Keeping up with Google's Algorithm Changes

Categories: SEO / SEM

The Google algorithm changes over the last few years have made many a business owner throw up his or her hands in despair. Just when you thought you'd mastered the science of ranking well in search engine results and drawing visitors to your website, the rules changed. It sometimes feels like you have to start all over again after one of these updates. Although these changes may seem overwhelming, savvy web marketers know that if you understand the history and trends, you are better able to anticipate where the future of search engine marketing is heading.

For legitimate websites, several of the Google changes have brought at least some good news. Quality content still reigns supreme and is likely to be rewarded over the long run. If you were finding yourself competing for page rank with link farms and sites with low-quality content, you might even have found your rankings improving in this brave new Google world. However, keeping in step with Google as it continues to change the shape of search marketing requires a little research and a little more finesse.

How do you build a sound SEO strategy that enables you to stay current with Google?

Keeping up with Google may sound a bit like herding cats, an impossible task. However, there are steps you can take to help you ride out the ebbs and flows of endless search engine updates. Below are just a few points to consider:

  1. Don't give up on quality. If all of Google's changes have one thing in common, it's that they seek to reward quality content. Gone are the days when data and site manipulation trumped good, interesting, and engaging content. Today, Google rewards sites that offer relevant , well-written, in-depth content.
  2. Limit your advertising. This may seem counter-intuitive, but reducing the number of ads you display on your web pages can actually earn you more money. Plus, a less-cluttered page improves user experience. Pages that were covered in ads, with very little content of substance, were some of the first casualties of the Panda/Penguin/Hummingbird restructuring. Instead of Google Adsense blocks, banner ads and block ads, opt for more subtle (and more appealing) textual ads.
  3. Take steps to reduce your dependence on Google.Take steps to reduce your dependence on Google. This is, admittedly, easier said than done (and isn't something you can achieve overnight). However, lessening the percentage of web visitors who find you via Google will lessen the impact any algorithm change has on your site and your revenue. In other words, ramp up your social marketing presence! Facebook has more than one billion registered users, but there are also more than 400 other social media sites, many of which serve smaller, niche markets. Other ways to draw visitors to your site without relying on Google include: posting product videos to YouTube or Vimeo, participating in relevant online discussion forums, and developing email and direct mail marketing campaigns.
  4. Reduce your bounce rate. It's a lot easier to get one person to view five pages on your website, than to entice five people to view one page each. By reducing your bounce rate (the rate at which site visitors leave your site) you'll do just that. Increase the time a visitor spends on your site by offering the best quality content possible - ensuring that your pages load quickly and don't contain irrelevant content or advertising. If you wouldn't want to see it or read it, don't put on your website.
  5. Embrace Google+. Admittedly, Google's foray into social media is a little clumsy and difficult to navigate. However, one ignores anything Google-related at one's own peril. Creating even just a basic Google+ profile offers a number of benefits. Case in point? Having a Google+ profile allows you to participate in Google Authorship, which creates more personal search results (those entries with the author's picture beside them).
  6. Be mobile friendly. The latest of the Google updates adapts search results to the capabilities of the device viewing the content. For example, if a person is searching the web on a smartphone that doesn't utilize Flash, Google will only return results that are viewable on that device. It's just one more reason to make sure that your content is easily viewable on all mobile devices.