What Will Google Do Next?

I’m sometimes asked — and sometimes ask myself — What changes will Google make and when will it happen? If you care at all about your website’s ranking in a Google search, as you should, this is an important concern.

Every time Google or any major search engine decides to change their search criteria, many websites are affected. You might be sitting pretty at the top of page 1 of a Google search one day, then find your site far down in the rankings the next day.

This becomes one of those earth-shattering events that reverberates around the globe. It often makes the headlines, and the blogosphere erupts into an outcry of despair. Some smaller companies that depend completely on Internet sales can see their sales plummet if their sites are suddenly ranked lower.

So all of us in this business want to know when the next change will come and what it will be.

Well, it would be great if Google just told everyone in advance how they’re going to change their searching algorithm so we can make adjustments. But, like an earthquake, it’s just one of those “natural disasters” you can’t exactly predict (though we sometimes hear rumors of an impending change).

So the answer to the question above is, nobody knows. Google keeps a pretty tight lid on any information regarding its algorithms.

Sure, we all try to anticipate the search engine changes by following the trends. I look at search metrics about my clients’ websites every day. I talk to others in the search engine optimization and online reputation management business, and we discuss what’s working and what’s not. And if any major changes happen, we can adjust quickly.

What’s still working right now is having a lot of good, relevant and frequently-updated content on your website, and having plenty of legitimate backlinks to your site. No surprise there.

And keep in mind that the search engines often make changes to their algorithms to “punish” those who have achieved high rankings through trickery or devious means, such as cramming  a website full of targeted words that are invisible to the visitor, but that can be picked up by the search engines.

Since I don’t use or advocate these kinds of dishonest techniques for my clients, I’m not too worried that the next big search engine change will have any devastating effect on their website rankings. But I still keep a close eye on what Google is up to.