The Ever-shifting Sands of Google’s Search Engine Algorithms

Google chrome logoAs mentioned elsewhere around the web, it’s hard to effect a quick change in search engine results page (SERP) rankings. It’s a long-haul process that takes time. It’s less of a sprint and more of a marathon. Depending on the competition for a given search keyword (i.e. the keyword that one is attempting to rank for), it can be less of a marathon and more of an ultra-marathon relay across the contiguous United States.

The Challenge

There are a number of reasons why SEO takes time. There is the aforementioned search keyword competition, the hundreds of Google’s search engine ranking factors to operate around, and the ever-shifting landscape of Google’s perpetually updating search engine algorithms.

To complicate matters even more, Google often updates their search engine algorithms without the public’s knowledge. So, figuring out the ins and outs of Google algorithm updates is much like trying to play pin the tail on the donkey, only the donkey keeps metamorphosing into different types of animals (penguins and birds and bears–oh my!)

Fortunately, there are some great SEO thought leaders out there (Moz, Search Engine Land, Search Engine Watch) that are always on the lookouts for algorithm updates. However, even the knowledge of these great organizations is finite.

Are you starting to get a sense of challenging SEO can be?

A Case Study

The way that Google utilizes all of its search engine ranking factors is constantly in flux. One day backlinks (links on other sites that point to yours) may be the best way of getting your site up to the top of Page 1. So, you plan and execute a strategy to get as many sites possible linking to your site. Phew! What a lot of hard-work. But it looks like it’s paying off. Over time you see your site jumping from Page 5 to Page 3 to Page 2 to Page 1. Your strategy is working. Time to rest on them laurels.

Then the next day, you see that your site is on the bottom of Page 2. You think “HOW?!?” You check the latest developments on an  SEO news publication and discover that a new Google algorithm update suddenly makes backlinks passé and good content that is geared toward people (not search engines) the best tactic possible.

Fair enough.

You rehash your strategy and make sure that all of your content is as unique, authoritative, and user-friendly as can be. You crank out some great 1000-word content. You share it over social media, you get other sites to feature and reference it, you begin to see results. Again, your site seems to make its way to the top of Page 1. Success! Your strategy is working…

…Until you hear about a new Google update called Mobilegeddon that penalizes sites that are not mobile friendly. You notice your site had dropped in search results once again and you’ve become painfully aware of the site’s early 2000’s, static, and otherwise not-mobile-friendly design. Shoot.

The Take-away

So you see, Google’s algorithm updates make SEO a dynamic arena that constantly challenges the champions who enter it. SEO can be frustrating and it can be rewarding, but in the face of so many moving parts, one thing always holds true: it takes time.

The Periodic Table of SEO Factors

Alright. There’s something that’s been on my mind for a while now and I should probably just say it.

Okay.

Here it goes.

Deep breaths.

I LOVE SEARCHENGINELAND

Not only is this is a great site to follow the latest SEO news, they also provide some great resources for understanding how SEO works and strategizing SEO campaigns.

For a GREAT visual resource, check out their Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors.

Search Engine Land Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors

What is Online Reputation Management?

I help people manage their online reputations for a living.

But what does reputation management entail?

Well, in the case that you’ve already looked over the BrandYourself website and still feel like you’re missing something, this article from SearchEngineLand.com offers a great explanation.

In summary, online reputation management (ORM) is making sure that then when some searches a kewyord (your name or company), the results that pop-up are all relevant and supportive to your image. Of course, people are entitle to free speech, and so should and are able to say whatever they want about whoever they want on the internet. But just because someone is free to say whatever they want, that doesn’t mean that whatever they say needs to be at the top of search results. In fact, that can be downright injurious to someone’s online reputation. In the case of businesses, it can result in the loss of a lot of potential customers.

That’s where ORM comes in.

We work to push positive results (positives) to the top of search result lists and negative results (negatives) to the bottom. It’s impossible (without delving into hacking) to downright eliminate a search result, but you can effect it’s ranking on search result lists.

A few things you should know:

ORM is a marathon, not a sprint

It takes search engines (Google, Bing, etc.) a long time to update their results. Which is actually a good thing when you think about it. Otherwise, search results would be shifting everyday and it’d be impossible to effect any lasting change on keyword ranking. Specifically at BrandYourself, we usually yield optimal results around month 7 of campaigns. That may seem like a while, but every month before that is spent working hard and laying the framework so that month 7 can happen at all. Sometimes, it takes even longer than that.

You have to keep at it, to stay in shape

You could diet and exercise for a year, feel great and look great, but if at the end of the year you started to eat donuts for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert and the only exercise you did was light walking and heavy typing, then you’d end up losing the results you want. It’s the same thing with ORM. As mentioned above, it takes a lot of hard-work over a long period of time to yield results. Once you start getting results, you have to keep at it to maintain them. Google is constantly updating their search algorithms, web traffic is always shifting, and online properties need to stay fresh (keep updating) in order to look good in Google’s eye. That means that without persistence, negatives can go up in rankings and positives can unfortunately go down.

Celebrate

At least you know that if your online reputation is not how you want it to be, you can effect a change. That’s pretty empowering and pretty freaking cool.

 

Websites like brandyourself.com, searchengineland.com, and moz.com all offer great tips for managing your online reputation. If you’re curious, I highly recommend checking them out.

I hope this has been helpful in explaining a little more about what I do. Feel free to contact me if you have anymore questions.

 

Brandon