As a Search Engine Optimization team, we spend most of our time improving a client’s profile so users can find it for specific keywords on search engines – and by search engines, we mean Google. As the default browser for most Internet users, Google controls the lion’s share of search traffic, about 90-93%, depending on who you ask.
So, we understand why when clients search for themselves or their ads and fail to find their website… they are concerned.
Incognito Mode and Search History
First, let’s discuss incognito mode and past search history. When you browse online and are signed-in to your Google account, your search history is considered. Even if you aren’t signed in, the browser still records the visited sites’ history. And – even if you search when you are in Chrome’s incognito mode – your search history still plays a part in what sites you are shown or what the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) display.
If you’ve searched for your business a dozen times (and you don’t click on your website link), Google will take this as a sign that your site wasn’t relevant to your search and show you other sites instead. Google’s mission is to provide its users with a positive experience, one that’s full of relevant searches and websites.
Next is the keyword search itself. If you type in a keyword that you think is relevant to your business and don’t show up… there could be many reasons. Keyword search volume and competition are two of those reasons. Using latent semantic indexing and keyword research, we can optimize a website’s content for dozens if not hundreds of keywords and phrases.
We also try to balance out the keywords in terms of search volume and competition. A highly relevant keyword for your business may have so much competition that your site won’t show up in the SERPs without a targeted campaign. Competitors play a considerable role in your website’s appearance. If you are a company whose competitors include major chain stores with a massive web presence, your search appearance may be more challenging to attain.
Over the past year, Google has made several changes to its algorithms to display relevant passages of page content. Passage ranking (as it’s referred to) analyzes a website’s long-form content for relevant content.
We encourage our clients to let us know which keywords they’d like to be found for. Our team can analyze their competition, search volume, and other factors to determine if the effort would be worthwhile or if different keywords make more sense to pursue.
Generally speaking, you should not see your Google Ads – on either the search or display network. Your IP address should be on a whitelist to ensure that you don’t accidentally click on your own ad and to prevent false impressions which can skew your ad metrics.
Sometimes IP addresses are not blocked due to the client request, or a business owner may have provided their office IP address but not their home Internet IP. You may also see your ads while browsing or playing games on your cell phone, as the IP address will change based on what wireless network you’re currently connected to.
Maps and Local Search
Business owners cannot underestimate the importance of Google Maps. The Google Local map pack shows the top-rated businesses in your immediate area that are similar to yours. So why are you not showing up on your area’s map?
If your Business Profile isn’t being managed and updated, that could be one significant reason why you aren’t showing up in the Map results. Your Google Business Profile is tied directly to your Map listing and displays relevant information to potential customers – including address, phone number, website, hours of operation, and more. If you are a doctor or medical facility, it will display your availability for telehealth appointments and other relevant information. You must keep this profile updated with all relevant information filled out.
Occasionally, even if all your information is correct and you have been regularly updating your customers about your business, your Map location still may not pop up. Google tries to interpret the information it has on you and provide you with map locations that it feels are relevant to you. So, if you repeatedly type in keywords relevant to your business without clicking on your business (thus telling Google that you aren’t a relevant result), you may not see yourself on the map.
There is one other thing to note about relevant searches during COVID-19. The ongoing pandemic has created a new reality for all of us. Google has responded in kind, changing how it shows search results, placing focus on helping people find updated medical information, and – at least in our opinion – manipulating search results when it comes to medical and health queries.
Since the pandemic began, we’ve noticed that medical practices and healthcare facilities are showing up with a notable prevalence… especially on Maps. Google has made several changes to medical Business Profile pages to help users find relevant information more easily. Highlighting medical profile pages and making them more visible is one way. So, if your office happens to be located in an area that predominantly houses medical offices or laboratories and you cannot figure out why your business may not be popping up in results, this could be the reason.
Algorithm Updates and Search Results
Constant Google updates can make keyword searches difficult for business owners to find their sites and confirm their visibility. Google giveth, and Google taketh away. As anyone in SEO knows, Google is frustratingly vague when announcing or confirming algorithm updates.
In the pre-pandemic past, core updates typically occurred twice a year with several other major algorithm updates dropping sporadically during the year. Each of these was a significant event. But since August 2020, Google has turned the search world upside down.
In the past 16 months, Google has released an unprecedented amount of algorithm updates. Beginning in August 2020 and every month since then, there have been at least 2 (and in most cases many more) updates to the search algorithm. Core updates have even been occurring in consecutive months (such as June and July 2021) … something that had never happened previously.
These algorithm updates mean that SERPs are changing on a near hourly basis. Google confirmed that in 2020, they made 12.5 changes to search each day, for a total of 4,500 changes. As a direct result of algorithm updates, we’ve seen websites lose 200+ places in Google’s keyword index one day and regain 300+ positions a few days later. Constant updates cause websites to gain and lose traffic, rise and fall in the rankings, and get penalized and recover all in days rather than months.
Trust Efferent Media with Your Organic Search
Ranking on Google can be difficult, but our SEO team has a proven track record for success. We help business owners navigate the sometimes muddy waters of organic search and create a steady influx of site visitors ready to become loyal customers. Our SEO team reviews Google traffic monitors every day and optimizes sites according to the latest best practices to stay ahead of the curve. If you want to turn your website into a valuable marketing asset, give the professionals at Efferent Media a call at (631) 867-0900.