Google has made quite a few updates in 2011 to their search engine algorithm. Entitled “Panda”,  the updates have been geared towards punishing grey and black hat SEO techniques, which some shady SEO firm used. They also have been geared towards rewarding social media, quality content and inbound links. Here is a short recap:

1. January 2011 – JcPenney and Overstock dramatically fall from page one of the search engine rankings when Google punished them for getting links to product pages from irrelevant sites. Up to 75% of a site’s ranking is based on quality inbound links (that is links from quality websites). However, Google deemed many of the inbound links to JcPenney and Overstock were not quality.

Marketing Tip: Owners need to spend time developing quality content, distributing across a solid distribution network that includes social media, and attracting quality inbound links.

2. February 2011 – Google targeted sites that were full of ads and no real content. This update affected 12% of searches – Wow.

Marketing Tip: Make sure your website and blog are fill with content that is writing for people not just cramming in keywords. Know your marketing message and what type of information your customers are looking for.

3. March 2011 – Google launches Google+1 and incorporates social sharing into the ranking algorithm

Marketing Tip: If you have not yet jumped into social media, but want decent search engine results, then understand the importance of an integrated marketing strategy. Your website, blog, social media, Email marketing should all work together to help increase the relevancy and authority of your web content.

4. August 2011: Google displays expanded site links.

Marketing Tip: Make sure you understand your unique value proposition and how to personalize unique title and description tags for every page of your site. Write in benefit language, not feature language so customers can see the value right off the bat through compelling descriptions on each page.

5. October 2011: Google stops passing search referral data to the destination site (even through Google analytics) if the user is logged into Google. Simply it means that site owners can’t tell what keywords someone searched to get to their website if the viewer was logged into their own Google account.

Marketing Tip: This tip hasn’t really helped marketers other than explaining why the data may have changed recently.

6. November 2011: Most recently, Google’s algorithm has been updated to reward fresh and timely content impacting 35% of all searches.

Marketing Tip: Now then ever it is important to have a website that incorporates a blog and/or fresh content. Business owners need to allocate either time or money to have their website refreshed on a regular basis. Many of MTECH clients have moved from static, HTML sites to custom WordPress CMS sites which allow owners to blog and change photos and content regularly.

Small business owners who think they understand search engine optimization and how to do it should realize and stay tuned into the ever-changing landscape. MTECH is here to assist owners through these techniques, so feel free to contact us for a free consultation/estimate at 970-731-6325.