Nothing put more fear into top-ranked websites on Google than a search algorithm update by the world’s dominant search engine. This extends into small business websites that have hired SEO companies to boost their rankings on cheap, affordable web hosting platforms offered by Midphase.
Over the last several months Google has deployed several updates code named ‘Panda’ in an effort to inoculate itself against the growing tide of spammers and website scrapers who attempt to the game their way to the top of the rankings.
A negative consequence has been the recalibration of certain legitimate websites downwards, leading to a spree of complaints, jeers and disbelief by their owners that have come to rely on the gold-laden traffic to stimulate e-commerce conversions and further offline retail sales.
Once company affected by the search updates told the British paper, The Guardian:
“We were crushed by the Panda update, and the site is now gasping for breath,” she said. Traffic is down 75%, revenue is down 90%, and I’m getting seriously worried about the future”. (She has never bought adverts on Google, and isn’t thinking of doing so now). “Everybody says not to rely on Google, but there’s no way around it.”
The irony of these machine-updates is they are not in fact being driven by machines; rather people.
For years Google has steadfastly claimed that their core business philosophy is built upon programmatic rules to heuristically data mining sites on the World Wide Web to determine a search result. However, the twin threat of Facebook and content farming (a content-gaming strategy) has forced the search giant to acknowledge that oftentimes its results are flawed and imperfect.
They thus turned to an army of engineers and human-testers to implement quality control and decipher the quality of page-one search results.
“Human quality testers rated thousands of websites based on measures of quality, including design, trustworthiness, speed and whether or not they would return to the website,” said Wikipedia.
The result? Nearly 12% of all search queries were immediately affected in an effort to reward quality over quantity. Thus, the previous mechanisms you used to gain SEO traction on Google may now instead be hurting you, all because a human being is now analyzing the worth of your page rather than a machine exclusively.
There is perhaps a lesson here: If you design your website for Google specifically or SEO in general, you may actually be doing your website a disservice. It may come to the point where a website owner who does not pay any attention to SEO will actually rank higher than your site over the long term.