Yes, Search will still be around and will take even more important online role with the new release of Google’s Panda update from 2011. The latest news from Google is that they will be weeding out any ‘thin’ sites and immediately start dropping their rankings. It also means that Social Search will increase with more Search opportunities within Facebook and YouTube. In many ways, that’s good news for anyone involved in the marketing process as it opens up more channels for brand expose in channels where the majority of their customers spend their time. Of course, it also means that more effort needs to go into managing and optimising those channels to ensure as much ownership of that space within Search. This can be achieved by regularly delivering fresh content, making it as relevant and valuable as possible to your target audience, in fact, the core message delivered with the Panda upgrade is that Google is going to penalise sites that do not deliver on these requirements – SO it’s a must rather than a nice to have. Google wants to make their Search engine deliver the best quality search results possible and if you will be expected to carefully manage your content in order to stay in favour and ensure you are rewarded within the search rankings. Google will also rank you down to the ‘lower rankings’ if your website contains large amounts of advertising. This has already had a substantial impact on Search rankings, reportedly affecting an estimated 12% of all search results and whilst algorithms are never fully disclosed, it is possible to improve your rankings and improve your chances of getting better results by taking the following actions;
- Keywords – incorporate all your keywords in a natural way, if you overdo the keywords you will be penalised.
- Keep it to one subject per page – clean, simple and easily found and read
- Keep your writing style as natural and authentic as possible
- Name your page Titles – make it easy to read and find
- Links – include links with authority
- Social networks – having social proof is a good for authority and good for Google
- Images on the site – make sure they are search friends, tag and label correctly
- Website design – let people find the information they require as quickly and easily as possible.
- Include testimonials wherever possible, examples of authority
Once you have these elements in place it is important to test and analyse the effect on your rankings in Google by tracking promotions and offers that support your ranking efforts. Interesting times indeed and we will see that the Brands that have made upfront investments in content will surge ahead of the competition, after all, how many companies still need to be convinced that they need to be interesting, engaging and valuable to retain their customers. For those who have already developed a content strategy, you are already way ahead of the pack.