Have you noticed a recent change to your search results?
OK, daft question considering the onslaught of small birds and animals that have been trundling through Google’s algorithms lately – namely Panda and Penguin.
But joking aside, you may have spotted that your search results are focused on your local area rather than nationally.
If you’re looking for a local company then this has to be a good thing, but if you want to widen your choice of potential service providers because their location isn’t an issue (especially for larger companies looking for quality and value over proximity) it does narrow your options somewhat.
Widening the net
To make sure you’re getting the best choice of service provider possible all you have to do is amend your search location.
Simply go to the Google home page, click ‘settings’ (at the bottom of the screen), go to ‘location’ and enter UK (or whichever country or region you want). Now your search results will return a far more comprehensive list of possibilities.
Businesses and rankings
These changes are really annoying when you’re an online business, especially when you’ve always played by Google’s rules.
All those hours you have spent link building and generating great content can go down the tubes in a flash with changes like these.
For many businesses online, a national presence is need, so with a change to local search results as opposed to countrywide ones can have a real impact on your bottom line.
What can be done about?
Not a lot really other than creating location-specific landing pages. But you can and should be hitting the social world hard. Being active on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ will help your visibility and get your name out into the wider world.
The face of search is changing and becoming far more social than ever before.
So our advice is, if you want to continue to be seen in the search results, generate great content and be socially active.
Sally Ormond is MD and copywriter at Briar Copywriting Ltd. A keen cyclist, she took on and tamed the Welsh Dragon Ride.
I set up my business, Briar Copywriting in 2007 and have always done my own search engine optimisation.
Despite a few hiccups along the way, I have managed to maintain great rankings for my chosen keywords. But then Penguin came along, closely followed by Penguin 2.0.
This latest change was meant to weed out those sites with slightly dodgy links. As I have always done my own link building and have been very careful about it, it’s incredibly frustrating when I get hit despite not bending the rules. So I’m now left having to look through all my inbound links to see what’s causing the problem.
But that’s beside the point.
Why is search engine optimisation like riding a bike?
Well, I am currently training for an epic charity endurance bike ride – the RideUK24 Newcastle to London challenge that’s taking place this August (300 miles in 24 hours).
Over the weekend I cycled from Suffolk to Bedfordshire and back (stopping over night), which is total of 160 miles (carrying a rucksack – not advisable when cycling long distances).
Whatever happened I knew I had to keep going. If I didn’t:
My training schedule would go out of the window
I would have fallen off my bike as my shoes clip to the peddles
And search engine optimisation is the same. As soon as you stop promoting and link building, your website will start to plummet.
But as if that wasn’t enough to contend with, Google has the power to make or break a business over night (even those who have always abided by the rules – sorry, I’ll stop ranting and get on with the meat of this post) simply by tweaking its algorithms.
That’s great to get rid of the spammy sites so the results you see are the most relevant, but not so great when you’ve done nothing wrong and you still get hit (sorry, got back on the soap box again briefly).
So how can you make sure your site stays in favour with Google?
Well, up to last week I would have said link build naturally and carefully, never pay for links and if you exchange links, be very careful whom you do it for.
But then, I’ve always built links naturally and never bought or exchange links – so what’s the answer?
Perhaps Google can answer that one?
Over to you Google
I’d love to get a definitive answer to this one.
So if anyone at Google happens to stumble across this post, perhaps you’d be good enough to explain?
What about you reader? How have you coped with the algorithm changes? Have you had to recover from the updates? If so, how did you do it?
Leave a comment below and let’s find out what the effect of these algorithm changes really mean to business.
There are some people who are so obsessed by their rankings that they check them daily.
Personally, I think that’s madness. You’ll run the risk of sending yourself potty over the slightest fluctuations and I’d much rather spend that time generating content, working and networking and keeping myself 100% focused on my business goals.
A lot of people are noticing at the moment that their content is ranking really well to start with, but then takes a nose dive.
This latest video from Matt Cutts explains why this happens to your content.
Hopefully, that video will answer a lot of questions for you.
Sally Ormond – Copywriter and MD at Briar Copywriting Ltd
In the last post, we saw how Google employed a bit of kung-fu Panda to send badly written content right to the bottom of the pile…where it belongs. We also looked at why web content is changing and the importance of having good, strong copy that is read and shared.
Now, I’d like to share some ideas that help draw visits to your site and attract potential ‘backlinks’ (links to your site from other users).
Apparently, few people these days buy a product or service directly as a result of a Google search. Think about it – when did you last do that?
If someone comes across your website directly from a keyword search, you might well grab their interest – especially if you’ve made a good job of your site – but they are unlikely to buy your product or service straight off the bat.
Typically, people will look for other things like recommendations from sites that rate you – or criticisms from those that don’t – so it’s important to get a name for yourself and have others singing your praises. Here are a few ways to create added value content that does just that…
Add something useful
A good proportion of search engine activity comes from people seeking answers to queries. If you offer a service, why not produce a series of articles that answer some of the your most frequently asked questions?
I recently wrote an article for an experienced quantity surveyor who specialises as an expert witness. Based on his notes, I wrote about how to avoid stress while managing a building project. For anyone embarking on such a project, there is some pretty solid advice in there and so the article achieves three things:
1) It draws traffic to the site from people who are not looking specifically for the service but may have need of it in the near future.
2) It builds up his reputation as an authority on the subject, thus enhancing the essential ‘trust’ factor.
3) Others in the trade will want to link to the article. This increases his backlinks, his audience reach and his search ranking.
Create something unusual
Marketeers these days have to be pretty creative and original if they want their brand to stand out. And so we get all sorts of weird and whacky things in an attempt to generate that all-important message.
Viral videos are all the rage now, so you could go down that route if you’re adventurous. Alternatively, try for some content with a humorous take on your product or service – lesser known uses for your product might be a good start.
People share things that are funny. But a word of warning: comedy writers often talk about how difficult humour is to get right. That’s why there are numerous casualties from the viral craze – companies that have lost out because they ended up offending too many people and completely sending out the wrong message!
Make it personal
Address your customer directly in a way that shows how your product or service can enhance their lives. If you engage your customer in an emotional way, you can increase the likeability – and therefore salability – of your product. Tell stories about your product with a happy ending. Show how it can help your customer become more attractive, safer, proud. You could even target different parts of your demographic by addressing their individual cravings in separate articles.
Advertise your content
Whatever the form of your content – be it video, article or blog – you’ll need to get the word out there. Social media is the easiest, cheapest and most fun way of advertising what you’ve created. Tweet about it on Twitter, link to it on Facebook, blab about it on your blog; there are so many different ways to grab the attention of your audience.
Remember that if it’s good and relevant to someone other than yourself, chances are it will get shared.
But people won’t share badly written content, unless their purpose is to laugh at you. Good quality content stands more chance of being passed on, so make sure it passes the test and you’re away!