its Webmaster Tools:

  • Bing is the default search engine for all Microsoft devices (that’s more than a billion just for Windows 10).
  • Bing is behind voice searches by Cortana and Alexa.
  • They partner with smaller search engines like Yahoo, AOL, and DuckDuckGo.
  • Bing has highly optimized image and video search features that some say are better than Google’s.
  • The majority of Bing’s visitors are in the 45-54 age range, which allows you to reach certain parts of your audience that can be less accessible on Google.
  • Bing has a less expensive (about 30%) CPC than Google Ads.
  • More than 500,000 advertisers work with Bing.

While Bing owns a little over 6% of the search engine market share, it’s still a powerful engine with high potential.

What is Bing Webmaster Tools?

Bing Webmaster Tools is a free service that allows you to add your website to Bing’s crawlers to improve visibility and climb to the search engine’s top result pages. It also helps you manage your website’s presence and monitor its condition.

Webmaster Tools also lets you obtain and analyze important information about your website’s health and optimization. This includes:

  • Conducting keyword research
  • Receiving warnings about the safety of your website (e.g. malware, spam)
  • Figuring out how many webpages are indexed by Bing
  • Monitoring and analyzing your backlinks
  • Checking which keywords your website ranks for on Bing
  • Finding out how Bing crawls and indexes your website
  • Submitting new pages to be crawled
  • Removing content you don’t want to index with the Content Removal tool
  • Submitting sitemaps to Bing
  • Creating a customized crawling pattern (with the Crawl Control option)
  • Notifying Bing about low-quality links pointing to your website
  • Connecting the website to your corresponding social media accounts
  • Connecting your website to your app, if applicable
  • Analyzing your site’s efficiency on the search engine and specific pages to improve SEO performance

When it comes to SEO, it could be argued that Bing Webmaster Tools is more advanced in some ways than Google Search Console. You can perform a variety of SEO-related tasks without leaving the dashboard or relying on external tools.

bing webmaster tools dashboard

A look at the keyword research section of the Bing Webmaster Tools dashboard. (Image via Bing)

Key benefits of using Bing Webmaster Tools

Besides offering a comprehensive set of tools for website analysis and SEO, Bing Webmaster Tools come with a variety of other benefits for digital marketers.

A user-friendly interface

Bing has created a user-friendly all-encompassing dashboard that rivals (if not surpasses) Google’s. You can get a full view of all the necessary settings and parameters with just one glance. While seemingly a small benefit, this feature can save you a lot of time when looking for specific information.

High-quality reporting tools

Another time-saving feature offered by Bing is comprehensive reporting. Here’s a look at the reports offered by Bing.

  • Page traffic report: Page-level search performance metrics for the top pages in organic search
  • Site explorer: Information about the number of URLs discovered by Bing, URLs that appear on search results, and number of clicks received from search results
  • Keyword search report: List of keywords (from organic search) that drive impressions and clicks to your website
  • SEO reports: SEO analysis of your website and recommendations to improve search engine visibility
  • Mobile-friendliness report: A list of areas that need improvement to comply with Bing’s best mobile-friendliness practices
  • Crawl information report: An indication of crawl errors on your website

Bing Business Listings (Bing Places)

Bing Places is the search engine’s version of Google My Business. You can claim and manage your business listings directly from the Webmaster Tools dashboard. This simple shortcut can save you time spent managing listings and improves your local SEO efforts.

Pro tip: You can easily import your Google Search Console and Google My Business listings and profiles to set up Bing Webmaster Tools and Bing Places.

runner at starting line

Getting started with Bing Webmaster Tools is mostly intuitive, especially if you have experience with Google Search Console. (Image via Unsplash)

Getting started with Bing Webmaster Tools

Getting started with this service is easy. Just go to the Bing Webmasters homepage and click “get started.”  You can sign up using your existing Microsoft, Google, or Facebook account.

The first thing to do is submit your website’s URL to Bing. From there, you can verify the ownership of your website through one of the following options:

  • XML file authentication
  • Meta tag authentication
  • CNAME record via hosting provider

The instructions on how to do it will show up on the screen once you choose the method. When the verification is complete, you can upload your sitemaps and start using the service.

Getting started with Bing Webmaster Tools is mostly intuitive, especially if you have experience with Google Search Console.

The takeaway

Bing is the second-largest search engine in the world. Ignoring it could mean failing to reach certain segments of your target audience and falling behind the competition.

Bing Webmaster Tools is similar to Google Search Console and, in some ways, it’s better. Bing did an excellent job creating a comprehensive, user-friendly, report-filled service that allows you to manage your website and improve its visibility.

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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