How Algorithms Affect SEO

hummingbirdIt isn’t difficult to look back at recent algorithm updates from Google and evaluate how each one has altered the role of an SEO. In the simplest sense, Panda forced us to become better writers and researchers. Penguin made us change the way we build links. Most recently, although it was less of an algorithm update and more of an infrastructure change to Google’s core algorithm, Hummingbird asked us to consider conversational search queries in the content we produce.

Regardless of how small an algorithm update may be, the development and growth of an SEO’s responsibilities can be traced back through the history of updates. The fact that SEO is so dependent on updates creates quite a bit of uncertainty in the industry. But hey, as SEOs we know that the only thing that stays the same is that everything changes!

The only certainty is that things will be different tomorrow.

Saying an SEOs role has changed in the last five to 10 years is an understatement. SEOs are tasked with more each year and the definition of SEO has broadened significantly. It’s become nearly impossible to be a one-man (or woman) show. It requires a team with a number of different skills to perform quality SEO today.

How SEO has ChangedKing-Penguin1-150x150

There used to be a time when SEO was strictly about getting traffic to a website. It didn’t matter how it was done as long as it was accomplished.

That was a long time ago.

Today the role of an SEO is much more than attracting visitors. It’s about conversions. It’s about building a brand, having a social media presence, and producing unique, high quality content better than anyone else in your industry.

Why is this happening? It’s simple – Google wants it. Aside from making money, Google wants its users to find the best search results possible. How do you weed out the good sites from the bad sites? Make it tough for the bad sites to compete. Google is accomplishing this through their algorithm updates.

In a post by Search Engine Journal’s very own John Rampton, he interviewed Kris Jones of Internet Marketing Ninjas and asked him about the evolution of SEO. Jones said, “SEO is now at a transition point where it’s not only about the traffic you’re getting to your site, but how your overall online visibility” is being managed.

He’s absolutely right and he reiterates the broadness that now encompasses SEO when he uses “online visibility” to describe SEO. Online visibility represents a number of today’s SEO elements, including brand building, reputation management, quality content production, social media promotion, and so much more.

This is well beyond the scope of early SEO that included keyword research, generic, keyword-stuffed content production, site accessibility, and link building.

Staying Proactive Against Algorithms
The difference between great SEOs and ordinary SEOs is that the great ones have a sense of what the future holds. They’re able to look into their crystal ball and plan for potential algorithms that may lie ahead. What’s their secret? It’s experience. There is a good chance that at one time or another they were penalized for their SEO practices and have a full understanding of the power of Google.

pandaHere are a few things you can do to stay proactive:

Don’t have a one-dimensional backlink profile.

An example would be a site that has predominantly built links through guest posting. While guest posting is a great way to link build, your backlink profile is supposed to look natural. Having a site with backlinks primarily coming from one source is an obvious sign to Google that you’re trying to manipulate rankings. Instead make an effort to switch up your link building strategy.

For every guest post you write, try to get a couple of directory links and a few blog comments as well. Some consider directory links and blog commenting outdated link building tactics but they’re still beneficial as long as they’re relevant links on quality sites. Choose carefully where you build these links and if you’re going to leave a comment make sure you are contributing to the discussion.

It’s always a good time to clean up your backlink profile. If you really want to be proactive with link building, don’t wait for the next update to get rid of bad links. We all have a few links we’re not proud of and it’s best to remove them now before it’s too late. Do you best to have these links removed by contacting webmasters and if that doesn’t work then use Google’s disavow tool. However Google stresses to use this tool after all other attempts have failed.

Diversify your anchor text. This shouldn’t be breaking news to anyone but if you haven’t already made an effort to vary your anchor texts when link building then there is no better time to start than today. This goes back to building a natural backlink profile.

A site that has the majority of its links coming from one or two anchor texts is another sign to Google that the links are unnatural.

Be relevant in everything you do. The importance of relevancy for Google isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Whether you’re producing content or building links, staying relevant to your niche is vital to maintaining ranks and satisfying Google.

What are you doing to stay proactive against Google’s future algorithm updates? Can you recall a specific algorithm update that completely altered the way you perform SEO?