How to Survive Google’s Algorithm Updates

Oct 14, 2014

According to Benjamin Franklin, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Franklin was believed to be referring to fire safely when he penned this timeless axiom, but his words of wisdom can just as easily be applied to the subject of Google’s algorithm updates.

Google updates its search ranking algorithm, or mathematical formula that determines the order that relevant web pages will appear in response to a search query, an estimated 500 to 600 times each year. Granted, many of these updates are relatively minor adjustments to the present list of some 232 ranking factors and impact only a small percentage of websites.

how to survive Google algorithm updatres

On the other hand, when a major update such as the Pigeon, Hummingbird, Penguin, or Panda rolls out, the effect is widespread, and can bring overnight financial ruin to many unsuspecting and unprepared webmasters.

Why Does Google Keep Changing the Rules?
The short answer is because they can. Google dominates the search engine landscape with a 67 percent share of all online searches, and leverages that position to the tune of more than $32 billion in annual advertising revenue. That kind of money buys a lot of independence and the freedom to do pretty much whatever Google wants.

Realistically, Google has a vested interest in providing a rewarding experience for its users and for the advertisers who pay to reach them, and will go to extraordinary lengths and expense to deliver the most relevant and useful search results. A large part of that effort is devoted to improving the quality of the search experience by updating the Google search algorithm to root out spam and other unethical attempts to “game” the search results.

How to Weather the Next Google Update
While no one can predict the exact nature of a Google update before it’s unleashed, there are a number of proactive steps that you can take to improve the chances of your website surviving the next Google storm with a minimum of damage.

  • Weather-proof your website before the storm touches down. Remove or disavow any paid, spammy or irrelevant links, or any links with questionable anchor text. Remove or re-write any existing thin or irrelevant content on your site.
  • Focus on the evergreen SEO tactics that never go out of style. Content should be relevant to your target keywords as well as informative and engaging for the reader. Inbound links from authoritative third-party sites will continue be an important factor for the foreseeable future and should be naturally appearing in every way. Your anchor text should be varied and free of keyword stuffing. Boost your online reputation and social signals by participating in social channels such as Google Plus, Facebook, and Twitter.
  • Diversify your traffic sources, and reduce your dependence on Google’s organic search rankings as much as possible. Build up your email list and aggressively market to it. Budget permitting, set up a test PPC campaign on the Yahoo Bing Network and expand it to include Google AdWords as your business grows.
  • Keep your ear to the ground for information about changes in the SEO arena. An excellent source for the latest SEO information can be found at the SEOmoz.org website. Another smart move would be to follow Google spokesperson Matt Cutts at mattcutts.com/blog/type/googleseo.