For companies of every size search engine rankings result in revenue. Where you place in the results can send your profits up, or down. Big businesses can throw millions at this crucial piece of the marketing puzzle. Entrepreneurs and small business owners don't have those kinds of resources.
The last couple of years Google has made the search game more complex by releasing a couple of black, white and fluffy animals into the internet. These are known as algorithm updates, and they come with sharp claws. First came Panda, early in 2011, now onto its twentieth update. Next came Penguin in April 2012. Other changes penalized websites which have been copying content and those with too much advertising on the top of a web page. If your websites search rankings have been affected it could be because of one of these many updates and changes.
Google is only trying to get everyone to play fair, to all be on the same playing field, and penalize those who are trying to game or spam the system. Search engine optimization (SEO) tactics which fall under the shady 'black hat' category, and other cowboy like tricks, designed to fool one of the most powerful and profitable companies on the planet, simply won't work.
How does this affect your business?
1. Look under the hood of your website. If your search rankings have been unexpectedly knocked these past couple of years, and you don't know why, it could be because of these updates. It could be that you have used companies in the past who have deployed elements of 'black hat' SEO on your behalf. Google has released a webmaster disavow tool which now allows you to cut any links which fall foul of their guidelines. It might also be useful to engage a digital media or web agency to take a look at your website and determine what else you could be doing to support search rankings.
2. Content is king. Understanding this is very important, and likely to be one of the trends for marketing online in 2013. Research by Econsultancy and online services provider Outbrain, found that 75% of "digital marketers... think that content marketing is set to play an even more important role over the next 12 months and 88% are convinced that it is more effective than advertising as far as sales go."
3. SEO & content are no longer separate. Everything from web copy to newsletters and blogs have to be done with SEO in mind. Even online videos, which are becoming increasingly essential in spreading brand awareness, should be accompanied with text which uses relevant SEO keywords. This should be in everything from the headline to the tags associated with the video. What works for a blog post also works for a video.
The more content you produce, the easier it will be to support positive search engine results and stay on the good side of Google. The zoo animals Google have released only want to see authentic, well written, and relevant human content. Be true to your business. Be true to yourself, and not only will your customers feel more engaged, and Google will let you concentrate on doing what you do best: keeping your customers happy.