Surviving The Algorithm

Surviving The Algorithm

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In an effort to coddle the businessman’s fear of losing precious ground in Google’s mighty search machine, I’m shedding some much needed light into the system which we’ve empowered – the algorithm.

Over the last several years, you’ve reached out in fear to grab your SEO professionals hand because an update from Google just ruffled your feathers.  Headlines begin booming, like the one posted by SEJ on August 13th, 2014 depicting how the new Google search algorithm shook up optimization as we knew it.  In haste, one’s initial reaction is to analyze backlink profiles, check content for relevance then call in the cavalry.

Because I’m growing weary of seeing wholehearted optimization efforts pissed away like stagnant beer, it’s time to reveal obvious (and quite possibly often overlooked) facts, fictitiously evoked statements and even farfetched thoughts pertaining to the unstable beast industry professionals dub ‘The Algorithm’.

Fact: Google didn’t act alone

Society empowered Google to it’s current state (pat yourself on the back, all ye faithful). Back when ‘You’ve got mail’ dings were getting annoying (slightly after Yahoo and free email became ‘quite the dish’), Google decided that they could cut into the balderdash of instant profits being made once the internet went live.  Hey, maybe a milieu of Dot Com buffs decided that Google may actually be something cool – maybe both Larry Page and Sergey Brin concocted the idea in their garage (see also Yahoo). Now enters one team of savvy engineers and developers (one of the earlier team members, of course, being today’s Yahoo quarterback Marissa Mayer) to build the empire, one pixel and node after another.

It was a pretty quick hit.  So quick that Google knew monetization was possible on a ‘larger than life’ scale (see also Adwords & Adsense).  With monetization and massive potential comes an inherent necessity to enact ‘crowd control’ measures.  That crowd control, of course, developed into what you now call Panda, Penguin, Albatross or whatever comes to mind tomorrow (the former named after the engineer who headed the project).

Or simply ‘The Algorithm‘.

Today, as Brin is amassing $20B in personal fortune off business stupidity, your (yeah you, the man who wound up on this article because you realize your SEO guy is about to be balls deep in your billfold) growing business is spending hard earned money on AdWords because, well, sending Google money is an obvious means to defy organic SEO logic – besides, you really don’t need much more than a cutesy landing page sprinkled with offers to draw interest from today’s breed of eclectic consumers.

Because Google controls your sales, algorithm updates are ‘epic’ to you. When you hear about ‘updates’, you become panicky, frightened of what your search position may plummet to, and somewhat angry at Google for scolding the honest businessman when, in all actuality, it was the deceitful practices of ‘anti-algorithm hate groups’ that ruined it for us all.

So blame yourselves – after all, it was your voice that demanded research simplicity – and Google is providing it.

Fact: Humanity controls the algorithm

In case you SEO Einsteins haven’t figured it out, let me reduce things to a stick figure: algorithms are designed not only to make relevance more relevant, they’re designed to thwart cheating (you know, trying to outrank Nationwide Insurance with your site) a system designed for simplicity – not duplicity. So anything you’re currently doing that reeks of flimflammery should probably cease because you’ll only piss your boss off (you know, the guy holding his ankles as you ram the invoice in deeper). Besides, does cheating do anything for establishing credibility?  Ok, enough mindless banter – back to the beast.

An algorithm (in search engine nomenclature) takes into account several human controlled events:

  • Probability – based off historical data, the chance ‘x’ will want ‘y’ at any given moment;
  • Frequency – the number of times the above action takes place;
  • Relevance – the relative probability that any given thought or idea could trigger the above actions based off a single word or phrase;
  • Score – the mathematical end results of an elaborate equation based on above triggers;
  • Ranking – numerical sequence of above events by order of greatest occurrence.

That’s essentially it.  A mathematical model determines who is first in line.  Control each event above, and you’ll master the algorithm.  The algorithm will never truly master the art of persuasion, however, and will never take into account the ‘human factor’. Remember that when you’re searching for pizza parlors in SoHo during a drunk, debaucherous Friday night.

Money is the only ‘x’ factor that trumps the algorithm, unfortunately.  If that wasn’t the case, Google would be broke.


Think about all 80 million rhetorical SEO articles you’ve encountered since, say, 2004.  Build links, write content, rinse content through social accounts, blah blah blah.  Sure, the tips have been known to work when followed faithfully.  Remember, folks, the algorithm is far simpler to tackle knowing its components; unfortunately, one’s desire to plunder humanity (again, see also Adwords and Adsense) clearly throws an element of duplicity into the mix. If you were Google, you’d be doing the same – it’s called profiteering.

Regardless how tirelessly your offshore marketers work to boost your site rankings, Google’s model will decimate your efforts overnight – not because they want to, but they’d have no business model without some form of crowd control (and, theoretically, 100M websites can’t rank #1).  Slow down, study and appreciate the algorithm for what it is – a human generated math problem that replaced the Dewey Decimal System on a technological scale.

Pigeon, Porcupine or Concubine…call the updates what you will. 68% of today’s search marketing share belongs to Google for a reason, and it’s not because Larry Page is attractive. Looking for someone to blame for constant updates, otherwise called ‘The Purge’? Blame your business savvy for wanting a more ‘relevant’ search machine. After all, 100 million websites could, theoretically, disallow ‘useragent-Googlebot’, which would effectively leave Google with little (if anything) to crawl.  But, as of this article, you haven’t.  And you won’t.

Instead of bucking the system or writing pages of trivial conjecture, maybe we – as a collective – should deauthorize ‘the system’? (Editor’s note: I knew I hated Mr. Roboto for a reason). If that’s not a viable solution, give ‘the man’ what they want: relevance and fair play.  Conform or be cast out – that’s essentially how you’ll survive the algorithm, my friends, because that’s how you requested the algorithm should perform umpteen years ago.


I'm Dave. A no-frills, high quality cut-to-the-chase news writer that loves breaking news, political brouhaha and all the theatrics that come with living on Earth. I love Chinese food, paranormal activity and random road trips. Einsturzende Neubaten is great music for relaxing the soul.


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