It wasn’t too long ago when Google was a funny name of a little start-up company in the Silicon Valley area…about 13 years ago. They developed a nifty little search engine to make it easier on all of us to find stuff on the internet. Then they discovered they could generate advertising dollars and the rest is history as they say.
As their story has continued to play out they became very protective of their search algorithm, which is the engine that drives the search beast. They have continually tweaked their algorithm over the ensuing years, but it seems as though 2011 saw a lot more changes than in other years.
So how does the average small to mid-size business owner protect their website and online investment in what has now become an essential part of your business? If you want to keep pace and ideally grow your business, it means you need to keep up as best you can.
Here are 5 tips to help you do that.
- Pay Attention to Google Announcements. In the past they have been very secretive, but that has changed somewhat. There are two areas where they release more information than they have in the past. One is Google Inside Search and the other is the Official Google Blog. If you want to join the smart SEO (Search Engine Optimization) crowd you could also subscribe to Matt Cutts’ Blog. He is the head of Google’s Webspam team and often provides some great added insight.
- Make Sure You Have an Analytics Program Installed. There are free and paid programs that you can link to your website to monitor what’s going on. For purposes of this discussion you want to be sure and compare your year-to-year traffic patterns. So when you get news of an algorithm change you can do a quick check and see if has had an effect on your site. If it has then you may need to get some professional help to make the necessary corrections. For a lot of people Google Analyticsis good free program to use, or you can simply search for website analytic programs. There are lots of them out there.
- Eliminate Any Duplicate Content on Your Site.Two of the major algorithm updates last year were focused on emphasizing high quality content. Part of that is you are penalized for having duplicate content. This could be difficult if you have a lot of pages, so you may want to enlist the aid of your webmaster or your site developer.
- Take a Hard Look at the Usability and Navigation of Your Site.Your site should be easy to navigate and find what people are looking for. That way they will be more inclined to share your content with others and/or link to it, provided you have the appropriate share buttons on your site.
- Frequently Create High Quality Content. Oh, what’s that? You’ve heard this one before? I hope so. If you want Google’s search engines to rank your site higher than others you need not just quality content, but you need fresh and relevant content. The Google “Freshness Update” to their algorithm made it very clear that this was going to be taken into account.
If you think it sounds like Google has been busy over the past year you’re right. There is every reason to believe they will continue so for at least the next few years. We are only less than one month into 2012 and we have already seen changes. We’ll cover those in a future post, once the dust has settled and we can report something firm and helpful.
We’d love to hear what you have experienced and we welcome your comments in the space below.