Keeping Up with Google’s Ever-Changing Algorithm

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A colleague recently showed me an excerpt from an SEO book written in 2011 (was that REALLY two years ago?!) and wanted to make sure it was still accurate for today’s search practices. You may be thinking that was ONLY two years ago, right? How much can things possibly change in such a brief period of time? You must be new here. Bless your heart.

Google essentially runs the search world. The behemoth search engine boasts around 67 percent of the core search market. By comparison, Google’s closest competitor, Microsoft Bing, claims only about 16 percent. When you control that much of the market, you get to make the rules. And you get to change the rules as often as 600 times per year.

So it’s not far-fetched to wonder if a two-year-old SEO text is obsolete, or even if a two-day-old text should be rewritten. To be an effective search marketer anymore, one must be nimble and alert, an advisor and ally for clients, while always keeping an eye on the maestro for sudden, potentially disruptive changes.

However, part of the text excerpt in question made me stop to appreciate the nature of my field:

“… the most effective way to continually generate high-quality inbound links is by publishing and sharing valuable content, including blog posts, videos, ebooks, and original reports. In other words, SEO requires copywriting and social media strategies in order to maximize its value.”

Roetzer, Paul. “The Marketing Agency Blueprint.” John Wiley & Sons, 2011-11-11. iBooks.

While there may be smaller changes made every day, the best way to build a durable and meaningful brand foundation on the web, as well as the overarching concept of great SEO hasn’t changed: develop relevant, meaningful content that is useful to others. Google updates its algorithm to stop black hat SEOs from gaming the system. Their mission is to help users find the valuable information they’re searching for—okay, and to make money doing it. The algorithm is key to organizing the massive inventory of information we generate and sorting it by what’s more useful than the rest.

When shoddy SEOs take advantage of the authority Google gives to pages stuffed with keywords, they adjust the algorithm to negate that effect. Same with taking advantage of links in blog comments, anchor text, page layout, and hidden text—cheap tricks won’t yield lasting results.

If SEO was a weight loss program, those tactics I just mentioned would be the “take this pill and lose 15 lbs. overnight!” options. Just like regular exercise and balanced nutrition are the only ways to maintain a healthy body, following best practices and generating valuable content is the best recipe to build a strong website that will rank well in search. And, just like weight loss, building your ability to rank in search is a slow and steady process.

Find an SEO who understands this and focus your efforts on providing something valuable that begs to be shared, instead of on how to game the search engine system week by week. This strategy, along with a healthy knack for rolling with the hundreds of punches Google throws your way, will serve your brand and bottom line well in the long run.

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