Google algorithms for beginners

By Simone Sangha, Liniar.

If you’ve worked in marketing, you’ve probably heard the words ‘Google algorithms’ thrown around, often in a panic.

Google algorithms can be defined as logic created by Google in order to rank your website in search, by several different factors. In the past, we’ve seen big algorithm updates such as ‘Fred’ the update that targeted poor quality links, ‘Hummingbird’ which was based around long-tail keywords, and of course the mobile-friendly update in 2015, among many more.

Contrary to public opinion, algorithms aren’t something that can be left to just work in the background, and sometimes require time spent to ensure your website isn’t severely affected. An update from Google can massively skew web traffic figures as often as every month, so being prepared is essential.

Now, before I begin, you don’t need to be an SEO expert (although it does help). You just need to be relatively savvy and, most importantly, organised. My top three tips are:

Prepare. Preparation is key for a lot of marketing channels, and Google algorithms are no different. Google tends to issue warnings, so keeping certain dates and information about the type of algorithm should be at the forefront of your mind. It would also be handy to keep an eye on Serps (search engine results pages) for your most focused keywords and, even for the wider industry, to monitor fluctuations, as this may give you an indication of whether a major update has taken place.

Keep updated. As well as planned algorithm changes, it’s a good idea in any case to consistently keep yourself clued up about potential new updates and changes to older ones. A key example of this is when the meta description character length was updated, which meant marketers going through all the meta data for their websites. I would recommend setting up alerts and schedule in some time on a monthly basis to do your research and stay ahead.

Communication. Communication is important for any team members involved, as updates can involve tasks for a variety of different roles including copy that needs writing/re-writing, development on the back-end of the website and thorough analysis. So, get everybody involved to make changes as painless as possible.

There are many tools to use to track algorithms, including my personal favourites Search Engine Journal and Moz. Regardless of which tools work for you, algorithm updates can happen as frequently as a few times a month, so the tips above should help reduce risk and save you time in the long run

Bonus tip: I use my Analytics account to keep tabs on new updates from Google by typing them in the annotations section. This way, I can directly see if an update has affected the website’s traffic or behaviour, past and present, when I’m reporting on KPIs.