As many of you may already have read, Google recently updated their algorithm in late April 2012. The change, called “Penguin”, has impacted high ranking websites and even helped some sites improve in rankings. This has left many business owners and companies wondering “why did this happen” and “how do I get my rankings back?”. To help explain why some sites fell and why other sites improved, lets look at the why search engines change their algorithms.
Quality – Search engines like Google are always trying to improve the quality of their search listings. They understand the practice of SEO exists so they are constantly looking for ways to stay one step ahead of activities used to alter search rankings that can impact quality. To do this search engines must find signals other than keywords and web page copy to determine which sites to list on page one. This is why the quality of your incoming links and social media engagement are becoming a bigger part of how search engines determine rankings.
Pssst… No More Secrets – To stay ahead of SEOs trying to alter results, search engines like Google keep the method of ranking sites somewhat a mystery. General best practices are common to many SEOs but the difference between ranking #12 and #7 for a given keyword may come down to a few secrets only known by experienced search marketers. The days of these secrets having a 3-5 spot listing impact on a site may be numbered. Industry secrets are starting to have less of an impact on search rankings which makes a truly engaging user experience all that more important.
Subject Matter Matters – For years SEOs have used traditional link building tactics, copy writing and keywords to optimize for a given keyword. While it is important to have some keywords strategically placed on your site, keywords alone will begin to have less impact. Google has already figured out what your site is generally about and even knows other keyword terms related to your site. Search engines are looking for sites that create great content around a given subject matter and have shared content within a community (read: social media).
It will be interesting to see what new changes appear in the coming months but it’s clear things are headed in a new direction. What do you think will be the next major shift by Google?