Google Algorithm Change

My wife is an insurance adjustor. She looks at cars that have been wrecked or damaged for a living. So when we get a big hail storm here in the Midwest, her life can be turned upside down. Seriously, she can go from handling three to five claims a day to as many as four times that amount. So when we see hail, it means she’ll be working extra hard for a few weeks.

Google’s algorithm changes are an SEO’s hail storm. One day, the SEO is marching along, building links, optimizing content, submitting press releases, and their client is ranking well and very happy. The next day, Google decides that their press releases are too spammy or the anchor text is over optimized. Their site falls from position three to page three. WTH? I specifically remember Google telling SEOs at SMX two years ago that they should use keywords in their anchor text as a signal to Google as to what keyword they’re promoting. Now that exact practice is considered “over optimization”.

Press releases used to be considered a great way to get word out about your business. Now pretty much everyone using PRWeb is doing so for the link juice so it’s unlikely that it’s as effective as it once was.

Blog networks used to work. Now they are being de-indexed.

Quality of Links

The quality of links, the anchor text, the diversity of links, the freshness of content, even URL structure – all these things play into this “hail storm” that SEOs are reacting to.

What is the extra hard work this creates for them? They must calm down their clients – explaining that, while they have been using best practices, they will now need to determine what are the new best practices by analyzing who lost ranking and who gained. SEOs are theorizing and analyzing and reading everything people are willing to write about what they are finding. It’s hard work. But it’s the challenge that SEOs signed up for.

Of course, a hail storm isn’t bad for everyone. The roofers and body shop owners see dollar signs when those little chunks of ice fall from the sky. So who wins when there is a Google hail storm? Google AdWords (aka PPC). It’s the quickest, easiest way to get to page one when SEO fails. I know I personally advised a couple of folks to fire up their PPC campaigns as soon as their rankings fell. They were able to recover a percentage of the traffic they lost when they fell to page three, but they’re having to pay Google for every one of those leads.

Conspiracy theory alert: Maybe Google just tweaks the algorithm to increase Adwords spend?

So which works better – SEO or PPC? There is a lot of debate on this subject. Obviously a lot depends on your goals, keywords, competition, ROI, etc. Personally, I think this LinkedIn Poll is a fantastic look at SEO vs. PPC. I would never try to answer this question in a blog post. There are way too many variables.
What I can tell you is that when there’s a Google algorithm change, PPC managers aren’t working overtime to right their whole world. In fact, they may actually be the salvation for those who are negatively impacted by Pandas and Penguins.
Thanks for reading.

David McBee
David McBee writes about SEO and Internet Marketing Education on his blog “Let’s Translate – Making Sense Out of Internet Gobbledygook.”