Mastering your web presence is more than shooting out dope Facebook ads, Twitter burns, and having a gorgeous website. It doesn’t matter how great your website looks if it never gets visitors and the majority of web traffic relies on search engines to send guests your way. Understanding how search engines, in particular Google, work is critical then to ensure you’re getting your best shot. One of the biggest pieces of the Google puzzle is the almighty algorithm, (oOoOoOooOoo!). Here’s what that is, why it’s important to know, and how to make it work for you.
While Google may be the name for the whole company, when people are using it they are most commonly referring to the search engine portion over at Google.com
Let’s be even clearer: Google is both a noun and a verb. Google the company, and Google the act of searching.
The way the search engine works, what it prioritizes, what it values, the rules it operates under, are what’s known as the algorithm. This algorithm isn’t stagnant. No, Google didn’t simply set it and forget it when they built their search engine so there are updates to be made to keep improving the service.
Google algorithm updates constantly happen behind the scenes. As the world and the web grow and evolve, Google is always under the hood, tinkering with the parts to make sure their product (and make no mistake, that’s what the Google search engine is their product) is delivering exactly as they want it to.
Now, ‘as they want it to’ might scare you if you think Google is up to some nefarious things with their search engines, but the truth is what Google wants is to serve searchers with the best info, sites, products. Whatever the searcher is looking for, Google wants them to be able to find the exact right thing through their search engine. It’s what keeps people consistently using their service and not moving to any of the other search engines out there.
Google lays out their approach here:
“We know people rely on us so our commitment will never waver. As technology evolves, we will continue to help everyone find the information they’re looking for. We believe Search should:
Now back to algorithm updates.
This constant tinkering changes the algorithm or the rules that the search engine operates under. Every year dozens of tiny, often unnoticeable changes roll out and improve user experiences but occasionally they make sweeping changes, with some websites falling drastically and others getting a sudden boost to their rankings. Google isn’t too open about what these updates and changes are, lest they give the sites being penalized an easy guide to working around them. Instead, it’s up to industry professionals to decode the changes and see what was affected, what wasn’t, and how to course-correct.
The most recent confirmed algorithm update hit in May, when Google announced their “May 2020 Core Update”
As you can see, Google doesn’t provide much info about what they did. Just that the update was beginning, it was in the process, and then it was completed. If Google keeps it this close to the vest when they do broad core updates, it should come as no surprise that there are smaller, unmentioned updates happening all the time.
Well, okay you can’t. The algorithm updates are going to make changes and though plenty of business and sites have had a surprise boost in rankings thanks to a new update, it’s safer to assume they’ll do harm rather than good
Look back at that May 4th tweet, you’ll see in the first message that Google included a link to their blog on what webmasters should know about changes, and to this day that advice stands. Create fresh, rich, original content that serves your audience. But there’s always more to it than that. When the 2018 “Medic” update rolled out, it was targeting more than just websites with stale or unoriginal content, it seemed to disproportionately hit sites in the health and wellness vertical. Things that had been best practice came crumbling down and it took many sites months to regain their placements (if they ever did at all).
The only way to leverage a tool is to know how to use it.
Understanding that difficulty, the challenge, and the practices to follow while having the agility to react dynamically is critical to mastering your SEO. Look to tools like Google’s own Search Console Help. While the algorithm updates and functions might be a little opaque, Google provides a wealth of info to understand how their tools work, basic functions, terminology, and some standard best practices. Remember, when we talked about Google’s approach? One of their key tenets is to help creators succeed online. That’s where Search Console Help comes in.
For most businesses that can be too much to handle on top of managing employees, sourcing materials and product, providing services, and everything else that running a business entails. That’s why you call Helix House. Our team has the experience, the foresight, and the mobility to get you to the top of Google’s rankings and keep you there.