A lot of news has been made about Google's Panda algorithm update, which rolled out over the past 4 weeks, and which was designed to demerit sites with bad content links while restoring search results for sites that had seen serious traffic drop-offs in organic visitors to specific keywords since the first Panda release in 2015.
Even with official advice coming from Google, it's difficult for the typical marketing person to know what the SEO issues on their site that truly require attention and updating, and which are "bonus" elements. On top of that, the Google "ZOO" includes not just Panda, but also Penguin, which has been geared toward providing the most relevant and fresh content with visitors.
Here are the SEO components that most experts agree are being considered by (and rewarded by) Google's search updates:
The days of waiting weeks or months to see a page's content be reflected in updated search engine results are over. Google is now indexing content changes in real-time, so page rankings
Google says that its search analysis will now include not only page content and backlinks, but domains, sub-folders, keyword groups and content that refer to the page. In other words, all the elements that can contribute to (or detract from) a website’s organic rankings will be more thoroughly reviewed by Google and can be combined in Google's algorithm to create a more relevant search result.
Google's ranking adjustments mean that penalties will only be assessed to specific pages rather than the entire website. This is good news for companies that have a generally strong presence but have been demoted on certain keywords. The key for maximizing page-specific tagging is to be as descriptive and as unique as possible for each page. The more descriptive your tags, the more likely Google can match your page to search terms.
Regarding page tagging, we can safely say, as we have said all along, that the page title is the most important item in organic search. It should be concise and descriptive. Ditto for page description, an oft-overlooked element that is of equal important to the actual in-line content and should be populated at all times. SEO pros generally agree that the following 7 elements are the most important items in organic search optimization, in this order:
1. Title element
3. In-line content and page description
4. External anchors
5. Alt tags
6. URL (words in the URL)
7. Image name
8. Internal links