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Google’s Baby Algorithms: How to Think About Them for SEO

Everything that is man-made is knowable. That includes the Google algorithm. But that doesn’t mean the algorithm is known.

In the 20+ years, I’ve been doing SEO, I’ve seen thousands of theories around how the search engine algorithms work – specifically Google’s algorithm.Everyone from Ivy League PhDs to street smart elementary school dropouts search for a silver bullet – a trick or technique that will allow a website to rank for any keyword or topic desired. I’ve seen some SEO professionals find things that work for a time. I’ve seen black hats seemingly rank at-will for anything they want – for a time. But the tricks never work for long. I’ve never been a fan of silver bullets or manipulative tricks to rank for specific terms or topics. I don’t believe that SEO is rocket science. There are those that would have you believe if you can just plug the right numbers into a mathematical formula, you’ll be able to rank.

The problem is those numbers are constantly in flux – and if Google sees that someone has figured out how to mathematically manipulate their system, they change the numbers. Let’s face it, when we try to reverse engineer Google algorithm, no matter how smart we are, we are akin to someone trying to find a specific red dot in a Jackson Pollock painting while blindfolded.

No, SEO isn’t rocket science. It’s more like plumbing. You don’t need to understand how to build a sewer system, you just need to understand how the pipes work and be willing to get your hands dirty while working hard.

The Rise of Google’s Baby Algorithms

Earlier this month at Pubcon, Google’s Gary Illyes said something that validated my current thinking around rankings in general.

Illyes said:

“We have probably millions of baby algorithms and they act differently. They might do something that triggers more crawls on certain sites. It solely depends on the algo and what it’s trying to do.”

In other words, what works in Google for one topic may not work for other topics. Each topic might have its own version of “ Google’s Baby Algorithms.” That means that the ranking criteria for keywords around mortgage topics will be different from the ranking criteria for recipes. This makes sense to anyone optimizing for topics in multiple verticals. There is no overarching, unified tactic that will definitively get any site to rank for a topic. What works in vertical may very well flop in another. The confirmation of many different Google algorithms by Illyes solidifies that adage that there is no one-size-fits-all strategy in modern SEO. Modern SEO is tried and true best practices coupled with marketing nuance and hours and hours of testing.

SEO as Fishing

Periodically, a fishing guide would help a fisherman by suggesting a different bait – or moving them to another pond that had the type of fish they were looking for. What can I say, I have a vivid imagination. Of course, in this metaphor, the bodies of water are the aforementioned baby algorithms. The fish are potential leads or customers. The guides are SEO professionals. If you’ve done much fishing, you know that the right bait and the right placement can determine success or failure. The same goes for SEO.

Read the orginial article in it’s entirety on Search Engine Journal: https://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-baby-algorithms-seo/331859/

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