If you want your business to succeed, your business needs to have a website. If you want that website to see any traffic or to help your business in any way, you need to use SEO. It is simply how things work on the millennium’s world wide web.
SEO, as you likely already know, stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is the practice by which site owners and producers tell the search engine spiders that a website is both worth crawling in the first place as well as how to classify that website within the engine itself so that people can find it when they run searches.
In the Beginning
In the very early stages of SEO the spiders were programmed to look for a few basic things: the age of the site’s content, how many links the site had pointing out to other sites and how many links were coming in from outside sites. As you can imagine, during these first early years of SEO, the system was relatively easy to game. The spiders didn’t care if the links were relevant or useful. They just counted them in numbers. A person could elevate his or her site within a search engine’s ranks simply by publishing a single article with links back to the site on every article database online or by creating link wheels.
A-ha! Now all of those pages of results filled with irrelevant eZines articles content that you used to see make sense!
Over time, the brains at Google, MSN/Bing, etc figured out how to reprogram their spider algorithms so that the bots would be “smarter.” They gave these updates cute animal names like Penguin and Panda. Suddenly it wasn’t just the number of links a site had pointing out and pointing in, it was the context in which those links occurred. Spiders could crawl the text surrounding a link and rate it’s relevancy based on the text and the content of the linked site. If a link wasn’t relevant, it wouldn’t count toward the site’s search ranking.
If a site had a lot of irrelevant links pointing in to it, the search engine could penalize or might even de-list the site altogether. This rule was created to disrupt link wheels and other black hat techniques that people were using, like blasting spam comments linking back to a site, etc.
Getting Even Smarter
The goal of Google and the other big search engines is to create a search engine that is intuitive. An update published a couple of years ago, Hummingbird, made it possible to literally ask the engine a question and have a direct answer returned. Skeptical? Type “who is the President of the United States?” into Google and see what happens. Eventually the search engine giants hope to use AI to make their search engines so intuitive that they can discern nuance and other criteria in a person’s search string.
Why This Matters For You
It is important to keep up with the seemingly almost monthly changes to Google’s (and others’) priorities because, if you don’t, you run the risk of your site being penalized or de-listed. Keeping up with the updates helps you ensure that your own actions are in keeping with whatever the search engines’ current goals are and that helps you keep your ranking placement safe.
Before you panic, understand that this does not mean that you have to go back through and re-do 100% of your site content every time there is an update. That would be absurd. Remember Google et al only care about what is currently on your site, not what you published two years ago.
How Do You Keep Up?
There are a bunch of tiny nuances within SEO metrics. Keeping up with every single one of them is incredibly difficult. The best way to make sure you stay on top of things is, like with most other areas of business, delegation. Every company should have someone whose job is to monitor and maintain your SEO.
You should also make sure your “toolbox” is up to date. This means working with servers and content management systems that can be quickly updated to adjust to new algorithm changes. Yoast, for example, was mentioned as one of the Top 4 Free WordPress plugins on the HostGator blog. Yoast is a plugin created by a company that keeps up with Google’s analytical and SEO algorithm changes. Whenever a new algorithm gets rolled out, you simply update the plugin.
It’s true that Google has taken over the internet. It is also true that Google is working to make the internet a more easily navigated place. Work with it instead of against it. Your site will perform much better when you do.