Pre Spring of 2012, a lot of organizations devoted their SEO efforts to leveraging the loopholes in the Google algorithm for the advantage of their site rankings. In other words, they spent more time trying to trick Google than working with them. For a while this worked; sites that engaged in such so-called “ninja” and “black hat” strategies experienced high rankings.
But earlier this year, Google decided they’d had enough of the crooked SEO tactics. Through two algorithm updates, known as Penguin and Panda, Google set out on something of witch-hunt for those sites and organization’s that had been relying on illicit link building strategies. Sites that had previously ranked on the first page suddenly found themselves showing up as far back as page 8 or 9. In the most severe instances, sites were actually delisted, or completely banished, from Google results.
Now, the game has completely changed. Google is attempting to create a cosmic collision between the way the real world works and the way online search engines operate. In the real world, when we need an answer to a question we ask friends, family, and others’ whose opinions we respect to determine the best course of action. Google has made this sense of tribalism, or networking, a keystone in their new algorithm.
These days, rankings aren’t based on the number of links an organization has into and out of their site or how many keywords it has laced into meaningless content. Instead, sites are evaluated on their level of engagement. If the word “engagement” rings social media bells in your head, you’re headed in the right direction! Engagement is about real interaction between customers, employees, industry thought leaders, and others in an organizations space. Engagement occurs when legitimate conversations occur in the digital world, most often through social media like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
A prominent component of any engagement development strategy is quality content. In other words, the days of content spinning and message-less content designed solely for keyword purposes are completely over. Now, organizations need to generate real, thought-provoking blogs, articles, and whitepapers that provide answers to the questions search engine users are asking. This content should have multiple access points and should be followed carefully for comments and questions that it may generate. Stale content, or content that is merely put on there and never provided any follow through, will produce only mediocre engagement results.
The concept of authorship has also become a critical component to the Google algorithm, particularly with the launch of Google Plus. Google Plus, another type of networking platform, allows users to link anything they write specifically to their account. Have you noticed those little profile images showing up throughout Google results lately? That’s Google Plus! In short, by connecting all of our social networks and pushing them to engage in the content that we generate, we boost our online power.
While many organizations and agencies are having a tough time swallowing the Panda and Penguin updates, the reality is that they really don’t have a choice. To continue engaging in the practices used a year ago is to condemn our site’s rankings and potential. Regardless of how engrained the old practices may be, it’s time to let them go and embrace working with Google.
Author Bio: Frank is a freelance writer and tech geek who likes to test wireless internet plans for speed.
Photo credit: seoz87