panda eating bambooRecently, Google announced it was – yet again – making adjustments to the way it ranks pages. Specifically, by making its latest update, Panda, less severe for certain websites. The announcement came from Google’s Matt Curtis, and was given at the last installment of SMX West (or Search Marketing Expo), and is slated to help small businesses.

While this may sound like great news to small business owners everywhere (yours truly included), it also comes with the same layers of mystery Google always dishes up. Because they don’t want their methods to be beaten or hacked on even the smallest of levels, the public gains little information about the changes. While we know its intentions and the very basics, there’s no way to “plan” for the change other than just continuing one’s normal practices. Trying to anticipate Google updates could cause incredibly severe consequences.

This comes weeks before the announcement that the company also “took action against” a large guest blogging platform, My Blog Guest. Again, we don’t know the exact nature, only that sketchy links are causing more concern than before. Or rather, links that Google thinks are sketchy.

The problem? There’s no way of telling what Google’s thinking or when they’re even thinking it.

How to Plan for the Unknown

The theory behind many of Google’s rankings is that those writing “natural,” regular content will see the highest levels of results. (Or rise in the rankings.) In other words, those who blog as per usual – without seeking out specific keywords or links – can be identified as doing so. No word on the actual results vs. intentions, but at least Google’s putting in a solid effort to pat website owners on the back.

Therefore, when “planning,” it may just be best to not plan at all. Instead, continue with regular content, new ideas, and engaging topics for viewers to read. (And for search engines to scour.) For those not already following the above, it’s high time to resort back to these blogging basics.

Google’s Intentions

As for Google’s ultra-secretive ways, we get it. If their secrets were revealed, they wouldn’t be able to rank pages anymore. But for those of us who aren’t trying to hack the system, a little heads up would be nice. For instance, “This type of link will look spammy,” or “Too many uses of [insert keyword] will get you flagged.” But until they release that For-Dummies list, it seems that us bloggers are on our own to research and decipher. Hopefully, sticking to legit writing practices will keep us on their good list, and out of a search engine hole.