Webmasters and search engine optimizers tend to discuss Google updates to death, trying to extrapolate supposed changes in Google's ranking algorithm from selfish rants of disappointed site owners. Every major update results in thousands of posts. 99.99% of them are totally pointless. GoogleGuy fills the 0.01% trying to set the records straight, usually vainly. Savvy oldtimers ignore this waste of time and space, but -unexplainably and surely not driven by common sense- zillions of webmasters do make changes based on assumptions in these soap operas. After Google's bourbon update (May/June 2005) Liane wrote this great call for rationality.
Before you change your websites after a Google update ... THINK!
Every time there is a major update some sites tank, go missing or drop in the SERPs and webmasters rush off to “tweak” their sites, thinking they have to do “something” right away! After all, we are all human beings and subject to fits of panic ... particularly when it comes to our financial well being. Right?
I truly understand the wish to “fix” whatever you may perceive to be “wrong” as soon as possible, but I would caution you to understand one simple theory. The absolute best way to confuse webmasters or lull them into a false sense of security is to install a lag time between a “fix” and actual search engine results.
Lets just say that I am a Google engineer, completely fed up with webmasters bent on being first in the SERPS for their “keyword” and I am determined to foil every manipulative attempt made to gain position through all the various SEO tactics known to man ... which, after all, are openly frowned upon by my superiors and myself. We don’t WANT our results to be manipulated by anyone but us!
Soooo ... I sit in my office, hour after hour, intent on solving my dilemma ... which is “how do I stop them?”, ... while repetitively and mindlessly throwing an Indian rubber ball against the wall, catching it (almost robotically) by making minor adjustments in my hand movements to ensure I catch it.
After a little while, the path the rubber ball takes becomes intensely boring, so I bounce it from one corner of the room across a short distance to the next corner and then back to my hand position. It doesn’t take long until I get that rhythm too and can do it almost robotically as well ... and without even paying a great deal of attention to the the ball!
Suddenly, my problem (and solution) begins to take shape! That silly little Indian rubber ball is the answer! I start finding more complex yet mathematically inevitable paths the ball must travel while still ending up in my hand! I realize that I can bounce that ball off the walls any number of ways and any number of times ... yet I can still make it end up in my hand or very close to my hand!
Now lets apply the same theory to search engine results!
Remember that I am a Google engineer and my job is to stop webmasters and SEO “experts” from manipulating our results. I theorize that if X = nearly perfect results ...or as close to perfect as a robot can get (given my incredibly brilliant algorithm and fabulous filters) ... then I don’t want to stray too far from “almost perfect results”. How do I do that and still manage to shake off the fleas who are making me scratch every little itch?
I perceive myself as the victim of thousands of serial stalkers (SEO’s/fleas) and in order to go “home” safely, without having to scratch those itches ... I must find a random path which constantly changes but always takes me back to the same “almost perfect place” without fleas/SEO’s on my tail!
Enter rolling updates!
Enter time lags between algo changes
Enter filters used as time bombs and calibrated to go off whenever I wish! Lets say 3 updates after your last change to any given page!
Filter changes I initiate this month will not affect the SERPS for 3 months, or 53 days or 79 days or 26 days ... whatever I choose! But one filter I decide I want to try out might take effect immediately. After all, I am the guy behind the curtain who throws the swithches. I can do whatever I want, whenever I want!
So you change a page on your site today and as soon as the next update rolls around, you find your page is doing just great ... just as you thought! You scoped it out perfectly! Your number 1! You are bloody brilliant! Google is soooo easy to manipulate!
You make no changes and the site is raking in money for three months ... then it suddenly tanks and the site is listed URL only ... for no “apparent reason”! Google is evil!
The Google engineer sits back, bounces his Indian rubber ball against the wall whilsts gleefully chugging a beer and waiting for the threads at WebmasterWorld start to appear before his very eyes while saying, “take that you jackasses!” ... “Think you are smarter than me, do you?” ... “Bwaaaaaahahaha”!
My point is that there is no longer any way to know what Google is doing at any given point in time. The ability to initiate random filters and algo changes with a fixed or floating lag time is the perfect solution to keeping SEO types running around in circles ... perpetually.
Their may be absolutely nothing wrong with your site! Leave it be and wait several months before doing anything at all. Update that which needs to be updated and leave the rest alone!
In my opinion, the only solution to these random changes is to do nothing unless you need to for business purposes. Take a hiatus from checking your logs and add as much quality content as you can stand ... before you puke! Write like a normal human being while keeping in mind that robots are dumb and need to be told what your page is about, then cross your fingers and hope for the best.
My belief is that SEO is dead. Content is king ... long live the king!
By the way, a friend of mine stopped over and I’ have to admit to having had more than a “few” drinks ... so take all of the above for what its worth and with a large pinch of salt! I’ve never been known for my drinking stamina!
Last Update: Monday, June 13, 2005