pandaWithin Search Engine Optimisation there have always been techniques that have been used to help websites to rank higher. We have always found that the techniques used for ranking the website of a small business targeting clients/customers/site visitors in their local area are different from those used for ranking a bigger business aiming nationally. Until recently Google has primarily used the quality and relevance of the content on your website combined with the number and quality of backlinks that a website has to work out search engine ranking positions. There have been a lot of changes recently in the signals that Google uses to rank websites and these changes look set to continue over the coming months.

What changes effect small business websites?

1) How often does your website content change? The quality of the writing and how fresh it is. – Your website content has always needed to be well written and relevant but most business websites have static content that gets updated very rarely. With the recent updates Google will be looking more at websites that are regularly updated with fresh unique content and it is very likely that these websites will attract more backlinks and rank them higher.

2) Social Media interaction. – This is a change that will most likely have the biggest effect on your business. Traditionally if a website had attracted a catalogue of backlinks pointing towards it then this would be a good indicator to Google that your website was authoritative and you would rank higher, Google will now be looking at the volume of social interaction that people have with your site. If you have links but no social interaction then Google will see this as being unnatural and won’t rank you as highly as it did previously.

3) Social Media endorsements. – These are generally signals such as FaceBook Likes/Shares, Twitter Tweets/Retweets and Google +1’s. These are a further indication to Google that people see your website as being authoritative enough to want to share.

What does this mean for your business?

It goes without saying that having a well designed and engaging website will remain huge ranking factor and linkbuilding will always play a major part in SEO but whereas in the past this has been the be-all-and-end-all of getting a website to rank you now need to be much more focussed on creating and including fresh content in to your website and ensuring that this new content is shared via social media channels such as FaceBook, Twitter and Google+.

Keeping Things Natural.

There needs to be general social interaction between your website and your potential site visitors. If all of your social media interaction is targeted towards nothing other that promoting your business and creating links back to your website then this doesn’t align with how social media is used in general. The general ruling from Google is that if any part of your website, backlink or social media profile looks unnatural then your rankings will suffer as a result.

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