What COVID Stats and Google Algo Updates Have in Common

by | Jan 20, 2024 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

A decade ago in my early years of SEO, I followed Google algo updates intensely and intently.

It was much like the early weeks of COVID-19 in South Africa.

Whenever the number of cases went up by 1 or 2 nationwide, it was literally breaking news.

All the details of the unfortunately afflicted were discussed. Age, location, occupation, family, travel history, etc. Early patients were even interviewed and quoted in the major media.

Then it went from dozens to hundreds to thousands of cases, and it all just became a blurry figure. Exact day-to-day reporting was no longer newsworthy as cases and deaths rose and fell en-masse.

The greater concern shifted to the draconian lockdown measures and economic collapse.

Anyhow – following Google algo update news are much the same way.

After awhile of following the hype of analysis updates, you begin to realize after a couple years, that, practically, not much changes from algo update to algo update.

Yes, there are exceptions:

  • Florida (2003)
  • Jagger (2005)
  • Panda (2011)
  • Penguin (2012)
  • Hummingbird (2013)
  • HTTPS/SSL (2014)
  • Medic (2018)
  • Page Experience Update (2021)

And that’s it.

I exlcuded HTTPS/SSL (2014), Mobile-Friendly Update (2015), Intrusive Interstitials Update (2017), Mobile Page Speed Update (2018) because they involved very clear-cut, more developer changes. For example, switching to HTTPS, improving page speed, removing annoying pop-ups. Of course they all are SEO-related and impact rankings. But they warranted changes so clear-cut, that SEO theory was never required.

There’s only 1-2 major algo updates every five years that warrants a major change to how you do SEO. Only 1-2 major algo updates every five tears that warrants hours of your time to analyse, backtrack, and change strategy.

And many of these apply if, and only if, your website is doing something wrong already.

What You Should Do Instead

Do This for 30 Minutes Only When Researching a Major Algo Update

First, don’t research immediately. Give it two weeks for the roll-out to roll, and webmasters to publish their thoughts. Then:

  • Read the comments of Barry Swhartz. He does a good job of summarsing findings from multiple sources, including forums and Google (John Mueller, Danny Sullivan).
  • Read an article or two on Search Engine Journal. Typically easier to read than Barry.
  • Visit the sub-Reddits: Big SEO, Tech SEO, and SEO. Sort by top posts in the last two weeks. Look for patterns in the wins or losses of users. Try correlate the findings from the articles above, to what users are actually reporting.
  • This is the big one: Visit BlackHatWorld. Users are very open in sharing their experiences and screenshots.

In Summary

Don’t be overhwlemed about following SEO algo news to the T. It won’t make you a better SEO.

Place more value on forum and X chatter. Greyhat, blackhat, link builders and old-school experts (like Glen Allsop, Josh Bachynski, Charles Floate) generally don’t sugercoat their advice.

Only pay custorsy attention to mainstream sources like Barry Schawrtz, John Mueller, and Danny Sullivan. Google is not your friend. There is massive disconnect between what they say they’re trying to do with an update, to what is actually happening in real world outcomes.

Unless you can make practical changes on your websites after reading something, ignore the chatter.


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