Google has again changed the way its search engine ranks websites in an effort to counteract sites suspected of boosting their ratings by dubious means. When this change took effect, many small business operators, innocent of such tactics, found their websites way down in the rankings. Constant tweaks to the way search engines rank websites on the Internet is especially bothersome to small business owners, who don’t have technology departments to monitor and address such issues quickly. Often entrepreneurs only discover they have a problem when they see that their web traffic is down significantly or when sales nosedive.
It has been estimated that Google makes about 500 adjustments to its search engine algorithm every year. If you’ve escaped any consequences so far, you still might face them in the near future. Here are some ideas to protect your website rankings:
- First, it is important to understand why companies like Google make these tweaks to the search-ranking algorithms. Google is constantly trying to weed out spam – the process in which websites try to deceive or manipulate its search engines to appear more popular or significant than they really are. The search engine company declines to provide examples its latest tweak addressed, but it is believed to target the use of paid links and low quality website links. Google is known to frown on efforts to overload webpages with keywords and on companies that pay for inbound links to try to boost search rankings artificially.
- Stay up to date on Google’s guidelines. They provide tools and advice free-of-charge to webmasters and small business owners. You can also track changes to algorithms on Google’s Webmaster Central Blog.
- Understand what Google is trying to do by changing its search algorithms. Currently the focus is on websites trying to manipulate the algorithm code to get a higher search ranking than they deserve by deceit. Tactics deployed include loading web pages with key words or paying for inbound links to artificially boost search rankings. Some business owners believe their links with other sites are legitimate marketing tactics, and that Google is wrong to penalize such activities. They complain that Google’s revisions weed out honest companies alongside the less scrupulous. This might be true, but as a rule-of-thumb Google favors sites that deliver the best possible user experience, which means accurate and original content.
- Frequently conduct test searches to see if the words or phrases used to find your business have changed. Constantly monitor and make changes to keep your placement on search engine rankings high.
- Use your Facebook page or other social media tools to connect to your website. Include website information on everything you print, such as business cards, ads, billboards promotional hand-outs, etc.
- If your website has become linked with problematic websites or if you are having difficulties restoring your search engine rankings to their former status, call in an expert to get to the root of the problem. Lost web traffic is too important to sustain a long term shutout.