It seems like every time we go online, we see a bunch of new information about yet another Google SEO update that has changed the search engine optimization (SEO) landscape for good. Whether you’re a small business owner or an SEO guru, it can be taxing to say the least to keep up with all the nuances and shifting industry techniques. And that’s if you have the time to do the research.
What about those of us who are too busy to keep up with all the tweaks and overhauls? How do we find time to fit in the discovery and analysis of all this new SEO info, in order to keep our web presence up-to-date and operating with top efficiency?
Well, worry not! Here, we offer a handy guide on what you really need to know about the latest Google updates, as well as a little background on what’s gone on the past few years.
The Times They Are a Changin’
Most smart business owners know that remaining flexible and adaptable in today’s day and age is a great way to help ensure the longevity of their brand. If you expect everything to stay the same in business, you’ve got quite another thing coming! For example, in the last year alone, Google made an average of 500 adjustments to their search engine algorithm.
The vast majority of these adjustments were mere tweaks; nothing that made a significant difference to those in SEO. However, some of the changes over the last few years have had a serious impact on Google’s search engine, shifting the way the SEO industry works in more than one way.
Here are the top 5 things to note about Google updates:
- Panda Update (February 2011) – This was essentially the first of several MAJOR Google updates that have taken place over the last few years. When Google launched Panda, the overall effect was that their search engine algorithm began to favor websites with higher quality content, instead of “thin” or less valuable content. Websites with spammy links and those who used black hat SEO keyword practices suffered … A LOT.
- Hummingbird Update (September 2013) – Forget floating like a butterfly. This update stung like a bee for more than a few websites. Why? Well, Google self-admittedly rolled out the biggest update to their search engine algorithm since 2001 with Hummingbird. If you were already using ethical SEO practices (i.e., white hate SEO, which supports high quality web content), your search engine ranking shouldn’t have changed much, but if you were using dubious SEO practices, your ranking likely would have plummeted.
- SEO Isn’t Going Anywhere – After Hummingbird, some SEO marketers cried wolf, claiming that traditional SEO was disappearing altogether and warning the rest of us to make room for new types of online marketing. Well, that’s not really true. Smart business owners have stopped “chasing the algorithm,” yes, but SEO as a set of guidelines for best online marketing practices will never disappear.
- Content Marketing = SEO – If you use ethical SEO practices, you’ll realize you can’t have content marketing without SEO. High quality content is certainly king on the Internet, but without on-page SEO, for example (keyword research, title tags, site usability, etc.), you won’t get very far with that content, no matter how good it is. And without content, there’s nothing to optimize.
- Social Media is SWEET – How can you say no to free advertising? Well, you can’t. Or, at least, you shouldn’t. That’s what social media can offer you. Free marketing. And it’s got a faster payoff than simply adding content to your website. How’s that? Well, people can share high quality content much faster on social media than search engines can keep up with indexing new pages. That means, the awesome new blog article you uploaded can get a lot of traction if you share it on Google+, long before the Google spider has had a chance to actually crawl the page.
It Just Keeps Getting Better
When marketers think of Google updates, they should envision the Internet as a place that’s continuing to get better all the time. That’s what Google is trying to do by making updates to their algorithm. They are continuously trying to improve the quality of the results they return to their users, which puts more pressure on websites to deliver better content and use better ways to deliver that content to users.
Google will keep making updates well into the foreseeable future, and search engines will keep getting smarter.
So, websites will have to keep delivering better, higher quality content in more unique and appealing ways and employ good SEO tactics if they expect to keep up with search engine updates.
What else can you do to keep up with the evolving SEO landscape? Avoid advertising practices that could scare your customers away, like pop up ads or outdated information.
The last one can be tricky, especially if you’re using a blog to report on and keep up with changes to the SEO industry. However, it’s not impossible to get around this. Many websites will post updates when new information surfaces that is valuable to add to a blog post or web page.
Whatever you do, if you’re a small business owner or entrepreneur, just remember that SEO will never die.
It will always be around to some extent, and if you learn how to use SEO the right way for your website, you’ll go farther than you ever thought possible.
Kelly Lucia is the Lead Staff Writer at PostsbyGhost.com and a first hand contributor at ChamberofCommerce.com. When she’s not writing content in the form of blog articles and strategic website copy, she can be found working on SEO projects for large-scale Chicago clients, composing clever tweets and Facebook status updates, and even proofreading part-time for local advertising agencies.