Algorithms: keeping up with Google

Algorithms are continuously changing.

So when someone asks “How can I get my site to rank well” or some variation on this question there really is no good answer because the algorithms have various requirements. Sure back in the 1990’s it was pretty easy. You just picked your keywords and made sure they appeared on your home page “x” number of times and that you had actually inserted meta tags into the HTML mark up of your website.¬† Then you would ask a few dozen people to visit your a few times a day for the next few days after registering on Google. Then if you were lucky you were in the top fifty. But back in those days you only had to deal with one Google algorithm and it rarely ever changed.

Beginning in 2003 things would start to change.

Google has never been Search Engine Optimization (SEO) friendly. When you submit a site you actually agree to not engage in SEO practices. But we all know we are not going to sit and not attempt to rank well on Google. But this is one of the reasons that Google keeps tweaking it’s algorithm. Mid 2010 the Caffeine algorithm was introduced and it began continuously crawling and updating Google’s web index. So now if you requested a re-crawl of your site¬† you no longer knew when it would take place.

The Panda algorithm was added in early 2011 to combat advertisement heavy sites. A year later the Penguin algorithm is added into the mix. Penguin is aimed directly at keyword SEO and back links. Suddenly all of the old rules to up your site ranking are tossed aside in just fourteen months. So all anyone needs to figure out is what are the new SEO rules, right? By the time anyone could figure this out Google released Hummingbird in mid 2013. Hummingbird is a completely new core search algorithm.

Now we have three algorithms that are being updated every few months making it difficult to figure out how to tweak SEO to improve site ranking. Then Google drops one more algorithm into the mix. Mid 2014 Pigeon is introduced to handle local searches with it’s own ranking rules. Before things settle down in early 2015 Google decides that it will be mobile device friendly. So if your site meets mobile criteria your ranking with get a nice bump. 2016 sees the Possum algorithm added to handle Google’s “My Business” listings. This addition created major changes in site rankings.

All of these algorithms are updated multiple times daily according to Google.

Only major updates are actually announced. So with Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird, Pigeon, and Possum continuously being tweaked no one can truly know which algorithm changed or how it impacted your site ranking. Because even if you make changes to your web site there is no way to know when the Caffeine algorithm decides to take a fresh look at your site. Additionally each year the number of announced updates to any of Google’s algorithms increases. Typically only major ranking upsets tend to get noticed by the public.

So what can you do to rank well on Google?

Write your own content. Google loves original content so avoid copying from others. If you need to quote another source this fine just be certain to place it in quotation marks. It would also be a good idea to prove a link to the source you are quoting. Keywords are still important and your page or post title should contain your keyword. Headings are also important. Especially your first heading on the page which should contain your keyword.Don’t be verbose, instead get to the point.

Google wants to answer the readers question.

Focus on providing answers. Think up possible search questions for your keyword and provide answers to those questions.

These simple rules have always been a part of Google SEO and there is no reason for this to change. Yes, I could give you a list of mark up guidelines about how your page title should be in Heading one and then the first line should be in heading two. But “rules” such as suggested word count between headings are all a part of the endlessly changing Seo “rules”. By the time you could re-write all of the content on your site these “rules” would most likely have changed. So please do not wasted your time. Instead focus on creating your own unique content.

August 16, 2018

by Robert A. Ross