Google keeps changing, and this doesn’t make everyone happy. We’ve all heard the horror stories of a small business that lost big when it plummeted from a top of Google page ranking because of changes to Google search algorithms.
It’s easy for these “victims” to paint Google as the bad guy, but that’s not the case. How well a business fares in the competition for front-page ranking is usually tied to the practices of their SEO services provider.
One of Google’s ongoing goals is to thwart black-hat SEO practices that artificially boost the rankings of a site based on black-hat tricks, and at the same time reward credible sites that follow best SEO practices. In a post on the Google Webmaster Central Blog, the head of Google’s webspam team, Matt Cutts, provided this explanation:
“The goal of many of our ranking changes is to help searchers find sites that provide a great user experience and fulfill their information needs. We also want the ‘good guys’ making great sites for users – not just algorithms – to see their effort rewarded.”
Staying abreast of Google’s ever-changing search algorithms and “playing by the rules” is key to Sinai Marketing’s ability to place their clients at or near the top of Google rankings and keep them there, says company CEO Ali Husayni.
“Google relies heavily on SEO professionals to prepare sites to be properly indexed, identified and ranked by its search algorithm,” he says. “They encourage white-hat SEO because when we do our job right, it makes theirs easier – and that makes the good information on the Web easier to locate.”
By contrast, companies that engage in black-hat SEO practices are constantly fighting an ever-losing battle, Husayni says.
“Google eventually catches up with them, and in the next algorithm update, they may lose their somewhat easily-earned ranks to the sites that have engaged in white-hat SEO only,” he says. “Because we follow only white-hat practices, our company doesn’t worry about these downgrades.”
One example of how the “good guys” win happened after a recent Google update, which moved Sinai Marketing from the number six position to number two for an extremely competitive keyword: “best SEO.”
“Google downgraded some of our competitors who were involved in shady black- or gray-hat SEO practices,” Husayni says. “We just continued with our white-hat practices and eventually, we got ahead of the wolves.”
There is, of course, much more to high quality SEO work than good intentions.
“The devil is in the details,” Husayni says. “There are more than 200 criteria Google looks at when ranking a page.”
Among the many factors that can increase a site’s Google ranking is the proper optimization of well-written content, which involves such specifics as including headine tags, URL-structure, placing the right keywords within the article and talking about the article on your social media platforms, he says.
One positive phenomenon brought on by the ongoing evolution of the Google search algorithm is the increased value placed on quality content.
“Building sites that attract and retain visitors improves the experience and makes the Web a better place,” Husayni says. “Google is paying more attention to such practices.”
As a result, professional content development has become increasingly important in recent years. This includes not only text but also images and video.
“Another important emerging factor is social media indicators,” Husayni says, “namely Google Plus. If your Google profile is tied into your site, your author image will be placed next to the search results. This helps to both increase the click-through rate and enhance site ranking.”
And, last but not least are the quality back-links that make sites more popular.
“This remains Google’s number one factor in deciding what sites should rank at the top,” Husayni says.
With each new change, Google will continue to seek and penalize questionable back-link practices. This not only weeds out the junk, but also helps push the good guys to the top.