Apocalypse – Penguin, Panda, and EMD Missiles
In the past week we have seen some major changes to Google Search pushed by Google, an algorithm Update, a EMD algorithm update and a Penguin Update, all within the span of a week. The rate of data refreshes is alarming. The rate signifies a few things though, most importantly that Google is comfortable enough as king of search to start tinkering with the results without having to wait too long to see the results (or complaints). No matter how many Bing taste tests Microsoft does, they are being dwarfed.
This heralds both good and bad news for SEO’s out there and their clients. Depending on how the algorithm works with the methods an SEO employs, it could spell disaster or victory. Some may call this a SEO Armageddon and that SEO is dead. Their position is that Google is killing SEO doesn’t want SEO’s to succeed or exist! This is not the case, as can be seen in this article and infographic from SEOBook and Search Engine Land on how these harbingers have been decreeing the death of SEO for years.
One of the most significant changes, and a good one in my opinion, is the drop of focus on Exact Match Domains (EMDs). Google sent an EMD Missile at that old SEO tactic, blowing it to smithereens. Finally, we have written proof and reason to tell clients they don’t need to buy kittyclumpinglitter.com and 5 other exact match domains to redirect to their website, or worse…build their website on it.
Shuffling the Deck – Keeping it Fresh
Let’s talk about why SEO can’t die, no matter what Google does to search, or how they change the algorithm. The irony is that changing SERP’s is good for the economy, for user experience and for Google’s pocketbook. It evens the playing field and shuffles the deck so that up and coming websites may have a chance at attaining Google’s graces and the subsequent traffic that is bestows. It gets users closer to getting the answers they want faster. What it’s not good for is the client that just lost all his traffic due to an update. But never fear! Google has PPC ready for you while you recover your SEO. (not something a client wants to hear, but often the only short term solution!)
Let’s think about it though. Shuffling the deck, ordinarily, and making tweaks here and there, keeps webmasters and SEO’s on their toes. As soon as SEO know the game and the rules are well understood, it is won, it is over, and then its spam city. The techniques that get your to rank open the floodgates for spammers that start devising methods to game the system and users can’t find what they want, because anyone with enough bucks can hire a company to get to the top.
Google cannot and will not ever maintain or perfect their algorithm…simply because it is mathematical, and you should only be able to buy your way to the top with PPC. The only way to keep the formula from being discovered, is to change the formula and non systematically go in different directions to render old methods of gaming the system ineffective. This is where Penguin, Panda, and other curiously named updates come in. They send people on a mission to discover the next formula. This boosts revenue for SEO companies, especially newer companies as businesses shuffle through SEO companies, blaming the previous company and looking to the next for new answers. It shuffles money into the economy, as companies not getting much traffic suddenly start booming and making sales, while others scramble to invest in other marketing methods or PPC /Affiliate Marketing to keep up. This shuffle doesn’t always happen, sometimes clients end up with an SEO company that uses brand based methods and cleanly thought out digital marketing plans that go beyond generic whitehat SEO strategy and risky blackhat witchcraft.
The funny and interesting thing is this is the very basic principle behind gamification, and more specifically massively multi-player online gaming theory: constantly creating new content and new achievements so that the game never stagnates, and there is no “end” or “pinnacle” except for a peak on the current interval of gameplay in time before the rules suddenly change. It is game mechanics applied to search. I am sure many marketers out there have heard how you can “gamify” your website, sales, salespeople, and business in general. It is absolutely true, and it works.
As an SEO company, we try to hold as many cards as we can while the deck gets shuffled, and we play carefully and employ long term strategies. Sometimes we don’t get to the top quickly or first, but we stay there more consistently and reliably. Don’t ever think Google’s poker face is easy to read and they will never show their cards!