One of the keys to making money by writing online is to get enough traffic to your money making websites. Ranking highly in search engines for frequently searched terms is one way to accomplish this. While Google updates the algorithm that chooses how to rank websites on their search engine results pages (SERPs) on a frequent basis, most of those tweaks can be ignored by writers looking to profit by writing online. However, when the big updates come out, it is important to at least check and see how you are being affected.
Google Counting Links
There are really only two main parts to Google’s search ranking algorithm. The first part is how closely a particular webpage fits the phrase searched. In this case, the best thing is an exact match to the title tag of the webpage. Or, if there isn’t one of those, then an exact match to a header tag, and so on. Of course, a close match comes next, and so on.
In a place as big as the internet, there is a pretty good chance that for any given search term, there is more than one page that matches. When this happens, Google essentially counts how many links point to each page that matches and then ranks the one with the highest number of incoming links at the top.
Everything else Google does is basically a tweak to the above formula in order to keep people from cheating. Many of the supposed 200+ ranking factors at Google are nothing more than the increasing or decreasing the value of incoming links. Links that are nofollowed count a little less than those that are do follow. Links from comments are less valuable than those in the middle of content. Links from higher ranking sites count more than those from tiny abandoned sites, and so on.
As a writer building online websites to earn money, you probably check to see what you rank highly for, and how much traffic that drives to your website. For the most part, changes in these rankings come slowly and infrequently. That’s because, your site and the other sites that rank don’t necessarily gain a bunch of incoming links, without you (or them) doing something to manually boost them. When, that happens, it generally only happens to one page, so you’ll see your webpage go from ranking 4th to ranking 5th. That’s just normal.
Big Google Updates
But, sometimes, Google makes a big update and that can dramatically shake up the rankings. Not only can you go from 4th to 12th, or from 8th to 1st, on one page, that same thing can happen to multiple pages across several different websites.
It’s best to keep at least one ear open for these kinds of changes. A quick check of the headlines at seroundtable.com (it stands for Search Engine Roundtable) can let you know if a big algorithm update is underway, or if it’s just strange things afoot at the Circle K.
The important thing is not to panic. These changes often lead to big movements, but wait for them to settle down and see what is, and is not, permanent. Then, maybe go through, and update and tweak the pages that you lost some ranking on. Most importantly, keep adding fresh, useful content.
If there is one static thing in Google rankings it’s that the search engine values sites that are current over those that have gone stale, and that more content means more pages to attract links and gain authority.