The Google search algorithm versus online content marketing. This is the current debate in the world of digital marketing and communication and it’s been around at least since late last year. The fickleness and unpredictability of the algorithm, combined with recent and notorious penalizations against companies that were doing the whole back linking thing wrong, has gotten many into thinking about the implications of this debate. Should SEO experts keep focusing on links and keywords, or is this kind of approach dated and all but obsolete? The truth, as always, is somewhere in the middle: the algorithm still largely dictates the trends in terms of online marketing, brand awareness, and even community building. However, there can be no talk of SEO at the moment, without taking into consideration the relevance of good content.
Our recommendation? Any good online marketing strategy should involve a balanced mix of ‘traditional’ keyword optimization, backed by strong, well-written content. And, for the time being, the algorithm cannot and should not be taken out of the SEO equation. Here are five reasons why we think the Google search engine algorithm still matters:
1. Algorithm and content are not polar opposites
Content marketing is important. Brand building is important. Online PR and community management are also important. They are part of the broader picture on marketing and their growing relevance signals a more integrated approach toward digital marketing and communication. However, they do not exclude keeping track of algorithm updates – especially for companies that have come this far through keyword strategizing and optimization toward greater organic search visibility.
2. The search engine algorithm still interest many
One of the biggest SEO portal and resource out there first started monitoring the history of updates to the Google search algorithm in 2011. Throughout 2012 alone, the number of page views for history of the algorithm literally skyrocketed. The page in question now boasts over 250,000 unique page views (a goal post they checked off in October) and the number of daily unique visitors continues to grow. In late April 2012, when Penguin first hit, it started booming and then never went downward again. This makes it rather clear that people need to understand the Google search algorithm and they will want to keep ‘chasing’ it for years to come
3. A little less speculation, a lot more fact checking
The worst way to think of the algorithm (or the least efficient, in milder terms) is to panic every time there is even a minor update. Not that this isn’t a common occurrence. Since the beginning of 2013, guest posters, for one, have regularly run into situations in which a webmaster will have worked themselves into a frenzy after an update and changed their policy on guest posts overnight. Literally. There is, however, a proper way to look into algorithm updates – and that involves a hefty dose of data analysis, critical thinking and actual strategizing, which takes into account cold, hard facts, not speculation.
4. It can make or break a company
Consider the last two major updates that Google rolled out and the massive number of companies that took a heavy blow in their wake. Panda and Penguin actually managed to close down companies, which were penalized by Google, following the algorithm changes, and lost a major chunk of their visibility by being removed from the SERPs. On the one hand, it makes sense that Google should update the way their crawlers process the information on the web. On the other, though, it would be unwise (putting in mildly…) to completely disregard the algorithm and dismiss it as passé. It’s still a game changer, if there ever was one.
5. The algorithm is influencing the world
You may have read the above statement and thought to yourself, ‘Oh, great, the conspiracy of Google! Give me a break, will you…’ Far from being proponents of conspiracy theories, we do believe that the gigantic search engine and its algorithm are literally changing the world as we know it, while we’re living in it. Consider the allegation that every four out of five searches via search engines are being performed through Google. The company is grossing over $40,000,000,000 each year. The algorithm is effectively a gateway to the repository of the world’s knowledge. And if you don’t think that means changing the world, you might just be deluded.