Saturday, June 25, 2016

Caught in the Google Algorithm Web

by Tony Thomas

Once upon a time, it was pretty easy to get found on Google.

For many years, my web site,, was firmly anchored to page one when I searched on my name. Then, the Google algorithms kicked in. What are the Google algorithms, you might ask? They are the computer programs that Google uses to analyze every web site and to determine its page rank.

Back in the old days, web site owners would try to game Google and other web search engines by loading their web pages with (often invisible) keywords so that their pages would be ranked higher. Other diabolical devices like link farms, shoddy keyword laden content and scraper sites were also employed by the black hats to try to fool the search engines. Enter algorithms.

It began with Panda in 2011, the first frontal assault by Google against the scammers. It was followed by Penguin in 2012. And according to, Google changes its algorithms 500-600 times per year! Moz keeps a log of all of the changes in case you are interested:

And Hubspot has a useful visual history infographic:

Google’s algorithms are reportedly supplemented by an army of humans that view and grade websites. Since the advent of algorithms and human analysis, Google search has never been the same. My website, has fallen from page 1 to page 15 in my latest search attempt. Page 15? Really?

I have spent the past few weeks trying to figure out why my page rank has dropped so precipitously. What I discovered was eye opening. First of all, according to Google’s Webmaster Tools, my site is not “mobile-friendly”. That automatically decreases my page rank considerably. To rectify it, I changed my Wordpress template to a newer one that is mobile-friendly. I also added a site map file and did some housekeeping on my server to make my site more searchable.
It remains to be seen how much that will help, but my score has already improved according to Hubspot’s Website Grader tool:

During all this, I checked my page rank on Even before I made the changes, my site could be found on page 2 when doing a Bing search on my name! Does Microsoft know something that Google doesn’t? Is Bing actually a better search engine?
I’m not sure of the answer to those questions, but one thing is sure. I will be using Bing to supplement my Google searches from now on!

Google Search for Tony Thomas

Passing the Mobile-Friendly Test

Good Ranking on Hubspot Website Grader

Page 2 on