The MAJOR Changes Google Has Made
Google has been refining its algorithm and changing its services since its inception. It seems every six months or so we here about another Google algorithm change with some new name: Caffeine, Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird, etc.. So what makes the latest changes so special? The answer is the scope and the obvious intent of the change. While most of the other changes and been refinements, this one was a major change and really uncovered a new direction for Google. While in the past, Google has always been at war against SEO spamming, some are saying now that Google has just declared war on SEO itself.
Why do people say that? Because three major changes occurred together:
- The Hummingbird algorithm update
- The change to the Keyword Tool
- The change in their analytics
We’ll take them one at a time.
1) The Algorithm change. Though Google of course says little about the changes it makes to its algorithm and usually just explains each as a new way to provide higher quality, more relevant content to users. This was the same. But this one definitely effected rankings. Not rankings for some sites. Rankings for all sites. Of course this is just an opinion, but looking over several dozen client sites, I can definitely say that everyone’s rankings changed… mostly for the worse. No real rhyme or reason to it. Some rankings stayed the same. Some went down.
Hard to understand.
Until you combine this with the other two changes.
2) Changes to the Keyword Tool. Google made big changes to the way people access their database of information. It’s difficult to explain what it was, but to summarize, it provided very different information than what they used to provide with a much more limited scope. The official line was that it was redesigned to be more helpful for Pay Per Click (PPC) users, which I’m not sure about. That is debatable. What is not debatable is that it made it much more difficult for people to use that information for organic SEO purposes.
3) Changes to Google Analytics. At the same time Google was “refining” its keyword tool, it was also making major changes to its analytics data. Here they decided to greatly limit the number of keywords they were going to reveal to its users. This is a key in determining how effective your SEO campaign is doing. If you don’t know what search phrase people used to get to your site, how do you know how well your targeted terms are being optimized. Google’s official statement on this is that is for “privacy” reasons, meaning that the government can’t come spy on the keywords your website is getting traffic from, but packaged with the other changes, it makes it very obvious that they are trying to hamper efforts at organic SEO. Privacy from the government? That’s a thin argument as the government is probably the only entity that could figure out how to get around this effort to block the information. Why they would want it, who knows? So they only privacy they are likely achieving is privacy from site owners from knowing how their site is doing in the Google search engine.
I repeat that any one of these changes would not have raised an eyebrow from me, but taken together it seems obvious that Google is using it’s formidable power to try to hamper efforts at getting free rankings on its search engine.
Why would they do that? If you stop paying someone to rank your site organically (because it doesn’t work), you are left with only one option: PPC, their amazing cash cow.
So what are B2B firms supposed to do? Give up on SEO? Hardly. SEO has taken a hit for sure. But it’s far from knocked out. In part 3, I will show some of the ways you can protect your online marketing from these changes.
See the Google Algorithm change Part 1