social media how toWondering how to respond to Google’s recent algorithm changes (known as Panda)?

Keep reading to find out.

A bit of history

In an interview with Wired Magazine, Udi Manber, Google’s head of search, said that Google will make as many as 550 changes to its search algorithm this year. One of the bigger changes happened this past winter in what has been called the Panda or Farmer update.

According to a report by, within days of the update, a number of very large websites saw their Google rankings take a drastic drop. Sites such as and lost 90% or more of their visibility on Google.

sistrix chart

This Sistrix table shows the domain and the percentage loss since Google's change.

Although a 90% drop in visibility may seem extreme, it was a direct result of Google’s attempts to weed out content farms (websites with high-volume, low-quality content) and those trying to game the system. In the process, a number of unsuspecting websites got caught in the fray.

For the average small business owner, stories like this can be concerning. It’s hard enough to move to the top of the Google search rankings, let alone keep up with the constantly evolving magic that makes Google work.

However, for those looking to build quality websites that achieve high Google search results, nothing has really changed. As always, the key is to focus on publishing high-quality content that readers will want to share.

Here are 7 tips to help your business move to the top of the Google search rankings.

#1: It’s all about the user

It’s important to remember that the reason for the continually changing algorithms and updates is that Google has one objective—to provide the highest quality, most relevant search results possible. If they fail to do so, competitors such as Bing and Facebook are nipping at their heels ready to take up the slack.

Google is not out to penalize websites or hurt website owners. They want to ensure that users find the information they seek on the first try.

When it comes to search engine rankings and improving SEO, start by looking at the site from the perspective of the user searching Google. Does your site provide the best, most relevant information for a given search term and if not, what can you do to fix it?

Amit SinghalGoogle’s Amit Singhal, head of Google’s core ranking team, provided 23 questions to consider when evaluating web content. These are some of the same questions that Google is using to test algorithms and evaluate websites using third-party beta testers. The questions provide an excellent insight into Google’s perspective and a tool to analyze your website from the user’s point of view.

#2: Content: Focus on quality over quantity

In an earlier post I wrote on how to increase your Google ranking, I talked about using blogs to increase the number of pages indexed in Google. And while it still holds true that more pages indexed for a given search term gives you a better chance of achieving a high Google rank, it isn’t enough just to publish text optimized for keywords. The quality of the content is now a factor.


Using the list of 23 questions will help you assess the quality of your content.

Since the Panda update, Google has attempted to screen out those publishing high-volume, low-quality content. Now, in the eyes of Google, it’s better to have fewer high-quality pages then lots of low-quality pages.

Blogging is still one of the best ways to move up the search engine rankings as it is a good way to add high-quality information to a website. However, web pages or blog posts offering little of value can now negatively impact a website. Removing these pages might actually help a website move up the rankings or recover from a drop in ranking.

#3: Links: Focus on quality over quantity

Incoming links have always looked good in the eyes of Google. As a result, one way to move a site up the search engine rankings was to generate a high number of incoming links all pointing to a given web page.

As Google places higher and higher value on the quality of the content, this tactic is not as effective, and can even harm a website’s ranking if overdone.

For the small business website owner, this should come as good news. Instead of generating 50 articles with subpar content, website owners can now focus on creating fewer high-quality articles or incoming links, as Google is no longer placing much value in links from article distribution sites such as

In another article on ways to improve your blog SEO with inbound links, I suggested that press releases were a good way to generate incoming links because distribution services often generated back-links as articles were placed on various press release syndication websites. This link-building strategy has also changed post-Panda update, as these links are not as highly valued as they once were. However, a well-written press release can still be very effective when picked up and reported by a journalist or major publication.

Focus on getting high-quality links from high-quality websites. Guest posting is still an excellent way to generate high-quality incoming links. If possible, try to wrap links in important keywords. For example, as a content marketing copywriter, a link around “content marketing copywriter” would be more effective than a link wrapped around my name.

#4: Make the most of social media, social sharing and social search

It’s hard to tell exactly how much impact Twitter and Facebook have on Google search results, but at the very least we know that Google is providing real-time social sharing in the search results.

Google’s addition of the Google +1 button and the ability of Google users to block sites take this a step further. Although it’s still unclear how Google is using the +1 button in their algorithms, they have stated publicly that users blocking a site can have a negative impact on returns. This again demonstrates the importance of high-quality content.

google video

If you don't have the +1 button but want to try it out, you can enroll in Google's experiment.

#5: Let the search engines know you’re there

Once you’ve published high-quality content, it’s important to tell Google about the content and make it easy for users to find. This means that meta titles and descriptions should closely match the content on the page.

Keyword stuffing and intentionally filling meta descriptions with keywords that don’t match the page in an attempt to deceive will only hurt your search engine results. The closer the match, the better.

It’s also important to make the most of the SERP, the short paragraph showing in the Google search returns. Use this space to provide a clear description of the content and encourage users to click through to your site.


Be sure your meta description matches the post and encourages users to click through. This is what shows in the Search Engine Results Page or SERP.

#6: The truth behind duplicate content

It’s not that Google penalizes websites for duplicate content; Google just doesn’t show it in the search results. Remember what I said in the beginning about providing the best possible search returns. When it comes to duplicate content, that’s all Google is doing.

Instead of showing 20 pages with the same content, Google tries to present the most relevant and original content and omit the rest. Users can still view omitted search returns, they just need to make an effort and most won’t.

This only becomes a problem if you’re using canned content or directly publishing RSS feeds from other websites. Content of this sort might be seen as low-quality and result in lower Google returns. Hopefully the days of stolen web content and RSS scrapers will soon be a thing of the past.

#7: Don’t overdo the advertising

Too much advertising can also result in lower Google rankings. This again is a result of Google’s attempts to improve search results for the user. Google tends to equate an overabundance of advertising to lower-quality or “spam” websites.


Excessive advertising can also hurt your Google returns. Note how the actual content on this site isn't even visible above the fold. This website is also "scraping" content from Social Media Examiner which can also hurt search engine ranking.

Be sure that advertising does not interfere with the content on the page. This is especially important with advertising above the fold and within the text.

Google is constantly evolving, but the fundamentals of SEO will always remain the same. High-quality content that people want to share will always do well in the eyes of Google. Search Engine Land has put together a free guide that will help you gain traffic from search engines such as Google and Bing.

periodic table of seo

"Search Engine Land has created a Periodic Table of 'SEO Ranking Factors.' Notice the importance placed on content.

What do you think? What other ideas or suggestions do you have? Leave your comments in the box below.

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  • Jim..this ranking thing is too confusing to some companies, but I tell my clients that  it takes time and efforts to make it to the top. But if you keep making good content and building links..then the rest will come.

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  • gotwww

    #8: Hire someone that has a proven track record doing this for the long term – someone who will be hands on improving your site so that it naturally gets higher rankings.  There are no “easy” fixes once your site has been black listed.

  • Gloria Rand

    Jim, I think all of your suggestions are valid. You recommended that guest posting is a good strategy to acquire high quality links, and I agree. How would you recommend that a small business owner go about doing that?

  • Yes and how does a small retailer generate content? Is it in the product offerings? Good product descriptions?

  • Good advice, a little advanced for those outside this box…still good stuff.

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  • I admit, I’m lazy when it comes to writing meta descriptions for my blog posts. After spending all that time drafting up a blog post, I feel compelled to hit that publish button asap. Nevertheless, it could mean the difference between a searcher clicking on your link over another.

  • Great product descriptions are part but why not blog about things that interest the people who buy your products? Create video reviews of the products you sell, demonstrate how you package your products etc. There are lots of possibilities for retailers who want to create original content.

    Another is to allow your visitors to write their own reviews.

  • dougleemiller

    Awesome article loaded with valuable content.  Thank you.

  • Thanks for this helpful article, Jim. It’s good to see that Google still considers quality content as king. Good, common-sense stuff here.

  • I just so happen to have Udi Manber’s “Introduction to Algorithms” sitting on the chair next to me.

    Smart guy.

    It also turns out one of my new blogs, which is very technically oriented, is getting picked up by Google, despite having NO links to it, and without any promotion whatsoever. That’s right. I’m doing ZERO promotion. It’s pure, distilled, very high quality technical content. I like that!

  • Carol Wain

    I particularly like the advertising reducing the ranking as there is nothing that ticks me off more than going to a site for info and seeing one teeny little article with advertising flashing all around it!

  • What are your thoughts on video and Google page ranking?  I have read that Google is placing a lot of weight on those that produce quality videos.  Apparently video is 60% more likely to be watched than reading text?

  • Mark L

    How is any of this “New”??? The only item that would possibly qualify is the Google +1

  • Jim,
    This was a really informative article. I use content that I write – no advertising – and my site is growing quite nicely. I wasn’t affected by the change in Google algorithm.

  • I applaud Google’s ongoing efforts to ensure quality content rises to the top. I am mystified by writers and marketers whose energies are spent trying to figure out and beat the system when resources are better spent on producing relevant, audience-targeted content, which is likelier in any event to be “rewarded” in the rankings. 

  • great summary of some of the key points from the panda updates. 
    there is definitely a lot to take in, bulletpoints like these help quite a bit.

  • Here are a couple tips (from many) that I give to clients to help improve Google Search ratings:
    1.  Create an “Our Friends” page.  This page consists of other companies you work with, promote, recommend, etc.  I like to put the company’s logo, a brief description of what the company is about and of course a link to the company’s URL.  This works best if the companies you are “friends” with are companies related to what you do. In exchange for placing a company on your friends page, ask for a reciprocal link to your website.  I like creating a custom badge for clients and whoever they put on Our Friends page, that company places their badge on their site linking back to client’s URL.  This helps create partnerships between competitors, helps you tap into the other company’s following which brings more traffic to your website, and also creates quality backlinks to your website.
    This has worked well for my ecommerce clients, but can work for anyone!
    I recommend to my clients to make a list of their top 10-20 competitors.  Then reach out to these competitors asking to place their company, description and link to their website on client’s Our Friends page (if you don’t like “Our Friends” can also use “Resources”).
    2.  Use long tail keywords:  instead of using a short keyword or phrase that is popular with other companies, add some other descriptive words to make more specific.  If there are not as many people competing for this phrase, you will have a better chance showing up higher in search results.  Example:  “social media” – long tail could be:  “social media marketing small businesses.”
    Hope this helps!
    If you enjoyed reading these tips, please take a look at our content-packed blog:
    Tasha Mayberry
    Twitter: @ SMMSEO22

  • While I agree that no one likes a small piece of content floating in a sea of ads, there are plenty of quality sites that have advertising, and lots of it. It pays the bills.

    Interesting that Google punishes the one thing that makes them so rich. Is it low quality content they’re concerned about in this case, or competition?

  • Rich – My understanding is if the ads are well presented – clean and visually attractive, then you are fine.  

  • Not only quality content but WOW content so that people will share your content and build your own virtual community or social circle.

    The game of SEO is totally change. We can’t depends on SEO alone now. We need to integrate social media marketing as well.

  • Great common sense suggestions but more importantly it also takes time and serious efforts, that’s the part that a lot of people just don’t get. Thanks for sharing!

  • Cwaskowycz

    Thanks for a great article again.

  • rafeeq

    This article contain very good information.

  • If you’ve always paid attention to providing valuable, original content for your own site and client’s sites alike, you wouldn’t have to worry about these algorithm changes. Thanks for all the suggestions and tips – very helpful!

  • My poor google PR has never cracked 0 and despite my valiant efforts, I have never been able to correct this. 

    Any help in the matter would be much appreciated.

  • Great article. After a year of studying SEO and reading Google’s blog, it’s refreshing to find such common sense approaches to SEM. Here a few of my own thoughts and suggestions in addition to yours. I hope you enjoy!

  • predsicker

    Definitely the ‘quality over quantity’ is good news indeed. I’m still concerned about inbound links. But as @0c2b8df36a0b90ad715f8ced1d048fe8:disqus says, if you’ve been providing good content all along and making good common sense decisions on your blog, most of these issues will not be a problem. Thanks for your great insights Jim! 

  • Thanks Jim for a very good article.

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  • interesting article… i would take this into consideration

  • This is really enlightening article, definitely helps
    a lot to consider

  • Google may change it’s weight on different factors but one thing is constant: value. If you give good solid information and other people see the value in what you give, they will follow.

  • LucidGal

    These recommendations don’t seem “new”… weren’t they always good ideas?

  • Well written clear to understand article. I would like to know more about how to use Video and long tail keywords to get higher Google Ranking please.

  • Thank you for this post. Today my rank went down from a 4 to a 3, 🙁 I plan to try some a the strategies u had suggested

  • jonmikelbailey

    Great list. I will certainly share this with our clients. #1 really sums up what this is all about. You can pull some tricky maneuvers in your marketing efforts but at the end of the day it is all about the user. And the user , more and more, knows this.

  • Victoria Rickert

    Great article, easy to read and comprehend, straight to the point, thanks!

  • Good post, Jim! #5 struck a chord with me. I recently learned the importance of a good sitemap. 

  • Lisa,

    I agree with Brian’s suggestion about good product descriptions. 

    On one of my sites I provide a listed description of the physical features after I give a “benefits”, “how they can use the product”, or “how they will feel when using the product” description. You know the “warm-fuzzies”

    Also, pictures in your post do a great job to attract the search engines.  If you title your pictures with good keywords these alone will come up when customers are searching for a product.  Then the pictures will take them to your site.

    In WordPress I create a gallery of 9 photos for each product, so besides my post, that’s 9 other URLs that the search engines will find.

    Good luck with your marketing – Theresa

  • Hi Tasha,

    Regarding the “Our Friends” page.  I have always read that this is an old school method of link trading that is frowned upon by Google?  Aren’t you afraid of giving away link juice by giving all your friends links? 

  • Charmaster Dolph Cooke

    Thanks for the information and the links to the other tools.
    Something you could add to your tips is persistence what I mean by this is set yourself
    a little time each day to help yourself understand the whole SEO thing.

    I put 2 hours each day into my site (Extreme I know) I have many pages from a
    long time ago on my blog and I am finding them resurfacing on search engines
    and now in other peoples content which makes me feel great. 95% of my content
    is original and to see other people placing value on it really helps you to
    generate even better quality info.

    When I began adding 2 hours a day to learning SEO and fixing my site I found
    tools that help keep your chin up like the quick alexa rank thing. I went from
    a website ranked 19 million something in the world to one now ranked 440075 in
    little under 2 month’s check for yourself ( ).

    It may seem a tall order and yes I so wanted someone to do it for me for a long
    time but once I broke through the fear of learning it has been nothing but a

    I do not make money from my website I offer my Knowledge / Skills free to
    humanity to help the planet. So the satisfaction i get well warrants the 2
    hours spent learning. Example the above article and the links with their
    articles took me 35 mins + 5 mins to reply today I really feel like spending
    more time on this but I need limits otherwise I would never be able to rejuvenate
    my forest. which is my 2nd love : )

    So Folks hope this helped as you can see I did not try to get a cheap backlink
    from this but rather impart original content to help you ease your site to the

    I am a forester / enviromentalist and founder of Biochar Industries not a
    computer guru but My Mum allways used to say “Practice makes

    Charmaster Dolph Cooke

  • I’m confused as to how the Google programs that scan and sort content could understand what is a “high quality” post and what is a “low quality” post.  That suggests to me you are talking about an objective, algorithm-based definition of quality (rather than a human, subjective appreciation of quality.)  I may know less that your average reader here, but I think this article would benefit from clarifying how “quality” is defined, and how Google recognizes it when it sees it.

    Thanks as always for helpful, thought-provoking posts!

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  • Like Christopher I would also like to know how figure out what is high quality.

  • cherylpickett

    If I may offer a suggestion, guest posting isn’t too hard to do. You’ll simply approach blog owners whose audience might also be interested in what you sell/do. For example, if you sell something for dogs, you’d look for pet lover related blogs. First, you’ll see if they state somewhere on their site that they take guest posts (some bloggers do this) otherwise, you’d contact them and ask. You won’t sell directly, but you might talk about the benefits of a product or service you offer. It is a neutral, informative type piece. If people like what you have to say, hopefully they will click to your site because you will be able to put a couple of sentences at the end about you/your site. If you can’t you might think twice about writing for that particular blog.  Hope that gets you started.

  • Find a company with a blog you would like to contribute to.  Interact with them on their posts, Facebook, etc. and they may invite you, especially if you include a link to your own blog that already has great content on it.  That worked for me, and I wasn’t even trying!  Or, you could Email them and make the offer.

  • Sue

    Hi Jim, thanks for a very informative article.  It’s always good to get different perspectives on such an important subject.


  • This is a well thought out point and I personally believe that is why the Like, Plus 1 and new #for twitter are becoming so popular, to give the indexing process a more descriptive meaning to whats behind the writing, by who better then the consumer them self! Great post, with all the thoughs and comments! qrtagid

  • mmonsen

    I’m glad you talked about the mythical “duplicate content” filter. It’s not that Google penalizes you for having multiple pages on the same topic/with the same keywords or eve with the same content, it’s just that it doesn’t know which to rank higher. I wrote a post on that very topic over here on my site (shameless plug, but it’s pretty applicable):

  • If anyone has an opinion of how twitter, tweets and a twitter ticker or widget that resides on your website interacts with googles SEO, please share! 

  • Kalyan Shrestha

    Very informational:::::::::: I was just looking to other article on

  • Infobohol

    “In today’s economy, make sure your company has a
    successful website and a professional web design company behind you.
    This takes the guess work out of designing, marketing and SEO so you
    have more time to run your business, this is essential for your
    company’s growth!”

  • Are they effectively saying quality is the length of the article?
    Surely quality is down to the readership – are they effectively measuring the facebook likes or +1’s?

  • I thought the same thing for a second but you would be surprised how many people think this is complicated stuff. It’s a great reminder that it’s as simple as doing the things that have always worked.

  • Jim

    Both are good suggestions. I agree with Cheryl that guest posting isn’t all that difficult. I personally think the best way is to contact the owner/editor of the blog/website and “pitching” them your article idea.

    Make sure the topic is a good match for their site, include what you plan to cover and provide a little information as to why you are the person to write the post.

    Keep it short, simple and too the point. The worst that can happen is they don’t accept your idea. If it’s a good idea, take it to the next website and offer it there.

  • Thank you for all of the details I like the Periodic Ranking Table.

  • Jim

    I think Brian is right on target (and good suggestions from Theresa). Try to determine what information your customers are looking for online and provide it. This doesn’t always have to be technical or highly informative. Sometimes entertaining content can be just as effective if done well.

  • Jim

    It’s easy to let the meta descriptions slide by but it doesn’t take much to add them and it’s well worth the effort. Use that space as a way to summarize the article and sell what you’ve written.

  • Jim

    If you’ve got a good niche where there’s not a lot of competition, it’s much easier to rank higher in the Google returns.

    My first and still my primary blog (a sports blog) climbed the rankings by pure dumb luck. I did very little if any promotion but at the time (about 5 years ago) there weren’t many blogging about the same topic. In one of my early articles, I wrote out a season prediction which came true pretty much as I predicted (pure luck). The article was filled with naturally occurring key words because to be honest, I had no idea what “key words” were at the time. Google indexed it about a month before people really started searching for the given terms and it quickly moved to the top spot on Google.

    I think a key thing though was that both my meta title and description included the key terms people were searching. Again, this was by dumb luck and I may have even let it default to the headline and first paragraph of the article.

    The key words came naturally. One of the reasons I think blogs can be so powerful. It’s not complicated SEO if you are naturally writing about what people are searching for. Figuring out what they are looking for, that’s another story.

  • Jim

    I think Jeff is right but Rich isn’t the first one to make that point.

  • Jim

    In the end, I think that’s the point. The basic concepts haven’t changed at all. People want to make this so much more difficult than it is. Google is doing what they’ve always done, try to provide the most useful results for a given search.

  • Of The Many SEO Articles I have read this week, this one certainly sticks out. I have bookmarked and will do a check on how I am doing. I for one have been struggling to make time to write posts on my blog and when I have, I have always focused on high quality and not frequency, so I am glad for the update. I also strongly agree with guest posting, I currently only have three posts since i cleaned a few out and kept the guest posting ones, which has kept my ranking down for a prolonged period. 🙂

  • Jim

    I agree Dawn. The quick answer is to look for the short cut. Hopefully, those who put their efforts toward quality content will be rewarded in the long run.

  • Jim

    I don’t think you need to shy away from advertising. If you’re just getting started and your site is growing, it’s something you might look at down the road.

    As long as you do it with respect for your readers, you won’t have a problem. Google is looking at the sites with lots of advertising and very little quality content. These are the sites that pump out key word stuffed articles with little of value hoping to draw impressions and advertising clicks.

  • Jim

    I think that’s the point. People were shocked when the Panda update came out but ultimately, nothing has really changed.

  • LucidGal

    Then the headline shouldn’t say “new ways”… misleading.

  • Jim

    Your right. Google is using an algorithm to make a subjective judgment. One thing Google has started doing is using third-party (non-Google employees) to test websites and content. As I understand it, those 23 questions I reference ( are pretty much the same questions that Google is asking it’s beta testers.

    Ask those questions enough and eventually patterns are going to emerge. At that point its’ simple, Google analyzes the data, a miracle happens, and they’ve got an algorithm.

    Actually, if you look at those questions, many of them are things that can determined through scanning (spelling, redundancies). We’re getting into math way beyond my English major abilities but I can grasp the concept.

  • Jim

    No. This goes way beyond length of the article. I think those 23 questions referenced in the article provide a good insight into Google’s thinking. How they turn that into an algorithm is beyond me.

    As I understand, Google hasn’t said that they are incorporating the +1 in their rankings but I don’t think anyone will be surprised if/when they do. It makes sense. The +1 gives them direct user input.

    Important to note that Google has said that they are taking user blocks into consideration.

  • Jim

    Point taken. I defer to the editors on that one.

  • Jim

    Looks like you’re at a PR 1 (I know, not much better). It looks like you don’t have a XML Sitemap. This is sort of a road map for Google and pretty important. If you’re using WordPress, try the Google XML Sitemap plugin.

    Don’t know if that is the problem but it’s a start.

  • Jim

    I’m hearing the same thing about video although I haven’t done much testing with it yet. No question, people like video.

    One thing about Video is that Google can’t “read” it like it would an article. This means it’s much more important to get the SEO right for video. Start by looking into video sitemaps for Google.

  • This is a very good resource. This article is worth explaining to website owners that search engine optimization takes a lot of patience and time. SEO doesn’t give overnight results, but if you are patient enough to wait, the end-results are very rewarding.

  • While I do understand why some feel that kissing up may protect them, that reveals an inherent lack of understanding about those who wield power. It doesn’t work because they don’t respect kiss-ups any more than they do anyone else. That type of pandering to power in posts like this makes them not up to SME’s usual high standards.

    How is it that no one else has expressed concerns over the impact using Chrome block data may have on sites? What will keep your competitors who lack any kind of moral compass from blocking your sites to get them to disappear? Or keep the masses from using that function to block whatever they just don’t happen to feel like seeing at the moment? Do you think Big G will care, restore your site, or make your small company whole again? (If you think yes, I bet a con artist would be happy to sell you some ocean front property in Oklahoma.)

    Has no one else considered the impact that using social media activities will have on search engine positions? Specifically, that it will cause constant churn among the non-favored – especially small business sites – appearing on the first page. The naive will celebrate their tiny moments in the sun while the ability to consistently receive traffic for important keyword phrases will be gone and sales will decline even worse than they already have due to the sliding dollar and the rising costs of necessities.

    I encourage those whose minds still work to seriously think about where this is all going. The solution is not to keep kissing up or blaming yourself or hoping the next big update affects someone besides you – the solution is to stop handing so much power to G by using independent alternatives and recommending our friends, family, co-workers and readers do the same.

    There is no G Fairy and Big G is not a benevolent Father figure. It is unwise to allow any paternalistic entity to ‘take care of you’ or be your ‘Big Brother’. They are dangerous to our freedoms: physical, economic, and freedom to make our own choices. There are extensive resources on my blog that explain all this. Click the link in this comment or see my G category.

  • Jim!

    I could kiss you right on the mouth! I had the plugin installed but apparently it never worked. Had to do some room tweaking and I believe I do have a sitemap now. Perhaps the google gods will reign their PR love upon me now!
    Unless of course my blog is just crap… then I totally understand a PR of 0, or now 1 at least.

    Thanks so much!

    ETA: Make that 2 kisses SQUARE on the mouth!
    I’m up to a PR of 3!
    I know that’s crap but going from 0 to 3 makes me feel like I’m on cloud 9!

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  • Great post, Jim! Thanks for sharing. I’ll definitely be bookmarking this article for future reference.

  • Colleen Kelly

    Very impressed.  Thank you!

  • Questionning

    “Now, in the eyes of Google, it’s better to have fewer high-quality pages than lots of low-quality pages”

    Exactly how does Google decide what is high quality and what is low quality?  Surely that’s in the viewpoint of the reader of that page?  I understand certain things like (as you mention) the high number of ads being an indicator, but has Google really progressed to the point that it knows what each individual reader regards as good quality?

  • Hey Brittney, it’s great to see your enthusiasm and that such a simple tweak gave you immediate results.  The XML Sitemap is one of those basic things you must have right from the beginning. And if you don’t have a technical background it’s easy to forget. (And if you think Google isn’t seeing your stuff online, that’s the first thing to check.)

    Understanding what the XML Sitemap does probably helped me the most in understanding SEO from the technical side.  It basically gives the search engine “machines” clear directions and without those directions the machines just don’t know where to go. When you get this, it becomes second nature to ask yourself, now that I’ve communicated my stuff well for humans, do the machines know what I’m talking about?  And is there something I can do to make this communication easier for the machines to understand.

    Congrats on having a 3  🙂

  • Vicki Kenny

    I agree!! esp though hideous flashing ones

  • I suppose Google uses general analytics to read wether the quality is any good. As Jim states in the article, Google is all about bringing relevance to the user. If a site has a lot of page views where the visitor has spent enought time on there to read the content, then google will pick up on this. If the user returns to the page, or shares the link, again google will be aware of this. There for they know if a page has good quallity content, because the viewers wont stay for very long on irrelevant pages, and certainly wont share their link.

  • Questionning

    Hmmm…  Although this would imply having to have Google analytics installed on your site for relevance to be counted…  In which case those without analytics get penalised?

    Perhaps relevance and therefore “quality” is based around number of links to that content?

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  • Kent, yes, I agree Social Media Marketing is a crucial part of getting your business online visibility.  You can only bring your company so far by yourself, once you have a following and people share yor content, recommend your products/services, and interact on Twitter, FB, etc. – your company is brought to a whole new level.  Word-of-mouth marketing is powerful and can easily be attainable through SEO, social media and other internet marketing strategies. 
    Twitter:  @SMMSEO22

  • Hey Jim !

    Thanks for your article, and some great suggestions made here will be used on the company. I like the idea of blogging, generating quality content over mindless-posting. It’s just commom sense, If you’re interested you will stick around, if you not, well you just lose that reader. 

    My question is, How the blog design affects the reader interest in content?

    Good luck for all SEO’s around the world. 🙂


    Jacob Camelo
    twitter> @sacrededen:twitter

  • Hi austinofficespace guy!  I replied to your questions two times, but for some reason my post is not posting.  In short, yes, I definitely do not encourage link farming and am cautious when I help clients with link sharing.  I prefer to call it reciprocal linking.  When I help clients with an “Our Friends” page – could be named “Partners” “Resources” whatever suits you best – the websites that the links go to are websites related to the client’s product or service.  For example, I created an Our Friends page for the Woombie that looks like this:  The Woombie is a baby product and all the companies on this page are also baby products or solutions.  The Woombie has created a partnership with these companies: does trade shows with them, videos with them, etc. so when Google indexes this page the page rank will increase because of the relevancy and more importantly Google will index the page according to the most relevant keywords.  These companies, products, etc. found on Our Friends page, are also found in other places on Woombie site so this creates an open and honest reciprocal link page.  You definitely do not want to say on your website, “We will link to your website if you link to ours” – this may raise suspicion with search engines. Overall, partnering with companies that are within your industry to cross promote is a good thing that will help with SEO, but also help with website traffic, word-of-mouth marketing and more.


  • Great article.  I especially like the points about not reducing quality in order to improve Google rankings.  I always tell my clients that “white hat” SEO is very helpful and efficient, but it requires patience.  “Black hat” reduces quality.  One thing that’s absolutely necessary is great content because no matter how high you rank on SERPs, you will not have any retention unless content is up to par.

  • Jim

    Wow. Those are amazing results. Three isn’t a bad P.R. at all, especially if you didn’t have a ranking at all yesterday. It looked like you had the content. Google just needed to know how to find it.

    (and all that lipstick on my collar’s going to get me in trouble)

  • Jim

    It’s not about kissing up to Google. It’s about providing the information your customer wants and making it easy for them to find it.

  • Jim

    Don’t confuse Google analytics with Google’s ability to recognize the popularity of a website. Analytics are a tool for the website owner to use to measure traffic. I don’t think there is any evidence to suggest that a website will be penalized if they choose to use a different measuring tool.

    Google looks at a number of factors to determine that there is something of value on a given page. This is why incoming links are so important and so often manipulated. When Google sees links from quality websites pointing to a page, it assumes that there must be content of value on that page.

  • Jim

    I think blog design has a huge impact on reader interest. If a page is hard to read or information is hard to find, the user will move on. Make it as easy for the reader as possible.

  • Jim

    I agree. Black Hat tricks might bring in traffic but if there is nothing there for the reader, that’s all it is, traffic.

  • Deepam

    I now understand the text matter in search optimization, any comments on photos and videos?

  • KiwiTraveller

    I agree with Gail. Things like blocking, +1 etc can be used to manipulate results. I would be very disappointed if  +1 was used to rank sites as it is a totally inaccurate gauge of a sites popularity. Many people will not click +1 because they are not keen on having all their information exposed to the world. Two warnings come up that are very off putting.

    I appreciate what Google was doing with Panda, but their results are not always an improvement.Yesterday I searched for kitchen storage units.The 2nd, 3rd and 4th sites that came up were all hostels or backpackers that said they had kitchen storage for guests! Not a very relevant result!

    Re duplicate content. I still believe Google should be able to know from dates of publication which site had the original content.Yet many are still complaining their work which has been copied is on sites ranked higher than their own with the original content.

    I am unsure of G’s thoughts on advertising. I very recently had an email from their Adsense staff saying I should be putting more advertising on my sites.

    A good article with some ideas with food for thought.

  • Questionning

    Sorry Jim, my point was really at Hayley Stevens’s suggestion that Google will analyse number of pages viewed and time on page etc, I seriously doubt (though my techie knowledge is limited) that the spiders that are indexing pages can hang around and analyse the users visits too…  So I was merely questionning whether it is likely that those type of metrics are being used to determine quality.

    I think probably you are much more on the money that it’s all based around links and strength of links that dictates quality…  So probably there is no magic voodoo involved in determining quality, more that x links to it so does y and z and therefore it must be good…

    Does that then mean that aggregated content through a feed could actually falsely imply something is quality simply because the web site author (and ultimately several web site authors of different sites all using their own feeds) couldn’t be bothered to write their own content and have merely scraped off someone else’s content and by virtue of this there are links to the original site?

  • Content is definitely key here!

  • Thank you so much for the response.  I’m checking out the 23 Questions now.  I was a History major, so I’m no better off extrapolating the math than you are.  It’s a good thing “Finnegan’s Wake” wasn’t published as a blog — I don’t suspect it would fare too well based on those questions! 🙂

  • It’s good to know (via Mashable) that Google Analytics & Webmaster Tools added new tools for tracking the impact of tweets, likes, +1s & more on website’s traffic. This is a sign that Google is getting more “social”, thus Tip #4 should be emphasized as this will increase your page rank dramatically.

  • Great article, Jim. I like the idea that it’s all about giving users the best, most relevant results. While it’s easy to be cynical and say that it’s ad revenue and not altruism that drives this philosophy, whatever the reason, I think the old aphorism about GM is applicable to Google now: “What’s good for Google is good for America” – although the nationalism inherent in that isn’t necessary, really…let’s just say it’s good for people.

  • Jim

    No problem Quest. With the Panda update, Google is trying to cut down on link/content farms and scraped RSS feeds lifting a website’s ranking. That’s why sites like Ezine and Suite101 took such a big hit. Before the Panda update, it was much easier to manipulate a website’s ranking through article spinning and other techniques designed to do nothing more than create links without quality content.

    With the update, an overabundance of advertising, high quantity/low quality articles, scraped RSS feeds are just a few of the signals that Google is working into it’s algorithms in hopes of avoiding such manipulation. They are pretty much the same triggers that would make a live person start to question the value of a site.

  • If I have republished a couple of articles from will it lower my Google ranking?

  • I agree that the Google group havn’t the time to sift through thousands of pages of content, but your last piont was what i was getting at. The amount of shared links you receive is a reflection of the visits you recieve-therefor google must have there own system that reads the page views of a site to determine its ranking, as a side dish to all other elements. Its all about keeping it relevant and sharing your content with relevant people.

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  • KentMauresmo

    Im glad they have made these changes! Googles search engine was starting to become a big mess. I could never find what I was looking for on there.

  • I like the second and the third one about focusing on quality over quantity. It is really important to get the trust of your audience not by just providing what they need but also giving them the outright quality of your work. And also, I am really confused with what’s behind duplication. We all know there are some have just copy content from others. Though we have so called social ethics but then we can’t monitor if all are practicing the said ethics. Thanks for sharing this very important ways in improving Google ranks.

  • Fantastic information for everyone trying to increase their online exposure and jump in the SERPs.

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  • Awesome tips but only touching surface information. Great for beginners who are trying to understand this entire google thingy as it can be very confusing at times.

  • I recently watched SEOMoz’s video on Google’s Panda update and am happy to see the changes Google is making. They’re now much more focused on things like quality, site metrics, and design. Yeah, some unfortunate sites got hit but that’s inevitable really. I think they’re doing their best to try and remedy that as best as possible. All in all though, I think it’s an incredible step forward and going to weed out a lot of garbage. In the end, honesty and delivering content people want is what wins 🙂

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  • Fantastic information for everyone trying to increase their online exposure and jump in the SERPs. thanks for sharing.-Sara Angel

  • “It’s not that Google penalizes websites for duplicate content; Google just doesn’t show it in the search results.”

    Now this is something new, most posts or forum threads that I read were always saying the websites get penalized – which lead me to questions about posting press releases. In the end, I believed them and decided to re-word every press release I published (which took an amount of work but I guess for the better)

  • Thanks for sharing…time for me to review my website 🙂

  • webdesignersmalaysia

    Nowadays search ranking are evolving to social ranking.In any case any search engine aim to give to the customer,who made a search, what he’s looking for.From this perspective, every kind of social approval, for example the +1 click, becomes important to understand the quality of each Web site

  • websitedesigningsingapore

    Of course all of this are linked to G+’s success. I believe google is way better then facebook, having just 1 account for everything, is a dream come true, but I’m not sure people will jump with this trend.

  • readymadewebsiteforsale

    google is going to bring gogle + ti a major extent that it will afffect the search results . Google is simply taking online searches to a new level and it seems to be awesome

  • freeurlpromotion

    Great points about Google. It is definitely helpful when the company that ranks your website also offers all of these tools to help you promote it.

  • w3-logics

    Rightly said google+ click enhance your reputation in business, number of clicks represents your sociability level, none of the search engines can leave the importance of google+1 in there result.thanks for such a nice information of google+SEO.

  • Carwingmirrors

    Thanks for the update regarding the Google+. Now i am going to register on this social networking site and make use of it for my SEO purpose.

  • Debra_turner

    I keep my blog current with good content.  In the last few months, my readers have tripled so why has my ranking dropped from a 3 to a 2.  I don’t pay for clicks.  Anybody know?

  • Great article!! Just wondering how this applies to new websites we put out…??

  • Yeah you 100%…to rank on Google takes allot of hard effort!

  • Lavell Frost

    Hi Jim,

    Great post on a subject that alot of people need to know about. Your insights were extremely helpful. I’m now a new subscriber to your blog. I’ll also spread the word to my social media clients!

    Lavell Frost

  • JG

    This is great information.  Thank you for posting.  My website,, is fluctuating between page 4 and page 5 for my primary search term (texas wills) and near the top of page 2 for my secondary search term (online texas wills).

    I was wondering, though…I own a number of other web addresses and am willing to make some quick websites with original content linking back to with various keywords (but quality content).  Would this be helpful to my cause of increasing my link count and thereby improving my rank?  I’m not talking about creating huge numbers of other websites to link back, but maybe 10 or 15.

  • Nicholas Reyes

    this information is extremely useful, I have been having a problem getting backlinks to my site, I am guessing google only updates the amount of backlinks pointing to a site every couple weeks? also a question regarding duplicate content, I have several pages with the same information as the homepage, simply changed the city mentioned to tailor the city’s I service is this a bad thing to do? is my site, if you have a chance to check it out, I would appreciate it.

  • Bandago

    Getting more +1 should help to improve ranking. I found a nice way to improve mine traffic and rankings

  • Bill Taylor315

    Great info here. My site is super simple so not much content ( ) Any ideas on how to boost rankings for this?

  • Sunny Sahdev

    Hi I have a website ( I have heard and I am not sure how true this is “by revisiting content on own site, improving it and adding more useful content will improve google ranking. Is this true?

  • Tjsalsman

    As a wedding photographer in a very saturated market, I found some useful information here…

  • I have found two type of blog post most of them are  verbose and pompous trying to impress the reader.The other ones are simple nut objective and to the point it may be short or long. Acid test of the any content is can we edit something without hurting the objective and style of the content? In the first type many times remains 10 to 20%.But In the second type of content usually the remaining part not less than 80%.
    I must say that this post falls into second type. Objective and to the point.

  • Google is really a very popular search engine of today’s time and it’s not always clear where they are basing their algorithm but one thing is for sure that we should abide with their guidelines in order to rank higher on SERP’s.


  • Awesome post, I like the comments made here, especially about creating content that is relevant to people that buy your products. It gets a little tougher for some of us for we sell very interesting stuff – like Air Conditioning. WOW.. Eyes just glaze over at that one, but we in the industry have to find a way to get the customer involved and talk about air conditioning – before that sucker outside kicks the bucket and then you are trying to get a contractor to come out.

    Any ideas on how to interest people in such a very BORING subject.

  • WadeHarman

    This has been one of the best, most informative posts I have read since Google went hairy on everyone. Thanks!

  • Thanks, I guess its all about doing the basics well.

  • Google’s spiders are on the lookout for unique content, and JavaScript and CSS in the HTML code make it harder for them to find it. For example, you should already know that all scripts and CSS files should be added as external files to reduce the time it takes for search engine spiders to find the actual content as well as reducing the code-to-content ratio.

  •  I’ve just discovered the new SEO too-it’s Colibri and it’s awesome-it can track my website position on every Google,it also find my competition or even suggest it, monitors Facebook, Twitter mentions and backlinks to my website.Most functional-highly recommend!

  • Kavel

    Hi Jim I agree we launched a ski jobs site . we launched it 9 weeks ago now has 30 pages of content . We have knoked down major layers because our linkz are high quality and we have 70% less links to the others plus a hell of a lot more pages but we have great content

  • nice post.

  • Thanks for the good read. SEO is very important for any online business and SEO depends mainly on 2 things Content and links. Both content and links required quality not the quantity, if we are providing quality content and making quality links for our sites then we can be sure to get a good spot on SERP.  

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  • SEO is undoubtedly one of the most coveted traffic generation methods. Primarily because it’s free, and because if you do your homework with regard to your keyword research, you will have customers ready to buy your product or services! I use my Market Samurai Pro Edition for my research. Its hands down the best keyword tool for the money! Yes you can spend more money to get basically the same results, but with some extra bells and whistles. In ending let me just say this, it’s 2012, forget tons of backlinks! If your smart you will get your social media moving for you a bit, content! content! content!  Highly relevant content, onpage SEO should be done, You know, h1,h2,h3 Title,1.5%  to 3.5% keyword density. Make sure all of your pages link back to your homepage! Navigation is important, if they Google crawlers cannot maneuver their way around your site, “Google will not send traffic to a dead end street”! Besides, deadend pages kill your linkflow and your sites chances in the process!

    Thanks! Great website you  got here! I love it, I really love it, and your theme “ROCKS”!!


  •  You are definitely correct Tasha.. 🙂

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  • Thank you for sharing such as good information. Currently I use social media like facebook and twitter sharing with my customers and rank well on google.

  • Leena Dasot

    I am trying my best with all of your points, but really google is not doing good for hard workers.

  • yes, nice information about google update

  •  Great post, Jim! Thanks for sharing great info. I’ll definitely be bookmarking this article for future reference.

  • While some people say that Google page rank is not that important, lately i felt that its very important especially if you want Google to send you good and quality traffic. Better late than never i woke up now.I am trying all the options ,but still my site is at PR#1, looks like i need to do more home work.

  • JC

    Great post and a few pointers I’ve overlooked. Will be going over some of my older sites in the coming weeks thanks to this!

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  • guptaabhijit318

    That is great post. Your advises are valuable for me. I think this tips are useful
    to increase a business. Thanks for sharing Information. I am very satisfied to read this thank you for the info.

  • Getting higher ranking in SERP is not easiest task. You have to do a lot of ground work for that. You have to work harder in creating links because these days, link quality does matter. So only good links will be counted. Even you have to be engaged on social media platform to get attention from your targeted audience.

  • Hey Jim, great tips to rank well but its not so easy as listed here…. It takes allot of hard effort to rank at top. 3rd factor you listed is really great “# Links: Focus on quality over quantity”.

  • Thanks for wonderful piece of information

  • Is there any way to rank a particular keyword higher in serp ? All the above tricks will help over all seo but is there any way we target a single keyword ?