Chasing Algorithms

Google’s a complicated beast. Like I’ve told many clients over the years, there’s no direct path to the top of Google’s search results. It takes time, patience, and skill to get there, and tenacity to stay there. There are plenty of so-called experts willing to burn through your money with promises of top rank but few who can deliver — and none who can deliver for little money.

An article on Google’s Webmaster Central Blog brought this point home to me again today. As you can see from this short excerpt, Google not only changes their algorithms constantly, they actively discourage webmasters from trying to chase their algorithms:

In recent months we’ve been especially focused on helping people find high-quality sites in Google’s search results. The “Panda” algorithm change has improved rankings for a large number of high-quality websites, so most of you reading have nothing to be concerned about. However, for the sites that may have been affected by Panda we wanted to provide additional guidance on how Google searches for high-quality sites.

Our advice for publishers continues to be to focus on delivering the best possible user experience on your websites and not to focus too much on what they think are Google’s current ranking algorithms or signals. Some publishers have fixated on our prior Panda algorithm change, but Panda was just one of roughly 500 search improvements we expect to roll out to search this year. In fact, since we launched Panda, we’ve rolled out over a dozen additional tweaks to our ranking algorithms, and some sites have incorrectly assumed that changes in their rankings were related to Panda. Search is a complicated and evolving art and science, so rather than focusing on specific algorithmic tweaks, we encourage you to focus on delivering the best possible experience for users.

So it really is all about the content. Good copywriting shouldn’t be an afterthought; and writing concise, effective copy for your website is as much an art form as good interface design. It all comes together to serve a great user experience for your site visitors. Reading through the rest of the article will give you an idea of just how sophisticated Google’s algorithms have become and will give you a road map for delivering that quality user experience that will reward you with better search rankings.