When pressed for what they do with their time, many marketers (myself included) will probably tell you something to the effect of “fighting with Google.” While this is obviously a simplification, efforts such as pay-per-click advertising, search engine optimization (SEO), and others are all run through Google – and few of these initiatives are straightforward. 

The biggest difficulty most marketers face, especially with organic SEO efforts, is the ever-changing and very complex search algorithm. The Google Search algorithm had 10 major core updates to the algorithm in 2022 alone, and none of these were small upgrades by any means. These changes not only adjusted ranking factors (which we’ll dive into later) but also influenced Google’s content audit systems and privacy settings.  Dealing with a multitude of changes at regular intervals means that marketers need to be equipped to continually react to, and anticipate, these updates from Google. 

Staying up to date on these changes and their implications to marketing tactics is key for an effective SEO strategy. One key way I stay on top of these updates is by subscribing to industry platforms like Google itself, Hubspot, SEMrush and more to be informed before an update is fully rolled out — allowing me to anticipate how our (and our clients’) strategies need to change before the time comes. 

Another pivotal part of our workflow is ensuring that our tactics and overall strategy and solid enough to avoid major changes every time an update is rolled out. This is accomplished by working on continual maintenance, improvements and updates into our ongoing efforts so that regardless of when the next algorithm update occurs, we’ll be ready. 

Understanding ranking factors is another key part of conquering the difficulties of organic SEO. The challenge here is in the algorithm mentioned above. Google does not publicize the full weighting of all of its ranking factors — but we do know some of them. Content quality, keywords and backlinks are some of the top-tier considerations that marketing professionals can and should control because the easiest way to get the most out of our content is by ensuring that everything is “fully buttoned up.” 

Additionally, we must remember that search engines employ advanced machine learning techniques to assess websites, considering factors like user experience, page load time and mobile-friendliness. If you don’t see any major improvements after improving your main three ranking factors, you might want to research these additional elements. These things also must be considered when adding new content, as that is when organic search results traditionally see the most marked changes.

The most important piece of an SEO optimization strategy (as it’s the one marketers can best control) is the content itself. The quality of your landing pages, the accuracy of your keywords, and the amount of time a user stays on your website are all heavily weighted by the ranking algorithm. Why? Because  Google’s main purpose is to provide a true search engine — delivering the highest-quality content at the right time to the people who are searching for it. 

When people find the content they’re looking for on your site, it sends positive signals to the search engine in the form of time spent on the site, links shared, pages viewed, and more. This in turn will boost you higher in organic search results – which is when you’ll start to see a hard-earned return on your SEO efforts.