Changes to how Google calculates its search rankings are nothing new. However, the major impact of recent and upcoming changes to the Google ranking algorithm to weed out those sites that engage in link farming or black-hat link building, use keyword stuffing or fail to provide unique content and positive user experiences is new. Changes in February 2011 hit many sites hard, causing them to either no longer appear in Google’s index or search results or to drop significantly in rank as a result of such practices.
Upcoming changes, expected to roll out in anywhere in the next few weeks or few months, are set to further tilt the rankings in favor of e-retail sites and internet merchants that provide unique, informative and valuable information to users.
The driving force of marketing on the web is search engine optimization. The efforts of e-retailers create a constant tug of war between optimizing sites to achieve higher Google rankings and Google’s fine tuning of its formulas to counter overzealous efforts, often without forewarning.
Matt Cutts, Google engineer, recently made it known that in addition to the February changes, Google is planning to create a ranking penalty for sites with too much optimization. What constitutes too much is unclear, but it is safe to say that quality, unique content should stay at the heart of efforts by any e-retailer hoping to stay successful and relevant in the ever-changing and continually tweaked world of Google rankings.
Any site that pays for backlinks, uses too many keywords or copies content from other sites, even product information from manufacturers’ websites, risks having its ranking affected, which in turn affects a company’s bottom line. However, those sites that are legitimate retailers with both quality content and positive user experiences should feel very little to no effect with the upcoming changes.
The creation of such content is not always cost-effective for companies, large or small, so companies without unique, quality and user-friendly content face a dilemma. Do they tackle creating content in-house at a large expense, or do they look outside of their walls to have the content produced for them?
A smart company focuses its resources on what it does best and outsources what it does not. In the case of high-quality, unique content, crowdsourcing offers a cost-effective and fast solution. Highly specialized workers trained in appropriate SEO and content writing for the web collectively produce very large amounts of content that is not only Google-rank friendly, but also friendly to organic searches that naturally drive higher search result rankings.
Content is similar to movies. When the same special effects, the same stories and the same characters keep popping up in one movie after another, viewers lose interest; perhaps they even stop going to the movies altogether. Having content that is duplicated elsewhere on the web can create a similar consequence for e-retailers. If content does not somehow enhance user experience or provide unique value, users are likely to stop noticing it – which paired with a drop in Google rankings is likely to prove devastating.
Using crowdsourcing to produce content not only takes the heavy lifting of creating content off the shoulders of a business, it also lets a business stay confident that its ranking is unlikely to drop as a result of practices upon which Google frowns.
For any business that does not already use unique content that enhances site visitors’ experiences, one question remains: if you are not utilizing crowdsourcing to produce your content – why not?
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