July 10, 2013

Is Your Organization in Compliance with Google?

These days, the fight for prime real estate on the Internet is centered almost entirely around Google. While there are many search engines available for consumers to choose from, Google remains the most competitive one on the market. With 2.5 billion Internet users across the globe entering 4.5 billion searches every day over 644 million websites, Google is no small operation.

It has been three months since Google released a major update to its Penguin web spam protection software, which placed the once vital practice of search engine optimization (SEO) in the back seat in favor of its new method of judging a website’s value—content. Which means it is an important time for your organization to review its strategies to ensure that it is in compliance, near the top of the list and safely out of the way of the wrathful Penguin software.

Google’s practice of targeting web spammers is nothing new—the rules have just changed. What originally began in 2011 and affected 11.8 percent of search queries under Google’s original anti web spam software, Panda 1.0, fell to 3.1 percent in 2012 under the direction of its successor, Penguin 1.0. And now, after three months Penguin 2.0 is currently affecting 2.3 percent of search queries.

It is imperative that your organization understands that practices such as keyword stuffing, web spam, link buying and content duplication will not be tolerated under Google’s new Penguin 2.0 software. Likewise, the practice of cloaking, which loads a website with false information meant to deceive search engine robot monitors, is no longer recommended. While it was once possible for a company to bypass paid listings and shoot to the top of Google’s search rankings based solely on the words that it put into its website, companies that continue doing this will face penalties which could result in being blacklisted entirely from Google’s search results.

This is, unfortunately, cyber suicide and could have dramatic implications on business. Imagine, for instance, how your organization will fare when customers Google your company—and nothing comes up.

To stay out of harm’s way, your organization needs to be producing fresh content—and a lot of it. The content needs to be relevant to your industry, and unique, too. This means that your blog should be updated every single day. If your company is only producing one blog post a week, or if you haven’t updated your website in over a year, your organization will be penalized.

However, it is not enough to merely produce fresh content. Companies must remember to nourish content with links that are credible and come from relevant sites and sources. And linking, for that matter, encompasses more than just connecting to other websites. Connecting through social media has become an integral part of the process.

“A lot of people think about ‘How do I build more links?’ and they don’t think about the grander, global picture of ‘How do I make something compelling, and then how do I make sure that I market it well?’ says the head of Google’s Search Quality team, Matt Cutts. “You know, you get too focused on search engines, and then you, for example, would entirely miss social media and social media marketing. And that’s a great way to get out in front of people.”  

If your organization regularly produces content and stays within the SEO boundaries, and if your website does not take too long to load, then your organization should have nothing to worry about. It is important to remember that this new system is designed to reward companies that comply and punish those that cheat to get to the top of the search engine rankings, thereby compromising those members that are in good standing and abide by the rules.

Edited by Carrie Schmelkin

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