A few days ago I wrote about a Google search patent.
Short version of that post: the patent describes a method to “shuffle” your rankings between the time you make changes to a site and Google repositions your site’s pages in the SERPs (search results pages). This A. confuses people by adding noise to the outcome, hiding what’s working (if its working).
Then it B. “listens” to see if you make a second round of changes to your site as a result of the shuffling to confirm that you are doing something just for search engines.
Your site gets flagged in some way for closer review or higher sensitivity to negative ranking factors, like a reduced confidence score.
Of course, patents are not necessarily reality. But let’s say hypothetically this 2010 patent has been implemented at some point in the last decade.
Or at the very least, Google’s goal behind the patent (to prevent spammers from optimizing sites solely for SEO purposes) has been achieved in one, if not many, way(s) in the last 9 years.
That likelihood is very high.
So what’s the takeaway?
Don’t over-optimize your site.
Bloggers are jacks-of-all-trades. On any given day they could be:
- publishing content
- launching an info product
- getting interviewed for a podcast
- designing a banner image in Canva
- tinkering with their site’s code
- reading a list post on Hubspot about the 10 things you need to do to increase traffic
Bloggers aren’t SEO experts.
Over the past five years, Google algorithm updates have disproportionately affected bloggers.
So what should bloggers do? In the short term, two things:
1. Start thinking about diversifying your traffic sources
Include an offline strategy in your brainstorming. e.g. if the rest of the internet was gone tomorrow, how would I get the traffic I need to grow my business.
This type of constraints driven thinking can help you be more creative about your approach.
The web has also gotten weirdly competitive where offline traffic quality of attention and consideration is now higher and comes at a lower cost.
It’s a bit like how direct mail became cost prohibitive when search ads came out, and then search ads because too expensive, bringing the relative cost of direct mail way down.
2. Don’t frantically over-optimize your site
If a big algo update happens and your rankings drop, optimizing h tags, title tags, pointing links, etc., as a reaction is not the right move.
There are a handful of things that bloggers do (even big SEO agencies do) to optimize, that they probably shouldn’t focus on.
Don’t make changes just for the sake of SEO. Make changes to improve your site across the board with consideration to SEO.
The moment you start making “SEO” only changes is the moment you risk of triggering algorithmic thresholds like the aforementioned rank-modifying spamming patent.
It’s the moment you start thinking about how to get “traffic” instead of what’s best for your users’ experience.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t do SEO. It’s just to say that your resources are limited so you shouldn’t shoot yourself in the foot because:
- its probably not going to work very long if at all anyway
- its going to create a poorer experience for your users who probably prefer your non-SEO copywriting
- its tactical when you should be thinking strategically about how you can do things that benefit users, search, and sales in a cooperative way