Why Are Google’s Algorithm Updates Always so Volatile?

It seems like every time Google releases a major algorithm update, the SEO space erupts into chaos. Countless websites lose their ranking in the search engine results pages, and multiple businesses end up facing a sharp decline in revenue. Why does this keep happening?

Much of the consternation around Google’s algorithms is born of sensationalization. Google releases a major update to its algorithm—known as a Core Update—every few months, and smaller updates on roughly a weekly basis. Were the algorithm really as unstable as some people claim, it would be next to impossible to maintain a spot anywhere on the first page of the SERPs. Yet, somehow, many websites do. 

So why is there so much apparent misinformation around Google’s Core Updates? And, more importantly, how do you make it through these updates unscathed?  

We Don’t Know How Google’s Algorithms Work—But that Doesn’t Matter

Google is known for being notoriously tight-lipped about its algorithms. Although the company has published a comprehensive knowledge base with advice on how to place and rank in their search engine, much of what we know about SEO is based largely on guesswork and observation. 

With few exceptions, every single one of Google’s updates over the past several years has followed roughly the same pattern. Though we don’t know what’s going on under the hood, we do know that the company’s algorithms are intended to prioritize quality, accuracy and relevance above all else. 

This means that, provided you’ve done your homework on who your audience is, what they want and the right keywords to help them find your content, you should be just fine. It also means that if you are penalized by a Core Update, it’s likely that you’re doing something wrong. 

Technical SEO Is Irrelevant without Quality Content

If there’s one acronym that every SEO specialist absolutely needs to understand, it’s Google’s E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authority and Trust) principle. Pulled directly from Google’s quality rater guidelines, these are the four metrics by which Google rates and assesses content. This means that every algorithm update has  a direct impact on your own PageRank

While we’d strongly recommend familiarizing yourself with the guidelines in its entirety, here’s a quick checklist of the major points your content should include:

  • Keywords relevant to both the interest and intent of your target audience. 
  • Links to and from sites that consistently publish high-quality content and maintain a top spot in the SERPs. 
  • Regular shares of content and discussion on social media. 
  • Bylines and author profiles to build up your reputation. 
  • Adherence to Schema and an understanding of metadata.
  • Guest editorials published by other authorities in your field. 
  • A comprehensive About Us page. 
  • A complete Google My Business profile.
  • Name, Address and Phone (NAP) information on every page. 
  • A well-organized website with easy navigation, few pop-ups, and clear topics and categories. 

Just Focus on Content Quality, and You’ll Be Fine

Ultimately, Google’s algorithm updates are nowhere near as volatile or harmful as they may seem. If an update causes your site’s ranking to drop, there’s always a reason for it. Your best bet is to simply focus on creating the best content and experience possible.

Author: Terry Cane

Terry Cane is a technical writer for SEOHost.net, a reliable and supportive SEO hosting partner.