You may have heard- Google is updating its algorithm at the end of the month (April 21, to be specific) to rank mobile friendly sites higher in search results. This was always vaguely the case, but no one could definitively figure out the amount of weight it carried. Which made me think, Google is the most popular girl in school who we all wait on to decree what’s important and what isn’t. We’ve been saying mobile friendly is cool for years now (hence the switch to responsive design only a couple years ago), but now that Google has declared that it’s definitely “in,” everyone is going to scramble to make sure their websites are compatible. Perhaps due to the excitement of using the stand desk
all most of the day and Anchorspace opening to the public tomorrow, my brain decided that Google operates in very much the same way as Regina George. The rest of the Plastics are the algorithms that she has decided (in the past or present) are important. Get ready, because we’re about to crack open the internet’s Burn Book (well…sort of).
Google as Regina George. Like Regina, Google decides who comes and who goes, what’s in and what’s out, and we all clamor to meet it’s expectations. Ponytails once a week and pink on Wednesdays are the current expectations, but that could change at any moment. Below is a comprehensive infographic from Hubspot that details all of Google’s algorithm changes since 2003.
As you can see, there have been several updates to the algorithm every year, most go by without us noticing. Panda in 2011 and Penguin are considered the two largest updates based on the number of sites affected. Keep in mind that although your current method is doing well, this guarantees nothing about your site’s future performance. Regina can always change her mind and throw you under the bus.
Authorship as Gretchen Weiners. Google Authorship was declared dead in August ’14. As this article so eloquently says, “Google [Regina] has repeatedly demonstrated that nothing it creates is sacred or immortal.” Meaning, just because Gretchen/Authorship is “SUCH a good friend,” Regina/Google may still decide there are bigger fish to serve as your right hand man and then fry.
For those who implemented authorship on their website and gave it a lot of time and effort, the decision to pull authorship was a pretty big bummer. There were blog posts detailing the importance of integrating authorship, complete with how-to instructions for various software, so of course people thought “Hey, I should probably do this.” Remember the girl who bought army pants and flip flops because she saw Regina George wearing army pants and flip flops? Don’t get me wrong, it’s fine to cater to Google’s rules, but don’t get caught in the web of having all your eggs in one basket. As the chart above demonstrates, the things that Google considers important are a shifting territory, and you have to be prepared to make changes when the time inevitably comes. In other words, don’t rest on your website laurels. The rules, much like Gretchen Weiners’ popularity, are fleeting.
Mobile Friendly as Cady Heron. Mobile Friendly sites have been around for a bit now, and are a huge determining factor in the amount of time visitors will spend on your site (more statistics on mobile users in this blog post). Yet, some people weren’t entirely sure if having a mobile friendly site was “worth it” until Regina/Google decided “Cady/Mobile Friendly is IN.” Once Google officially pronounced mobile friendly as relevant, even those who had formerly been on the fence were buzzing about how cool and necessary mobile visitors are for websites.
Creating a mobile-friendly site will only become more important, so if you’re not already on the bandwagon, you’ll want to hop on soon.
SEO as Karen. Obsessing over search engine optimization is about as rewarding as trying to teach Karen algebra. The theory of keyword stuffing to increase search engine rankings is pretty outdated (I mean, it was a good idea in the 90’s, but so were scrunchies and mom jeans). This quote from the aforementioned Hubspot article perfectly articulates the early life of SEO: “Ranking high in search results could be accomplished by essentially using a simple, two step procedure: Step 1, stuff your keyword phrase into your page/website as many times as possible. Step 2, get as many gosh darn inbound links as you possibly could.” In the Plastics, simplicity comes in the form of Karen, who doesn’t fully understand carbs or weather.
Keyword stuffing as a method of increasing search engine results for your website is old school (and not in a good way). But, if you’re really interested in keywords, consider instead using something like Google AdWords. Our friend Colin at Root Deeper Marketing is an AdWords guru, if you want to learn more about this type of service.
Facebook as Aaron Samuels. Google and Facebook have an on again/off again courtship. There are rumors that having a Facebook account associated with your website increases your ranking in Google, but no one knows how serious this relationship is (and let’s face it, they’re probably both seeing other people). According to Matt Cutts of the Google webspam team, Facebook and Twitter do not necessarily factor into Google’s algorithm. In other words, Google is able to retrieve certain content on your Facebook or Twitter page, but it can’t sort out the number of page likes or posts. Being popular on Facebook does not mean being popular in Google search results.
All other search engines as Regina’s Mom. (This is purely for my own entertainment). Regina’s Mom is a lot like Bing or Yahoo. Sure, they’ve been around longer, but we all know who really runs the show.
The internet, like high school, is tricky to navigate, unless you have the right information and the basic understanding that nothing is set in stone. Stay in the loop with internet related news (or, have someone in your circle keeping you up-to-date with this information), and you’ll do just fine. Also, I hope you enjoyed this comparison as much as I enjoyed writing it.