May 22, 2013

Google: Out With SEO, in With Content Marketing

The demand for quality content on websites and blogs is currently surging. In fact, 91 percent of B2B marketers are currently utilizing content marketing to promote their business. But just how vital is content marketing in relation to remaining relevant in today’s online market? Is it absolutely necessary, or is it just the latest trend in advertising?

Now that Google is even more involved in the content marketing game, it is more important than ever. And with the changes that Google is implementing to its search engine algorithm—which will allow the SEO giant to reward sites that craft compelling content—it can be estimated that the 91 percent is going to rise even higher. In fact, content marketing will undoubtedly become a standard for businesses hoping to make a name online.

On May 10, Google announced that it is working on plans to implement a new algorithm into its search engine, one that will determine a website’s ranking and credibility based on the total package that the website offers. This includes the quality of every website’s links and content. As a result, there will be less of a focus on the importance of the total amount of links on a website, which is where SEO has been failing.

The reason for Google’s new approach to SEO can be attributed to spammers who try to game the SEO system to falsely promote certain websites. It should be noted that in addition to the new algorithm, Google is introducing an update to its spam protection service, Penguin. Penguin 2.0, as it is being called, will work more comprehensively to prevent spammers who violate company guidelines from appearing first under search results—a practice referred to as black hat SEO. Websites that attempt to bypass page rankings by loading the site with false links and spam-heavy information will be the target of this new, more comprehensive update.

Part of the update will also address the problem of native advertising, and advertorials, which are advertisements cleverly disguised as journalism. Oftentimes, advertorials allow websites to bypass page rankings over consumers that pay for advertising. And while this is not inherently bad, Google’s Head of Webspam Matt Cutts argues in this video, it is in violation of Google’s agreement—and is no longer going to be tolerated. Therefore, the new software will be specifically designed to penalize those accused of such behavior, while it looks out for those that actually generate revenue for Google.

These changes might initially send some webmasters into panic mode. After all, Penguin 1.0 certainly did. However, it is important to understand that the new changes are being designed with the intention of rewarding those who are working hard—and paying—for a higher rank on Google. At the same time, it keeps producers of content that is in violation of Google’s fair use policies at the bottom.

If you are following the rules, as Cutts shows, then your site will be fine.

“Try to make sure you make a great site that users love, that they’ll want to tell their friends about, bookmark, come back to, visit over and over again, all the things that make a site compelling,” Cutts says. “We try to make sure that if that’s your goal, we’re aligned with that goal.”

It is the continuation of a new era for businesses, one in which those that can produce top notch content without resorting to spam tactics will float, literally, at the top of search results. Google’s move will ultimately work to bolster businesses that can afford top-of the line content.

As for smaller businesses that are just starting out, there will be room for them as well—as long as these companies try to keep up and establish themselves as a brand online. It all depends how much effort each company chooses to put into its online image. The system is designed to highlight experts in their fields and those websites that maintain the most e-traffic.

Edited by Carrie Schmelkin

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