Although it has been more than a year since Google's last major algorithm change, updates keep coming, and the Internet marketing community is full of speculation about the real goals of Panda and Penguin... not to mention some forecasts about what the next big shift will bring. For web designers and search engine optimization specialists, it's an interesting topic to consider. To business owners and executives, future profits are on the line.


In a broad sense, the lessons from Google's most recent changes are clear: They want to give a better search experience, and are looking for new ways to determine the topics and relevance of an indexed site. If we go a bit deeper, though, we can find a few key tactical points that will likely be important to search engine optimization for many years to come:


Search engines are evaluating sites more deeply than in the past. While the first set of algorithms mainly focused on home page content, tags, and other obvious content indicators, sub-pages and overall trends are getting a bigger look now. In other words, Google is seeing sites differently, taking their entire content structure into consideration when determining things like page rank.


Google wants original, organic content on your site. While obvious attempts have been made to de-emphasize content that has been copied, scraped, or syndicated from other sources, there's also been a subtle shift towards pages that are more current, in-depth, and focused more on value to readers than search engine spiders. The penalties for so-called "over-optimization" are real, and are becoming more prevalent.


Building links should be a long-term strategy. Link farming stopped being valuable quite a while ago, but rather than actively ignoring poor online associations (and obvious attempts to link with anchored keywords), Google now seems to be punishing sites with low-quality inbound links. That means getting the "votes" you need from other sites is going to take more time than before.


Social media and other indicators are being given more weight. This makes sense in several different ways. Not only are searchers looking for more social content than in the past, but there is a lot of current, up-to-date information to be found on sites like Facebook and Twitter that isn't on static websites. Plus, a strong social following is much harder to fabricate than healthy-looking content or a LinkedIn profile, making it a more reliable indicator of relevance.


The Google Penguin and Panda updates might have been all about a better search experience, but they have profound implications for businesses. Call our team today and let us put together a strategy that prepares your company and website for the future of SEO.