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How Google Algorithm Updates Help Small Business SEO


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Small Business SEO | SEO Agency Sydney | Google Supporting Small Business

Small business SEO relies on Google and its algorithmic trajectory. With 95% of Australians using Google to search the web, it’s a business goal of many small business to rank and rank well.  However, it’s a two way street. Small business can improve their SEO and increase their chances of ranking in search results, whilst Google’s updates continue to deliver value to the searcher and thus the relationship is created. 

The following lessons have been compiled as the ultimate guide for small business SEO campaigns to attract customers and generate leads. SEO Sydney explains how Google’s updates have put small businesses on the map, and what you as a business owner need to understand so that your website heads towards respect and credibility in the eyes of Google and its ever changing algorithm. 

Small Business SEO | SEO Agency Sydney How Google Updates Support Small Business

Google Hummingbird

Google Update:

Launched in 2013, Google Hummingbird serves to better understand the meaning behind search intent. Hummingbird was a major algorithmic update that deals with understanding search queries and providing search results that match search intent.

From this, Google has developed the ability to learn the language, accent and other patterns in the way one speaks and tailor such semantics to the wider contextual relevance of queries. Small business SEO benefits from Hummingbird through the increased focus on user-intent, weeding out the bigger businesses with the resources to outplay the game unethically. This creates opportunities for smaller business to reach customers in unique ways. Through using natural and conversational language that is familiar to the business and customer as well as optimising content for long-tail keywords.

Small Business SEO:

The challenge for small businesses is to devote the time and resources to keyword and content mapping. Setting up hierarchies and content silos can provide significant advantages. Understanding and proactively planning for the customer, their intent, and the likely informational content that would help customers is becoming more important and can unlock the potential for local SEO ranking.

MagnifyMoney ( demonstrates how Google’s Hummingbird update has devalued backlinks and supported small business SEO campaigns. Neil Patel analysed the search engine rankings for and found that it was the number two most successful website in the search engine rankings, by words ranked per page. Rather surprisingly, MagnifyMoney’s backlinks were tiny, with low ranks in trust and authority. It was found that despite competitors having twenty times the number of backlinks and higher trust and authority scores, due to the change in Google’s algorithm, MagnifyMoney outranks it.

Small Business SEO | SEO Agency Sydney | Google Hummingbird update really works for small business SEO

Small business SEO should include tailored content that has breadth and depth to appeal to search engine ranking factors that are important to Hummingbird, like user-intent and conversational language. In doing so they have the ability to outrank the big boys even with smaller link profiles!

Google Pigeon

Google Update: 

Released in 2014, Google Pigeon was arguably the most significant update to favour small businesses SEO campaigns. Google improved the quality of local search results, with location and distance taken into consideration while ranking the search results. Google My Business was released in 2014 along with the Google Pigeon update. Google “Pigeon” Updates Local Search Algorithm With Stronger Ties To Web Search Signal – Barry Schwartz, Search Engine Land, July 2014. It was a major update that Barry Schwartz says “improves their distance and location ranking parameters.”

Small Business SEO:

This is an absolute no-brainer for any small business SEO campaign hoping to establish a digital marketing strategy and be visible to customers. With Google My Business it is crucial to continually update information, to ensure consistency, relevance, and accuracy, which are three qualities Google ranks very highly. To avoid confusing Google, businesses should check there are no other listings using the same address; a concern highlighted by the Possum update.

To generate Google My Business make sure to follow these useful steps:

  • Include the correct and up-to-date name, address and phone number
  • Ensure the opening hours are correct and include other information such as payment types and parking locations
  • Provide as many photos of the business as possible (interior, exterior, at work, team, identity and street view)
  • Select the most appropriate category for your business
  • Ratings and reviews were the most prominent local SEO ranking factor in 2017. Small businesses should encourage customers to review their site to boost visibility and rankings. Notably, Google places more weight on what is being said in the reviews and considers whether keywords and/or locations are mentioned in reviews rather than mere quantity. Small businesses SEO need to ensure this process is as easy as possible for the customer.

For many local businesses, the introduction of map pack has greatly accelerated their local SEO as they rely on the crucial exposure gained from being in the 3 pack.

Local search queries have stronger buying intent compared to non-local ones, and therefore, it is crucial for local businesses to devote time and resources into having their geolocation on their site and geo-specific rank tracking. Local SEO link building should be leveraged through small businesses existing relationships, local sponsorships and local groups as this can build local relevance and citations, which Google gives strong weighting to.

Matt McGee from Search Engine Land reported in his early analysis of the impact of the Pigeon update that directories such as Yelp, Urbanspoon, TripAdvisor and OpenTable were seeing boosts in rankings for local search queries. He used a search for “Seattle restaurants” as an example, that showed individual restaurants listed in the carousel and nothing but well-known directories and some local directories in the organic listings. “On that search, outside of the carousel results, an individual restaurant doesn’t appear until page three,” he said. Matt further concluded that for “For [small, individual restaurants and hotels], local search has just gotten a lot more difficult”.

Google Hawk

Google Update:

Google initially filtered results to make sure a single business couldn’t dominate the results by having multiple listings, effectively kicking competitors off the page. However, this ultimately resulted in competitors who were close geographically kicked out of search results. Hawk has attempted to bring the size of the geographic area that controls the filter down, geared towards local businesses while delivering greater value to the searcher.  

There’s a lot more to local SEO than meets the eye. As seen through the evolution of Google’s updates, small business SEO has been handed more advantages over broad SEO; from Google My Business and the 3 Pack to local content and user intent. These have most certainly put small businesses on the map.

Small Business SEO | SEO Agency Sydney How Google My Business update supports small business

Small Business SEO:

According to SalesHub, the Hawk algorithm change was a strictly local search change and they witnessed one client significantly increase their local search rankings from the 1st Week September, with a spike of 14% in traffic from natural search as a result of the increase in rankings for the clients location pages.

Search Engine Land have provided an example of a business that was being tracked to see how it benefited from this update. Weber Orthodontics was filtered after the Possum algorithm update for the term “orthodontist wheaton”. This was because they had a competitor 100 meters down the street from where they were located. This competitor had a higher organic ranking and stronger relevance to that keyword, so were included in the results, and Weber was filtered out.

Small Business SEO | SEO Agency Sydney Google update supporting small business

As you can see from this before-and-after screenshot, local results have changed since the Hawk update; with small businesses such as Weber, who was once completely missing from the results, now included.

Google AMP

Google Update:

The number of mobile only users has skyrocketed to exceed desktop. As such, mobile optimisation is no longer an option, rather is a requirement for businesses. In 2016 Google announced their Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project. Poised to change the mobile web experience through enhanced page speed. While Google notes AMP is not an official ranking factor in search results, however there is a strong relationship between ranking and page speed. This update enables rich media objects like video and social posts and display advertising to be embedded. It is available through sites such as Wordpress and Google Analytics.

Small Business SEO:

A local insurance comparison website recently focused on improving their mobile experience. Their goal was to design a faster, friendlier, more responsive website. This included working on strategy, research, content, UI and UX.  The business launched the new site in April 2018. Thanks to AMP as well as the other site changes, the all-important conversion rate—the number of visitors who complete a green slip calculation—rose approximately 15 percent. AMP made the site up to 12 percent faster on mobile and as much as 40 percent faster on some devices.

If you want to learn more, or would like assistance in SEO for your business, check out SEO Sydney – the experts in all things SEO

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