The Algorithm is Human is a series of post explaining search engine behaviour from a plain and simple human point of view.

Ever had this happen to you?

As you take a cup out of the cupboard another one falls.

Or, just as you put your mug on the table, out of the corner of your eye you see the sugar pot falling.

You see it happen and act immediately!

Your hand reaches out for the falling object and you do reach it in time! Touching it with your fingertips you push the object and fail to grip it. You now made it spin and flip upside down so along comes your other hand, a bit lower, to nimbly catch it here and.... No! You made it bounce to the left! Instead of falling it now slams! into the nice plate -- which breaks.

You stand there, looking at the disaster, and can't help but think how your actions made things so much worse. Somehow it seems it would have been better if you had just let the thing go.

Your Site is Falling


Sometimes this is precisely what we do to our site when its rankings are falling.

We try to go for it (fast!), catch it (in time!), grip it (hard!) and in trying to do all those things at once, we only manage to make a mess.

And then, as with the kitchen stuff, the question comes up: would things have been better if you had just let the thing go?

Overreaction = Obfuscation

The problem now is that all your fumbling has obfuscated the real problem.

Even if you would assume for a moment that all the quick steering and guiding and running and doing has helped -- the question remains, what has had which effect?

What just happened?

The initial cause is virtually impossible to determine at this point.

And what worked? What did what?

Did removing your footer link to the sitemap make things better or worse? Has adding your desired keyphrase 20 more times had a beneficial effect or is it what made your site go down 5 positions further?

Did buying some additional high quality, "undetectable" paid links boost you +2 or made you drop -3?

Steers Like a Tanker


Web sites and ranking is like steering a ship with just one difference: things are even slower with search engines.

Turn the steer and initially nothing seems to be happening. The reaction to your action seems to be delayed -- and in case of search engines that delay is often measured in weeks leading into months; certainly not days.

By the time you come on deck and think "hey, darn, the ship is turning!" the real action has already taken place -- long ago.

The best course of action?

Let it go.

Your web site is reacting to things done possibly months ago. If the professionals you hired are doing what they're good at, adjustments have already been made -- months ago.

What you do today, how you react now... that in turn will determine your course a couple of months down the line.

So, slow and steady smooth sailing vs. spinning steering wheels: you pick.

Images courtesy of The Rocketeer and Jef Poskanzer