Ad Technology

Google Algorithm Updates: How to Prepare for the Unpredictable


Jess Carson Headshot (2)It’s only the end of April and already there have been multiple updates to search algorithms that have left digital marketers reeling. There are still updates that have happened that Google has yet to “confirm”. So, in a world of fluid changes in the SERPs, what do we, as digital marketers, do to prepare for the unpredictable?

Quality Content is King

First thing’s first, and something you’ll hear seasoned SEOs preach over and over: Content is king! But to take it a step further, quality content is king. As the engine’s experience a continual trend towards becoming true “answer” engines, user experience is an ever-growing important factor when it comes to content. So now, you’re probably thinking, “okay, but what does that mean?” Well, firstly, length doesn’t necessarily mean quality. If an article is long but not optimized for the search engine, what good does it do? If it’s long and optimized for the search engine, but hard to read and understand, what user is going to actually engage with it?

Which leads me to my next point. Be unique and be engaging. Add in videos, infographics, and other shareable elements that will cause a user to not only read it, but share it, bookmark it, and keep coming back for more. This ups your page authority, lending to the overall trust factor of your site. And lastly, even though you may have done an excellent job at researching, it doesn’t mean you should try to rank for everything on one page. Make sure your content is relevant to the user or else you’re just wasting everyone’s time. Keeping quality content on your site will assist you in staving off penalizations when Google releases a sudden quality update.

Stalk the Blogs

Another way of staying afloat within the SERPs is by making sure you stay up-to-date on what algorithm changes have happened and what’s to come. Sites like Moz, Search Engine Land, and Google’s official blog are constantly talking about the chatter among digital marketers. There are hints and rumors of things to come (like the impending mobile-first update) to give you a heads up on what to pay attention to on your site.

A lot of the experts within each blog are ready and available for QAs, have Twitter chats and will serve up live Facebook feeds when it comes to the digital landscape. Carving out time during each day will help you understand how the search engines are evolving and will prepare you for what’s coming down the pipeline (confirmed or not).

Links, Methinks

One of the easiest ways to get dinged by an algorithm update (I’m looking at you, Penguin) is by having “spammy” links or obtaining links utilizing “black hat” techniques. Now, with the update to Penguin, these penalizations can happen a lot quicker than they used to. But, on the other hand, so can recoveries. As the major algorithms experience tweaks here or there, every now and again, there is a major change to it. So, as links are one of the elements that is hard to control, it is crucial that you keep an eye on your external links.

Check out tools like the Open Site Explorer from Moz or SEMRush to set up automatic alerts as to your backlinks. Tools such as these will tell you how many links are coming in, the quality of those links, and will give you a leg up on disavowing those links that bring down the quality of your site overall.


These are just a few of the ways you can keep your site prepped for any impending updates. Your site needs to include best practices when it comes to structure, technical elements, and on-page content. Avoid utilizing black hat techniques. They may seem like quick wins but, in the end, the engines are becoming smarter and those sites usually employing such tactics are the first to suffer.

All in all, make sure your site is mobile-friendly, engaging, and relevant to the user. Monitor your analytics and take necessary steps to improve whichever element was “hit” with an algorithm update. The good news is, if you catch it early, you’ll see recovery fairly quickly.