Blogs. 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 huge. So when Google changes its algorithm, your website will likely be affected in some way.
Last week, Google announced its latest algorithm change (sometimes referred to as Google “Fresh”), which directly shines a light on new information and new web content. According to Google, this update focuses on three key areas:
1. Recent events and hot topics. Researchers generally want to find the latest information instantly, so Google will now display what it considers to be high-quality pages, including those that may be as short as a few minutes or a few hours long.
2. Recurring events. Many events take place regularly, such as the Superbowl or political conventions. Google wants to make sure that users get the most recent information possible, and provided this example:
“If I look for [olympics], I probably want information on 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 probably count the most on small business websites, unless your site is already based on the news. For searches that are not recurring events or hot topics (items 1 and 2), Google now searches for sites that add new information frequently and lists those results first, above obsolete sites that don’t. haven’t been updated for some time.
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 it to appear in Google search results. Along with all the other facets of optimizing a site to rank well, you now need to take keeping it up-to-date, fresh, and relevant seriously.
The good news is that there are some 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 content on an existing page will signal 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 it right away. The basics of SEO are more important than ever, especially as Google continues to evolve and add new ranking signals. Make sure the basics are in place.
• If you’ve already optimized your website, double-check your keywords to make sure they’re still valid terms. There is no sense in optimizing keywords that searchers 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 competition is doing. If you want to outperform them, you need to know their performance so that you can take appropriate action.
You may be wondering “how often should I update my website?” The answer, of course, is “more often than your competition.” But an important point to remember is that if you want to rank well in search engine results, it’s all about producing relevant content and doing it regularly. With all the other SEO elements in place, this latest update from Google could dramatically improve the way Google views and ranks your site in its search engine results.