To the digital marketing industry, Google algorithm updates have become a tense event akin to a political election or the choosing of the next pope. There is often black smoke, but with little to celebrate.
Because of bad practices within the SEO industry, Google has had to get tough with its algorithm changes in order to prevent black hat firms manipulating search results.
The release of Penguin and Panda had devastating results for many online businesses and ultimately tightened the rules of engagement for link building and publishing quality content.
Search engines have cleaned the quality of content up considerably over the last few years, but there are still cracks in the matrix. Which means, Google algorithms will continue to evolve and legislate how SEO should be practiced fairly.
Google’s next algorithm will focus on mobile-friendly websites. If your site does is not responsive on mobile handset sized screens, expect to fall down search engine standings.
Nate Dame writing for Search Engine Land expects the mobile-friendly update to be the most problematic this year, but goes on to add that Google is not finished targeting black hat practitioners.
The focus of search engines is to provide end users with the best user experience as possible, which means delivering the best content available that matches their search engine terms.
Google et al are therefore looking for high quality content that is well-researched, well-written and offers something of value to readers. User engagement will play a big role.
To keep up with algorithm changes therefore, it is imperative for content curators to build an online profile and establish yourself as an expert in your field.
Preparing for algorithm changes
Every once in a while, Google will announce major changes to their algorithm and give digital marketers some indication of what the changes relate to. But algorithm are updated much more regularly than Google tell us.
There is nothing digital marketers can do to legislate for changes, but it is possible to predict what changes Google are likely to make by understanding their goals and vision of what the internet should be: A source of quality information.
At present, you have to say that search engines and content curators are failing. Oftentimes, in my experience anyway, the quality of information matching my search terms is woeful.
Googles latest algorithm, Hummingbird, does not appear to work, simply because websites are not optimised for Googles sophisticated crawlers. New algorithms are still producing results based on old techniques.
Essentially, your website will rank better if it is optimised to meet the capabilities of search engine algorithms, which means using long tail keywords as opposed to individual keywords.
Search engines and content curators still have plenty of work to do before Google’s vision of the internet becomes a reality. Guidelines are in place for a reason, and digital marketers/online business owners are best advised to adhere to them, otherwise we can expect more devastating algorithms to come our way which ultimately makes SEO marketing a greater struggle for small businesses.