Once you start poking around in the SEO space you will hear a lot of talk about Google algorithm updates. The first time a person tries to explain to you why a Penguin and a Panda have changed search engines in the past two years, you will probably be very confused. Have no fear. The following will give you a general understanding of algorithm updates, why they occur, and what the heck these animals are. Here we go.
Why all the change?
When some sales guy from a search marketing firm tells you that your website must be updated and maintained regularly to coincide with Google algorithm changes, he is actually not lying. Although, he is probably lying about something else, but I digress. Google has developed a very sophisticated algorithm for returning search results. The reason is very simple. Google made 55 billion dollars in 2013. Just over 90% of that revenue came from advertising revenue. Although Google has diversified immensely, the search engine is still the primary product, and the driving force of companywide revenue. Because of this, the number one priority is returning the absolute best search results. When a user finds what he/she needs immediately, that user returns to use Google again and again. The more searches, the more clicks on Ads. It’s quite simple.
Over time, businesses have adapted to the Google search algorithm. Being at the top of search results is prime marketing real estate. Webmasters and SEO companies found ways to game the system. This started with mass link building and continued over time with large quantities of poor content. The Google web spam team keeps its eyes on these practices and works to snuff them out over time. With the intention of returning quality search results to users. These algorithm changes significantly affect how websites are read and ranked. Each major update has been dubbed with a nickname of cute cuddly animals: Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird … however they are actually quite vicious to websites that are affected.
How do I avoid being struck by a Panda or a Penguin?
In reality, there are a lot of complexities to optimizing a website presence for search engines. However, the basics are really quite simple. In their simplest forms the algorithm updates are built to stop the following:
Penguin – Put an end to unnatural backlinks
Panda – Stop promoting sites with mass amounts of poor content
Both of these algorithm updates are simply filters that are placed on top of the search engine. If your website is picked on by one of these filters, than you are in for some trouble. If you pass the filters, you are home free. However, just because you have passed the test so far does not guarantee you will pass the next update. And yes, these filters really are updated almost monthly, with large changes occurring every 6-12 months.
Focus on this: Great design, simplicity for users, proper set-up, and quality content. If a website is built correctly, and corners are not cut, than there should be no issue. Sure, there are some outliers. A handful of websites have been hit unnecessarily, but these are usually able to bounce back. Focus on creating a great experience for your customers and combine that with intriguing content. Most of all, don’t try to cut corners.