Google is continuously tweaking their algorithm to make improvements to their search results. Their goal is simple: Show the absolute best information for every possible search phrase to make sure people keep “Googling” instead of turning to Yahoo or Bing. In other words, their business depends on satisfying demanding searchers who want instant answers for every conceivable question. It’s a tall order and it requires a complicated, ever-changing algorithm.
I don’t expect you to feel sorry for Google. But it’s important to realize where they are coming from and why they will never stop rolling out algorithm updates. If they do, then they will die. It’s as simple as that.
Why Did I Lose All My SEO Traffic?
When Google releases an algorithm update and your traffic plummets, it’s not because Google is “out to get you.” It’s because of one of the following two reasons:
- Another website provides information that Google’s users prefer versus your information (i.e. your competition is stealing your traffic)
- Google believes you’re trying to manipulate the search results, which ultimately negatively impacts their users (i.e. you’re using SEO tactics that are against Google’s terms of service)
Here’s an important point to remember – Google does not care which business is ranked #1 in their results, as long as the information is what their users want to see AND the business is following Google’s terms of service and best practices.
What Is Against Google’s Terms of Service?
For a complete list of Google’s SEO guidelines, click here. There’s a lot in that article, and it’s outside the scope of this post. I will highlight one item in particular because it’s related to the infamous Penguin update, which affected a lot of businesses recently. Plus, it’s a tactic some SEO companies still use despite the clear risks to their clients. Google specifically advises businesses against using “link schemes.” A link scheme is:
Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. This includes any behavior that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site.
Unfortunately, most of the business owners I talk to do not understand link schemes and they had no idea that’s what they were paying their SEO company to do each month. So essentially businesses were paying SEO consultants to get them penalized by Google! This is why I strongly recommend every business owner get a basic understanding of SEO before hiring a consultant do this type of work.
If you hired an SEO company and you’re not sure what they are doing, then now is a good time to clarify exactly how they are building links to your website. It’s possible they are using link schemes that will get you into trouble in the near future (if not already).