HOW GOOGLE CHANGES ALGORITHMS - STRAIGHT FROM THE HORSE'S MOUTH
There are literally thousands of sites that proclaim absolute knowledge on the tips and tricks that work to get your webpage to rise in the ranks of a Google search. Unfortunately these sites are often outdated because Google changes its ranking algorithms more than once a day. While some of these are minor changes that only affect a few sites or a single element for a single term, others like the Panda and Penguin updates can cause a major shakeup in wide ranging search results. Entire domains can tank in moments.
The best way to combat these major fluctuations in Google search is to understand exactly how Google changes its algorithms and what exactly these changes are meant to do. How do we do it? Take information directly from the horse’s mouth. Here’s what Google has to say about its algorithm change philosophy.
Here’s a step by step breakdown of what actually happens in each step:
Every single algorithm change that Google implements starts with a single idea from a single user or Google worker. These can begin as a simple suggestion to make a particular portion of the Googlebot search carry less weight than it currently does or as a reaction to a new way that some sites have learned to game the system. The ideas are always focused on one central idea – to make the search results that are delivered by Google search engine as relevant as possible to the general user. This idea is presented to a team of Google representatives who then decide whether this idea is worth pursuing. If it is, the algorithm change is implemented in the Google sandbox.
The Google sandbox is an area that is cordoned off from actual live searches. In this arena, searches can be mocked by altered Google spiders. These spider results are delivered into a separate queue that is viewable only by the Google staff members responsible for researching the change. The sandbox doesn’t affect anything that happens on the user end of the search.
Before and After
The results returned by the altered spider are then compared to those of the current spider configuration. A sample page is developed that shows these two results side by side. These results are sent out to external Google raters.
External raters employed by LionBridge, LeapForce or Butler Hill are tasked with rating the comparative search results. If the search results are markedly better under the new spidering algotrithm, then this search spider will be released for a limited live trial.
Live Traffic test
Once a spidering algorithm has passed the external raters it is randomly implemented in a live test where a small portion of all live searches are directed to the sandboxed algorithm. This test is tracked by the implementation team and results are sent to an independent team of analysts.
An independent team of data analysts compares data from the live tests of the sandbox algorithm. This team has had no prior contact with the spider development team and analyzes the data from the live searches. They develop a report that will examine the changes to the search results. This report is then sent to a launch committee to review.
Launch report reviews
The launch committee reviews the reports generated by the independent analysts. The committee looks over the quality of the search results delivered by both the standard algorithm and the sandbox version. If they find that the sandbox version is superior and significantly enhances a searchers interaction with the search engine, it will be set-up for a launch.
If at any point during this process the test algorithm posts results that are not as high a quality as the spider that it is intended to replace, the entire tweak is sent back to be reworked.
Google says the reason for all of these changes is to give the end user the best possible search experience and results. Once you know what Google considers a quality result you can begin to tailor your site to deliver the goods. Unfortunately there are those who game the system. Once the new algorithm is out there, SEO specialists find the changes and start to weave these new metrics into their websites. It really is a cat and mouse game. Google changes its search algorithm, and the scammers adapt, repeat.
What is important to note is that any time one of these small algorithm changes happens it can tank your site as well as those that are actually targeted. The collateral damages to a few legitimate sites are something that Google is willing to live with. This means there is no way to Google-proof your site. You must be diligent in keeping up with all algorithm changes.
The best way to keep your site from being affected by algorithm changes is to build yourself a strong brand identity. By doing this, you are creating an idea in people’s minds before they head to the search engine. This way you aren’t at the mercy of the search engine anymore. Customers will search for your brand. By becoming the go-to source in your niche, you effectively eliminate the need for search engine traffic.
Also advertise your site with banners, CPC and CPA advertisements and any other way to generate views without needing the search engine. Also, when you do create content for your site, make it stand out. The content should be something that others in your niche will link to. By offering unique content that can’t be found anywhere else, you force Google to take your site seriously. Quality is their number one criteria. And above all else, get involved in the social media market. Social media is becoming just as important, if not more so, than the search engines.
A byproduct of embracing social media is that it will increase your Google ranking. Google has decided that social media is one of the most important new factors in the reliability of a website. In fact, Facebook is one of the few PR 10 sites in the world. If you want your business to continue to rank well through all of the minor algorithm changes, a strong social profile is the way to go.
Now that you know exactly what Google does and why they do it, it should be much easier to decide what your website should contain and what you should avoid.