2011 saw one of the most important changes in the way Google ranks websites. Google’s Panda Update was designed to increase the quality of search results and start to punish ‘link-farms’ (sites with hundreds of links which are designed for purely SEO purposes). This basically means that Google stopped putting so much emphasis on the quality of links and put more emphasis on the quality of the website as a whole. The idea is to stop people from simply creating hundreds of meaningless links and reward sites with great content which is worth linking to.

The two most important criteria for judging the quality of your site are:

  1. The quality of your website – how often content is changed and updated, loading speed, repeated pages.
  2. Social bookmarking – ie how many people have linked to and shared link to your website on social media sites.

 

Of course this is a great victory for blogs and news sites, since they have constantly updating content which lends itself naturally to being successful on social media. However, it does make it increasingly difficult for ecommerce sites and smaller businesses who maybe don’t have the time to create new and exciting content all of the time.

Sadly, there is no easy way around this. Gone are the days when an SEO person would simply spend time building links through directories and meaningless article sites. Now SEO needs to be fully integrated into your overall marketing strategy.

Top Tips for SEO in 2012

  1. Ensure your website is properly optimised for search engines from the start
    A good website designer should structure your site properly – it is much more difficult to go in after your website is built to make the necessary structural changes.
  2. Create a section of the site which you update on a regular basis
    This could be a latest news section or a blog, but this is becoming increasingly important. A regularly updated blog will give you a huge advantage over your competitors and enable your site to rank for a greater number of search terms.
  3. Create a Facebook Fanpage and get a Twitter account
    These two social networks are still extremely important in terms of sharing your content and making connections with people. The success of these should not just be measured in terms of sales, but in terms of how many links and connections you have. Remember that links from social media will help your ranking on Google.
  4. Use your offline marketing channels to drive traffic to your social media as well as your website
    Gathering as many fans and followers online is the same principle as building a list of email addresses. It enables you to communicate with your customers and potential customers, reminding them you are there for when they are ready to buy.