2013 has seen Google make some dramatic changes and the Penguin update that occurred on May 22nd had the biggest impact on small business websites. Whilst this led to some severe drops in traffic, some webmasters have been reporting some traffic increases during August. It is believed that this is a result of a Panda softening from Google.
This impact has led many webmasters to change the ways that they tackle SEO for their small businesses. Because they have very little funds to spare for spending on optimisation services, they are often reluctant to increase their budgets. But here are 4 reasons why this is exactly what you should do:
1. Google Wants You To
Even though many people will simply dismiss this as PR, Google has clearly stated that the SEO tactics that used to work in 2008 are no longer tolerated. This includes article spinning, keyword stuffing, paid links, thin content and duplicate content.
2. Recovering From Updates Is Expensive
Whilst there are plenty of websites that have recovered from the Penguin updates, it is important to remember that each case is different. All of the tactics that can be used to help recovery (such as technical, onsite and offsite issues) are expensive to undertake.
3. SEO Has Merged With Marketing
By now it should be clear that SEO is no longer a technical exercise and that it is rapidly merging with marketing and public relations. It seems that many small businesses, however, are frequently failing to harness groundbreaking SEO opportunities.
4. ROI Is High In SEO
According to recent data, SEO is still a great investment. This suggests that small businesses shouldn’t be shopping for the cheapest SEO vendor but that they should be considering their return on investment (ROI) if they were to spend more.
At the end of the day, it is important to recognise that all technologies and industries mature, and that price-points will typically change along the way. SEO is no different. If you take anything away from the above 4 points, it should be that spending more on optimisation now will benefit small business greatly in the long run, both in ROI and authority.
These days, the interest in social media is continuing to grow at exponential rates and it is important that your business is taking advantage of this by making brand-oriented accounts on some of the more popular platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook. To help you out, here are some tips that you can use to make your website social media friendly:
- Killer Content
Have you ever heard the saying ‘content is king’? Whilst this is true of anything that you upload to the internet, it is especially true of social media, as you need to stand out from the crowd. Ordinary content won’t cut it anymore because there is simply too much out there.
- Social Buttons
Users expect convenience when they browse the web; they want to be able to share things they like or find interesting through their social media channels as easily as possible. This is why your website should include buttons (such as ‘like’ and ‘tweet’) to streamline this.
- Social Content
Whilst social media platforms are built with the intention of connecting people, you can actually take a similar approach with your website. Why not incorporate a blog section where users can post comments? Or post your advertising material on Facebook to see the reaction?
- Titles & Images
You need titles that are eye-catching and straight to the point, otherwise users won’t read your content (no matter how interesting or relevant). You also need images that explain the main points of your content in the same kind of tone that you have written in.
Whilst a website does provide you with a foundation for establishing a successful online presence, social media will provide you with an avenue for even wider coverage and more opportunities to connect with your customers. By using the above tips, you can effectively integrate social media with your website and will, hopefully, start to see it working for you soon.
Late last week, it was discovered that Google had quietly updated their ranking article help document to reflect changes that they have made in their messages of late. The change was spotted by internet marketer, Erik Baeumlisberger, and suggests that building quality websites is actually more important than building quality links, which is actually contrary to Google’s past messages, which have stated that links are important to your ranking.
Barry Swartz of Search Engine Roundtable said that the “change is to keep Google consistent with their general change in messaging that content is what webmasters should focus on, not links”. This means that it is more about increasing the number of people who will want to use and share your content, which will actually help to build quality links in the long run; the webmaster’s focus, however, should be on the content.
But what was the actual change that Google made to their article? It originally read: “In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by increasing the number of high-quality sites that link to their pages.” As of the 27th of May, however, this part of the article was changed to read: “In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by creating high-quality sites that users will want to use and share.”
This is not to say, however, that links are not important to your ranking and that being social is actually more essential (as this is how users will share links to your content). Being social is currently not important at all, but many people believe that this will change in the future as more and more people share links and content. Instead, what has changed is the way that webmasters should think about their content, as it will not be shared if it is not interesting or engaging.
Earlier in the week, Google announced that they will soon be rolling out several ranking changes that will affect websites that have not been optimised for use on smartphone devices. These changes will effectively force owners to fix their mobile website configuration issues otherwise they will risk being downranked in search results. Website owners who have yet to jump on the bandwagon of the mobile trend will need to act quickly if they want to be spared.
A number of the ‘mistakes’ that Google will be targeting with these changes include: desktop pages that redirect smartphone users to irrelevant pages on the mobile website (usually the homepage), desktop pages that redirect to 404 error pages instead of the smartphone-friendly page, incorrect handling of Googlebot-Mobile, and many more. The most damaging mistake, however, will be the use of embedded video that does not play on smartphones, such as Flash.
If you have ever used your smartphone to browse the internet, it’s likely that you have dealt with some of these problems first hand. You do a search, tap on a result in order to read the corresponding article and find yourself staring, dazed and confused, at the website’s mobile-optimized homepage. What happened to the article you wanted to read? Who knows! As well as being annoying, Google understands that dealing with this is a waste of your time and bandwidth.
Google said that “smartphone users are a significant and fast growing segment” and that they want them to “experience the full richness of the web”, which is why they are rolling out these changes. Because Google has such a big influence on the internet – they have 83.18% of the search market share on desktops and 81.02% share on mobiles worldwide – these changes are set to change the way that we browse the web and other browsers are sure to follow.
So, how long do website owners have to make the changes that Google has said they will be trying to wheedle out? The internet mogul has yet to announce the release date of these changes to their algorithm, only saying that they will occur in the “near future”. What this really means is that website owners should be making their websites mobile-friendly as quickly as possible, especially if they want to ensure that their ranking is unaffected when the changes are made.
Image Source: XKCD
The wait is over; Google Penguin 2.0 update is live now. Google roll out the next generation of the Penguin webspam algorithm on May 22, 2013. This marks the fourth release of the much anticipated Google’s Penguin Update. Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s web spam team officially announced this update on “This Week in Google” and said that about 2.3% of English-US queries will be impacted by this new generation Penguin Update.
Matt Cutts has now posted several details about this recent update in his personal blog. He explained that the launch is now complete, including for non-English languages, and that “the scope of Penguin varies by language, e.g. languages with more webspam will see more impact.” He wrote-
“We started rolling out the next generation of the Penguin webspam algorithm this afternoon (May 22, 2013), and the rollout is now complete. About 2.3% of English-US queries are affected to the degree that a regular user might notice. The change has also finished rolling out for other languages world-wide. The scope of Penguin varies by language, e.g. languages with more webspam will see more impact.
This is the fourth Penguin-related launch Google has done, but because this is an updated algorithm (not just a data refresh), we’ve been referring to this change as Penguin 2.0 internally.”
Ever since the first Penguin Update on April 24, 2012 which impacted 3.1% of search queries, the fourth Penguin update is expected to impact about 2.3% of search queries. This fourth release is a major change, so big that Google has referred to it as Penguin 2.0 internally. Now since, the Penguin 2.0 update is live; it will be interesting to find out exactly how sites will be affected.