“THERE ARE ONLY TWO CERTAINTIES; DEATH AND TAXES” — Benjamin Franklin
So what does that have to do with websites and search engines? Good question. I think Ben Franklin missed out on one significant “certainty” - change. We see it everywhere. Nowhere is it more obvious than the way the search engines rank websites in their results. What was once a relatively simple process of improving three key elements - structure, content, and links - to improve rank has now become much more complicated. Those elements are still the core, but now they each encapsulate many more elements than ever before.
In recent months, Google implemented a series of updates called Penguin and Panda. These represent a menagerie of minor changes largely targeting strange linking patterns and low value content. This month I wrote about another of the recent algorithmic changes in “The Emmanual Update and Pirate Penalties”.
Another way search results are changing is the number of results the search engines typically show. Google has experimented with fewer results per page. This is discussed in another of the posts this month “Ranking ‘above the fold’ is getting harder”. Since that was published, I have heard Bing is trialling more than 10 results per page. All of this is largely unnoticed by typical searchers.
The other major change is the move to localised and personalised results. These are manifest in a number of ways. In your search results you are more likely to see
- sites from your geographic region, particularly if you do the search on a mobile device,
- sites you have liked or your friends have liked (social connections), and
- sites you have previously visited.
In case there is any doubt, let me state clearly - websites operating in isolation (no social or connection to external sites) and / or relying on a “set and forget” approach (no content growth) progressively will disappear from search results. It doesn’t matter if you are currently on page 1 or even in 1st place, you too will be impacted. No one can predict exactly when, but it has started and will continue.
What can you do about it? In my opinion, the only viable long-term strategy is content creation. This can be in many forms, with the most likely being blog posts and Facebook status updates. These are the basis of social connections and justify the collection of links from a variety of sources, thus avoiding Panda and Penguin problems.
For most businesses, this imposes an additional load that may seem too onerous. But many businesses have a natural cycle of content creation - the product delivery cycle. This is the perfect opportunity to show off your products and produce content. For others the challenge is greater, but it is not insurmountable. It requires creativity, planning, and a willingness to try. Perhaps you will be inspired by “Boring niche? No worries.”, also published this month.
I would love to answer any questions on the points raised here or on any of the topics I cover in the blog. Also, I would like to be involved in your plans to meet this content challenge. Please call me with your thoughts.
MidBoh’s August 2012 Blog Posts:
- Look at your business the way your customers do (blog.midboh.com.au)
- Old codgers in the thick of it (blog.midboh.com.au)
- Boring niche? No worries. (blog.midboh.com.au)
- The Emmanual Update and Pirate Penalties (blog.midboh.com.au)
- Price and the long term buyer / seller relationship. (blog.midboh.com.au)
- Staying current with my blog reading (blog.midboh.com.au)
- Ranking “above the fold” is getting harder (blog.midboh.com.au)
- Word of mouth ideas (blog.midboh.com.au)
- Your reputation is enhanced by respecting your customers (blog.midboh.com.au)
[Originally published to our client subscribers during September.]