Everything you need to know about Google’s new search algorithm

Well, not really everything, but enough to make it work in your favor. Let’s see, algorithms have been around since 1600 B.C. when the Babylonians were conjuring up factorization for square roots. Why they were interested in square roots might be fodder for another post, especially since the Babylonians were consistently being attacked and had to defend what proved to be indefensible borders. But that was then and this is now, and that means we’re going to attack the sacred Google algorithm and defend ourselves from the indefensible penalties of noncompliance.

But I can’t wage this battle alone; therefore, I’m enlisting the support of the wonderful Jessica Jones, our company’s search engine optimization specialist, who is also studying for her master’s degree in human computer relations. I know, I’m not sure what that means, and perhaps I don’t want to know. Here’s what Jessica has told me:

Dear Tom,

There are more than 200 factors in Google’s top-secret search algorithm that determine your website’s page rank. A whole industry has been built around trying to gauge what those factors are and which carry the most weight. The algorithm has evolved many times over the years, and Google implemented some of the biggest changes to the algorithm in May of this year. These changes specifically target what Google considers “Web spam”: low-quality Web content created not for users, but in an attempt to gain high ranking in the Google search engine results.

Essentially, all you short-cutters out there are going to be outed. Gone are the days when you thought writing your company name five times in a 20-word sentence was actually going to improve your rank. Do it now and you’re going to be demoted. Jess went on to say:

Content has always been important for the strength of any site’s search engine rankings, but Google’s focus is now on high-quality content. Recent post-mortem studies show that in the aftermath of May’s updates, the sites with authentic, fresh content are already seeing improved search engine rankings.

Hello. As a content marketer, this is what I’ve been preaching for the last eight years. Any business, large or small, that has a website must now produce relevant content at a high rate of frequency. For me, I think relevancy trumps frequency, but you should be aware of both. If you don’t have the resources to DIY, have someone do it for you. And remember, content is by no means a written word.

Content is video, infographics, SlideShare (which you better be doing anyway), podcasts and the beat goes on. In its narrative form, content is a press release, articles, a quiz, blogs, polls, e-newsletters, white papers (don’t call them white papers anymore, be a little more creative and call them POVs or How We See It), and case studies.



Look at it this way: If you subscribed to The New York Times and the front page was the same each day, how long would you keep paying for it? The same holds true for your website, but now you don’t have a choice. Google has made the choice for you, and it will reward your business for producing consistently unique and relevant content and penalize you if you’re not in the “content game.” And here’s where it really can turn sideways. If you’re using a canned newsletter, canned articles, maybe a template site that a company develops just for optometrists, associations, realtors or even dentists, you’re in for some major decay. Why? This from Google itself:

Duplicate content generally refers to substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content or are appreciably similar.

Yes, they know that, too. It’s not just spamming, it’s also “canning” and that shortcut won’t cut it either. So there’s really no great mystery to Google’s new algorithm. You either need to create content, and plenty of it, or go back to the days of yore and write some letters, stick some brochures in the mail, make a phone call, and repeat.

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