In the classic 80s comedy Ghostbusters, there is a hilarious scene when the parapsychologists team is explaining to the mayor of New York City, that the city is headed for “a disaster of Biblical proportions.” “Old Testament, Mr. Mayor.” “Real wrath of God type stuff. Fire and brimstone raining down from the skies.” “Rivers and seas boiling.” “40 years of darkness. Earthquakes. Volcanoes.” “The dead rising from the grave.” “Human sacrifice. Dogs and cats living together. Mass hysteria!” You get the idea.
Whenever there is a report of Google making a change to their algorithm, people seem to have the same reaction. Clients will call and ask:
Truth be told, I never get too worried about these changes. You shouldn’t either. And here’s why.
First, a little thought on how Google works. In a nutshell, when someone searches for something, let’s say “the best Pizza in Green Bay,” Google will show pizza joints in Green Bay WI. Google will decide what it deems have the best quality content on the website for that search term. Google doesn’t want to show the user the Greek restaurants in town or the Chinese restaurants. The user wants pizza, and Google is going to show them pizza! If Google shows them the best place in town for Pho Noodles, (as great as pho is), that user isn’t as likely to come back. So in short, Google wants to show users the sites that satisfied their search the best.
Let’s get a little more concise about the workings of Google. There are two main reasons why it doesn’t scare me when the algorithm changes. One, I’m willing to bet that each time a search on any keyword is done, the algorithm gets a little smarter and will slightly change. The Google algorithm is very much a piece of Artificial Intelligence. Therefore, it is always adapting. Second, Google wants, and has always wanted, to show the best sites possible. It’s really as simple as that.
The exact aspects of search engine optimization (SEO), such as identifying keywords and using them the right amount of times on a page isn’t going to change. Needing a site to load fast and be responsive isn’t going to change. When new technologies come along we’ll need to figure out how those get incorporated, but the basics aren’t going to change.
Here’s an example. Remember when videos started to become popular and YouTube became a powerful search engine? It became vitally important to have videos on a page. However, it didn’t take away from any of the other SEO techniques that were already in place. In short, the basics will change minimally while the amount of words needed on a page will increase. At the same time, the number of videos and photos needed will go up. In summary, the core of SEO isn’t going to change dramatically.
One additional reason algorithm changes don’t scare me. Google doesn’t announce they are making changes to the algorithm. Sometimes the reports of changes come from a former employee or architect who has left the company. Even then, this reinforces the first point that the algorithm is always changing. What the algorithm was when this blog started out is not the same algorithm being used right now.
When you see the reports of “MAJOR EARTH SHATTERING GOOGLE CHANGE!” please know it is nothing more than a scare tactic. It’s an attempt to get users to click the link and read the article. It’s a decent search engine optimization. Copywriters will frame the headline in a way to get people to click the link.
The bottom line is there will always be little changes to the search criteria for what works best. Rest assured, the basics are here to stay. While in Ghostbusters they were facing “a disaster of Biblical proportions” with “cats and dogs living together and mass hysteria,” changes to the Google search algorithm are nothing like that.
With that said, I think tonight would be a good night to watch Ghostbusters.