Buffy: A Minor Update With Major Effects

The June 2007 update was named Buffy in honor of Vanessa Fox, a former Google employee, who was reportedly an expert on the TV series “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” She was the product manager for Google Webmaster Central who went on to become the product team lead at Zillow. During her time with the search engine, Fox was responsible for the help center, designing features for webmasters, and writing about search on the company’s blog.

What’s It For

Buffy was described as a minor update. It was believed to be an accumulation of smaller changes in the algorithm. It came a long time after the Jagger and Big Daddy updates back in 2005 which targeted low-quality links and improved URL infrastructure through canonicalization.

What Were Its Effects

While Buffy was deemed as a minor update, its effects were significant enough to warrant outcries in webmaster forums. With this patch, webmasters reported considerable changes in the single word search results. Some were fortunate enough to move up the SERPs with traffic for others doubling at the time of the launch. However, there were those who were in the top results but lost their position for the same keywords.

What It Means for You

With the saturated Google index nowadays, you can no longer rely on generic keywords alone to rank your website. You need to focus on long-tail keywords which consist of three or four search terms that are specific for your brand. Today’s users know that they should be precise in their query to help the search engine pull up the right information that’ll provide them with valuable knowledge and insight.

To come up with keywords for your brand, you’ve got to put yourself in the shoes of your target audience. Aside from that, here are other ways to ensure that your long-tail keywords generate lots of traffic:

Do Your Research

Researching for long-tail keywords involve turning to Google, stalking your competitors, and being active in forums in your niche. Other ways are to use keyword research tools such as Answer The Public, Google Correlate, and Google Search Console.

Here’s an in-depth look at these techniques:

  • Google Autocomplete – The most straightforward way, by far, is to take advantage of this feature which suggests keywords based on the initial search terms you typed.
  • Related Searches – Another helpful feature from the search engine is its related searches and “People Also Ask” boxes at the bottom and middle of SERPs, respectively. These display what users are typically asking and how they’re phrasing their questions.
  • Competitor Checks – You can stalk your competitors’ websites and see what keywords they’re using. You can use tools like Site Explorer by Ahrefs.
  • Forums and Boards – Joining forums in your niche allows you to discover buzzwords. It gives you an idea about what your target audience is interested in and how you can cater to them with their preferences.
  • Answer The Public – This keyword research tool highlights question-focused keywords. You just need to type in a broad keyword for your brand and get questions about the topic.
  • Google Correlate – This one, on the other hand, reveals correlated keywords for the search terms you have. It’s ideal for finding more keywords when you’re stuck with your list. Aside from giving you related words and phrases for your brand, the tool also provides you with the level of correlation to give you an idea of the strength of association between the two terms.
  • Google Search Console – Google Search Console has a performance report feature that informs you about the keywords you’re ranking for even the ones that you aren’t optimizing for. It’s a goldmine of SEO information. Take a look at your list and see how you can continue to boost visibility and reach for those particular search terms.
  • Evaluate the Main Search Term If, for example, you’re interested in ranking your dietary supplements website and you have “how to lose weight” as your long-tail keyword, its main search term would be “lose weight.” You need to measure whether lots of users look for this term to determine if longer variations would work to your advantage.
  • Try Being More Specific You can rank for even more specific topical long-tail keywords which are deemed by some SEO experts as stand-alone subjects. Technically, they don’t have a broader topic. You can pinpoint this type of long-tail keywords when they come up with highly-focused articles in Google’s top ranking pages instead of generic ones. These are easier to rank for since very few would write about these obscure topics.