What’s Going On??? And What Do You Do About It?

There has been a lot of talk lately about all the changes – both with Facebook and Google.

I wanted to break it all down for you in a way that is easy to understand, but first and foremost, if you or anyone you know was impacted by the recent earthquake in Japan or the resulting tsunamis my heart and thoughts go out to you.

Back to business…

My husband makes fun of me all the time for stating the obvious but I always tell him, it’s important to just put things out there, even if they are obvious.  You never know what it is that someone will respond to and if I can say something that finally makes things click for someone, I am going to!

So, here it is…without social media and SEO, you are missing out on traffic, exposure and sales.  It’s that simple.

Getting top rankings and social media exposure isn’t that simple though.  And that’s where you might need a little help.

So let me help you out by breaking down the recent changes and what they mean to you.   There are three trending topics that are getting a lot of attention recently.

1.    The Facebook changes – keep reading for a little info on this.

2.    The Google Farmer/Panda update.  I know, there are a zillion posts out there about this but I am going to add one more to the mix. Based on questions I am getting and bizarre advice I see floating around out there – I think it does need more coverage.

3.     Large companies being busted for poor SEO practices.  This one is pretty easy: Black hat, nefarious SEO practices don’t work long term!  You will eventually  get caught and doing it right the first time, (even if it takes longer) is the best way to go for two reasons – you’ll be able to sustain long term success and it’s better for your site visitors (when you are providing real content of value and obtaining links that are legit and linking to content that is worthy of a link)

WARNING: This is going to be a LONG post.  Print it if it makes it easier for you.  You need to read every word and then take action!

OK onto the specifics…

Facebook:

The new Fan/Business Pages went  live as of Friday March 11, 2011  (Yay!  It was weird seeing some old and some new, I preview the navigation on the old pages but like the rest of the features on the new version)

So anyone that didn’t upgrade their page prior to Friday had it happen automatically.  So now we are all on the same page (ha ha ha, no pun intended!)

If you are creating a new custom tab going forward, you will need to use iFrames and not the Static FBML app now.  (Don’t worry, if you have a current page with the Static FBML tab they are still supporting it and it will display just fine – you just can’t add new ones anymore.)

The really cool thing about the iFrames is that you can have your designer create a tab that looks and feels like your current website or Blog theme and then they just place it on your page (don’t forget it needs to be 520 pixels wide).  Fun!

While it’s true you definitely need some coding knowledge to be able to create a killer tab for your Fan Page, it’s not really that different than when we were using the Static FBML app, you needed coding knowledge for that as well.

Stay tuned as things evolve and more cool apps start popping up!

Need a Fan Page for your business?

facebookfanpage

OK, let’s tackle Google now….

For those that don’t know – Google made a change that impacted about 12% of search results.

The goal of the recent update?  To remove poor quality sites from the top of Google’s results pages.  An excellent goal, I think.

As always, we can count on Googler Matt Cutts to give us the scoop:

This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites—sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites—sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.”

Why such a big change?  It was necessary!   If searchers aren’t finding quality sites in response to their queries, they are likely to leave and start searching on another engine (like perhaps Bing – which is now officially the second place engine according to recent stats!).

Let’s face it, love or hate Google, they got to where they are by delivering high quality results that people could count on.

If you aren’t OK with this change, it is most likely because your site was impacted by it.

If you were impacted and it was well deserved (read as: your site sucks and you were lucky you got away the rankings for as long as you did) – there is something you can do: improve your site and your content.  Stay tuned for more details on how.

If you were impacted and don’t feel you should have been, let Google know: http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/Webmasters/thread?tid=76830633df82fd8e&hl=en Of course there is no guarantees anything will be done about it, but you may as well let Google hear your side.

OK, so what do you do if you were impacted OR what can you learn from this to make sure you are in good shape going forward even if you escaped with rankings in tact on this one.

Through information that Matt Cutts and Amit Singhal have shared, we can surmise the following:

Sites that have a high percentage of duplicate content are going to be considered low quality.

Your action item: develop new, unique content and grow your site.

Let’s look at this scenario: If you have a page here and there that has duplicate content but the rest of the site has unique content, those pages with the dupe content may not fare well but your site as a whole should still do OK.

But when going page by page, if the engines are hard pressed to find quality, unique content then it will end up impacting your site as a whole.  Google’s official take on this: “low quality content on part of a site can impact a site’s ranking as a whole.”  So be careful!
For those that repost content and then add a line or two with their opinion on the content, and feel that is enough unique content to satisfy the engines.  That is going to be problematic going forward!  If lots of pages have only a small percentage of the page’s content being unique, those pages won’t fare well either.

Google also seems to be looking for pages that have a high volume of ads that aren’t relevant to the content of the page (especially if the ads are higher up on the page).  These pages will not fare well in today’s Google.

Your action item: Be sure to review your site and get rid of ads that are irrelevant.  Also be sure your site isn’t too cluttered with ads.

If your site happened to rank well for a phrase but the phrase is not really present in the Title tag or the body content, the page isn’t going to continue to do well going forward.

Your action item: Review your site and make sure each page has unique Title Tags that use keywords that are also present in the body content.

Keywords being repeated over and over and over and over will trigger the new algorithm to devalue the page.  Keywords should be used appropriately.

Your action item: Review your content, tone down your keyword density of you need to.  Be sure it reads well. One test many copywriters share is reading your content out loud, your brain processed it differently when it hears the text out loud and you’ll know if there are too many keywords stuffed in there.

The next one is something a lot of people struggle with:

High bounce rates and low time spent on the site can impact rankings.  This will force people to really look at the quality on their site and improve things so they entice visitors to not bounce and to stay longer.  It means strong marketing principals and good copy are going to be more important than ever.

Your action item: Get a professional marketing review of your site (or do it yourself if you feel you have the knowledge and experience to honestly assess it).  Improve headlines, calls to action and general usability of the site.  Email me at jennifer@ecombuffet.com if you want details on a marketing review of your site.

CTR (clickthrough rate) from the SERPs (search engine results pages) will also impact rankings.  If your site comes up a lot but no one is clicking, you can be sure it’ll impact things.

Your action item: Review your Title tags:

Pay attention to the length of your Title tags and be sure your descriptions on the SERPs aren’t being truncated before you reveal the most important info.  This is key!  People need to be able to see what you offer and how it’s relevant to their query.  So also get your keyword in there early.  In other words, look at where Google is pulling the data from that they display in the SERPs (usually your Title tag is what they use to create the main headline for the listing) and make sure that area of text is compelling, and that is explains exactly what the page has to offer, it’s also helpful if it includes a keyword phrase.

Ex: A Must Have Comprehensive Guide: Learn How To Care For Your Pet Turtle – not so good – the keyword phrase is pushed to the back of the phrase and will likely get truncated.

Ex: How To Care For Your Pet Turtle – Must Have, Comprehensive Guide  – much better – they keyword phrase is at the start but you also still got the descriptive compelling content in there.

If you need your company name in your Title tag, put it at the end.

Think of your Title tag like an ad – be descriptive of what the page is about but be compelling so people want to click through.  Promise a benefit (as long as your content delivers on what you promise)

OK now back to more lessons from Google’s recent update:

They don’t want to see boilerplate content (content that is the same and repeated on every page)

Your action item: Review your site and look for blocks of content that you are reusing on multiple pages.  Tweak it, so it’s unique.

Sites that have a lot of low quality inbound links aren’t going to do well.

Your action item: Work on building links!

Sites that aren’t getting some social exposure (mentions and links from social media sites) won’t do well.

Your action item: Yep we keep saying it, and it’s true – you need to be on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.  Need some help with that?  See my special offer above for Facebook or email me with questions!

OK, so that’s the summary.  It’s a lot!   So what now?   You need to take this list and add them all up and see how your site fares.  Get making changes now if you aren’t doing so well in some areas.

Even if you weren’t hit in the big update, if your site has many issues in the areas outlined above you can and will lose rankings over time.  Sites that excel in what Google is looking for will dominate.

Now is actually a GREAT time to optimize your site.  You can jump in there and show Google that your site is worthy of rankings.

So let’s wrap it all up.  Some advice from Google…

“If you believe you’ve been impacted by this change you should evaluate all the content on your site and do your best to improve the overall quality of the pages on your domain. Removing low quality pages or moving them to a different domain could help your rankings for the higher quality content.”

Some advice from me:

Review your web stats and see what pages have taken a hit lately – you can work on improving those pages first (but a site wide review is never a bad idea, as mentioned above).  See if you can identify the difference between the pages that are still faring well and those that have been slammed.

If you really want to fix things, take an in-depth analytical approach and note which of the factors noted above are present on each page and strive to eliminate all the problem areas.’

Focus on improving your content and the user experience and you should be just fine.

You have 4 options right now…

1.    Do nothing!  Although this is only an option for those willing to accept poor rankings and lots traffic.
2.    Order an SEO Audit and see how your site fares, according to our SEO experts
3.    Request a proposal or consultation to see what it would cost for us to help you get your optimization cleaned up and get you some great rankings.
4.    Get to work on your own – work hard and fast and get your site in shape to get top rankings
.

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Comments

  1. I really liked this. You covered everything! My favorite line…as it all so true!!!: “So, here it is…without social media and SEO, you are missing out on traffic, exposure and sales. It’s that simple.”

    Great info Jennifer! You are indeed and SEO Diva!

  2. An interesting blog as always.
    Although I have heard of the changes being made, are Google actually actively running the algorithm now, or will they impliment it over time? The reason for asking is that I have seen very lttle change in search results in our line of business. In fact certain competitors in particular have a huge amount of duplicat content, thousands of inbound links from fake sites and haven’t moved of the top spot. However one other business had been busy writing thousands of articles and seems to have disappeared completly. Should I stop writing articles or are they still a valuable source?
    Thanks again.
    Kindest Regards
    John Hammond

  3. Hi Jennifer,

    I have been on your list for close to 6 months now and every email you have sent has been a true eye opener for me.

    Thanks also for this thorough update. I started rewriting the content on my pages because I know I subscribe to a membership site. At 50 people use the same content on their domains. After the recent Google update, as a precaution I started with this rewrite. It’s a pain on the backside but I believe eventually I will be rewarded with good rankings.

    I’m going to print this post and go through all my 20+ sites. :)

    I have one question though: When you talk about sites with low quality links, what exactly do you mean? Can you give an example of low quality links?

    A huge part of my SEO plan is based article syndication using some of the most popular systems out there. (I dont want to mention any names here). Are these examples of low quality links?

    Is article marketing still a viable means of link building?

    Thanks in advance for your answers
    Daniel

  4. Hi Jennifer,
    We have many clients with just one page websites.
    The purpose of which is to tell prospects who they are, what they can do for them and how to contact them.
    They’re mainly tradespeople.
    How will the Google changes impact on one page websites?
    Over the years these one page websites have performed well.

    Cheers Ros

  5. Thanks Jennifer,

    Nothing changes that much and so long as your focus is quality you wont have issues
    Quality UNique Content
    Quality Backlinks (from relevant sites)
    Quality Social Networking
    Quality Design

    Love the updates

    Cheers

    Mark

  6. As usual, you’ve provided great insight into some major changes taking place right now.

    It seems Google and Facebook are moving in two separate directions – one aiming at improving search, the other aiming at dominating social networking.

    I read somewhere, a while back, that search engines have trouble reading frames. Yet, isn’t the new Facebook geared for frames? If this is true, then it seems Facebook is not investing in the search game.
    .

  7. Excellent article. (once again) . In the Hotel Business, the SEO assumes a huge relevance and impact on the conversion rates and revenue. In a small “non-destiny” hotel like mine, SEO has even more impact and just some slight changes can boost sales. You articles have made all the difference in our optimization. Maybe some day we will do direct business… :-)

  8. Thanks for this, Jennifer. I hadn’t realised that I’ll need to re-check my use of key word density amongst other mattters!

    Was worried that maybe there was no point in continuing to submit career advice / redundancy counselling ezine articles, as the directories had been hit so hard. On the basis of advice received to date, am still going ahead with this approach BUT will be putting more effort into keeping my own blog updated.

    How is everyone else reacting?

  9. Brilliant, as always Jen!
    Thanks for a clear and concise overview of the recent changes and how to make them work for me.

  10. Thanks for all the kind words everyone!

    Re: the questions – I am working on a reply for all of you right now. I will post it on the Blog shortly so stay tuned. Thanks!