Many website owners will have noticed some big changes to their Google rankings over the past few weeks, with a lot of businesses suffering surprisingly large losses as a result of the changes. So what happened?
Google actually put into place one of the largest changes in its algorithm, which was estimated to affect up to 12% of search engine results. 12% may not sound like a lot, but when you consider the billions of websites online, you start to realize how extraordinarily huge these changes were.
Google’s goal, as always is to ensure that its results are as relevant as possible, they also want to ensure that results served up to Google users are as high in quality as possible. I suppose though, the question is, what does Google consider to be high quality, and is it the same as the users?
Sure, nobody wants to see junky spam sites coming up in the #1 position when they’re looking for some serious information. However, that doesn’t mean that legitimate sites whose aim is to provide useful information haven’t been hit by the change either.
One of the most noticeable changes is that “content farm” sites appear to have suffered large drops in rankings. These sites, which include AOL, the Huffington Post, Maholo and others have been known to produce content catering to the most searched terms of the day. The idea being, of course, that if they can keep up there with the trends, and the pages they create can rank, they’ll get lots of visitors.
There are a range of content based websites on the Internet. Some are there to provide genuinely useful information, others have very generic pages which are sometimes poorly written, and others are just pure spam sites designed to get traffic (which will hopefully click on a paid link and thus earn the website owner revenue). The problem here is that there’s a fine line between useful information and not-so-useful information, and sites providing great content have found themselves suffering under the latest algorithm change as well as those producing great quantities of generic rubbish or spam.
Naturally, with large algorithm changes, website owners and businesses have to come up with a way (fast!) to get their sites ranking again, which generally means figuring out what stopped them ranking in the first place. It’s virtually impossible to work out exactly how Google’s algorithm works, and Google wants to keep it that way. All website owners can do is tweak their sites and their SEO and look for what works and what doesn’t as far as ranking is concerned.
But what do these changes mean for the small business owner? At the moment, it doesn’t seem as if these changes will affect many small business owners too much at all. If you’ve got a particular business in your local area and you’ve got a website for that business, there’s no reason why local searchers for a business such as yours won’t still be able to find it online. Google still wants to provide relevance, and if your site is relevant, you really shouldn’t have too many problems ranking highly.
As always ensure you provide good content and useful information to your customers, and there’s no reason why you’ll ever be penalized by Google. It’s only when business owners engage in poor SEO and in “gaming” the search engines that they suffer (good SEO techniques will always work, poor ones ultimately cause problems even for solid businesses).