Stephen Logan

Google Updates: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Carry on Optimising

9th Nov 2009 SEO Blog 3 minutes to read

Google have been busy shaking the sandy foundations on which the old school of SEO teachings were built. The Google Caffeine [see: Is Google Caffeine the SEO Killer?] and Vince algorithm updates look set to move the goalposts, whilst the unceremonious way in which PageRank was evicted from Webmaster Tools [see: Is PageRank Still Relevant], all indicate that the times may be a changing.

But despite the updates, has anything really changed? By abandoning PageRank Google simply reinforced a message that they had been telling the world for years – “don’t become preoccupied with PageRank, it’s not as important as you think!” Whilst Vince has been touted as a ‘brand’ orientated update, it simply isn’t in Google’s best interests to overhaul their entire rankings structure to appease the bigger companies.

The fundamentals of good SEO and website management remain exactly the same:

  • Produce engaging content
  • Create a strong inbound linking profile
  • Optimise Meta, headings, Title and Alt tags

Okay you can probably add a few sub-categories to these, but in terms of building core strength and optimising a website, these three areas can help steer you through.

With all algorithm changes, the search engines are usually looking to weed out those ineffectual spam sites that litter their SERPs. Google, Bing and Yahoo (at least for now) are all vying for a larger slice of the enormous pie that is daily search engine traffic. The latest Google update, codenamed Vince, has been one of the more extreme in recent memory though.

It has seen rankings fluctuate hugely, with some odd selections slipping into the first page; industry speculation suggests this could be a sign of Google publically testing websites as they look to restructure their results. Oddly American and even Australian results have cropped up in ‘UK Only’ SERPs [See: The Curious Case Of Google’s Bizarre UK Search Results – Courtesy of Search Engine Land], showing that some serious work is being done, albeit not all that successfully at the moment.

So if your site has been buffeted by strange surges and falls on Google, don’t be overly alarmed, you are not alone.

If you’re developing a website your number one priority should never be the search engines though. Yes, getting a good ranking will gain exceptional traffic volume, but that traffic is still your ultimate goal and who you should be targeting this human element first and foremost. It’s easy to blame Google when your site suffers, but there’s plenty you can be doing to build your website’s strength and improve its chances of gaining a higher ranking moving forward.

Again it comes back to the three fundamentals mentioned above.

Have you got content on every page? If so, is it up to date? Content is great for humans and search engines, the more you have (within reason) and the better the quality, the stronger your site will appear to crawlers.

How is your inbound linking structure? Do you have a good variety of websites linking to you? Are links pointing to pages other than the main Homepage? Links are at the very heart of SEO and are integral to building strength in the long-term. You can never have too many quality links coming in.

What about the bread and butter of optimisation, have your headers, Meta and page titles being written with the necessary keywords in tow? Do they all match? Has each page been optimised individually?

Optimisation is an ongoing process, whilst recent dips in rankings may be initially disheartening, you ought to be using them to inspire you to do more. Give your visitors and the search engines what they want, which is good quality content, presented in an easy to follow format and without any extraneous spam weighing it down. That’s the way to ride out the Google SEO storm.

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