It sometimes seems like there’s nothing the world’s number one search engine can’t do. Google and its parent company Alphabet are on the cutting edge of AI research and the machine learning and big data technologies that underpin it. They are also working in the Virtual Reality field. Their tensor processing unit is only one of the examples of the hardware the company’s been developing. The company has become so omnipotent and omnipresent that soon enough we’ll see it help research cancer.
For most users, however, Google is just the search engine. It processes around 40,000 searches every second, serving an estimated number of 1.1 billion of users worldwide. And even though it is the most widely used search engine in the world, Google is never happy with resting on its laurels.
A History of Change
The history of Google’s search engine is a history of change. Google is notoriously secretive when it comes to releasing information about updates, tweaks, and other changes it makes to its search algorithm. However, people who used Google from its very beginning might remember that, over time, the search results became better.
Since it went online, Google has been in the business of providing people with the results they wanted to see. This meant making sure that the pages who get to the top of search results are those that contain the most relevant answer to a query. The search results came a long way from displaying nonsensical pages filled with search terms. Now, users can rest assured that the content they see has something to do with what they searched, all thanks to the company’s diligence with upgrading.
Google’s Wrecking Ball
On the other side of users are the publishers. The websites that create content which is displayed in search results. A lot of them fought for better visibility in search results because it was a way to attract customers. And for many, the history of Google algorithm updates is a history of drastic, and sometimes tragic, changes.
Each big algorithm update made it more difficult to game Google’s ranking system. Over time, practices such as keyword and link stuffing, over-optimization, and publishing low-quality content have been made undesirable and subject to lowering of rankings. One update after another, Google chiseled its vision of what websites should do to be worthy of appearing in front of searchers. The biggest updates were given names, and they wrecked havoc on websites that used unethical practices.
In the digital era, many businesses depend on the online ecosystem for their customers and livelihoods. Google usually offers advice on how to build and run a website to avoid penalties. Businesses can also enlist the service of professionals who use search engine optimization techniques to improve visibility and reach new customers. For them, it’s critical to know how to stay ahead of Google algorithm changes. They need to stay in Google’s good grace and manage to be competitive on the market.
How to Play Nice With Google
If history has taught us one thing, it’s that Google usually punishes those who are deserving. There were some updates that caused innocent casualties. The Possum update, for example, punished businesses who worked in close vicinity with other businesses in the same industry. But even then, the targets were spammers, not legitimate businesses. They were just caught in the crossfire.
The best advice for businesses who want to stay ahead of Google algorithm changes is to avoid black hat search engine optimization. Businesses that hire companies to do SEO for them should be very careful with who they hire. Anyone who promises quick results or guarantees results of any kind probably isn’t playing by the rules. Companies who won’t provide lists of previous customers are also sketchy. And if someone downright offers black hat techniques as a service, businesses should steer clear. They might get results in the short term, but black hat always leads to trouble in the long run.
Businesses should also be aware that ranking well with Google is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time to build a website that has authority. It takes strategic planning to develop good content strategies. Shortcuts are usually taken because they’re cheaper and quicker. Investing in other marketing strategies will, however, yield more sustainable results. Content marketing is a great way to climb search results. Especially if the content is high-quality and provides value to the reader. If everything else fails, using Google AdWords is still better than giving the search engine a reason to issue a penalty. Staying on Google’s good side should be the number one priority for businesses who want to futureproof their online assets.
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