Earlier this year, Google announced one of the largest overhauls to its search algorithms in quite some time. While it might not have had a major impact for a great many companies, it did its intended job and tried to cut down on the number of link farms on the web.
A "link farm," or a group that is engaged in "spamdexing," refers to one or a group of websites that all link to one another and try to exploit Google's preference for inbound and outbound links to drive up their search engine rankings. Referred to as the "Panda Update," Google's algorithm change offers insight into how the engine works and how small businesses can avoid trying too hard to put their site at the top of consumers' search results.
Google adjusted its preferences for content and stretched the ability of its search capabilities to look even harder for duplicate content. Above all, the algorithms want websites that can be considered useful and are wired to conclude that those with text in common with other websites must not be useful. Small businesses should therefore write their own content, but this extends to simply re-writing text. Topics can be similar, and keywords will be the same, but the more unique the content, the better.
The search engine discerns between good and bad content by analyzing the number of links present, the amount of text, and the grammar and spelling of content. These are all things that need to be taken into account, but small businesses should also bear this in mind: the goal is not to appear to offer good content, but to actually offer good content. Outsmarting Google algorithms will probably be more costly and time-consuming than simply putting in a little extra effort and writing about something timely and original.
The higher this ratio is, the lower its Google ranking will be. This is of less concern for small businesses, which are probably more interested in generating leads for contact information, promotional product giveaways or focused outbound marketing. Link farms generally thrive when they get a lot of hits from unique users and subsequently can charge more for advertising space. Small businesses have better things to do than cultivate a weed garden of ads.
It is also comforting to understand how these algorithm shifts actually benefit small businesses. Many of the victims of the Panda Update are large companies or highly-profitable link farms. When a big internet presence falls from the top 20 to the top 100 because of a shift in Google policy, everything that once ranked below its former position moves up at least one spot. Ultimately, Google is in support of accuracy and user value, and these should be the defining characteristics of small business websites.