A Long Time Ago…
Once upon a time, in the wild and wooly early days of Internet searches, some companies would instruct their content writers to come up with just about any key word or tag that would help their company get a higher rank in a search.

For instance, a company selling butter could conceivably put a bunch of keywords that had dubious relevance. Sure, they might start off with “butter”, “dairy”, and “margarine”, but soon they’re spinning off into bizarre territory with key words such as “churn”, “stick”, or even “moo”.

Along Came a Penguin and a Panda…
When you think of a stranger coming into a lawless town to clean things up, you picture some square-jawed gunslinger, not a flightless bird and a bamboo-chomping fuzzy animal, but sometimes, you can’t choose your heroes.

The Penguin and Panda are the names of Google algorithm updates designed to downgrade the search engine rankings of less relevant websites.  Panda came first, then Penguin, the latter rolling out this past April.

These updates are tools designed to help put an end to the unscrupulous manipulation of search engine results, which in turn makes for a better search experiences for users. And when users have high confidence in search results, they are more receptive to visiting a company’s website. The reason is simple; they can rightly expect that the site is relevant to their needs.

Rethinking SEO’s
New algorithms filtering out irrelevant results, combined with the proliferation of social media and an audience increasingly jaded and picky about their Web experiences, coming up with a new approach to search engine optimization has become one of the big essentials of small business management.

These days small businesses need to make sure that users not only click through to their pages, but are informed and entertained as well. Gone are the days of just throwing out a bunch of keywords and slapping some canned content on your site. Now, you need to engage potential customers with content that stimulates and captivates.

As if that isn’t enough, people are increasingly turning to smart phones for information. A business that wants to make it big in the twenty-first century needs to take new technology and media into consideration, and that means providing content that’s smart phone friendly.

It’s a Brave New World
Getting a customer visit your site isn’t sufficient anymore. Now you need to create a relationship with them, a relationship that will not only bring them back, but also bring along their friends. By using improved content, relevant keywords, and social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, today’s small businesses can establish a strong Web presence and strengthen their bottom line.

Give the user an unforgettable experience, and you’ll make a customer for life. It’s adapt or perish, and the rewards are there for the taking.

Byline: JT is a freelance writer who once had to create keywords and tags that had practically nothing to do with the product or service being featured. This still haunts him at night.

SEO in the Post Panda and Peguin World