Ok, in case you haven’t noticed, there have been recent recurring reruns in the SERPs (search engine result pages) lately of stale /cached pages and anomalies in rankings like unknown competitors jumping from page 3 to page 1 that rise, rank and vanish.
Vacillations in search results are normal, but what happens when entire weeks are consolidated into a snapshot and then played back like a bad rerun while changes are being perfected under the hood?
If you study the ranking patterns for various keywords as often as our team, you know when ranking algorithms go sour or if a new flavor makes a debut. Since search engines are shrouded in layers of mystery, all the SEO industry has to work with are (a) the best practices based on trial and error and (b) the traces they leave behind.
Cache is the New Currency
With the recent addition / add-on subdomain URL for Google which now caches content from the web repository at large at http://www.webcache.googleusercontent.com; alongside the new debut, we have also noticed websites indexed with vast differences in the number of pages cached.
Could this be a side effect or a deliberate SERP shakedown to thin things up until the data centers sync up and normalize? Aside from concerns about indexation, a slew of new ranking contenders have been flung into the top 10 daily for various competitive keywords we are tracking.
Let’s just say it doesn’t take much to know that something is being tweaked under the hood of the world’s most powerful search engine. False positives, anomalies, chaos and confusion and did I mention this potentially generates “higher PPC spending” from those who see their organic rankings taking a dip and want to keep business on the rise.
Organic search is responsible for delivering 80% of the click through traffic to websites, yet business owners spend twice as much on their PPC budget to drive traffic.
From the perspective of supply and demand, SEO is the definitive loss leader at present within the confines of the online marketing space; yet simultaneously it yields the highest potential return on investment if you have the time to weather the storm to build momentum in the initial phases.
Results take time and there is no room for slackers in the top 10 SERPs (search engine result pages) for competitive keywords. You are either developing more domain trust, acquiring a diverse base of new visitors or leaning in with everything you’ve got to topple a blockbuster keyword.
Shaken Not Stirred
In a battle between roll-back SERPs, SEO and the new Google cache, things have been interesting this week. The days of coasting along in competitive verticals or resting on your laurels are coming to a close. With millions of new documents flooding the online space, everything is churning in a vacuum in an attempt to remain fresh.
This is a classic example of search engine amnesia, progressive redundancy and archived / aging content is taking a back seat in the index to make room for the new.
Is the new webcache.googleusercontent.com the new gatekeeper and mediator between the supplemental SERPs and the real-time personalized search engine experience which most experience daily? Google is all about performance and optimizing page load time has also become a new metric (only affecting 1% of the SERPs) as signal of relevance.
Also, note in Firefox when you right-click a SERP, instead of that URL being delivered, you can witness in the tab an address similar to a URL shortener which in turn populates the page.
So many metrics, so little time. Who is to know aside from the engineering team who created it what purpose this serves. Is it another method of analytics for tracking for click throughs or is it merely to streamline data for delivery to save time?
However minute it may be, it is still a factor amidst the myriad of metrics an SEO must assess and consider as a component for fine-tuning. At this juncture, it may be too early to tell about the mix-up of how the new cache fares. Questions such as, why time is a new factor for rankings? or why Google is obfuscating URL’s for information retrieval?
I can say with confidence that things have not been quite the same in the SERPs since the recent PageRank update occurred a few weeks ago. that update created a wave of changes across the web have left many websites reeling trying to regain their bearings amidst the shifts. Combine all these things together in the last 30 days and you have an extremely busy machine to analyze and more importantly “optimize your website for”.
Getting through the MIX
With more engineers than Nasa, Google is more determined than ever to keep their algorithms secret. Much like the formula for Coca-Cola and the secret ingredient for KFC. To say that SEO has become more volatile, challenging and time consuming (to keep abreast of new developments) is an understatement. Aside from the advances in technology, hardware and pure processing prowess, the caliber of the competition has also stepped up their game.
Search engine optimization is no place for those afraid to embrace change. In fact, change happens frequently with massive consequences for those who fail to adhere to the algorithmic quality controls put in place.
What worked last year or even last month could now create a null set, the only insulation any website has is quality content, frequent updates or a steady stable of traffic or links to remain buoyant.
With the constant variance of which node of the trifecta is dominant ranging from 1. off page inbound links, 2. internal links or 3. domain trust as a ranking signal; it is difficult to make heads or tales of short-term shifts in the SERPs without opening another can of worms.
Domain trust is more important than ever, with trust and page strength you can hold your own, but cultivating a web property impervious to cache control and indexation (to prevent a site slipping into the supplemental realms of obscurity) is a full time job for the in house SEO or outsourced consultants who are called in to scrutinize a site when something breaks.
Letting the SERPs Settle
So, before you go pulling your hairs out trying to make since of a “work in progress” as the new cache in Google normalizes and results return to some semblance of normality, keep in mind that new filters are constantly being applied to various layers of the algorithm that may not play well with others. Who is to say that the new changes are permanent? Remember, change can happen at any time…
If your website is experiencing a slip in the SERPs, don’t panic, just give things time to breathe before throwing in the towel on SEO or resorting to pay per click. There is only so far a rollback can go, before moving forward into the present, so that is where you should put your attention until things normalize.