How Rochester, NY Weather is a Lot like Google’s Search Algorithm

Blizzard like Google Algorithm

Being located in Rochester, NY for over 20 years, here at Corporate Communications, we’re very familiar with the ups and downs of the weather in Western NY. From 80 degrees one day to 40 the next, or from sunny blue skies to a blizzard in the matter of a few blocks, we experience everything in these parts.

I know what you’re thinking, I'm already a paragraph into this… what the heck does the weather in Rochester have to do with Google search?

Some background… in addition to helping our clients be armed with plenty of useful information for optimizing and marketing their websites by way of this blog and sharing information through our Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn pages, I also do optimization work, PPC management, content development, and much more for our clients who may not have time to do it on their own. In doing so, Google is often on my mind as it continues to retain the largest search share by a big margin and is also owner of other very popular marketing tools such as AdWords, YouTube, and Google+.

After considering what I do with the majority of my time each work day (and have been for over 10 years) – trying to make sure that I’m prepared for anything Google throws our way – I realized that dealing with Google is much like dealing with the weather we experience here in Rochester. And, here’s why…

There Are Always Four Seasons

Though we definitely have variance along the way, for the most part, here in Rochester, we experience all four distinct seasons. I know some Rochestarians would argue with me, but whether it is a week or four months, we get a little taste of the weather that traditionally goes along with winter, spring, summer, and fall.

Similarly, Google search has many traits that stay constant. Their overarching goal remains steady, which is to bring the best search results to their users. The philosophy is a simple one as the better results they return, the more search users they’ll have, and the more visibility Google advertisers have, which means more revenue for the company – though they tend to leave that last part off. But overall it all makes good business sense.

Expect the Unexpected

With the Rochester weather, we’re always dealing with the unexpected, and we also know that we need to be prepared for anything. This is also true when doing optimization work with Google in mind.

The Google Web Spam team, formerly headed by the much referenced Matt Cutts who is currently on leave, is continually working to eliminate spam from Google search results. In an effort to do so, Google is always updating their algorithm to detect spam and remove it from their results. This can come in the form of a major unexpected change such as the Panda, Pigeon, or Penguin updates and their many related updates, or it could be a smaller update that has a more subtle impact.

Each of these updates usually focuses on a particular aspect of spam – for example, Google’s Panda update focuses on removing websites with poor quality content from results – and is on-going with multiple iterations focused on the same goal. Google usually confirms these updates after they have been rolled-out in effort to not give spammers any indication of the coming change.

Sometimes the “Weatherman” Will Let you know When to be Prepared

For major weather events such as a coming blizzard or other type of large storm, for the most part, the weathermen will warn area residents with as much advance notice as possible to be prepared. Though, as mentioned above, we always have to expect the unexpected.

Though it’s not often, Google will also warn of upcoming events to be prepared for, especially if it directly relates to the betterment of their search results. The latest example of this is the announcement of including mobile-friendliness as a factor in their mobile search results listings.

In addition, Google provides best practices information that includes quality guidelines and also gives quite a bit of technical data with regards to your website and any potential issues through Google Webmaster Tools. And, after an unannounced algorithm change takes place, they usually explain the reason for the update and provide information on how you can improve your website if its ranking had been affected.

blizzard in western New York
Is that a house under there?

Even if you’re not from Rochester or you don’t live in Western, NY, most can still appreciate the predictability and unpredictability of the weather and therefore can make their own comparisons to the changes in the Google algorithm.

The best course of action, to quote Spike Lee, is to do the right thing – create great content and value for your website visitors, optimize your website - but do it legitimately – or face the consequences of an unexpected Google update, much like getting buried by the unexpected blizzard.

 

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+Elissa Mitchell
@ezmitchell
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Google Search Engine Optimization Tips   Rochester
       

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