About two weeks ago, Google completed an update of their algorithm and listings. While this is something they do every few months (you can see a great recap of when these updates have occurred in the past here: Google PageRank Updates) it still causes a massive shakeup in the SEO world every time. For me, this update was well worth paying attention to for a number of reasons.
1. Learn Page Rank changes
As I have mentioned in the past, the Page Rank that Google assigns to any given web page is often reflective of how important it is to Google and how highly it will rank in Google search results. When Google does one of these big updates, it often modifies the PR of different web sites and pages to reflect changes since the last update. Generally speaking, if you’ve increased traffic, backlinks and content by enough, PR will go up. In my case, I went from a PR3 to a PR2 – this decrease is probably due to the fact that it was not within the last three months, but the three months before that in which I wrote an article that got on the front page of digg, temporarily bringing me a huge increase in traffic and backlinks. I care when Google does an update because I can see how my site’s value has changed in Google’s eyes through change in PR.
2. See if SEO has been working
Search Engine Optimisation is tricky for me as it is often difficult to gauge results. I can optimise my text, no-follow the right links, and build backlinks to The Top Floor Flat, but generally speaking, it takes a few months to see any impact and it’s all but impossible to attribute any change in search engine rankings to any one action or event. When Google does an update, it’s a chance to see where rankings have improved, where they have fallen, and compare that to overall improvements in the site. For example, I’ve seen an increase in my ranking for the term “Reposado restaurant” – the Palo Alto restaurant I reviewed a while back.
3. Gauge competitor’s SEO
Google updates its algorithms across the board, not just for your site so of course you see how things are looking for all web players after the shakeout. Upon doing a search for your key search terms, are you seeing your competitors more often? Perhaps they’ve got a new SEO strategy and you need to make sure that you are staying up to date with your own SEO goals. Have the PRs of your competitors increased? Maybe they are getting more backlinks – take a look at who’s linking to them.
For anyone heavily involved in SEO, it’s difficult to miss a Google update (the Twitter and Blog chatter on the subject during the update was a clear indication of how important a subject it is) but for someone just learning about SEO who might not have seen an update before, as was the case for me, it might be easy to miss, or questionable why an update is so important. For me, seeing a change in page rank, a change in actual search listing results and the changes in my competitor’s SEO is an indication of whether or not I’m on the right track in my own SEO attempts. I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled in about three months for Google’s next major update. Want to learn more about Google? Check out this interesting interview with Google employees.