You're probably wondering what I mean by the question. After all, don't we normally think of SEO as something that we do to help our Google rankings – how can Google be a threat, right?
If you aren't familiar with how Google works, however, you may not realize that your carefully learned and applied SEO techniques could actually be for nothing if Google performs one of its many updates to its search algorithms. You could be optimizing your website and posts for one scenario, only to have Google flip a switch and make that very strategy harmful to your placement in search results.
SEO and Google Search: The Basics
Here's what you need to know about how Google Search works in order to understand its impact on your techniques for SEO on your website.
SEO (search engine optimization) is made up of all of the things you can do to improve how your article ranks on a Google search. The simplest way to understand it is by thinking about how you search Google. You typically don't just look for a term – you ask a question of Google. You might type, "how do I get more followers on Twitter," or you might search for "how to improve your search engine ranking" or similar questions.
The process of optimizing your site and articles for search means that you take the time to figure out what keyword, phrase, or question is the main focus of your article. You're trying to determine what search question you're answering.
Then through a process of including that term in your article in a way that gives it lots of meaning (not the same word repeated over and over, but a whole article that is cohesive and clearly about the topic at hand), your article is ranked by Google in terms of how clearly it is related to that keyword or phrase.
Why Google Had to Change
Over the years, however, many of the "gurus" figured out how to game the system, whether by using obscure tags to feed misleading information to Google or to spam links to lots of websites' comment systems just to have lots of backlinks quickly (links in from related, high quality sites improves your search placement as well).
Google continues to try to be a relevant source of information – so when people gamed the system, Google responded. They normally work on tweaking their algorithm in small ways all the time; over the last couple of years, they released some large changes.
And for some people, the damage to SEO this Google search change caused was huge!
Why? Because in a number of ways, the folks at Google figured out how to prevent peoples' gaming of the system from benefitting their search engine results – and in some cases, figured out how to penalize such unethical methods.
This might have affected you unintentionally. You know how information travels online – sort of like a giant game of Telephone. Someone tells someone something, then it keeps getting passed on.
SEO techniques are like that! Some of the SEO practices being used today have been handed on from person to person (or from one e-course provider to the next). And some of those folks who write those systems don't always care to change them once Google changes its algorithms.
What the Google Search Changes did to SEO
Less ethical SEO people (aka black hat SEO'ers) saw a decrease in their rankings. What were the top kinds of penalized content with the Panda and Penguin updates?
- Duplicate content
- Duplicate URLs
- Too many links in way that clearly appears overdone and likely spammy.
Sites whose Google ranking came from these practices saw overnight nosedives in their Google placement!
How Can You Avoid Google Lowering Your SEO
Create great content that people genuinely want to read – this is the secret to creating a site that not only do people want to read, but that Google's bots come back to again and again.
Do you know as much about SEO as you'd like to? What are your questions? Leave a comment below – I'd love to hear from you!