Google recently announced a significant change to the way it ranks websites and web content, in a development that everyone involved in online marketing must be aware of and respond to.
The change came in the form of the Google Panda 3.3 update.
Without getting too technical, Panda was introduced by Google last year as part of an attempt by the US-based online giant to make its search algorithm more ‘human.’ In other words, Google is using a machine to work out what us mere mortals like to see on websites.
The Panda 3.3 update saw Google introduce a list of 40 changes in one go. This was followed by a further 50 changes soon after.
At around the same time, Google announced it was introducing an ‘over optimisation penalty’ as part of yet another update known as the Penguin. You can read a blog post on this change here.
So, silly names aside, what does this mean for marketing executives trying to ensure their company’s website is highly visible online?
Quite simply, many of the accepted methods used in SEO (search engine optimistation) no longer apply.
Google is attempting to create a level playing field by ensuring that if you don’t understand the technical aspects of SEO, your site isn’t judged to be of less value than one run by an SEO whizz.
More than ever, it is now crucial that a site contains a regular flow of high-quality, original content such as blogs and news stories if it is to rank highly on Google searches.
Sites that are easy to navigate and aesthetically pleasing will also do well.
Quality not quantity
Previously, it was beneficial from an SEO perspective for a site to contain as many pages as possible, containing as much information as possible, with links everywhere. Wikipedia is an example of a site that perfected this approach to build a massive following.
Now, Google no longer wants to see pages that are judged by visitors to have little or no value. Having a site with 100 pages, only 10 of which are regularly viewed or interacted with, is now quite a dangerous position to be in. Bounce rates must be kept as low as possible.
The new mantra is quality, not quantity.
Crucially, Google’s algorithm is now taking signals from social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google+.
This means it is has never been more important to be active on social media, and to incorporate feeds from such sites onto yours. It is vital that visitors are engaging with content on your site.
In another nod to the growing importance of social media, Google has added social media sites to the list of referrers in its analytics tool.
Help at hand
Fortunately, Google has updated its webmaster guidelines to help ensure your site adapt to the changes. These are available free online.
If you would like to discuss the changes in more detail, contact Outwrite today on 01352 706260 to arrange a call or meeting with our head of search Derek Booth.