If you’ve ever lost rankings or organic traffic as the result of a Google update (and if you’ve been practicing SEO for longer than a few years, you probably have), you probably have an understandably negative association with search engine algorithm updates. Even if you’ve never been significantly affected by such an update, you’ve read the horror stories, and you know the potential turbulence that Google updates like Panda, Penguin, and Pigeon can cause.
Google, of course, claims that these updates are beneficial for the searcher—their end goal is providing the best possible experience to the hundreds of millions of people who use their search engine on a daily basis. But what about the business owners whose sites suddenly lose visibility as the result of an algorithm update?
The truth is, even if you have occasionally faced setbacks, Google’s algorithm updates have been great for business owners—especially small business owners, and for more than one reason. Here are seven.
1. People Are Getting What They’re Looking For. The refinements to Google’s algorithm are not random. They’re meticulously researched and crafted to ensure that users are getting the results they’re actually looking for. The most notable update to this end, Hummingbird in 2013, introduced a then-new concept known as semantic search, which analyzes user queries and finds the best results for them rather than hunting for keywords on a one-to-one search basis.
To the business owner looking to maximize their potential traffic stream, that may not seem like much. However, if 1,000 uninterested visitors are coming to your site every day, you still won’t be making as much money as you would if 15 highly interested visitors were coming. Google is refining search results so that more searchers are getting what they’re actually searching for. There’s a chance that you’ll see less traffic as a result of this, but the traffic you do get will be far more interested in what you’re selling, and as such, more likely to convert.
2. Great Businesses Are Rewarded. Ranking is no longer just about featuring the highest volume of potential keywords. Google understands that people want to find great businesses—ones that have a commitment to their customers—and as a result, the search engine favors businesses with an evident history of customer satisfaction.
Local review and directory sites like Yelp provide the greatest foundation for this assessment. The more positive reviews you have for your business, scattered throughout the web, the higher you’re going to rank. This is great for business owners, because instead of squandering time trying to stuff keywords into onsite and offsite content posts, they can simply improve their business from the ground up and see the benefits in search results. The level of satisfaction you provide to your real-life customers now has a substantial impact on how easily new customers can find you—and that impact is likely to grow with new Google updates.
3. Google Wants to Get to Know You. Imagine you’re dating, and you’re trying to present your best self. If you fill out a questionnaire, providing answers to 10 yes-or-no questions, and silently handing the form to a potential date, you won’t present yourself nearly as dynamically as you would by having a personal conversation. That’s because mathematical, logical answers don’t provide the full portrait of who you are as a person. Similarly, the mathematical elements of your online presence—such as keyword density and link profile—can’t possibly present the full spectrum of your business.
Google’s updates, particularly the ones based on content and semantic search, are partially intended to improve the way it views and analyzes businesses. That means, with every update, Google gets to know your business a little better, and you’ll show up in more specifically relevant searches as a result.
4. SEO Is No Longer a Matter of Who Has the Greatest Budget. There was a time when quantity and volume meant everything in the SEO world. Whoever had the greatest number of keywords on their site and the greatest number of links pointing back to them would easily rank first for a given query. That meant whoever had the greatest budget could easily rank first for any keyword they wanted. Even in the early stages of Google’s refinement, the companies with the greatest budget, who could produce the greatest amount of content and offsite posts, would easily outrank those with a lower budget.
Today, thanks to Google’s ongoing efforts to cease this trend, this is no longer the case. Even businesses with a lower budget can rank—as long as they follow best practices and maintain themselves as a high-quality business.
5. The Playing Field Is Leveling. Let’s imagine, for a moment, that Google rarely made substantial changes to its ranking algorithm. The gigantic corporations, who have been optimizing their sites for more than a decade, would have more than 10 years’ worth of experience backing their position at the top of the SERPs. As a result, there’s almost nothing a startup could do to make that landmark corporation budge.
Recent updates have proven that those sacred positions are no longer carved in stone. Smaller, nimbler companies can disrupt those positions by being more relevant for specific inquiries or by improving their reputation.
6. Spam Is Dead. Okay, if you checked your email inbox this morning you know that spam is most certainly not dead. But in the context of SEO, it’s definitely dying. Google has taken a firm stance against any practices that provide a negative online experience to users, including backlinks that make no sense in context, and fluffy articles that don’t deliver any valuable content.
This massive cleanup of the web can only be a good thing for businesses. Users are less annoyed and more comfortable with the online experience, giving them greater trust in Google’s results and making you look like a better business by default. As long as you aren’t engaging in spam-based practices (which you shouldn’t be), you’ll be actively participating in making the web a better place for everybody—businesses and users.
7. SEO Is Actually Getting Simpler. While each Google update might seem like it adds another unnecessary layer of complexity to the already-complex Google algorithm, the reality of the situation is that SEO is getting simpler with each update. Numeric and structural strategies, like posting a certain number of backlinks or using a specific number of keywords in a specific pattern, have all but become obsolete in favor of much easier strategies—write things people want to read and get involved on your industry forums.
As Google continues rolling out new updates that improve its algorithm, you can expect the ranking process to become even more basic. While it still takes a great deal of effort to rank well, the processes to rank have become much more intuitive and much more human.
The next time you catch wind of a new Google update on the horizon, don’t panic—breathe a sigh of relief. The harder Google works to refine its algorithm and perfect its process of connecting searchers to their ideal destinations, the more you stand to benefit in the long run. Maintain your focus on giving your users the best possible online experience, and you can’t lose.
Recommended article: Chomsky: We Are All – Fill in the Blank.
This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service – if this is your content and you’re reading it on someone else’s site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.
Powered by WPeMatico