This weekend Google changed the algorithms that affect how your website is ranked on its search engine. If your rankings on Google have suddenly changed – this is why.
These are probably some of the most significant changes Google has ever made – thanks to @chrisnorton and his excellent blog for alerting us to the date this was happening – and they are very good news for those in the B2B market, who care more about quality relationships than getting thousands of visitors to your site.
How does Google rank your site?
What Google used to do was rank your site based on the number and quality of links (called backlinks) to your site containing the keywords you wanted to be found on.
This led to a whole industry based on SEO (search engine optimisation), where people in back rooms have been working all day to set up links to your site which contain the keywords you need such as ‘Leeds litigation lawyer’ or whatever pulls traffic to your website.
Google recognised that this often delivered ‘a low quality experience’. In other words, people who were searching for ‘Leeds litigation lawyer’ did not necessarily land on the sites you would expect to have come up top.
Our associate, Jonny Ross, wrote about Penguin and Panda in a guest blog for us in December, explaining how these backlinks used to work and what will be needed in future.
The future for your website on Google rankings
So how could Google find a way to rank websites based on what most people would say was a ‘good site’ or ‘a high quality experience’?
By measuring what is happening in social media.
Let the people do the talking. If lots of people are tweeting about the latest content on your website and clicking through to it; if they are leaving comments on your blogs; liking it on LinkedIn – well, Google reckons that is a pretty good measure that you have got stuff on your website that is useful.
But if all you have on your website is static copy – how are your clients going to rate or talk about it? You need to set up mechanisms so that the wider world can interact with your business online.
Three easy ways to help your Google rankings
If you are reluctant to enter the world of social media, throw away all thoughts that this is about teenagers chatting on Facebook. It really isn’t. Enter the grown up world of doing business online and forming relationships with people you only dreamed that your business might ‘meet’ one day.
- Start with a blog. Provide insights, tips, advice for your clients. Make it easy for clients to comment and share the blog. This isn’t expensive. WordPress is generally reckoned to be the best blogging software and is free
- Set up a Twitter account, also free. Start tweeting about things that will interest and help your clients – it could be a newspaper article, a speech or a discussion online. We had a really helpful discussion on Twitter recently when we posted a question ‘should internal communications sit with HR or external communications?’
- Share your blog on LinkedIn
Google+ will come of age
Google has been struggling to get its own social media platform, Google +, to be used and recognised. These new changes mean Google+ is about to become more important.
Will we all be using Google+ properly by the end of the year? I know it is important – but does that mean we will actually use it? Or love it?!
Victoria TomlinsonChief executive, Northern Lights PR
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Ben PindarCommunications director, Northern Lights PR
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Helen RobinsonAssociate, Northern Lights PR
Jonny RossAssociate, Northern Lights PR