Algorithms get a bad rep in the world of search engine optimization. The negative connotation comes from the thousands of changes that Google makes every year, some officially announced and others not. In reality, algorithms are set to make sure that websites are providing a user-friendly experience and relevant content since Google wants to provide the best results for every search a user enters.
Algorithm changes can affect the following things:
- Search ranking and visibility
- Organic search traffic
- Return on investment
There are many third-party sites that track Google's activity and algorithm updates. However, Google spokespeople have warned against these tools, claiming that they are not always accurate. With that being said, these tools can provide an early warning that an update might be on the horizon, prompting you to check in on your analytics more frequently and study the results more closely.
Actions to take following a Google algorithm update:
- Make sure that it is actually the algorithm affecting your data and not another factor, such as website changes, technical SEO issues, or a manual action
- It's best to wait and observe the data as it changes. Being too hasty can cause inaccuracy on your data collection if you don't understand what is really changing.
- Read credible sources to see what SEO experts are saying.
- Make adjustments to your SEO strategy accordingly.
If you make it through an algorithm change without your traffic plummeting, you caught a break! If not, look at it on the bright side — Google has detected a flaw in your website and this is an opportunity to optimize that feature to make it more user-friendly.
It is too cumbersome to pay attention to every tiny Google update, but you can look out for the big ones and act on them. Overall, it's best to make sure you are understanding the fundamentals of SEO and, more importantly, your audience!