Google is a business, like anyone else, and they improve their business by making sure their customers are happy, and that means everyone who uses Google to find things they need. That’s why Google occasionally updates their search algorithms: to return more relevant and higher quality results.
Because of these updates, the way sites are ranked in search results can change.If you want to make sure your site will still rank well (and trust us you do!), you need to know what has changed and how your site can remain relevant. Google holds over two-thirds of global search results, and when you factor in mobile, their market share is even higher. If you want to be found on the internet, you want Google to be happy with your site. So, how exactly has Google changed and what are they looking for?
There have been two major updates to Google’s algorithm in the last few years, and they are code-named Panda and Penguin. (I’m not sure where Google’s fascination for arctic animals came from, but there are rumors that the Penguin update was named after the batman villain.)
This update was initiated in February, 2011, and focused on downranking sites for poor user experience based on website quality. Websites have higher rankings if they have good original content, reputable backlinks, and credible authorship. They continued to release new versions of the update with further changes, including one important update in March, 2012.
With this update, Google made it possible for website to actually be punished for OVER-optimization. This meant if a website was extremely optimized for search engines, but not well-suited for people, it would show up lower in search results. They gave more weight to sites that focus on creating great content than those who focus purely on ranking in search results. The Panda updates have continued until as recently as January, 2013.
The first Google Penguin update was released in April, 2012. The goal of this algorithm change was to fight web-spam and penalize users for violating Google’s Webmaster Guidelines in order to artificially raise their search rankings. These violations have become known as black-hat SEO techniques, and include keyword stuffing, link schemes, deliberate content duplication, and more.
As of writing this, the most recent Penguin update had occurred in May, 2013.
What does this mean for business?
If you want to make sure your site can compete in search results, be sure you read Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and follow the rules to avoid penalties. The bottom line is that Google will rate your site better if it is made to be helpful and informative for users.
As long as you create relevant content, update it regularly, and make sure your site is appealing and easy to navigate, you shouldn’t be penalized. A good way to think about it is whether people would want to share and repost the content you’re making. Shares and reposts generate inbound links, which causes Google to boost your search engine ranking. If it is informative, relevant, interesting or amusing, and helpful, the answer should be “yes,” and you have nothing to worry about.
Put in a little extra effort to make sure that you include phrases in your site that people may search for when looking for your product or service. Then, add tags, descriptions, and alternate text to any page elements search engines can’t recognize to ensure that they are also factored into your ranking.
If your site has suffered from some of the recent updates, or if you just think you’d benefit from some help with content generation or search engine optimization, contact us at protocol 80.