How Three New Google Updates Affect Your Website Ranking

Google is always changing things and as small business owners who count on Google for new customers, we need to keep up on what’s going on because it impacts our business.  Here are some of the recent changes, and some tips on what you can do to take advantage of those changes to better market your business.

Google’s “Panda” Update:

Panda is the name of Google’s latest algorithm change in February of 2011.  Google’s goal:  to weed out (and penalize) content farms; that is those sites that are “gaming” the system by posting massive amounts of low quality and duplicate content.     The update was meant to improve the user search experience so that they would only find high quality results in their queries.

So how does this impact your business website?  If you have a high quality website, it should improve your search rankings.  However, if you’re finding your website is not ranking as high as it used to, here are a few questions to ask.

  • Is the content on my website original or aggregated from other sources?
  • Is my site branded as an authority in my subject?  Does it answer reader’s questions clearly and authoritatively?
  • Is my site easy to navigate?
  • Is it obvious what my site is all about?  Does the site provide valuable information?

Google’s Matt Cutts was asked if companies need to rethink their search engine optimization strategies so as to link higher in Google as a result of these changes, to which Matt replied, “No.  Simply build a site that people love.”

Google Business Photos:

If you are a business owner with a retail location in the areas of Orange County, California; the Bay Area, California; Phoenix, Arizona; San Antonio, Texas, or St. Petersburg, Florida, you can apply to be one of the first businesses to be photographed in the “Business Photos” project.  Google wants to enhance the user search experience on Google Maps (Places) and much like you can zoom in on a business on Google Maps to get an exterior street view and many times building view of the business you are searching for, soon, you’ll be able to get an interior view as well.

Google Business Photos will be a similar experience to the virtual tour experience you can get on many hotel or real estate websites.  The program is just in its beginning stages and is free to business owners who have a retail location that is popular on search.  (Think restaurant, retail, boutique, etc.)  All you need to do is apply to the program and then Google will contact you if you are selected.

Google Plus One (+1)

In addition to the changes mentioned above, Google is also rolling out their version of the Facebook “Like” button, called +1. Simply stated, when searching on Google, and you find a website that you like, you can click on “+1” to recommend the site.  Frankly, this is a Google update that I don’t “like.”  Hey Google, is there a way that I can give it a “-1″?

Google is working very diligently to incorporate social queues into their search algorithm.  This means that a site that gets more +1’s will rank higher in search results than one that does not. In my opinion this system is rife for gaming.  Theoretically, all you have to do is to pay a bunch of high school kids to click +1 on your site all day long to increase your site’s popularity.

Before you can”+1” things you need to make sure you have a Google profile set up.

Wendy Kenney is the best selling author of How to Build Buzz for Your Biz, Tap into the Power of Social Media, Publicity and Relationship Marketing to Grow Your Business, available on  She has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street JournalUSA Today, and Newsday. For more information go to

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