Small business vs algorithm change: Why you shouldn’t panic
There’s often a lot of fuss made in the online marketing world about Google algorithm changes and how they affect the appearance of small businesses in search results. Whilst it’s certainly true that changes from Google can have dramatic effects if you’re not playing by the rules, the chatter about them is often overblown. If you’re a small business owner, working as a sole trader perhaps, or running a gym or restaurant, you actually have very little to worry about. In fact, you should feel more positive than ever about what Google has in store.
What is an algorithm change?
When we talk about algorithms, what we mean are the complex network of interwoven factors that Google uses to decide what to display when a user makes a search. If ‘algorithm changes’ feels like an intimidating description we could simplify it down to ‘search results display’ changes. With that in mind, it’s easy to understand why some people panic a little – the thought of Google moving the goal posts after months or years of SEO work is not exactly comforting.
So why does Google make these changes?
The thing is, as a small business owner you really shouldn’t worry. Google is not trying to catch out your fitness classes, or destroy your local customer base. The vast majority of people looking for local businesses and services, be they gym groups, carpet cleaners, coffee shops or anything else, turn to Google to start their search. By making changes to its algorithms, Google is trying to make sure that it delivers the most useful set of results.
So don’t worry, providing you’re playing by the SEO guidelines you’re far more likely to see your search performance improve after an algorithm update than you are to see it fall. It’s true, Google is run by regular people and sometimes they get it wrong, occasionally results do suffer. But if that is the case chances are the majority of your competition will suffer equally. Just remember, if you’re reading this chances are you’re running a genuinely great, useful business and Google wants to help you, not penalise you. There have been several instances where Google has reversed algorithm updates that it found to be unhelpful.
If there’s nothing to worry about, why do people worry?
Unfortunately there are a lot of marketing companies, websites and blogs, which much like sensationalist newspapers, are invested in playing on peoples fears in order to increase their own traffic. By using a lot of search-related jargon and scare mongering language, some have found success in boosting sign ups to their SEO plans by worrying and confusing small business owners. It can also help drive up traffic and ad revenue for websites. By racing to be the first to cover an algorithm update, a blogger would stand a chance of catching the majority of search traffic looking for information in the immediate aftermath of the change.
Is there anything that you should do?
So what should you actually do, if anything, to deal with Google’s on going evolution? Well, we should really start with what you should not do. Never trust anyone offering SEO quick fixes, instant results or guaranteed rankings. The majority of the time these promises are false. When it is possible to create a quick spike it’s because someone has figured out how to game the system, a bit like when someone finds a bug to get past a smartphone lock screen. The thing is, results might be amazing for a few days, but Google quickly catches on. Remember, Google wants to show users genuinely useful content. If Google couldn’t offer users useful results then they would go out of business.
With this in mind, it’s pretty obvious that when Google finds pages that have exploited it’s algorithm they will be punished, usually dropping well below their previous rankings, if not being blacklisted entirely. So rather than what you should do, the real stress is on what you shouldn’t do – work with anyone promising SEO with a rapid return. Proper SEO is built over months and comes from a credible, professionally maintained and fully functioning website, supported by whole load of hard work around it. Your business deserves better than short term workarounds that exploit algorithm updates, steady long term growth should be the goal.
Yes, this might be what you’d expect to hear from a marketing agency, but high up on the list of what you should do is a build a maintain a good working relationship with a marketing and SEO company you can trust. Marketing and SEO investments will more than pay for themselves if you work with a reliable SEO agency who are in it for the long run. An experienced agency will be able to comfortably ride out any changes to Google’s algorithm without panic. Yes it will take a while to feel the benefit of SEO work at the beginning of your relationship, there really are no quick fixes, but as time progresses your marketing partner will grow to understand the strengths of your business and will grow alongside you.
The end result is that when algorithm changes do happen, your website is ready to get the boost it deserves – the hard work has paid off, Google recognises the credibility and value of the site and rewards it. Not only that, but you’ll guarantee no knee jerk reactions to updates that could affect your steady, reliable long term growth.
If you want to talk further
Many of our clients have been with us for years and during this time we’ve been through loads of algorithm changes together, some big, some small, some announced, some unacknowledged, even by Google. Come what may, we’ve been able to deliver steady results and have always been transparent about when business can expect to feel the benefit of our work to stay on top of Google’s updates. We’d rather be honest than make false promises. If you’re interested in working with us to improve the search performance of your small business then we’d love to chat with you at no obligation and put together a strategic plan for your local seo service.