How do we plan for the future when Google keeps changing the rules?

Ask ASBPEDavide Savenije is the editor-in-chief at Industry Dive and the president of ASBPE’s board of directors. “Ask ASBPE” is an advice column where Davide — and a rotating cast of subject matter experts — answer the most pressing questions from the B2B publishing community. You can Ask ASBPE your question through our contact form.

None of us can predict the future. Nor can we control how Google changes its algorithm. 

I like to tell my team that we can’t control breaking news, but we can control how we respond to it. And we can get really smart about how we respond to Google’s changes if we want to maximize our search traffic. 

So you may not be able to predict the future, but you can develop your organization’s ability to respond to change. Whether it’s a Google algorithm change or something bigger like a pandemic, the best teams are agile, responsive and resilient to change. They understand when it’s best to stand still and when to pivot in the face of changes in the market. They understand when to be the first mover, when to follow quickly, and when to not respond at all. 

It’s important to understand that all online publications have to deal with Google’s changes. If Google makes changes that are “bad” for B2B publications, it’s bad for everyone. That means your competitors are just as affected as you are. The real edge then is to respond more effectively to these changes than your competitors. 

Perhaps most importantly, we can also build our publications and our audiences in such a way that we aren’t entirely reliant on Google (or any other platform, for that matter). The history of digital media is littered with cautionary tales of publications that built their audiences on someone else’s platform. 

If we’ve learned anything from the last few decades of online media, it’s that you need to build a relationship with your audience that isn’t easily disintermediated by a third-party platform, whether that’s a search engine or social media or anything else. If you’re going through a middleman to access your audience, it’s not really your audience. A platform can pull the rug out from underneath you from one day to the next. The smartest publishers understand how to use platforms like Google to meet audiences where they already are — and then try to get these new users to come to them, stick around in the publication’s ecosystem and convert into long-term loyal audiences. 

If you want to optimize your publication for Google and stay on top of SEO best practices and algorithm changes, ASBPE has some great resources to do just that:

If you want to follow SEO experts more closely, I also recommend these folks and organizations:

But for all the million-and-one tips and tricks out there about how to optimize your B2B publication for Google search traffic, never forget that the most important thing you can do is create uniquely valuable content for a specific audience. If you don’t do that, there is no number of SEO tips that can help you sustainably build your audience.

Davide Savenije

Davide Savenije is the editor-in-chief at Industry Dive. He leads the strategy and direction of Industry Dive's fast-growing newsroom with 20+ trade publications for 2+ million subscribers. Savenije helped define and build Industry Dive's editorial vision, strategy, culture, and team of 100+ world-class business journalists. Before becoming editor-in-chief, he started his career as an intern at Industry Dive in 2012 and wore many hats as an editor and manager in leading the development of publications like Utility Dive and Retail Dive into industry leaders.

Savenije currently serves as president of the ASBPE National Board of Directors.

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