The Google algorithms—you know them, you fear them. Like a host of vengeful gods, the pantheon of Penguin, Panda, and Hummingbird affect the SEO world with an often catastrophic impact. Whenever they happen to grace us with their presence, horror stories of lost rankings and penalties spread like famine and plague. Even the most Google-faithful websites can live in fear of being struck down by the holy Google algorithm updates.
What can you do?
The truth is things aren’t as bleak as they seem; you aren’t as helpless as you may think you are. Although Google rules heaven and earth from its throne in Mountain View, it’s mostly up to you whether you incur its wrath or not.
Here are 5 Divine SEO Strategies we use in every SEO campaign to ensure we can withstand whatever miracles (or curses). Google sends our way next. We hope they bring you much fortune in the future!
1. Follow Google’s instructions.
In the SEO world, Google’s word is law. So it shouldn’t surprise you to know that one of the best ways to survive the Google algorithm updates is… do what Google says!
Sounds obvious, right? Well, you’d be surprised how many companies don’t realize the staggering amount of FREE information Google has available for you. From in-depth introductions to general website advice, everything they offer is dedicated to making your website better.
Here are two ways you can stay on top of Google’s latest changes:
- Take time to read Google’s web developers guides.
- Subscribe to the Webmasters newsletter to stay on top of their frequent changes.
Advanced tip: You can follow the Twitter accounts of noteworthy Google employees like Gary Illyes and John Mueller. They’re always answering questions from industry experts, which can give you a heads-up on SEO trends as well as upcoming Google features.
2. Go mobile.
In case you hadn’t noticed, Google is moving full speed ahead into a mobile-first world. Between the mobile and desktop split and the continuous development of AMP pages, Google is helping to usher in the new era of search. This bright, golden future serves a user base that continually has its collective head down, staring at a screen. Desktop results will no longer be the primary results seen by users; that honor will go exclusively to mobile.
What this means is you need to come around to mobile or suffer the consequences.
“Wait, what kinds of consequences?”
Many of the Google algorithm updates are intended to rectify either poor web use or bad SEO tactics of the past. Penguin for spam links, Panda for lousy content, et cetera. The algorithms smite down offenders, sending them into Google rankings despair. These great sins can be forgiven, but only if you put in the work. The same goes for mobile.
If you’ve slacked off and have yet to go all-in on mobile, don’t think your lack of effort has gone unnoticed. Google, in all its infinite power, has seen that there are still sites yet to make the plunge, and it has taken steps to fix that. This has prompted Google, in all its good graces, to offer an incentive to go mobile in the form of the “Mobile May” algorithm update. The update rewarded newly mobile-friendly sites with a slight boost to rankings. Similarly, we suspect AMP pages may get a small ranking boost in the days to come as well.
“So what do I have to do?”
It’s not too late for you. Just as Google supplies plenty of material on how to make a great website, they also have plenty of info on how to smoothly transition to mobile:
Google knows most of its users are using its services on mobile, so it wants those users to have a good experience. Google is building a web culture that revolves around serving a user who demands answers and information immediately, and we all have to rise to challenge to meet those demands. The very existence (of our websites) depends on it.
3. Plan ahead.
Have you ever heard of the term “future-proof?” Future-proofing is working hard now to account for changes that may happen in the future. For SEO, this means predicting changes that may affect the future success of your website. These can be things that may raise or lower your rankings, etc. You’d want to future-proof methods to encourage the raising of your rankings, or stymying their decline.
However, you can’t future-proof Google. Sure, you can subscribe to the newsletter and read the guides as we suggested above, but it’s all but impossible to honestly know what the search engine will do next. Google doesn’t always announce when they will update one of their algorithms, which leaves the SEO world hanging in suspense, waiting for the Word of Google to come screeching out of the sky.
So how do you plan?
Planning in SEO doesn’t have so much to do with what you plan with, but when. If you’re smart (and we know you are!), you’ll create plenty of opportunities to plan just by running your campaign.
For example, say you have a critical company event coming up, or an exclusive holiday sale. You can create an optimized landing page for that event with keywords, content, title tags, and meta descriptions before launch day. This allows you to build up interest and engagement so that when the event finally arrives, you’ve already set yourself up for success. Which lets you set up expectations more accurately.
4. Stay the course.
We know this sounds a bit hypocritical, considering we just talked about planning. But a significant part of any SEO strategy requires you to keep on doing what you’re doing.
Trust in the campaign you spent so much time on. Trust the keywords you researched, trust the content you wrote. Second-guessing yourself could be disastrous, not only because it could do more work when it isn’t needed but because making changes could be harmful.
The solution? Keep on keepin’ on.
- Continue offering up excellent blogs, engaging social media posts, and all the other consistent, routine-based stuff.
- Above all, you need to monitor your traffic. You need to know your efforts are bearing fruit. Otherwise, you may miss when your pages aren’t performing to your expectations.
So of course if something you implemented isn’t working, you should change it. But if you change what’s already in place, you run the risk of upsetting something that was already proving itself as working for your site. Alter the meta description of a critical landing page, and you could see a dip in rankings for your top converting page. Change the keywords of a hot page, and you might see the page disappear from the SERPs.
Basically, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” If your rankings are consistent on several of your landing pages, and they’re bringing in a reasonable amount of traffic every month, maybe you shouldn’t mess with them. Yes, even if you’ve found keywords with higher search volumes for those pages. The thing you need to remember is…
5. Be patient and have faith.
For a tireless, dedicated worker like you, this may be a hard pill swallow. But there may come a time in your SEO campaign where there isn’t much you can do beyond only waiting for Google to process your work.
That’s right. After weeks, maybe even months of research and execution—the optimal thing for you to do is to wait. This can be agony, especially when you feel like you have to keep moving.
Maybe you’ve put in a ton of work lately. You feel like you need to keep your momentum going, or you could slip up, and all your hard work is for naught. Well, we’re here to tell you that sometimes you’re just better off not thinking that way.
It helps to remember that being patient is not the same as being lazy. Once you’ve completed a lot of work, it may be up to Google to acknowledge it. It’s (mostly) out of your hands.
In the past, we’ve had to wait quite a while—sometimes years—for a Google algorithm to roll out and update our rankings. But maybe Google knows how fast the web goes these days. Maybe Google knows it’s better for the user experience if they provide faster results to webmasters, who can then improve their sites rather than sit on their thumbs.
This could explain why Google baked both Panda and Penguin into Google’s core algorithm this year. Penguin also now runs in real-time, so you won’t have to wait long to fix your link problems. And although we’re still waiting to see Panda go real-time too, we don’t doubt Google has intentions to deliver it to us soon.
Google has faith in you that you’ll make your website the best; why not have confidence in Google that it will take care of you as you deserve?
As the SEO World Turns…
Google works in mysterious ways. There’s no way to tell what it will do next, what miracle it will bestow that will force us all into some new way of thinking. Then again, it could bring ruin unto us. Just know that whatever happens, you have the solutions to avoid a meltdown.
Here’s a reminder of the 5 Divine SEO Strategies to help you survive:
- Follow Google’s instructions.
- Go mobile.
- Plan ahead.
- Stay the course.
- Be patient and have faith.
So the next time SEO Armageddon comes raining down, you’ll know exactly what to do and how to react.
And if you’re still feeling disillusioned, you can always seek the opinion of a professional. With over 20 years’ experience, we have seen all the Google algorithm updates and made it through.