Are you a small business owner? Have you Googled your business name yet this morning? If not, you probably should. As you were eating dinner last night, Google unleashed an algorithm change that could change how your business shows up in the Google search rankings. Now, SEO companies and small business owners are left asking: "What does this mean to me?"
The algorithm change, internally deemed "Penguin 2.0" by Google, is an attempt by the search engine to penalize websites that have been using "black hat" or unethical tactics to raise their search rankings. Chances are that your website won't be affected, as Google SEO spokesperson Matt Cutts announced that "2.3% of English-US queries are affected to the degree that a regular user might notice." But if for some reason you have a marketing team that is using spammy techniques and links for your website, you may have to pay the price of a Google Penalty (dropped to page 6, for example), or even a Google ban (you won't even show up in Google!) In advance of the Penguin 2.0 release, Cutts released this informational video, preparing web masters and small business owners for the coming changes.
This update brings to light something that ethical, high quality SEO marketers have known for a long time: hard work and user-friendly content are the best ways to help a website rank. Taking shortcuts and using black hat techniques may appear to work for some, but can you really afford to have your website disappear from Google altogether? For many companies, a Google penalty can be the end of the road.
If you are a business owner, just make sure you know what your marketing company is doing "under the hood" of your website. If a SEO marketing company claims that they can help improve your rankings for $100 per month, be wary, as high quality marketing can't be bought for such a price. In most cases, hiring a black hat marketing company will end up hurting you more in the end than they ever could help you.
As Google continues to update their algorithms, hardworking white hat SEO marketing companies will continue to thrive. We can be sure that Matt Cutts and the Google team will do their best to further weed out spam and to drive web masters to focus first on quality content.