How to Deal with Search Algorithm Changes (ep 11)

Algorithm Changes:

You’ve heard me talk again and again about the importance of SEO, and for good reason! A solid SEO strategy can boost you to the top of search results for your resources and products whether you’re on Google, TPT, Amazon, Etsy, or YouTube. The key is understanding the search algorithm for the platform you’re on. 

Frustration often occurs when algorithm changes pop up, which has been happening a lot this year on both Google and TPT. As TPT sellers, I know a lot of you are worried about how these changes could affect your business. 

With Google and TPT both being the leaders in their industries it’s good to be in the know, so that you can make any necessary tweaks. Thankfully you’ve got SEO nerds like me to help you navigate these algorithm changes.

In this episode of The Savvy Teacher Seller, I’m diving into why platforms make algorithm changes, what “black hat SEO” is, how you can always make the best experience for your customers and readers by using proven SEO practices, and how to bounce back from negative results of search algorithm changes. 

After listening, if you are ready to learn more, join the waitlist for my course, SEO for Teacher Authors.

You can also join me for a free TPT seller virtual meetup on September 17, 2022 where we’ll chat all about best practices for TPT search. Sign up here!

1:01 The true purpose of a search engine, whether it’s Google or TPT

3:46 Why search algorithms change, and how we know an algorithm is changing

4:54 How you can keep algorithm changes from affecting your business too much

7:36 What to do if algorithm changes are negatively affecting your business, and when to expect results

Hey, y’all, I’m so glad that you’re joining me today. This episode is about one of my favorite topics Search Engine Optimization. With changes this year on both Google and TPT. I’ve seen lots of questions about what is going on with search algorithm changes, and lots of TPT sellers who are worried about how these changes might be affecting our TPT businesses.

Specifically, I want to talk today about why algorithms change and how to react to those changes. So that your content, whether we’re talking about blog posts, or your products, still does well for the right search results.

Let’s start off by revisiting and thinking about the purpose of a search engine. Now, whether we’re talking about TPT, or Google, the purpose of a search engine is always to give the searcher the best results for whatever it is that they are looking for. Now, of course, TPT is a marketplace. So they judge their algorithms success by how many people are clicking on your product in the search results. And then how many of those people are making a purchase.

Because the end goal for TPT is purchases, Google is looking for behavior that indicates that the searcher is happy with whatever they found on your website. This might look like sticking around on your site rather than going back and trying different search results. Now, as search engines learn more about users behavior, and as our search behavior changes, search engines try their best to adapt and improve search results to increase their bottom line.

TPT and Google are both sitting at the very top of their respective industries. As the most popular website, Google is hands down the most popular search engine TPT is the most popular place for teachers to go to look for downloadable teaching resources. So it is vital for both of them that they keep their end users happy. They measure this with those bottom line numbers, on TPT that bottom line is purchases.

TPT knows that if buyers are purchasing, when they visit the search results, then they’ll keep coming back. If buyers search and search and can’t find what they’re looking for, they won’t keep coming back, they’ll try other sites, or they’ll just rely on their textbooks.

Google is very similar, but they know that if buyers are happy with the search results, then they will continue searching on Google. And if buyers start to find that their search results aren’t giving them good searches, they’ll switch to another search engine. Think about how heavily a lot of us relied on Pinterest a few years ago, for everything from recipes to birthday party ideas to classroom ideas. We treated it like a search engine. And we relied on it to find all sorts of things.

But they changed their algorithms, they changed what they were showing us to be a lot more product focused. And now many of us have reported we’ve kind of stopped using Pinterest because of it. Google and TPT, both know that this is the way that users behave. So their end goal is always to keep those users happy with the search results that they’re getting.

This is why they will frequently tweak the search algorithms to try to improve those search results. Now how do we know that an algorithm is changing? Sometimes they will tell us but this is typically only for very major changes. Google announced one in spring of 2022. And TPT just announced one this past month, that’s August of 2022.

If you’re listening to this later down the road, in between all of these major changes that are typically announced to us search engines are also constantly tweaking small bits of the algorithms. Now, they don’t usually announce these for a couple of reasons. First of all, those smaller tweaks don’t generally have wide sweeping effects on the entire internet as a whole or all TPT sellers.

Secondly, they also don’t want to create a culture of just responding to these algorithm tweaks and trying to game the system versus trying to provide the best content for our readers on our websites or for our shoppers on TPT.

If you want to know about those smaller changes, you’ll need to rely on SEO nerds like me who pay close attention and share the trends that they’re seeing with you. Now, the good news about all of these algorithm changes is that you can keep those algorithm changes from affecting your business too much. And the best way to do that is to avoid what is often called black hat SEO Blackhat.

SEO is anything that is meant to make a page or a product show up in search results that it might truly not be the best for things like keyword stuffing, where you’re cramming your keywords in way too many times in a way that reads awkwardly, or in lists of keywords at the bottom of a page. It also might look like adding unrelated keywords or even barely related keywords to the titles and the content on your page purely to get that product or that post to rank for a specific popular keyword.

Another thing that is considered blackhat seo is buying basically anything related to your business. So, buying backlinks where you’re paying someone to link to your website, buying subscribers buying followers. In general, that is bad in all parts of your business.

You should avoid it completely whether we’re talking about your website, your social media or anywhere else, don’t be tempted to try and purchase a way to get ahead. Instead of using those blackhat seo practices that aim to game the system. Make sure that you are always using time tested Best SEO practices.

Think about what makes the best experience for your readers or your buyers. First, let that be kind of the North Star that guides everything you’re doing for SEO, if an SEO expert is telling you to do something, and you know that it’s going to make a bad or an awkward experience for your audience than don’t do it. On both TPT and Google, remember their end goal is happy users.

If that’s also your end goal, then you’ll be on the right track. Be careful who you’re learning from, make sure that they’re teaching you aboveboard tips, and not these tricks that will eventually hurt you in the long run. And you’ll also want to make sure that they know search on the specific platform that you’re working in.

Because TPT and Google are definitely very different. And if you’re selling on Amazon, or Etsy, or you’re listing videos on YouTube, those all have their own algorithms as well. So make sure you are learning from people who know the platforms that you are on.

Now, what if you’ve done all these right things, and you’ve avoided all the blackhat seo but a change is still affecting your business. And your products or your posts aren’t getting as much traffic as they used to. This might sound really obvious, but the way to fix this is to find out what changed and then correct your content.

Remember, the end goal of a search engine is to give searchers the best possible results. If your page or product does not look like the best possible result to the search engine, then you’re going to need to update it, check and see if you’re still using the right keywords.

Oftentimes, we may have picked a perfect keyword, but searchers have changed what they’re calling something and the way that they’re searching has changed. In the education world, we have seen this with words like stations versus centers, worksheets versus principals. Those sorts of terms change frequently depending on the way that teachers are referring to things. So, you’ll want to make sure you’re still using the right keywords for your posts and your products.

And then go in and beef up your content! Whether that means adding some more information to the blog post to make it more useful and helpful to your ideal customer, improving your product listing, maybe you need to make a fresh preview, anything like that, that you can do to beef up the content and make it better for your end users while you’re incorporating those new correct keywords can help you recover from these changes.

After you’ve done this. You might be wondering, when should I expect results? Well, unfortunately, on Google, it does take some time to recover, you can typically expect it to take three to six months for your site to bounce back if you’ve had some really strong negative effects from an algorithm change.

However, on TPT, we can recover pretty quickly. Because if you realize that something you were doing has dropped your product in the search and you make changes those changes take place very quickly within 24 hours or less. The downside here is we don’t usually know what changes TPT has made. This often requires a lot of testing to improve things.

I would definitely recommend on TPT testing one tweak at a time, so that you can see where your product moves and you’ll know which things are working and which ones are not.

I always like to leave you with an action step at the end of an episode, I talked today about why algorithms change and how to recover from those. But, your action step for today is actually to do nothing.

If you’re feeling like recent algorithm changes, whether they were on TPT or Google are affecting you negatively, just step back, take a breath and know that if you’ve been implementing good SEO strategies all along, you should be fine. If not, take the time to learn SEO best practices and go ahead and start implementing what you learn, so that you can bounce back from any algorithm changes that might have negatively affected you.

Thank you so much for tuning into this episode. If you need to learn SEO best practices that withstand algorithm changes, my course SEO for Teacher Authors will be opening again this fall. You can check it out and get on the waitlist at www.seoforteacherauthors.com/

But in the meantime, plan to join me for a special TPT seller virtual meetup on Saturday, September 17 to talk about best practices for search on TPT. You can get all the details about the meetup in the show notes for this episode at www.kristendoyle.co/episode 11. Talk to you soon.

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About Your Host

Your host, Kristen Doyle, has a decade of experience selling on TpT and has made all the mistakes so that you don’t have to! As a web designer and the go-to SEO expert in the TpT world, she loves helping TpT sellers stand out in the crowd & grow their businesses with passive income strategies.

Tune in to hear Kristen cover all aspects of running a TpT business – from leveraging SEO, to improving product listings, to effective TpT seller strategies for your store and website.