Last Friday, there was a lot of discussion about the latest changes in the search results. Some thought that Google had released an update or a refresh of Panda or Penguin; instead, Google announced that this was not the case (there was no major update or specific changes to announce), and that it was just making usual “tweaks.” Watch this Daily Brown Bag to learn what we know about Google’s updates and how to best weather any changes ahead! We also cover the importance of Real SEO, earning links and having a diversified, well-rounded online marketing strategy for yourself and your clients.

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Hello, and welcome to The Daily Brown Bag. Today we’re going to be talking about the most recent Google algorithm update… or not. I’m Chad Hill, and I’m joined by Adam Stetzer.

Hey, good morning, Chad. Welcome to the Brown Bag. Google algorithm updates are a popular topic among our white label SEO reseller community. We hear this in our 4 p.m. Q&A quite regularly if something changed. Just last Friday, Chad, there was a lot of chat around the internet about potential changes in the search results. Maybe this was an update. Maybe this was a refresh. We had folks in our white label SEO Q&A and our forums asking, “Is this a Panda or Penguin update?” We want to report here this morning that Google has made some responses on this, and they said, “This was just us making our usual tweaks,” but that there was no major update or specific change to the algorithm to announce. Google also said that this was not related to Penguin or Panda, so I think that should put most people at ease. Although, some people did see some changes in their search engine rankings. Perhaps not.

We get questions like this all the time from our reseller and small business customers whenever there are fluctuations in the search results, and they always want to get a definitive answer. “You guys are the experts. Tell us why.” It can be a little frustrating. But the bottom line, Chad, is no one really can predict what changes or update Google will implement next.

What We Do Know About Google

What we do know is that:

  • Google has been and will continue to constantly make changes in their striving to improve their user experience.

  • What they’re obviously trying to do -- to bring us back to the fundamentals here in search engine optimization -- is they’re trying to match their users and what they’re looking for with real, relevant, and useful content.

Google Updates -- How Can You Can Best Weather Any Changes Ahead?

It does lead into a very good, sort of timeless conversation, Chad. I feel like we’ve been having this one for seven years now, but "how do you assure you can stay ahead of any of the changes that Google may be thinking about implementing next"?

It’s a great question, Adam. I think Google actually made a change here that’s worth noting. With Matt Cutts leaving and taking a long-term leave of absence from Google, they really have removed the face man to what’s going on on the algorithm update side of things and to the webmasters. They’ve replaced him with a number of people who don’t really seem to have the same authority. So I think that the days of Google talking about and naming their updates… I think those are over.

A great example is even people like Moz, with a very good calendar of where the algorithm updates are, they’ve even said -- I’m looking at their calendar now -- they haven’t been able to pinpoint any updates since Penguin Everflux on December 10th. This essentially means that things like Penguin are just going to keep updating and refreshing and there isn’t going to be one big update or release.

Keeping Yourself & Your Clients Up to Speed on Google Algorithm Updates

Again, the days of definitely knowing it was released -- the days of saying -- 2.1 impacted my site -- may be over. We don’t know. It’s hard to tell. Certainly, this year, it’s been a lot more difficult. That brings us back to your question, Adam, which is, "What do you do?" If you’re using us as an SEO reseller or you’re looking for white-labeled services, "what do you do to keep yourself and your clients up to speed on the latest Google algorithm updates ahead of them?"

  • What we always talk about is try to do Real SEO. That’s what we’ve been talking about for over a year now. The big thing here is don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

  • Try to have a diversified, well-rounded online marketing program -- not just within your SEO, but also across all of the different opportunities there are for generating leads online. That means, if SEO was 100% of your lead generation, a couple of years ago, you need to diversify your marketing strategy: work on your paid search, work on other advertising mechanisms, work on your social media, your email marketing. That’s really important.

When you narrow it down in the SEO -- again -- don’t put all of your eggs in one basket there either. If you were just doing press releases and that was working really well a couple of years ago, it probably isn’t now.

You need to be thinking about content marketing, and really the main thing with content marketing is trying to build relationships and earn links. So the big shift has gone from talking about link building -- and there are a lot of people still using that phrase and it definitely slips out, even today -- but, really, when you’re talking about link building, it’s all about earning the links because you have to build those relationships. So that’s a big shift, and I’m not sure everyone out there has gotten the word and understands that.

There are still a lot of people kind of doing things the way they did a couple of years ago, but -- these little blips on the algorithm updates -- those are the things that will get your attention, if they haven’t already, they eventually will.

Again, keep a realistic SEO approach. Always do stuff that has audience value, and I think that keeps you on the safe side of these algorithm updates.

Takeaways: Have a Diversified Approach, Use Real SEO & Earn Links

It’s really interesting, Chad, that Matt Cutts (the figurehead) and the days of numbering the releases may be gone, but here we are. And the message actually reverberates, because we’re pretty much saying what Matt Cutts has been saying for years. You need to have a diversified approach, and not be so focused on gaining or link building -- really working on the business on all of these different strategies. Sure, be smart about your SEO, but also work on your advertising, your social media, your email marketing, your customer service, your user experience.

In the end, it seems like his message continues to be the right prescription for staying out of trouble when these updates inevitably come. Although, what we’re reporting today wasn’t really much of an update.

That’s our Brown Bag for today. We’re covering the latest Google algorithm non-update. We hope you’ve enjoyed the information, and, as always, we’d love to see you back. We ask that you hit “Subscribe,” and we’ll visit again real soon.