Everything you need to know about Google algorithm updates

If you spend any time at all reading about SEO best practices, you have likely seen technology and web bloggers referring to one Google algorithm update or another. However, for those of us who are not Internet experts, all of this talk about algorithms can seem totally mystifying. If you’re wondering what it means for Google to change their search algorithms and how these changes affect you as a website owner, you’re not alone! We’ll do our best here to answer your questions.

Why does Google change their algorithm?

Google is, of course, the biggest, most widely used search engine on the planet. They have managed to gain this status because they have consistently returned the best, most relevant search results for their customers, search after search and year after year. They are able to do this because they are constantly updating their search algorithms, or to put it more clearly, they are always refining the criteria they use to choose which websites to display as the results of any given search.

The job of programmers who worked on search engines used to be easy – they mostly relied on website owners to tell them what their websites were about. Web designers communicated with search engines by using keywords. The search engine would remember these keywords, and then deliver a website when its keywords matched what a user searched for. This worked well enough until web designers realized they could trick search engines by filling their sites with irrelevant keywords in order to attract more traffic.

Since they can’t trust every website owner to be honest, search engine companies like Google developed programs that read the content of websites and decide for themselves what each site is about, and then use a variety of other criteria to determine which sites are more trustworthy and useful than others. This process is totally automated, and every search engine company has had to develop their own algorithms to do this work. Google has become the world’s dominant search engine company by developing the most effective algorithms and reliably providing Internet users with more useful and relevant search results. As a company, Google wants to make sure that they stay on top, so they are constantly updating their algorithm to refine the process and help provide better results.

How do Google algorithm changes affect my business?

These updates range from minor tweaks that most people won’t notice to huge sweeping changes that can have a major impact on websites’ search rankings, and your website ranking well in Google is the single most important factor in getting lots of visitors to your site. Since these changes can have such a huge impact, algorithm updates are big news in the Web world and SEO experts watch them carefully so they can make sure their clients’ sites stay optimized to continue ranking well under the new criteria.

What tends to worry small business owners is that immediately after a Google algorithm update, there is sometimes a huge shakeup in search results. It can be upsetting if your website has been near the top of the search results for a certain search term for months, and then you suddenly find yourself buried down on the 10th page. The thing to remember is that these setbacks are not permanent; a good analogy is a business with a storefront that is suddenly getting less foot traffic due to construction on the street outside. Business will pick up once the construction is done, and it may even be better than before if the construction has created more parking or made it easier for people to find the store. Since Google’s algorithm updates are designed to help searchers find more relevant results, that means that the people who visit your site after an update are usually more likely to actually be looking for your service than they were before.

And on the bright side, there are always things you can be doing to improve your page rank. Adding more good, search engine-friendly content, blogging, getting your business listed on trustworthy sites like Angie’s List or Yelp, and getting more customer reviews are all time-tested ways to help naturally improve your search ranking over time. And if you have purchased an SEO service, such as one that is offered through LinkNow Media, you can be confident that you have SEO experts working behind the scenes to help improve your site rank with every new update.

So, don’t panic if you see your website suddenly drop in the rankings after an algorithm update. Your SEO company probably already has a strategy to deal with the changes in Google’s algorithm and is working hard to make sure your site continues to rank well under the new rules. In fact, your SEO company is working all the time to adapt to smaller changes in Google algorithms and SEO practices that you have likely never noticed. For this reason, it’s a good idea for business owners to keep in contact with their SEO experts – checking in biannually or even quarterly will help ensure that nobody is taken by surprise, and you can feel confident that there is already a strong strategy in place for your online marketing.

In the end, Google delivering more relevant search results is better for everyone. It’s better for people who are searching the web, because they have an easier time finding the information they want. It’s better for Google, because it keeps the people using their site happy. And, finally, it’s better for business owners, because it makes it easier for potential customers who are looking for their services to find them.

Lauchlin MacDonald

Author: Lauchlin MacDonald

About Lauchlin MacDonald

Lauchlin is part of the content and marketing team at LinkNow Media. He has nearly a decade of experience in copywriting and editing, and spends way too much time on the Internet. He can be reached at lmacdonald@linknowmedia.com and @Lauchlin on Twitter.