Google change puts emphasis on quality content

by Chris Lee

Google's 'Panda' update changed radically the way the world's most powerful search engine indexes and ranks websites. The good news is that Google now respects 'higher-quality content'; the question is just what does that mean for small and medium-sized businesses?

In April 2011, Google - the world's most influential search engine – amended the way it ranks websites in all English-speaking countries with an algorithm update called ' Panda '. Unless you follow search marketing blogs and news you may well have missed this story, but it is vitally important – and beneficial – to the online marketing of small and medium-sized businesses everywhere.

What Panda did was clamp down on so-called 'content farms', content-heavy sites that featured high up on search engines purely on the strength of their text-based content and links. Most of these easily-findable sites are designed to generate ad revenues from page views but the relevance of their content to the average surfer is often limited and leads them to leave the site to look elsewhere for what they really wanted to find. Sites regarded as content farms have seen their visibility hit significantly by Panda while other sites – particularly those with comments and interaction on them – saw their domain visibility increase. An early indication of the early winners and losers can be found on the Searchmetrics blog.

Panda: It's not all black and white

Many of the 'quality content' sites that saw their search engine visibility increase were newspapers' online editions. For marketers this is significant, as coverage from one of these sources will often include a link back to their company website, which post-Panda carries even more weight than before.

This is great news for marketers and their search engine optimisation (SEO) strategies as it means that, so long as they continue to follow SEO best practice, they stand a better chance of their content being found on search engines. Marketers can continue doing what they should be doing anyway, which is creating compelling, optimised content that engages target audiences wherever they are in their buying cycle and that can be easily shared on social networks. Given that length of time people stay on a site is also taken into account, it is essential to draw readers further into the website with more intuitive and insightful content.

Perfect your content marketing strategies

Now that Google has done small and medium-sized businesses a favour by punishing content farms' visibility, organisations need to perfect their content marketing strategies to make the most of the changes.

This means not only creating great content - such as blog posts and how-to guides, video and audio content on your own website - but also seeding content around the Web to help it be seen and shared even more. This strategy should include things like posting presentations on Slideshare, uploading informative and shareable video content to video sites such as YouTube or Vimeo (which were classed as 'winners' post-Panda), and sharing content on social networks such as Twitter.

Organisations are often unaware of the great content they already have lying around in folders: presentations from events, reports, white papers. Why re-invent the wheel if you already have a stack of great intellectual property to share already? Think about an editorial calendar and creating content that matches the needs of your different demographic of target audience.

To be effective at SEO and content marketing in general, small and medium-sized businesses need to work out which keywords and phrases they need to focus on and generate relevant, compelling and easily-sharable content around those keywords and phrases. A basic introductory course from an SEO marketing specialist will be money well spent here if you're unsure how SEO works. If you're successful it will pay back in terms of search visibility, traffic and – ultimately – new business. Make sure you track the performance of your keywords on Google – as well as Bing and Yahoo – over time so that you can see which keywords and phrases you need to focus your content marketing on.

Marketing managers should familiarise themselves with Google's own guidelines on how to improve the search visibility of their own website. Google Panda has done small and medium-sized businesses everywhere a favour by punishing content farms, the challenge now is to create that great content that will make the most of the opportunity.

is managing director of London-based online PR consultancy Planet Content. He is also a social media trainer, speaker and contributor to the University of Westminster’s New Media Knowledge digital resource.
Did you find this article helpful? YesNo 0% said yes (0 votes)