The results in Google, which we’re all so desperate to do well in, are produced by a huge software black box of algorithms, which must have just grown and grown over the years. If you’re a student of control theory, which I was once, you’ll know that the interaction of multiple processes and rules can quickly become unpredictable, and the only way to “tweak” things is to make the changes and see what the result is, rather than trying to predict it.
Google constantly adds and amends its rules to improve results, but they often have unforeseen impacts in other areas, which is why you’ll often see pages on your site jump up or down the Google results without any changes having been made to them.
Every now and then, keeping such an inherently unstable system working smoothly requires everything to be stripped back and rewritten, and this is exactly what Google is about to do. Realising that many businesses’ survival is linked to their traffic from Google, they’ve at least had the good grace to let us know it’s coming, and to give us a preview. The forthcoming update is called Caffeine, and was available to test until a couple of weeks ago. Although the feedback presumably means more changes are still to be made, the results didn’t look too drastically different from the current ones, which I think was the aim.
Nevertheless, look out for some impact after Christmas, when the whole thing gets rolled out. Our £100/month Insider Programme members get weekly graphs showing their sites’ position in Google for major search terms; have you thought of joining us?