by John Hall, Contributor
SEO experts and webmasters spend a lot of time worrying about Google algorithm changes. In 2013, the search engine giant tweaked the algorithm 15 times, and in 2012, it was updated 37 times.
Worrying about algorithm updates may make sense for SEO experts and webmasters, but content creators don’t have time to keep up with that. Here are some major changes Google has made and how they apply to content:
Move to Secure Organic Searches
This means that you can no longer mine Google Analytics for keyword data, leaving website owners in the dark about what word searches were used to find or stumble upon their site. Remember when that “Not Provided” section first appeared? This percentage of search data has been growing since 2010, and on September 23, 2013, Google finally shut off all information.
This is a blow to those still focused on keyword bombing and density rates; however, those who create quality, creative, and helpful content should see this as reaffirming. Google is giving those trying to game the system less firing power. Instead of focusing on keywords, pay attention to user actions on your site.
A Nonexistent Update to PageRank
PageRank is a ranking of how many links your site has pointing back to it. Links essentially work as votes, raising your credibility and showcasing your site as high-quality. The problem? Google hasn’t updated the PageRank meter since early 2013, and there isn’t a clear idea of when — or even if — it will be fixed.
If you’re still focused on getting links from sites with a high PageRank, you can stop — immediately. While there might still be some value, the main idea is that Google doesn’t want to emphasize page ranking. Instead, you should be focused on driving traffic, converting visitors, and becoming an authority within your own niche.
The Hummingbird Conversation
One of the more recent updates to the Google algorithm is Hummingbird, which was released in September 2013.
Google wants to understand conversations, concepts, and relationships. In voice searches, for example, you can ask, “Where is Miley Cyrus from?” After the answer is delivered, you can follow up with, “How old is she?”
(Nashville and 21, by the way.)
Hummingbird is still evolving and doesn’t always work, but Google is putting serious effort into making search more conversational and less keyword-focused.
Google Authorship for Ranking
It’s still not very apparent how Google Authorship — or the still unconfirmed Author Rank — will affect searches. Experts predict that Google will use your author profile to determine your credibility, expertise, and authority on a subject in order to determine the quality (and therefore ranking) of your content.
In his recent book, “The New Digital Age,” Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt wrote, “Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results. The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance.”
Google could also use your social profile to gauge how many shares an article has, your individual following, and the authority of the site you’re publishing on. If you’re consistently publishing quality content on authority sites that relate to your niche, Google may rank your article higher than articles not associated with an author.
Google Algorithm and Content Creators
Ultimately, the key to Google’s algorithm changes lies in its guidelines for content creation:
Content is key. Good content — clear, concise, informative — is better than bad content.
Use plain English. Write for real people.
Keep links to a reasonable number. Make your content readable.
Really, it all goes back to one idea: Create quality content, and you won’t have to worry about it riding the Google update rollercoaster.