posted by Search
The year is close to being halfway done and we are already seeing Google not pulling any punches. They intend to go big this year and create the most relevant results for its users.
Google Panda Update
In late February, many businesses saw a drastic change in their website’s performance on Google. The company launched a dramatic improvement to their algorithmic ranking to reduce rankings for low-quality sides and better rankings for high-quality sites.
Not everyone was happy with the update, but to Google it was all done with one valuable goal in mind: Provide better, more valuable and more relevant results for the user.
This change affected more than 11 percent of all indexed websites, which by Google’s factors, is an absolutely staggering number. Not every site that was affected deserved the decrease in values, however, they engaged in tactics that Google viewed as “potentially problematic.” Whether the company chose to follow the more successful sites that actually were a problem, received bad advice or are just very unlucky is something that only Google knows.
What we know is that the main principles of search engine optimization (SEO) still stand.
- Create your own insightful, topical content and ultimately you will do well.
- Don’t cruise for links. Create content that people actually want to link to. It takes less time and has a larger payoff in the end.
- Use tools at your disposal to understand your website and its purpose that will improve where you may have problems.
- Hug your friendly neighborhood SEO specialist. What? We work hard and like hugs.
The search giant recently announced its new service called +1 (pronounced “Plus One”). This is something you will start to see on your search engine results page (SERP) as well as websites. +1 is essentially Google’s answer to the Facebook Like Button integrated with their search results.
Let’s say you do a search for “SEO News.” You would see a search engine results page similar to the one pictured below.
What you see next to each result (including the ads) is a small slightly visible +1 icon. This means that no one in your social network on Google has recommended it yet. Once you or someone in your social network clicks on the +1 icon, we see it change.
This creates a very noticeable change on the SERP and attracts more attention than we originally assumed. This tells you right away that people you know and presumably trust have used the site and found it useful. It’s a quick way to know if what you’re clicking is worth your time.
This helps advertisers as well. When you pay for each click (PPC), you want to make sure you’re seeing traffic do more than return visits to one page and leave. Click through rates are one thing but without conversions, you’re just wasting money. The +1 is a quick indicator that you can let your ad run. People can put faith in the +1 because those that they know and trust have found it worth clicking.
Additionally, this has potential to create a higher ROI on your PPC campaign. The +1 will not only just mean higher clicks, but higher clicks from your target market who are more inclined to make a purchase.
This is also a great test for Google to check and see which results are voted as useful and which are not. They can use this real-time data to continually check the accuracy of their results.
As a user, you get a very customized experience based on people in your social network. If your circle of friends finds something valuable, odds are you will find some value in it too. Elevating +1 results or even distinctly displaying them can do big things to help you find interesting and useful data.
Raise your hand if you have set up your Google Profile. Ask others. You’re going to find that not many people have and even fewer use it.
This may be a case of “too late.” Facebook’s Like Button is on virtually every site in one way or another. It’s a part of today’s ever-growing online Lexicon. Who hasn’t heard or seen someone say “Like it” in regards to a website?
Facebook’s tool has become a modern verb of sharing. Saying “plus one my site” doesn’t have the same ring to it.
This is a promising idea that could benefit anyone involved, but only time will tell if people will start to use Google’s social services. If history is any indicator, it isn’t going to be all wine and trumpets.
These are just two of the changes they have made. While they make changes all the time, this year feels a little more aggressive than most. We don’t typically see updates that affect 11 percent of the online world. We also don’t see two updates in one month with the potential to drastically alter the SERP landscape. Google has done this in the first three months of 2011.
Do you have any predictions on what else Google might implement this year? If so, we would love to chat about it. Sound off in the comment section.
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