Google’s Fresh Update   4 comments

With Googles’ fresh update, retailers and marketers hoping to boost their natural search rankings in the coming months, this new year could be dubbed the Year of Content. The relationship between original, updated and popular content on an e-commerce site, and potentially higher search rankings for a brand, merchant or product page, is hardly unknown.

In 2012, however, is how Google’s’  latest major update to its search algorithm—those mathematical formulas that carry so much weight in digital marketing—is pushing retailers to offer stronger content on their web sites, update that content more often and encourage those in-bound links that signal page quality to the search engine.

With relatively little original content most retailers are scrambling for more, while those web merchants that have long had staffers producing how-to articles, product demonstrations and the like are working toward improvements.

Another Google update called Panda was designed to punish what Google views as low-quality web sites, which includes those with unoriginal content, such as retail sites that rely on the same manufacturer product descriptions that many other e-retailers display. It also sought to downgrade sites that web users seemed to find of little value.

E-commerce site are likely to be downgraded if it fails to attract links from reputable sites, without paying for them. Paid links are worse than no links at all—if a retailer gets caught by Google.

Retailers used  manufacturer-supplied descriptions on its site instead of original content.  Retailers have worked to improve rankings by hiring  copywriters to write original product descriptions that contain keywords that consumers use when searching for products.  They also removed content that caused pages to load relatively slowly—another negative signal that can depress a site’s position in Google organic search ranking.

But now retailers will have to do even more  than they did to protect themselves from demotions in search rankings under Panda. Fresh is meant to help shoppers find the latest product information— and that points to all kinds of content-related improvements for e-commerce sites.  That includes, for instance, a steady stream of new user reviews on product pages. Merchants should rethink both their own product descriptions and also make sure that user reviews are happening whenever possible, especially when they are good reviews. Retailers should continually update content, starting with best-selling products and pages that already rank high in search results.

Google’s fresh update will kick in around April or May, after Google finishes testing the changes. But retailers need to prepare their content efforts now. By studying what consumers search for, along with comments left by consumers via Facebook, e-mails and even phone calls to sales agents.

That old wisdom of search engine optimization hasn’t changed too much with Fresh, but the update, with its emphasis on new content, drives home how important a social media campaign and retailer-produced blogs are for retailers. engages consumers on  Twitter and Facebook, the search engine update will require even  more posting and communication via those social networks. It also underscores the importance of paying attention to Google+, the search engine’s own social network. A strong social presence, one that demonstrates a loyalty among consumers that can translates into links, is another sign of good content, and therefore another way to earn the good graces of Google.

Retailers are on the right SEO track if they are putting more effort into social media. The ‘freshness algorithm’ is Google’s attempt to continue to provide more relevant, real-time results for search queries, further highlighting the need for marketers to accelerate their focus on integrating SEO and social marketing practices to ensure pertinent, up-todate content is accessible to Google. Retailers can maximize the impact of their content by making sure they have the “social
share” buttons embedded on their sites, enabling consumers to pass on appealing content to friends and other shoppers on social networks, which also encourages links and builds credibility.

Retailers and marketers are increasingly using a variation of this mantra as both social networks and updated content assume more importance within e-commerce: SEO is social media, and vice versa.

Besides participation in social networks, retailers hoping to keep ahead of Google’s changes will want to invest in such marketing services as price optimization—technology that can help a retailer better compete with competitors’ off ers—and display ads based on consumers’ behavior.

Whatever the effects of the algorithm change over the next few months, retailers hoping to keep up or improve their rankings should embrace another concept besides fresh—speed.  That means getting fresh content onto a site quickly.

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4 responses to “Google’s Fresh Update

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