Riding the Winds of Change: How to Handle Search Engine Algorithm Updates
If there’s one constant in this beautiful mess we call our lives is that things never stay in place. Newspaper was usurped by radio whose star eventually killed by video and television which eventually paved way to the Internet. Finland’s Nokia built a mobile phone empire throughout most of the 90s and early 2000s before being pushed out of the competition by BlackBerry whose reign was disappointingly cut short once iPhone and Android entered the market. Change is constant and it’s not a stretch for me to rightfully claim that only those who could navigate these changes can survive in the long-run.
We don’t always cope well with changes, especially if those changes are forced upon us with little in the way of warning but sadly, that’s exactly what SEO services and digital marketers have to deal with in a daily basis. Working in the field of digital marketing inevitably means having to deal with search engines. Since we don’t exactly have any control over how those search engines work, we all have to simply suck up whatever Google and other search engine operators are throwing at us.
Marketers of the floating world
Some empires, like Yahoo, fall while some, like the one Walt Disney build, eventually grew into an entertainment behemoth with their hands in pretty much everything you could think of. Disney didn’t just survive through the changes in the entertainment and media landscape throughout the years, they managed to instead thrive by managing to adapt to the world around them. 1928’s Steamboat Willie was one of the firsts cartoon with synchronized sound and decades later, they partnered with Pixar for 1995’s Toy Story, the first feature-length computer animated film.
Disney’s willingness to go forward doesn’t stop there, this year’s Lion King live-action remake is also an important milestone in photorealistic computer animation. Your mileage may vary on whether this change is for the better or not but on a purely technical level, you have to at the very least respect what Disney has managed to achieve. Sure, the business dealings of a multi-billion dollar corporation might not always be applicable to smaller businesses and SEO but there’s still quite a lot to learn here.
Don’t be overly reliant on search engine(s)
Despite having a healthy line-up of popular characters such as Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Cinderella, Snow White, etc, Disney never stops expanding their lineup. Their lineup of “Disney princesses” has been getting more diverse in the past few years and with their acquisition of both Marvel and the Star Wars IP, Disney’s empire continues to grow. Just as how Disney hasn’t relied solely on the iconic mouse, SEO services and marketers also have to stop relying on search engines.
Given Google’s near monopoly of the market, it’s not rare to see marketers using Google’s search ranking as a sole benchmark and target. It’s not exactly wrong to prioritize Google but the downside of being overly reliant on Google is that your long term goals will practically be dictated by something you have no control over. My advice is to focus on the users, not the search engines, as they’re actually your ultimate goal. Instead of fussing over how you could gain another place in Google’s search results, focus on what you think could get more people to check out your website.
Be flexible with your strategy
The world of SEO is heavily affected by two factor; the progress of technology and marketing trends. This means that at any given moment, there’s no guarantee that what works today is still going to be working tomorrow. The public might get sidetracked by another viral meme or search engine providers might push out an update that requires you to tweak your strategy. As a result, it’s a bit pointless for you to focus on a set of long-term strategies as that might change in the near future. Focus on goals instead and be prepared to modify your marketing approach as new information is made available.
Take a deep breath and stop panicking
Don’t be that person that cries wolf every single time you hear something in the bushes. Algorithm updates aren’t specifically directed at your website, everyone’s pretty much on the same boat. So before you start panicking that a specific update is going to negatively affect your visibility, take time to see where the chips may fall before you start making some drastic changes to your website. Even if an update is actually hurting your website, you still have to understand how it’s hurting you in the first place before you could fix them so always avoid jumping to conclusions.
Search engine providers tend to be somewhat cagey when it comes to delivering specific information on what an update would do which is perfectly understandable since these algorithms are trade secrets. As a result, it’s common for SEO services and marketers to operate with limited information which is why it’s important that you first engage in some fact-finding operation before implementing any changes to your website. Keep an eye out on what industry experts and insiders are saying about the update and proceed only until you’re satisfied with the amount of information you’ve received.