Picture it, you’re driving down the road and all of a sudden, a dog runs in front of the car. You slam on your brakes and skid for a bit before you regain control of the vehicle. You look to the side and there’s an old man with a cane watching you, confused as to why you stopped in the first place.
That’s how most people feel when they discover that Google changed its algorithms in 2019 to prioritize faster loading websites and remove content that isn’t useful.
If you’re an entrepreneur or running a business, you’ll feel the pinch of this change the most. Since Google no longer favors content-rich websites in its search results, you’ll struggle to gain traction and make sales.
What’s more, if you’ve built up any sort of online presence at all, you’ll find yourself plagued by people trying to imitate your content and knock you off the internet. Even if you’re doing everything by the book and playing by the rules, you’ll still get trampled on by people who are just trying to make a quick buck.
The Algorithm Change Exacerbates Many Problems
The primary problem with the algorithm change is that it disfavors websites with lots of content. Since many businesses rely heavily on content to drive traffic and make sales, this is a recipe for disaster.
Consider the case of a luxury goods store that has been around for centuries. The brand builds its website around content, featuring interviews with famous designers and offering a comprehensive selection of merchandise. With the algorithm change in place, searches for this store reflect the change, ranking poorly in the search results and driving down traffic.
Over the last decade, Google grew its share of search traffic from 18% to 29%, according to HubSpot Blogs research. While this is good news for web hosts and digital marketers, it’s become a headache for content creators.
Since fewer people are going to be clicking on websites in the search results, content creators need to find ways to get noticed. One option is to artificially inflate the number of views on your articles. While it’s easy enough to do, it’s considered bad practice and will likely get you blacklisted by major media platforms.
Searches For Local Businesses Soar
Let’s say you’re traveling and want to find a particular business that you’re thinking about patronizing. You type in the search bar and hit enter.
You see a map with all the top results and click on the first one. You find a pizzeria and decide to eat there that night. Awesome!
What happens if you search for a different business a little while later? You’ll probably see a whole different set of results. The algorithm will have adjusted and thrown off the predictions it made based on your initial search query. As a result, the map of the top search results can change completely based on the minute you search for a business. This is both infuriating and incredibly frustrating for anyone who relies on these results for their day-to-day work. Imagine spending all this time optimizing your content, setting up email lists and nurturing your community of fans, only to see the results disappear the next time you search for your content.
Creators Turn To Guest Blogging
Even if you’re not in the content creation business, you’ll feel the pinch of the algorithm change. Maybe you’re a marketer who has been producing video content to attract a specific type of buyer. You create compelling explainer videos about a variety of subjects, featuring high-profile industry experts. You send those videos to the big platforms (YouTube, Facebook) and spend a little bit of money on ads. Suddenly, those videos aren’t reaching the audience you want and you have to switch to a different marketing channel.
You could also be a journalist who has been covering the topic for years and used your platform to establish yourself as an authoritative voice in your niche. You start to notice a decline in traffic and eventually get hit with a major algorithm update. Your income (based on your chosen profession) plummets and you’re forced to find a new way to make money.
The easiest solution is to try and get noticed in a different way. You could start a blog for other journalists or media personalities in your niche. The idea is to build a guest blogging platform where established voices in your space can contribute. You’ll be able to curate content that is consistently valuable and help bring in more traffic and higher quality content for your audience. You’ll also be showing Google that you’re a trusted source in your niche, gaining credibility with your readers and potentially even getting featured on the front page of Google itself.
More Changes To Come
While the algorithm change affects many industries and poses a real threat to the content creation business, it’s just the start. Google is constantly updating its algorithm, tweaking its ranking rules and modifying how it serves its users. Businesses and individuals who are clever enough to keep up with these changes could potentially rise to the top of the stack and gain an edge over their competitors.
With each algorithm update, things are going to get more and more out of hand. You’re going to see completely different sets of results for the same searches. It’s going to be impossible to keep up with all the changes and create content that is guaranteed to perform well.
As a content creator, you need to be asking yourself, “Am I doing everything I need to do to succeed in today’s marketplace?”