Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird, PageRank, Authorship, guest posting, in-depth stories, conversational search, yada yada yada.
And the hits just keep on coming.
Announcements from Google, especially during the past two years or so, have elicited feelings of equal parts excitement and anxiety for a lot of content creators.
Quick! Somebody call a meeting!
How long should our content be? How long should our headline be? How long should our permalinks be? Are we using partial match anchor text? What the hell is partial match anchor text?
Stop freaking out. Please.
If you consistently create and share content that’s focused on helping and solving problems for your audience, and you’re not partaking in link-building shadiness, there should be one key takeaway from all of these Google announcements.
Keep doing what you’ve been doing.
To Google’s credit, most of their updates are intended to provide more relevant search results to users and stop people from trying to beat the system (and to get us to pay for advertising and use Google+ more regularly).
If your goal is to beat the system or figure out Google, feel free to keep obsessing over each announcement, keep making changes to your content, keep making excruciatingly tedious changes behind the scenes, and plan to continue this vicious cycle until Google stops making changes.
Which they won’t.
Of course, the only thing worse than obsessing over every announcement or update from Google is trying to predict what Google will do next.
That’s like trying to predict the flight path of a perfectly thrown knuckleball.
These predictions typically involve a lot of “(fill in the blank) is dead” articles. SEO is dead, guest posting is dead, marketing is dead – you know, because whenever a higher-up from Google says something, the world is forever changed and something must die.
There’s one thing we should have learned from the rapidly evolving world of search, and Google in particular.
Obsessing over and overreacting to every Google announcement is a waste of time and energy.
I’m not saying we should ignore what Google has to say. But there’s a difference between staying informed and making a major overhaul because of an interview or press release involving a Google executive.
We can read the news and stay on top of the trends without changing how we develop good content.
For example, I find the concept of conversational search to be very interesting and helpful. I think it can reward content that uses relatable, natural language.
On the other hand, I find it absurd that Google would reward “in-depth articles” with a higher search ranking based on criteria that includes an arbitrary number of words.
Honestly, I don’t care what the folks at Google think of the length of my content, or how they interpret word counts and social shares to somehow quantify the quality of my content.
I care what my clients think. And I care what my clients’ clients think.
Come to think of it, hasn’t Google said over and over that we should be focusing on delivering value to our audience?
Everyone talks about optimizing content for Google. Let’s spend more time optimizing content for our audience.
Once you’ve developed content that works for your audience, feel free to make it work better for Google, or hire someone to do it for you.
Just don’t feel obligated to reinvent the wheel every time Google speaks, and don’t prioritize the wants of Google over the needs of your audience.
Also, don’t be so Google-dependent. Develop your own distribution strategy and deliver your content directly to your audience instead waiting for people to find it.
Yes, search is important, but businesses thrived for many years before Google took over the world. And those thriving businesses didn’t have the tools for connecting with people that we have today.
Audience comes first. Period.
Google can come second if that makes you happy. But it’s not even in the same galaxy as your audience, so if you have a tendency to freak out every time someone important at Google says something, please stop.