There’s a not-so-secret fear in the search marketing world, and it’s the algorithm update. Whenever the major search engines make a significant change, SEOs around the world will immediately dive into their analytics to see how it has affected them.
The good news is that by and large these algorithm updates tend to target sites using practices that are on the borderline of what would be considered “black hat" SEO practices. The latest major Google update, the “Panda" update rolled out in February/April, is aimed at content farms - sites that aggregate or create large amounts of low-quality content. Such content farms aren’t explicitly SPAM, but are not valuable to most users.
Atomic advocates and practices “white hat" SEO tactics, in which we aim to create content that users will naturally value, share, and link to. These tactics have proven highly effective for a number of clients, for example Mint.com. Because such content is of actual value, and the links they attract are from natural, quality sources, the sites we work with are only minimally affected by algorithm updates.
None the less, any algorithm update will have collateral damage. If your clients have been affected, the first step is to evaluate your strategies for any tactics that might have been targeted in the update. The next step would be to see if your client sites are strongly associated with sites that have been affected. If many of your links or referrers come from XYZ.com, and they were hammered by an update, then it might have rippled back to you.
Lastly, it’s possibly you’ve unintentionally triggered a penalty. For example, having very little content per page, little original content, or lots of duplicate content. Look to see if you can improve your content strategies and clean your site of low-quality sections that might be seen as a content farm.
Updates to the algorithms are always a good time to review your strategies, but the best defense is an adherence to white hat tactics that are unlikely to be affected by an update now or in the future.
//image via adactio