Running your business is hard enough, but now you are trying to keep up with the constant updates from Google and hold on to the rankings you have worked so hard to achieve. Your SEO team says you are fine but why are your rankings falling?

Let’s back up.

Google came out with something called Google Panda in February of 2011. It was a series of search algorithm updates to weed out the “low quality” websites and reward “high quality” websites with good rankings. In layman’s terms it tried to get rid of sites that had a lot of advertising and were merely trying to take advantage of Google’s algorithms to get their spammy site ranked. They also went after sites that were clearly over-optimizing just to get their keywords listed on the search results. Panda helped and we saw a lot of crappy sites go away and legitimate sites achieve rankings they deserved.

Last month, Google released another update to their algorithm called Google Penguin. Its goal is to further go after sites that are trying too hard to get ranked. Specifically they are looking at sites that are stuffing too many keywords on their pages, are not using unique content, and are using a bad backlinking strategy to gain inbound links. (Backlinking is a link from another site to your site.) Backlinks that are not natural or relevant can hurt you. Most SEO companies focus on this heavily so Penguin is going to help weed out the bad SEO companies from the good. We hope. If you suddenly see your rankings drop over the next few months you will know you are with a company that is carrying out a bad optimization strategy and you should look for a new vendor.

Our job as SEO experts is to get clients ranked, but there are many companies that are doing this plain wrong. Your site needs to look natural, feel natural, and read natural. A good rule of thumb is if you wouldn’t do a business tactic offline in your place of business, don’t do it on your web site either. Build your site and write your content with your customer in mind, not the search engine.

This brings me to another important point. With Google’s obvious attack on spammers and overly optimized sites, are we really a SEO (Search Engine Optimization) company or are we GP (Google Persuasion) company? Our job for our clients is to mix in keyword rich (but not too much), unique content and carry out ongoing relevant online marketing tactics aimed at persuading Google that our clients deserve to rank highly. We never really were search engine optimizers as we didn’t actually optimize a search engine, we optimized for search engines. We make Google pay attention to our clients and convince customers across the web to choose our clients over their competitors for the products and services they need. In the end, we maximize our clients’ influence online through good sense marketing.

I feel more like a chef than a marketer sometimes. I’m cooking up just the right mix for our clients given their specific goals, but always keeping in mind Google’s tastes, because they’re one of the patrons that matters most.

Back to the kitchen…