Search marketing has been dominated by one topic since 2011 – after a certain Panda came a long and gave the industry a hefty Kung Fu kick up the backside. Google’s first public algorithm shake up was just the start of a war on web spam and these days the whole marketing community seems to be awaiting that next big update.
Google’s a mysterious entity though, closely guarding everything to do with its precious algorithm. Yet the search engine has spent the last four years warning us about upcoming changes. Was this for our benefit? Not a chance. But it has helped in some way minimise the damage from the likes of Panda and its furry (but very aggressive) friends. Sadly though, the days of Google announcing updates could be numbered, leaving marketers and site owners to go it alone.
Why would Google stop announcements?
This is probably the wrong question to ask – and we’ll come back to this point shortly – but there are plenty of reasons for Google to keep hush about future updates. First of all, Google doesn’t like to give anything away and even when we get an announcement it’s normally pretty vague – so there’s no surprise in rumours that announcements could be scrapped.
Secondly, Google wants to move away from drastic updates and go for a more regular, incremental approach to developing its algorithm. In fact, this has already started and – apart from the approaching ‘mobile-friendly’ update – we’re not seeing as many brutal overhauls as we’ve come to expect.
This isn’t much of surprise either, because it makes no sense for Google to constantly revamp its algorithm. If the updates are achieving anything at all then each one should bring Google a giant step closer to an algorithm that doesn’t need major changes..
So why did Google ever tell us about updates to start with?
Now we’re asking the right question, because you can guarantee Google would have loved to keep quiet from the start – but it didn’t have much choice. Google’s search service was hijacked by SEOs, spammers and con artists, who littered the web with spam and made it impossible for Google to connect people to the content they were looking for.
Google had to take action and it needed everyone to know about it. Politely asking people to stop using black hat techniques simply wasn’t going to cut it, but if Google threatened to hit people where it hurt and showed them just how hard it could so, maybe things would change.
Four years later and webmasters are petrified of the biggest name in search. Google holds all the cards and we basically have to jump through any hoops it places in front of us. The only other option is a drop in search ranking and losing whatever business comes with it.
Google doesn’t need to tell us any more
So the only reason Google ever told us about algorithm updates is because it wanted us to jump in line and clean up our acts. Fast-forward to 2015 the search giant has pretty much made its point. Search marketing has changed from a race to crack (and exploit) the Google code to a game of submission, where we have no choice but to keep the biggest name in search happy.
So, while Google’s work isn’t done yet and more announcements will surely follow, you can be confident we’re only told what the search provider wants us to hear. Take Google’s quest to create a more mobile web for everyone – what more does it need to do than schedule in a ‘mobile-friendly’ update and make sure everyone knows about it? Job done.