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Changing Rules, Unanswered Questions & Your SEO – Or: Google Does What it Wants!

Changing Rules, Unanswered Questions & Your SEO – Or: Google Does What it Wants!

by Jessica Jones

Recently Daniel and I were discussing how to best advise a client who is trying to plan ahead for how future business and website changes might affect her SEO. Planning ahead is, of course, always an excellent idea, and the fact that she is thinking about this now might save her a significant amount of trouble in the future.

We don't make the rules, people. We just try to follow them.
We don’t make the rules, people. We just try to follow them.

I did make the point, however, that it’s also important to keep in mind that a few years down the line all of the rules may have changed. That’s the thing about SEO rules: they change. Sometimes in small ways, sometimes gradually, and sometimes in large, sweeping shifts.

A good web developer or SEO professional will stay informed of these changes and will be able to advise you on how best to work with the rules as we understand them at the time. People who don’t work in the industry generally don’t have a reason to keep up with developments in the world of SEO. I’ve had quite a few clients come in thinking that meta keywords were still the ticket to strong SEO. It’s not in their job description to know that that rule has changed; that’s why they hired us.

While it is possible to keep on top of these changes – at least the ones that Google announces openly – this brings up a couple of important points. For one, Google doesn’t spill all of its secrets, and perhaps most importantly: no one controls Google.

Yes, Google Has Secrets. You Don’t Become the New Overlord Without Keeping A Few Secrets.

Of course Google has secrets. Most businesses do. It just isn’t standard practice to go around giving away the hard-earned knowledge and experience that make your business what it is. Google’s secrets just seem particularly epic because Google itself is, well, epic, and their secrets affect so many people in this age of the Google Dynasty.

Whether what we know about Google outweighs what we don’t know is a bit too philosophical to get into here, but the fact is, we know enough to make a difference – we don’t know enough to make Google do exactly what we want. And if we start to think we’re getting close? They just might change the rules again.

No One Controls Google. Anyone Who Says Differently is Selling Something.

In a recent post about the cost of SEO I cautioned against hiring anyone who claims to be affiliated with Google. Google is not pursuing your SEO business, and they aren’t allowing their employees to do so either. In the highly unlikely event that the person calling you is a former employee of Google, using their knowledge to profit by selling SEO would be violating the NDA they signed in order to get that job – and that alone should make you question their integrity.

Here’s the point: no one knows Google’s secrets but Google, and there probably aren’t a great number of employees of Google who truly know all the secrets. Yes, a good web developer or SEO professional should be familiar with best SEO practices and recent developments. Yes, a professional should have a strong knowledge of the best methods to use to benefit your SEO and improve your ranking. No, no one can promise you a specific rank – if someone assures you they’ll get you to the number one position then you might want to talk to the guy they sold a bridge to last week.