Oh Google, you DO care!

Feb 25, 2011 | best practice, SEO, websites

Google logo A lot of the work that has been flowing through CarricDesign lately revolves around improving ranking results in ‘search engines’ (by which clients usually mean ‘Google’).

So when an article comes across my desk about an algorithm update, I sit up and took notice. The article du jour is from Website Magazine and talks about Google’s so-called ‘Farm Update’.

Google is finally ready to penalize content farms. (Official Google blog post – they call the sites ‘low-quality’)

For those who are building websites using web standards practices, good (…unique…useful…) content and all the good stuff that comes with thinking about SEO, things are looking up. No longer will you have to compete against spammy content farms who reproduce content or generate fluffy stuff that doesn’t really help anyone, just to rank well for keywords and produce link juice for other sites.

Google (and all other search engines) change their algorithm all the time. A tweak of this, a pinch of that – helping to serve up the ‘best results’ possible. Think about it like this: search engines make money by being the search engine of choice for as many users as possible. Their claim to marketshare correlates to what they can charge for advertising. In order to be the search engine of choice, they have to consistently serve up the results that people are looking for (i.e. what they REALLY want versus what their search query is…you might be surprised how different those two things can be!). The better the search engine is at getting the user where they want to go, the more likely the user will return…and the search engine claims more marketshare.

My sympathies are for the small business owner who is trying to run their business (which they are hopefully good at), keep up with the book-keeping (get an accountant!) and create content for their website. The temptation to copy from another site – say, a manufacturer’s site – is high. But this algorithm update will ferret out that behaviour and penalize for it. There is now more incentive to create useful, thoughtful content for your website.

It will be important to look at your website’s analytics and know where pages are at in the search engine results page and watch what happens. If you see dramatic downward trends for pages that you feel contain the meat and potatoes of your business, evaluate the content with your ‘low quality’ radar on – sooner, rather than later.

Other useful strategies for small businesses: engage with your customers on Facebook and/or Twitter; ask trusted employees to post to your Facebook page about products they like in your store; re-evaluate current content – now is the perfect time to freshen things up; consider other forms of content, like videos; start a blog.