Are you a small business owner struggling to understand the new algorithms of Google? Just when you thought you had this whole SEO thing figured out….boom! Google waves its magic wand and all your top search results for your website suddenly disappeared.
After reading my blog post about the new algorithms of Google, you’ll understand what happened and how you can begin to climb your way back to the top, above your competitors, once again.
The “Farmer” Algorithm
On February 24, 2011, Google rolled out its “Farmer” algorithm. It’s been dubbed the “Farmer” algorithm because it spots websites that link to content farms: websites that exist solely to link content that was specifically written for the purpose of ranking high in Google’s search results for certain keywords. Google also clamped down on websites that have a high advertisement vs. content ratio. If you have way more ads than you do content, well, you’re no longer ranking high (if you were to begin with). You’ve seen these sites, right? They’re junky: they’re full of text ads, banner ads and sentences that exist solely to hold keywords.
If you’ve enjoyed having top listings and now you’re suddenly invisible, you probably weren’t following the rules in the first place. White Hat SEO experts always follow the rules. Black Hat people know about the rules but break them. People who spam or otherwise cheat their way into the top search results are generally known as the Black Hat SEO people. If you’re searching for a SEO expert to work with be sure to ask her or him which school of thought they subscribe to. You don’t want to work with someone who puts you at risk of getting your website banned by Google like someone who breaks the rules could end up doing. What ARE the rules? Many books and and blog posts have been written about this subject and new rules (algorithms) from Google, as well as Bing, Yahoo and Blekko, are created and implemented frequently just so these search engines can provide highly useful search results to searchers. I’m not going to list them all here but I will mention a few…
2nd Rule of Google: Provide valuable content
Google is simply trying to return the most valuable search results to its searchers. When you understand that concept, you’ve won the battle. Now all you have to do is provide valuable content to your website visitors and keep feeding them new content daily or weekly. But be sure it’s YOUR content. Don’t copy someone else’s article and re-post it. Even if you give you credit to its author (which you must do), Google will not view this as RELEVANT as the original post.
This is why having a blog as part of your website REALLY helps you achieve this first rule because it’s fairly easy to write a brief blog post five days a week than it is to update content on the rest of the pages of your website. It’s especially easy if you’ve organized yourself ahead of time and written an editorial calendar listing blog topics to write about.
You probably spent a lot of time composing the content of your Web pages or perhaps hired a professional Web Copywriter (and hopefully a professional SEO expert) to get these pages solid in their construction and you really wouldn’t want to modify them as frequently as it would take to fall into the category of “fresh” content. Instead, schedule time to freshen up that content once a month and work with a professional SEO expert with a good track record of legitimate niche results and/or top search results to maintain your optimized content and keep up with Google’s ever-changing rules.
Bottomline: Devote one hour a day to creating new content on your blog post five days a week. This achieves two very important things, plus one more important thing, slightly unrelated but still VERY important:
Fresh content makes your website more valuable in Google’s eyes and Google loves to return search results that link to websites with content that’s most RELEVANT to the searcher’s keywords. When you keep your website fresh (by adding new content) and organized (proper page titles, for example) to make it easy for Google to crawl your site and easily index it into its database, you’ve made a good start toward achieving Google’s goal: “Our goal is simple: to give people the most relevant answers to their queries as quickly as possible.” – http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/02/finding-more-high-quality-sites-in.html
By consistently feeding your fans new and valuable content, you become the expert in their eyes.
Here’s the “plus one more thing, slightly unrelated but still VERY important”: You’ve successfully reached one person but what if you could get that one person to SHARE your blog post with their social network? If you’ve figured out how to add the “Share This” buttons on your blog posts and Web pages, you’ve made it very easy for your fans to push your content out to their social networks. Those re-tweet and Facebook “Like” buttons, StumbleUpon and other buttons are an important part of good marketing strategy that many people don’t even realize they should use. In fact, without these share buttons or PUSH buttons, as I like to call them, you’re limiting your content to be read by a small group of people that stagnates in growth. Anyone who doesn’t have SHARE buttons on their Web pages and blog posts is doing the equivalent of NOT having a search engine optimized website: you’re invisible. Except in this case, by not having SHARE buttons, you’re invisible to potentially hundreds or thousands of other people that your core fans are connected with. These days many people look for good content to share with their social networks so make it easy for them to do so. Go to ShareThis.com to find out more.
3rd Rule of Google: Don’t Break the Rules
I said that above, in a different way: follow the rules. If you’re not following the rules of the game, you won’t get very far – your website will be invisible when your potential customers go searching for your services – but if you BREAK the rules: your website will probably get banned.
What are the rules? There are many, many things you can do to make your website show up in search results for certain keywords – things like having a proper page title (you have to program this in the code of your pages); having well-written meta description tags because these could be used as part of the search result displayed in Google (the meta description also has to be programmed into the code after you’ve crafted a good description of your page); and other things you’ve probably read about. And you can use keyword tools that help you research which are the most popular keywords and which keywords have less searches but are more likely to be used by people closer to the point of buying (long tail search phrase).
I’m purposely NOT listing all those rules here in today’s blog post because the whole point of my post is to convey to you that when you consistently provide good content you’re probably naturally mentioning the keywords that would make your Web page turn up in top search results when Google looks for it.
When Google implemented the “Farmer” rule– its most important algorithm (rule) in years, it eliminated 11.8% of spammy, junky websites from showing up in top search results. On its blog post announcement, Google said this “will provide better rankings for high-quality sites—sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.”
Relevant content is what everyone needs. By consistently providing your website visitors with fresh, relevant content, you’ll be on your way to being found by the very people searching for it.
What are YOUR thoughts about this major change made by Google? Were you aware of it? How has it affected your rankings? I’d love to hear from you…please share your thoughts in the comment section below.
Thank you for this easy-to-understand summary, Lori. I’m glad Google has made these changes. (It’s not fun to search for valuable content on the Internet and end up on a “junk site” full of ads and no content that’s just wasting valuable time and space, you know?)