Every incremental algorithm update pushed out by Google in recent years has brought joy to some SEOs and sorrow to others. As the company changes tack, the job of an SEO is expected to become significantly harder.
One of the biggest problems with real-time algorithm updates is the fact that Google’s bots don’t crawl pages at the same frequency. After publishing a key change, it could take weeks or months for the site to be crawled and a penalty applied, if necessary.
Even if you’re keeping a detailed a timeline of changes or actions, these may not match up with when a penalty occurs. There could be other issues with the server or site that you may not be aware of that could cause misdiagnosis of penalties.
Algorithmic penalties are a lot more difficult to troubleshoot than manual actions.
With a manual action, Google informs you of the penalty via the Google Search Console, giving webmasters the ability to address issues that are negatively impacting their sites. With an algorithmic penalty, they may not even be aware that a problem exists.
The easiest way to determine if your website has suffered from an algorithmic penalty is to match a drop in your traffic with the dates of known algorithm updates.
Another way to determine if there is an algorithmic penalty in force for your site is to see if it ranks highly on Google Maps, but poorly on organic search using similar terms.
Unfortunately, without key dates at hand, SEOs will need to examine a considerable amount of data. With many already struggling to diagnose penalties, things are about to get a lot tougher.
When an algorithm update is mooted, many webmasters automatically assume they will be penalised. Google should inform site owners of any emerging penalties, but there is little chance of this happening in reality, particularly because it would give away information about what Google is looking for in terms of negative ranking factors.
On the flip side, the change to real-time updates could be a good thing. SEOs will be able to stop worrying about when the next update will happen and focus their energies on more productive endeavors. Sites will be able to recover faster, and search results will cleaner than ever before.