What Not To Do When Algorithms Change: 13 Common SEO Errors

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When search engine algorithms change, businesses typically try to adapt their search engine optimization (SEO) strategies to deal with the shift as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, without adequate understanding of the basis of these changes, a company’s response often runs afoul of a search engine’s new rules. Missteps in the approach to optimizing a site after algorithms shift can lead to a fall in ranking, potentially knocking it off the first several pages of search results and decreasing traffic.

Forbes Agency Council

Fewer visitors to your site can strike a blow to your company’s bottom line, especially if you rely on consumers finding your offerings through organic search. To help your company avoid these consequences, experts from Forbes Agency Council examine 13 common SEO errors that brands make when search engine algorithms change.

1. Making Rash Decisions

Companies jump to conclusions and start changing ranking pages and disavowing links or building new links. This will damage their rankings long-term, and they won’t recover fast. First of all, always check if the loss in rankings actually resulted in a loss in real traffic. Many times, the traffic is back a few days later. Then, carefully update bit by bit and, like Google, keep the user experience first. – Timon Hartung, True Impact Consulting

2. Overcorrecting With SEO ‘Hacks’

Overcorrecting is a big mistake. Chasing SEO “hacks” after each major update is like day trading. It may yield some short-term wins, but over time, you’ll likely be at a loss, compared to sticking with the basic strategy of frequently creating unique, quality content that’s relevant to your customers. Any major dips in page rank that don’t come from bending the rules will likely be corrected in a subsequent update. – Brian Sullivan, Sullivan Branding

3. Not Understanding Underlying Factors

A common mistake is not taking the time to understand the underlying factors that led to the change. This can lead brands to continue following “best practices” that the changes have now made obsolete, such as keyword stuffing, which at one time helped and then, overnight, hurt search rankings. If you understand why the algorithm was changed, you will do a better job of adjusting your strategy to the new reality. – Jodi Amendola, Amendola Communications

4. Chasing The Change

Chasing the change is a mistake I see often. Search algorithms are simply trying to prioritize what people find most valuable. Organizations that constantly chase and complain about the changes likely are missing the mark on what is actually important: building content that is actually valuable to those you serve, not just content that makes the current algorithm version happy. – Tyler Farnsworth, August United

5. Not Creating Content For Humans

Create content for humans first, not search engines. A common mistake marketers make when trying to “game SEO” is publishing content in awkward formats to appeal to search engines. This results in a poor experience for your web visitors, and it won’t provide an SEO boost for long as search engines continue to root out these tactics in favor of authentic content. – Wendy Covey, TREW Marketing

6. Making A Drastic Change In SEO Strategy

Algorithm changes are typically subtle and rarely present a case for uprooting your entire SEO strategy. A common error is for brands to make a drastic change in strategy without considering what is working and will continue to work. Improving existing content is a more sensible, short-term move until the algorithm change is fully proven and a new direction is clear. – A. Lee Judge, Content Monsta

7. Focusing Too Much On Brand Name

A common SEO error is putting too much focus on brand name or “inside baseball” jargon and not enough focus on how people actually search for services. Use keyword tools to understand how people are searching for solutions you offer. Focus on what audiences need, not on what you offer. – Stefan Pollack, The Pollack Group

8. Buying Backlinks

I’ve seen businesses buying backlinks, which generally means having your URL inside disreputable websites blocked by crawlers and dragging your reputation down as well. They make the copy super hard to read and understand just because they want to achieve the keyword saturation. Robots are super smart today; you must make your copy easy to read and understand and relatable to the web page’s topic. – Ally Spinu, USA Link System

9. Removing Content That Ranks Well

The most common SEO error I’ve seen brands make after search engine algorithms suddenly change is removing blog posts or website pages that have high notoriety and already rank well in the search engines. All of the built-up SEO that already exists is lost and must then be restored. – Jonathan Durante, Expandify Marketing Inc

10. Trying To Exploit Loopholes

Some brands try to exploit the weaknesses of a search engine to rank higher on a search engine results page (SERP), which typically refers to the first page of organic results for specific keyword searches. However, when they do this, they constantly have to make adjustments and find new loopholes to exploit. Creating engaging, original content that fulfills a user’s needs will always be the best way forward, no matter what changes are made. – Katie Schibler Conn, KSA Marketing

11. Keyword Stuffing As An Afterthought

Companies tend to treat SEO as an afterthought to a web build. We like to bring that conversation upfront. One of the biggest SEO errors I have seen is keyword stuffing at later stages in a panic to score better on search engines. With algorithms always changing, that strategy is just setting up the brand for failure. – Dean Trevelino, Trevelino/Keller

12. Not Reacting Quickly Enough

Not jumping quickly enough on SEO changes can decimate revenue overnight if algorithms change and redirect traffic to a competitor’s site. Be ready to not only adjust SEO content on your site at a moment’s notice, but also potentially overhaul the entire website to make sure you’re back on top of the SEO game. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne LLC

13. Forgetting The Brand’s Goals

Most SEO experts feel too pressured by Google’s algorithms. When there are changes, they are eager to address them, but forget to follow the brand’s goals for positioning. Google loves known brands, so having a brand that is recognized by consumers should be your goal, regardless of Google’s algorithms. In conclusion, don’t adjust your brand identity; instead, adjust Google to your brand. – Nikolay Stoyanov, Influence Vibes

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