Google has announced that it is implementing a major change to its core search algorithm. These changes could affect result rankings for up to one in 10 queries. If your resort business is dependent on being found by search engine results, this is could have a huge impact on your business. Imagine seeing a drop in your inbound traffic, sales and revenue by 10 per cent?
Inc. editor Jeff Haden explains: “In the past, Google's algorithm treated a search sentence as a "bag of words." It picked out what it considered to be the important words--in "who is a great keynote speaker," clearly "keynote" and "speaker" are more important than "is" and "a." But doing so eliminates context from a search sentence's intent.
With the old algorithm, if you entered the search sentence: “Can you get medicine for someone pharmacy? it picked out the words "medicine" and "pharmacy”. Google then displayed local results believing you are looking for a nearby drugstore. And you would get frustrated and search again, as this is not what you were looking for.
Google's new algorithm notices "for someone" and determines you're looking for information about whether you're allowed to pick up someone else's prescription for them. And displays very different search results which answer your query.
The new algorithm is based on something called BERT, or "bidirectional encoder representations from transformers." Google said BERT helps better understand the nuances and context of words in searches and better matches those queries with more relevant results.
In non-techie terms, BERT is a tool that helps optimise natural language processing by using A.I. and a massive data set to deliver better contextual results. Or even more simply, Google now better understands what you're looking for when you enter a search query.
In another example Google shared: "Parking on a hill with no curb." The old algorithm discarded "no," delivering results that reference how to park on a hill with curbs. The new algorithm realises "no" matters and delivers a top result showing how to park uphill or downhill with no curb.
And one more example: "2019 brazil traveler to usa need a visa." Old Google ignored "to" and returned results on U.S. citizens traveling to Brazil. But "to" clearly matters, and BERT picks up the difference, returning results for Brazilian travellers to the U.S.
With these changes it is only some search queries that will be affected. How the algorithm works is still something of a mystery, even to the most dedicated SEO professionals (although we are able to help with that).
So, if your site suddenly ranks lower for certain search terms, BERT might be to blame.
Either way, according to Pandu Nayak, Google VP of research: "This is the single biggest ... most positive change we've had in the last five years and perhaps one of the biggest since the beginning."
What can you do? Well, it is worthwhile spending time watching your search rankings and analysing your keyword context, especially if you try to rank well for longer-tail keyword strings. And if your search traffic remains stable but conversion rates dip, that's a sign at least portion of the traffic you receive isn't interested in what you provide.
Haden believes it's likely to be impossible to truly optimise for BERT, so make sure you create content for people, not search engines.
BERT is just another step in Google's effort to understand what people want when they search. The more you deliver what people want, the more value you give, the more likely you are to rank high in search results.
First of all, make sure your account security settings are correct. Then follow our top tips for email security.
1. Have a back-up email addresses
Common sense dictates that if one eMail account fails, you need a back-up address. A minimum of 2 addresses is strongly recommended.
One or more business address and one or more personal addresses is an ideal option to separate sensitive accounts from more general use; subscriptions, event registrations, downloads, surveys etc.
As always, for each account use a unique password and follow password best practice.
2. Password best practice
Too many people use the same password over and over again. An ideal password is unique and regularly changed. Consider the use of non-dictionary words, numbers, hashtags, characters and don’t make it easy.
Never use birthdays or other dates you freely promote on your social media channels! When you make your range of passwords as difficult as possible, you may need to employ a password manager.
Consider, two-factor authentication – as much is takes a little more time and slight inconvenience.
3. Don’t forget in this mobile world, your smartphone may be the first line of attack
Your smartphone must have a password code or fingerprint access. Weak smartphone security can be an open door to your otherwise well protected laptop, desktop and network devices.
4. Your email account may be safe but ……
Wherever possible, do not use public devices to access your email.
5. Information is considered private for a reason!
6. Free public Wi-Fi may be a security free for all
If you really have to use free wi-fi – do not login to your email account and certainly do not login to any bank or online transaction website!
7. Scammers also love phishing
Your email account will no doubt have received one of those messages. They have evolved from Nigerian princes with millions of dollars to some very clever techniques designed to fool even the most intelligent of targets.
Stick to the tried and tested safety rules:
8. Do the work – do the updates
First line of defence – make sure you keep your software up-to-date. A few seconds or minutes may save hours, days or months of hassle. Consider a good, reliable, real-time anti-virus and back-up your data and conduct regular scans.
And remember, if you have an attitude that it can never happen to you, it can and probably will – unless your assess your risk and take preventative action.
To find out more how EVC Marketing can help you with our cyber security services, contact us today.
It's Cyber Security Awareness Month. So what, you might be thinking?
Well, what if we told you that, according to private Internet Service Provider Beaming, in the second quarter of 2019, businesses in the UK faced an average of 146,491 attempted cyber attacks? That equates to one attack every 50 seconds. The figure is a significant increase of 179 per cent from 2018, in which businesses had faced 52,596 attacks on average.
Sonia Blizzard, managing director of Beaming commented: “The rate at which UK businesses are attacked online has soared over the last year and companies large and small are under sustained attack from hackers around the world.”
And all businesses are under attack. Most attacks are indiscriminate, with malicious code trawling the web exploiting any weak points in cybersecurity systems. A single breach can be catastrophic.
The Federation of Small Business says that victims are most frequently subject to phishing attempts, with 530,000 small firms suffering from such an attack over the past two years.
Hundreds of thousands of businesses also report incidences of malware (374,000), fraudulent payment requests (301,000) and ransom-ware (260,000).
How can this be tackled?
-Of course, there are many who believe that government can, and should, do more. There should be a focus on enhancing the current policing response, including investing more in cyber up-skilling for police personnel as part of its wider recruitment push.
Software developers also have a role to play by adding automatic patching and updates to be the default option for all software products.
And the banks need to build in greater resilience into banking and payments systems, and made liable for the losses of business – not just the consumer.
What can small business do?
Here are some tips that all small businesses should follow, as recommended by the National Cyber Security Centre and FSB Cyber Protection advice line:
How EVC Marketing can help
To celebrate Cyber Security Awareness Month, we will be posting a top tip every morning on our Facebook page. So pop over and follow our page today (make sure you click See First).
We will also have a follow up article on email security which is where small business is particularly vulnerable. We'll post a link to that on our Facebook page as well.
Finally, EVC Marketing has teamed up with professional cyber security technicians and engineers who can provide a range of consultancy services including:
If you have a cybersecurity requirement, or would like to arrange an assessment, then contact us today. It really is better to be safe, than sorry.