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Weathering the Algorithm Storms

Updated on April 19, 2011

SEO service providers always keep a wary eye on the search engine algorithm because just when they think they’ve got it by the throat it turns around and kicks them in the shins. The simple fact, though, is that the relationship doesn’t have to be quite this adversarial. Despite the fact that even small algorithm changes can do a lot of damage to the rankings we’ve worked so hard to build, if we follow some simple guidelines we can weather the storms and keep our heads above water.

The search engine algorithms change for one of two reasons. The first is simply a natural process of continued evolution. The way we use the Internet today is very different from the way we used it just ten years ago. User behavior and consumer feedback continually contribute to this kind of evolution as the search engines try and provide the most relevant results.

The second reason is to counter the unethical behavior of some SEO companies. Despite their best efforts, the search engines will always have some loopholes, and many search engine optimization campaigns have been built around those exploits. Eventually, though, the search engines will catch on, make the change, and severely drop your rankings. (This was evidenced in the most recent Google update that penalized all the content farms.)

The Most Important Guideline

If you really want to survive the wild algorithm changes, you really only have to subscribe to one basic guideline: Provide Something Of Value. (Yes, this principle is important enough to capitalize every letter.) All of your search engine optimization efforts have to orbit around this one central principle because without something of value in the middle, there won’t be enough gravitational pull to keep everything from floating away.

To take this principle a step further, you need to make sure you are providing something of value to the consumer, not the search engines. After all, the search engines themselves are solely focused on providing value to real people – so why aren’t you? If you are concentrating your efforts on creating the kind of content that only a search engine spider could love, you may find that your site won’t be ready for even the smallest storms.

The Intrinsic Value of Content

If you look at the history of search engine optimization, you will see that many different trends have come and gone. From the early days of meta tags and on-page text all the way up through strategic link building and social networking, there is one thing that has always stayed constant – the value of good content.

Some companies have tried to game that system over the years, too, and have turned to auto generated content or “borrowed” content for all their needs. These tactics very rarely provide any beneficial gains and they will quickly put up some red flags for most search engines.

The simple question you have to ask yourself is: if I came across this content online, would I actually want to read it? We all know that search engine spiders will read anything, but you need to tailor your content to a more discerning audience. When you provide something that others actually want it will be easier to make it through the storm because you won’t be alone. Others will be pulling for you the whole time.

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