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    How to Win with Google

    First off, this is not a post about how to ‘beat’ Google or trick them at their own game. Love’em or hate’em, Google controls around 80% of the search engine market. So instead, this post is about playing nice, and giving Google what IT wants…to get what YOU want.

    There’s an old saying, “to understand where you’re going, you have to know where you’ve been.” So, let’s look at some big changes Google made this year.

    2011 marked another busy year for the search giant with $33 billion in Adwords earning alone. They introduced new looks and functionalities on nearly all of their products including Gmail and YouTube. They entered the “daily deal” scene with Google Offers and Google Chrome owns 25% of the web browser market share.

    Now, I know what you’re thinking: that’s dandy for their business, but what about mine? What matters is SEARCH. Google knows this and made a lot of algorithm changes this year in hopes of improving our search experience. Arguable at times, I admit.

    The guys at Higher Visibility and SEOmoz created a great infograph that recaps all the major algorithm updates of 2011.

    After studying and adjusting for these updates throughout the year, I have discovered three specific changes that will impact a company’s online visibility in 2012.

    Three major updates from 2011:

    1. Panda Update (AKA, the Farmer Update)
    The Panda Update has been continuously updated through the year. Its purpose is to demote websites with poor, irrelevant content that’s been re-purposed on multiple other sites – usually for “spammy” black-hat link building reasons. These include content farms, article directories and websites that are riddled with duplicate content and cumbersome ads.

    2. The +1 Button
    Similar to a Facebook ‘like’ or re-tweeting someone’s comment, the +1 button filters search results to show websites that people in your social network have indicated they like. The assumption; since you’re connected to a person who likes XYZ, then you’ll probably like XYZ too.

    3. The Freshness Update
    Google has always given slightly better rankings to websites that update content regularly. They took it to another level late this year with the Freshness Update. Now, websites with dated and time-stamped content will have a noticeable advantage in rankings. While this might not apply to ALL websites, it does apply to MOST.

    Takeaway:

    When it comes down to the brass tacks of “How will this effect my business?” I believe almost all of Google’s 2011 updates can translate to one statement:

    Favorable rankings are awarded to websites that have the most up-to-date content with relevant and useful information – that is not found anywhere else on the web – AND, that people within your social networks have vouched for (+1’d, re-tweeted, liked, etc.)

    Why blogging is the best solution for online search in 2012

    We’ve heard about blogs for years, you might even have a blog, but are you using it… correctly? A blog can give Google exactly what it’s looking for – and be rewarded greatly. It’s also the easiest solution for meeting most of Google’s Algorithmic Ranking Factors.

    Final thought: It all comes down to relationships.

    Blogs are great for search, says Google.

    Social media and blogs provide a medium for customers and businesses to move from merely transactional to relational. We are entering a revolution where ‘service’ and the ‘customer experience’ will determine the success of business. You have an opportunity to grow your brand recognition, brand loyalty, and even brand evangelism through online experiences.

    It only makes sense that search engines would follow these trends and reward businesses making a proactive effort to connect with their public, by building relationships through these social channels.

    So, if you want to live in Bel Air, incorporate blog writing and social media for a successful 2012.

    Until next time…”Yo holmes, smell ya later!”