Is the latest Google update bad news for your business?
Blogging. Facebook. LinkedIn. Twitter. Youtube. The list goes on when it comes to marketing your small business online. However, there is no doubt that of all the online channels, Google is arguably the biggest. With its suite of products like AdWords, Gmail, Chrome, YouTube, and Google+ (among others), Google’s footprint on the web is enormous. So when Google changes an algorithm, your website will most likely be affected in some way.
Last week, Google announced its latest algorithm change (sometimes called Google «Fresh»), which shines a direct spotlight on new information and web content. According to Google, this update focuses on three key areas:
1. Recent events and hot topics. Internet users generally want to find the latest information instantly, so Google will now show what it considers to be high-quality pages, including those that may only be minutes or hours old.
2. Recurring Events. Many events take place regularly, such as the Superbowl or political conventions. Google wants to make sure users get the most up-to-date information possible and has provided this example:
«If I seek [olympics]I probably want information about the upcoming olympics next summer, not the 1900 summer olympics. Google search uses a freshness algorithm, designed to give you the most up-to-date results, so even when i just type [olympics] without specifying 2012, I still find what I’m looking for.»
3. Frequent updates. This is the feature that will likely matter the most for small business websites, unless your site already relies on current events. For searches that aren’t recurring events or hot topics (items 1 and 2), Google will now look for sites that frequently add new information and list those results first, above outdated sites that don’t. haven’t been updated for a while.
So what does this mean for your small business website? This means that if you don’t regularly add new content and information, don’t expect to show up in Google’s search results. Along with all the other facets of optimizing a site to rank well, you now need to put some serious effort into keeping it up-to-date, fresh, and relevant.
The good news is that there are a few things you can do right now to help your site survive the update and rank higher than your competition:
• Obviously, update your website and add new content regularly. Adding articles, new pages, or updating the content of an existing page will tell Google that you are serious about your business and deserve to be listed in their results.
• Make sure you have correct and up-to-date timestamps in your XML sitemap. Many SEO experts already agree that timestamps will become an important ranking signal, so make sure your XML sitemap is correct and working properly.
• If you haven’t optimized your website yet, you need to do so now. The basics of SEO are more important than ever, especially as Google continues to evolve and add new ranking signals. Make sure the bases are in place.
• If you’ve already optimized your website, double-check your keywords to make sure they’re still valid. It makes no sense to optimize for keywords that people never type into the search box. You may need to re-optimize some pages with better and more relevant keywords.
• Ask your SEO company to run a report to check what your competitors are doing. If you want to outrank them, you need to know their performance so you can take appropriate action.
You might be wondering «how often should I update my website?» The answer, of course, is «more often than your competitors». But one big thing to remember is that if you want to rank well in search engine results, it’s all about producing relevant content and doing it consistently. With all the other SEO bits in place, this latest Google update could dramatically improve how Google views and ranks your site in its search engine results.