Earlier this year, Google’s search algorithm changed some of the fundamental methods it relies on to filter and rank its users’ search results. Understanding these changes, says Brad Miller, director of marketing for Shanley Pump and Equipment, is crucial for OEMs and distributors looking to maintain their marketing and sales position in the eyes of customers. Brad Miller sat down with Modern Pumping Today to provide an overview of these changes and how they could affect many business owners without their even knowing it.
Modern Pumping Today: More and more industrial businesses are relying on their websites to generate new sales. However, you’re saying that companies need to educate themselves with how new customers can find them?
Brad Miller: Many companies have noticed a precipitous drop-off in site traffic from Google in the past few months. In some cases between 50 to 85 percent of a site’s traffic has been removed because Google has “moved the goalposts” for the site’s placement online thanks to the Panda and Penguin updates for the Google search algorithm—the first in a long-series of changes Google will make in how search results are displayed from now on.
MPT: What are Panda and Penguin, and how have they changed the way Google organizes its users’ search results?
Brad Miller: Both updates are responsible for how a website ranks in the search results or even if a site shows up in the search results. As a business owner, you may have held top positions in searches for years—you may be a large multi-million dollar industry leader with top brand recognition and a world-wide distribution chain and thousands of employees—but in the eyes of Google, you are simply another website.
MPT: So how do Google and other search engines prioritize different sites, and how did these companies get into this predicament online?
Brad Miller: When a webpage is submitted there are over 200 determining factors that Google looks for how each page is placed in the search results. Everything from keyword density to background coding to sentence structure and internal links are considered. One of the current major factors in how Google determines who winds up with “Top-10” positioning is who links to you.
It’s true, if you have a ton of links pointing towards your site, Google will think your site offers more “value” to a relevant search and, therefore, you will get a better placement. Many site owners relied on companies who used “Black-Hat” search engine optimization (SEO) tricks—a quick performance boost from SEO programmers who use overseas search engines and literally buy thousands of links to point at a particular domain name. It requires little to no effort and most CEO’s didn’t care about what happened to their site, just that the site rankings and traffic remained high and leads continued to come in.
MPT: But now Google’s changed how they approach these listings?
Brad Miller: At the end of May, Google updated their Panda and Penguin search algorithms specifically to target these SEO tactics online and penalize the sites using them. The results have been staggering: companies that held top-10 placements have been kicked ten pages deep or worse and not recovered. If your site’s performance has taken a large hit recently, more than likely you are a victim of either a Panda/Penguin update or a negative SEO attack—another “Black-Hat” SEO programmer tactic used to lower your search result rankings, rather than increase it. If you have several hundred thousand links pointing to you from sites that have nothing to do with your business or industry, the end result will be new customers simply won’t be able to find you in a search. Most companies don’t even know this is happening.
Now more than ever, paying attention to what’s going on online for your site is a critical business task. Owners and managers need to start paying serious attention and educating themselves about how the web, especially Google, works. There is no longer an “easy” way for ranking in the internet, and if you try to cheat the penalty might be your presence online. ■
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