If you haven’t realized by now, Google is constantly evolving. While their core algorithm still revolves around having reputable sites linking back to yours, Google’s been devising further ways to make sure websites don’t just ‘sneak’ their way into high rankings. So, how do these Google updates work and what does it mean for you?

Google’s updates are like checkpoints

Updates like ‘Panda’ and ‘Penguin’ work like checkpoints, which your site needs to pass through before you reach Google’s core algorithm. To explain further, imagine your website is travelling through the vastness of the internet, and in order to make its way to potential customers, it has to pass a few checkpoints. For example, before it can go any further, your website must successfully move through the Panda checkpoint, which combats against thin and duplicate content, as well as over optimisation. Once through, you’ll need to show Penguin that your use of anchor text, as well as source and destination variation, are up to scratch. Only after those checkpoints are cleared will you make your way to the core algorithm.

Now, some checkpoints are more important than others, but there’s no way to determine exactly to what extent. What we do know is that your site is evaluated with the use of these checkpoints. If you break Google’s rules, you won’t get past the checkpoint, which will make it hard to move up in the search results. You might even lose rankings you already had. There is some recourse to this though, which is getting a manual reviewer from Google’s team will evaluate your site. But, think carefully about this because it adds another thick layer to the entire process.

As a result of Google being ever changing, it makes all this checkpoint stuff even harder to keep up with. There are no fixed, guaranteed, and effective rules on how to optimise your site, nor are there a precise number of keywords that your web page must have. In fact, the algorithm’s behaviour varies in relation to keywords, competition, and the kind of traffic the search engine encounters. For this reason, there are only ‘best practice’ guidelines we can follow.

Quality produces well-deserved rankings

What Google wants is the best possible experience for its users, and you know we can’t begrudge that. They want you to produce a quality website with great content, and quality links pointing to your site because they seek to redirect users to only the best possible matches. That said, remember, you will only get a high page rank if your website passes all of Google’s checkpoints as discussed above.

In the end, these Google updates are in place to reward good quality and end-user satisfaction. Only sites that follow best practices get those well deserved (and hard earned) rankings. If you play by the rules, you’ll breeze through the checkpoints and hopefully land in the number one spot. If you break the rules, Google will stop you at the very first checkpoint, and you’re not likely to go any further, meaning your rankings will suffer.

Do you know which checkpoint you’ve been stopped at? We have our own 150-point checklist to help a client’s website determine if it’s been hit by a Panda or Penguin update. Click here to know more about it.

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