Changes in Google search results – what should you do?

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The more things change, the more they stay the same. Or so it is said. Google itself says it changes its search algorithm over 300 times per year (almost daily!). However, it seems beyond question that some changes require more attention for small business websites than others. When there are changes in Google search results that would penalize your website, for example, or when credit is given for particular formats or content, a change is surely warranted.

Various search engine experts have observed that a number of changes have been occurring in the Google search results. These changes have suggested, among other things, that there may be less value on links to your website than in the past, usage of keywords on the page may be declining in importance, and social signals (references in social media) may be less important than had been previously observed.

Search experts Moz (formerly known as SEOMoz) released a preliminary view of their analysis of current search ranking factors. The analysis is heavy on statistics and arithmetic, of course, but the summary is quite clear. Things are changing, but the old ways are still the strongest – at least for now.

After analyzing the technical data and surveying numerous search experts, Moz found that the data supports the ideas that there may be changes around inbound links, keywords on the page, and social references, but at the moment, these items remain important. In fact, sites which are among the top search results are those which are strong in these areas.

That said, The strongest social signal is from Google+. This corresponds with our observations, that Google is placing increasing emphasis on the Google+ Local business pages, and keeping posts current. This is a major departure from several years ago, where it could have been said that a strong presence on Twitter or Facebook may have been more important.

The message of all this? Change is in the air, so stay tuned. Don’t change what you’re doing if you have good placement now, but keep your eye on the changes, and be thinking about how they may require change at some future time.