SEO sounds technical. Which makes it feel complicated. And that’s what many digital marketing agencies would prefer you to believe. In truth, improving SEO is not as technical as it seems. Creativity is the secret.
However, in order to improve SEO, it does help to know some of the underlying technical issues behind Google algorithms. The rules and regulations of this mysterious science has a direct impact on your SEO ranking.
Yet nobody knows how search engine algorithms work. Not even Google employees. Well, not accurately. However, it is fair to say that most good digital marketers have a fair idea of what Google et al want from webmasters.
Search engine guidelines are quite specific: provide end-users with a quality experience and do not try to cheat the system.
Google Panda Algorithm
Panda was the first Google algorithm that had a major impact on the modern search engine. Designed to improve the quality of content, Google’s Panda algorithm really shook the digital marketing world.
To be fair, the internet needed Panda. Before Google stomped its hefty foot, the quality of content on websites surfacing in search engines was more or less woeful. Panda reshaped the thinking of digital marketers.
The purpose behind Panda was to encourage webmasters to improve the quality of details they published on their websites. Prior to this big furry fist, far too many web page had ‘thin content.’
As a result, it was difficult for shoppers to know what they were buying and who they were buying from. Which defeated the purpose of online shopping and threatened Google’s business model. They make their money from advertising.
Despite Google’s ulterior motives, quality standards needed to improve. And so it has. Now we have an online world where the quality of information and shared knowledge is much more in-depth, useful and enjoyable.
Quality content offers value and we have Google’s Panda algorithm to thank for that!
The Missile-Firing Penguin
In 2012, Google was forced to action against digital marketing agencies that were trying to manipulate search results. The Penguin algorithm was launched and annihilated inorganic links which resulted in devastation for thousands of online businesses.
And rightly so. At the time I was working with digital marketing agencies that were planting links in low-quality content and pointing them back to the client sites. It achieved great results initially, but was never a strategy that would survive the long-term. I didn’t.
Google relies on link building exercises to help them assess the quality of websites and judge how important/relevant a page is in conjunction with a search term. Google’s goal is to deliver websites that can answer the query of the end-user.
At this point it is pertinent to remind you about the requirement to publish quality content. Search engines and end-users want access to premium content that offers value to readers.
But search engines need help to determine which pages/publishers are posting great content. And for that, Google relies on other publishers to let them know by linking to relevant content from their own website.
So when digital marketers started publishing low-quality content on other low-quality sites for the purpose of manipulating SEO ranking, it completely screwed up Google’s system.
The search engine company unleashed the Penguin algorithm in response. And now in its fourth generation, the algorithm has completely screwed up the key benefit of guest posting – getting an earned inbound link from a high-authority source.
Good content writers can still publish content on high-authority sites, but the reputable magazines do not allow inbound links. Only no=follow links.
Furthermore, publishers are forced to link to high-authority websites to help their own SEO ranking. But websites that do not rank highly in search engines and have a poor infrastructure can damage SEO ranking for high-authority sites.
So then what happens? High-authority sites severe the link. Broken links go against your SEO ranking and if you are already low down the search engine ranks, it is harder to climb out the mire.
The only way to benefit from the Penguin algorithm is to publish premium content and build a website that provides a good user-experience. The Penguin algorithm does not make it impossible to improve SEO rank.
The All-knowing Hummingbird
There is a charming myth in Ancient Andean folklore that tells the tale of the Hummingbird hiding in the wings of the Eagle so she could see God. The Hummingbird had already experienced the nectar of earth and now wanted to experience the heavens.
The metaphor of this tale can be extended to Google’s hummingbird algorithm. The code uses semantic indexing capable of understanding the context of the content on a page. It gets a taste of the nectar.
But the Hummingbird cannot read and understand everything on the page. It cannot see the full glory of God. So publishers have to be like the Eagle and carry the Hummingbird into the heavens by shining sufficient amounts of light on the contents on your page.
You do this by using a specific keyword for the search term you are using, then building longtail keywords around the principle point of the content. What information do end-users want to know and how will you provide that information for them on a particular page?
Furthermore, Hummingbird will help the functionality of search engines forge the way we use search engines moving forward. Semantics enable machine learning tool to understand the structure of human language by combining associative words around a specific keyword. Which leads us nicely into the latest Google algorithm that will impact your SEO ranking.
We still know very little about RankBrain. It was launched around September 2015, and is a closely guarded Google secret. Scientists have had a bash trying to understand it, but theories are nothing more than that; theories.
However, theoretically speaking, RankBrain is the next step for Google to take search to the next level. What the search company has told us is that RankBrain deals with the 20% of new queries and attempts to organise the search term to match keywords.
The algorithm is a machine learning artificial intelligence which is essentially gathering data on how searchers use language to ask search engines for answers.
By recording and filing such search terms, Google’s core algorithm will – theoretically – be better equipped to understand voice search. How we instruct search engines orally is naturally different to how we typically type a search query.
With the advancements in voice-activated assistants, the technology already exists for search to become oral. Using Bluetooth, you can have a conversation with Google without having to take your phone out of your pocket or your handbag.
Once you get to grips with the most relevant functions of Google’s core algorithm, it is easier to prepare a digital marketing strategy that improves your search engine rankings. But in the simplest of terms, provide visitors with something of value; build a user-friendly website and publish premium content.