Every now and then Google changes the way that it ranks and indexes websites. For businesses who are keen to stay at the top of search results within their industry, this is always a slightly nervous time.
The latest update from Google is called "Penguin" and it is heavily focused on user experience. Google are keen for search results to as relevant as possible, and they are using many factors to decide which pages will fare well in the shake-up. There will be no more shortcuts to getting your website ranked highly, content is now king.
Think about your customers and Google will reward you
At least that is the general idea of Penguin, and infact you should have been thinking about your customers all along. When searching the web for products or services, people obviously want to see the most relevant websites for their search, and you can help them by providing as much interesting and up to date information as you can.
Website copywriting is about to become a much sought after skill, with content having to please customers and search engines alike. With the introduction of Penguin, even bad grammar and spelling mistakes will count against you in the race to be top of the search results. But then it makes sense when you think about what Google is trying to achieve - you don't really want to be directed to a badly written page with only a passing reference to the item you searched for, what you actually want is content that someone has taken time and care over because that is most likely to meet your requirements.
Good content should be popular in the new online social world
Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Digg, YouTube, LinkedIn.....there are a lot of ways to share your news and interests online, and these sites have become a kind of organic marketing tool for businesses. People will share something that they like, whether it's a joke, a news item, a 20% discount on a pair of shoes, or just an article that they feel is informative.
The good news is that the Penguin update from Google will reward you if your content is shared across this new social network. Google sees these sites as being very important in terms of judging the relevance of the content on your website. So for example, if you write a news article on your website about the latest incarnation of the Blue Widget, and you then share it with your contacts on Twitter and Facebook - if your contacts then click through to your website to view the article, Google will recognise this and will instantly see your article as being more relevant. If your contacts like the article so much they share it with all of their contacts, then the relevance of your article goes up another notch.
So the combination of creating interesting content that people will want to share, and then sharing it with your contacts, is the new route to the top of Google searches. Augmenting your website content with pictures and videos will also help. You will need a strategy and a certain amount of discipline to pull it off, but the rewards could be massive as you leapfrog the competition and massively increase the exposure of your business.