Search engines are like everything else on the Internet, they are constantly changing. As a website owner, it can be frustrating that the primary channel for new customers is always changing the rules on you. Just when you think you have it figured out, they go and change things.
Google has been releasing major changes to its algorithm (The insanely complicated formula that determines which sites are #1 and which are not!) at least once a year for as long as Google has been Google. Sometimes it causes a mere ripple in the SEO world, and sometimes it causes a huge splash. Keeping up with all the changes can drive a reasonable webmaster off the deep end.
The secret is not keeping up, but staying ahead. Now you might ask “How can I stay ahead when I have no clue what they will do next?” Good question.
First of all, Google does give out clues about what they will do next. If you want to be ‘in the know,’ stay up on Google’s blog posts. Keep your ear to the SEO ground and you will find that Google discusses the things that are bothering them for months if not years before they make a major change to fix it.
Second, Google doesn’t make these changes just to make our lives harder (no matter how much it seems like they do), they make these changes to improve their search results. Google has a job to do and that job is to provide their customers with the best results they can. The best results are simply the web pages that they were looking for; the most relevant and highest quality websites.
If we know what Google is trying to do, it shouldn’t be too hard to figure out how to stay in front of their changes.
If Google is frustrated (as they always are) about the number of low quality websites showing up in the top of their search results, you can bet they are going to fix it. The trick is to become a high quality website. But what is “high quality”?
Google doesn’t try to tell us all to build our websites according to some rule book; they listen to the voice of the people. If people search for a certain word, and choose a certain website, Google will think that is the best website. Google will then try to find more websites like that one. If you make your website one that people will like and trust, Google will most likely move it to the top of the page.
While Google’s rules change frequently, keep in mind that the changes are designed to affect only low quality websites. If you are serious about making a website that can be of value, these changes can only help you. Also, remember that the fundamental principles of SEO have not changed. Time your time and build a good website; have good content, no spam, no empty pages; offer your visitors value for coming to your website, make your website a resource that customers will want to come back to again and again. If your website deserves to be #1, it will be. If your website has little unique content, if users don’t like what they see on it, if your navigation is unclear and inconsistent, if you employ tricks to manipulate the search engines, Google will keep you from climbing in the search engine rankings.
The real key to staying ahead of the crowd is to know where everyone is going, and get there first.