I’m travelling back from Brighton SEO day 1, and I’ve just heard a talk from John Muller of Google. This information is straight from the horse’s mouth.
What he said aligns closely with what I’ve been emphasising over the past few years: Google considers a myriad of factors, both technical and content-related, as well as issues related to spam.
With this in mind, understand that there isn’t a single factor that catapults you to the top, nor is there just one factor that brings you down. He touched upon situations where SEO professionals or website owners have exclaimed, “That site ranks higher than mine, but they use dodgy hidden text. Why aren’t you penalising them?” The response? Google can detect bad practices (like hidden keyword-stuffed text) and might simply overlook them if the rest of the site offers value to visitors. It’s essential to grasp that Google isn’t primarily concerned about your website or you per se. Their main priority is their users, ensuring they receive high-quality search results. In the case of hidden keyword stuffing, it neither benefits nor harms the site; it’s simply disregarded.
Technical updates often correspond to changes in how Google displays content. Take, for instance, their recent decision to remove FAQ and “how-to” snippets that relied on structured data.
These changes are made to cater to user preferences in content display (from Google’s perspective, even if marketers occasionally disagree).
So, here’s another burning question: Should you be alarmed every time Google rolls out an update? In a nutshell, no. It’s worth noting that for every site that drops in rankings, another will rise.
Moreover, as I’ve mentioned previously, if a Google update impacts your ranking negatively, you might not have truly earned that position to begin with, or you no longer merit that spot.
So, what’s the takeaway for you? My advice remains unchanged: consistently produce outstanding content. Don’t overthink it. Craft your content for your audience, not primarily for search engines. If your website stands out because of its technical setup, engaging content, and external validations (like positive Google reviews, compelling social media content, and video contributions), it will eventually climb the search rankings.