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January 2012 Posts

1/6/2012 3:14:18 PM

Seeing through a Panda's eyes

If you are a small to medium-sized business owner, chances are by now you have jumped into social media in addition to search engine optimising your website and even running paid advertising campaigns.

The biggest problem that we see for small businesses is their approach to content. Many small business websites have a lumpy approach to content, whereby a lot of effort goes in to content when a website is launched (or re-launched) only for the website to be subsequently updated sporadically. It is for this same reason that many organisations struggle with social media; setting up a social media channel like a Twitter account or a Facebook page is very easy, what is far harder is keeping that channel populated with engaging content on a continual basis, particularly when resources are scarce.

However looking forward into 2012 and beyond, having a content strategy is going to be as important to most organisations as search engine optimisation or pay per click advertising has become. The big reason for this is that the search engines are being adapted to the fast-moving web ecosystem of news, blogs and status updates that we have today. Take the Google Panda update as an example; this update to the Google search engine aimed to lower the rank of “low quality” web presences such as link farms and screen-scraping sites to improve the quality of search engine results. Google does this by using an algorithm that identifies signs of website quality. One of these qualities is recency of publication. Therefore, if you are not actively publishing new content on your website on a regular basis your web pages and website as a whole will have reduced visibility in search engine results over time.

Your search engine optimisation will not necessarily save you either, as more traditional search engine optimisation techniques like on-page tactics carry less weight in influencing search engine ranking.

It may not be just small businesses that may be affected by this; many organisations have the concept of ‘evergreen’ content. Take for example an emergency service, that may have produced content on practical tips on firework safety. This content although seasonably relevant, would fall in the search engine results as it gets older if the content is not subsequently revisited, updated, optimised and socially flagged.

Therefore, if you are going to make one resolution for 2012 to help your business succeed online, set some time aside to put a content strategy in place. Look at simple ways that you can make your website up-to-date, such as sprucing up that News and Events section, planning a press release schedule or publishing a series of short interesting articles that cross-link to your products and services. Get your social channels in hand, selecting the ones you know you can commit to keeping up to date and that you can productively engage with.

Having a plan will help your keep your content production on track, whilst getting your social media in order will increase your visibility through a wealth of channels including social networks, search engine results, apps and mobile devices.

Authored by Ian Cockayne