How Can I Explain Google’s Algorithm Changes to My Clients?

According to Google, major algorithm changes happen several times a year and often without warning, occasionally resulting in dropped website page-rankings and severely reduced traffic.

It can be very discouraging for marketers to see their clients’ page-ranking fall through no fault of their own. It can be even more discouraging to marketers to have their clients become upset at them for their page-ranking falling without being able to adequately explain why.

Here are a few tips for explaining changes to Google’s Algorithm:

1) Get Rid of Jargon

Small business owners don’t fully understand Search Engine Optimization and aren’t particularly interested in deep-diving into the terminology. They have a business to run – that’s why they’ve hired you.

Get rid of the unnecessary jargon and acronyms when you speak or write to them, and instead try to convey simplified concepts to your clients. Be as clear as possible and simplify project steps whenever possible. It isn’t about lying or withholding information, but rather empowering them with enough knowledge so they can make recommendations for their own business.

2) Set Clear Expectations

SEO is not fully understood by many business owners, and therefore they can be full of unrealistic expectations: believing it’s easy to get a brand-new website to the top of a SERP (Search Engine Results Page) or hoping to see a significant increase in conversions in the first week or two.

You need to set clear expectations right away. Your clients need to know that SEO isn’t a get-rich-quick marketing channel or one that necessarily shows its value right away. You need to sell them on the idea of long-term growth, and to trust in the process.

3) Give Them Context

Now that we’ve gotten the jargon-barrier out of the way, you need to give them a brief overview of digital marketing and the struggles that come with trying to optimize Google’s search results:


a) We Don’t Control Google

Most people’s relationship with Google is very pleasant: they have a question, they ask Google, and then Google goes and fetches them the best websites that it thinks will answer the question. Digital marketers, especially Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Specialists have a very different relationship with the gigantic search engine.

Google rolls out updates many times a year and frequently digital marketers are left scrambling, trying to figure out just how much it affected their clients’ web pages. No matter how experienced a digital marketer, no one can predict how changes to Google’s algorithm will affect a site’s rankings. While Google does give some tools to help diagnose, such as Page Speed, often marketers need to do their own investigative work to get their clients’ web pages back up in rankings.


b.) Google is Just Trying to Be Better

While the changes to Google’s algorithm are not always in the best interest of small businesses or digital marketers, it is helpful to know their goal: to better the experience for the searcher. You can be sure that every algorithm update will be with this goal in mind, even if it does not seem like it at the time.

4) We’re All in This Together

It may bring small comfort to businesses and agencies alike that we’re all in this together; we are all trying to weather the storm whenever an unforeseen change to Google’s all-powerful algorithms occurs and throws our SEO off-direction. But by following best practices, with a little patience and luck, we can right the ship and get our page-rankings back to where they were, or even higher.

5) Craft a Story for Them

Numbers without context are just numbers. Getting on a phone call with your client just to read numbers at them isn’t helping anyone, and it isn’t helping them feel secure in your services. Instead, craft them a story for them about where their company is based on where it’s been and show them where you’re hoping to take it. Show them you know their business and their business needs.


While most digital marketers and SEO Specialists spend their week trying to keep up with the various changes to Google’s algorithms, they often forget that small business owner aren’t even aware that changes to the popular search engine are frequently being rolled out.

We can weather the storm by sticking to SEO best practices, having faith that our hard work will eventually pay off, and communicating clearly with our clients. Business owners who are looking for quick wins aren’t looking for SEO – SEO is about long-term growth and strength and stability.


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