5 Google-Related Changes That Could Affect Your Online Business
Some important changes have been taking place recently in the Internet marketing world. Don't make the mistake of ignoring these, since the impact to your business could be huge:
1. Google Currents. Google's newest offering is called "Google Currents," and it promises to allow you to share content in a unique new way. Actually, the application is marketed towards users, so it could technically be described as viewing content in a new way.
The application allows you to add your favorite content from all over the web, follow trending stories, and it's supposed to look stunning on both the iPhone and Android phones. Currents looks like a direct competitor to Flipboard (that reader designed for Apple's iPad).
Currents is supposed to allow you to bring together entire websites, photos, individual articles, videos, and the kitchen sink so that you can view it in a magazine format on your Apple or Android device. So far, Google has partnered with over 150 different content partners.
What This Means To You
If you publish content, this application may be beneficial for you. If Google Currents takes off, as many think it will, then your content will be distributed through Google's network. Think about this for a moment. Google owns Google+, which is a competitor to Facebook. It also owns a very successful search engine. If Currents is integrated properly with other Google applications, Google may just beat everyone in this game.
2. The Panda. This Panda thing has been called an update, but it's really more of a tweak to their algorithm. People who practice the dark arts of search engine marketing (i.e. "black hat" SEO) have called this a major update. If you're used to delivering quality content, then the only change you probably saw was an increase in traffic.
Panda accomplished what should have been accomplished long ago. Mainly, Google changed it's algorithm so that scraper sites, link farms, article directories, and other low-quality sites were either removed or pushed down in the search engines. It's not that these sites were punished. This is a huge misconception in the online community.
Punishment isn't really the word to describe this "update." Justice is. Google has long wanted to push these sites down in the SERPs, but couldn't figure out how to do it. Likewise, they've wanted to make sure that quality websites and content get served to users. Panda is just one more step in the process.
What do you do now moving forward? Well, if you're already creating high quality content, keep on keeping on. Be aware that those easy links from article directories don't mean much anymore, so you can save your efforts (and money) on them. Also, try to avoid excessive images or advertisements. Part of the Panda update that took place seems to be an adjustment that pushes down those "made for adsense" sites. If you have more ads "above the fold" than content, this could be bad news for you.
In a way, it makes sense. Do users want to be bombarded with advertising all the time? Think about it from their perspective. Be the user. When you go to a website looking for information, do you want to see a bunch of ads or do you want to see content that helps you? Maybe, you want to see both? Regardless, chances are you won't want to see ads with thin content.
Another way to take advantage of "the Panda" is to add more video. Have you ever noticed how sites like YouTube, and pretty much any video website has done well over the years in the SERPs? Google seems to love video. If you add more video to your sites, Google will probably love you more, too.
3. Google's voice search. Do you rely, at least in part, on commonly misspelled words when doing SEO? Some marketers tell you to optimize webpages for commonly misspelled words. Then, Google will rank you at the top of the search results for those pages. When users typing misspelled words into the search engine find your page, you get the benefit of having optimized for that misspelling. However, Google voice search might throw a monkey wrench into your long-term SEO efforts on this one.
When users can speak their search terms, how likely do you think they'll be mis-speaking their search terms? Not likely. They may use slang, but it's unlikely those misspellings will transfer over to speaking. Likewise, weird search strings that do not look like actual phrases, but instead look more like a random string of words (you know the ones), will also probably not help you with voice search optimization.
How popular will voice search become? If Google presses forward with Android, and more users start using smart phones for search (if the latest Siri updates, as well as competitors like Cluzee and Majel aren't convincing, then nothing will convince you), it's reasonable to expect voice search to grow in popularity. Get ready for it.
4. Optimize your images. If you're not using images yet, you should be. Google is making major improvements to image search. When you can drop an image into the search engine search bar, and get results based on images, those lame old stock photos just won't cut it anymore. You'll need the most attractive and meaningful (not to mention relevant) images to help you get found in the SERPs.
As image search catches on, it's entirely possible that more users will want to click on an image than read text. Clicking on a picture is easier, in some niches, than reading text. Think about it. If a user is searching for Nike shoes, and they find a picture of Nike shoes with a price next to it, do you think that they will be more inclined to read your text about sneakers or just click on the picture of the shoe that they want? The picture is easier.
5. Verizon and AT&T can Google wallet. Google has a payment system called "Google wallet." If you sell something, and want to optimize for mobile users, you should rethink using this platform. Verizon is putting the kibosh on Google wallet, denying access to it on their network. It's suspected that AT&T will do the same. According to Bloomberg, security is a major reason for the block:
"Verizon Wireless, the largest U.S. wireless carrier, blocked Google Inc.’s mobile-payment system from the new Galaxy Nexus smart phone, citing security concerns.
Verizon Wireless, co-owned by Verizon Communications Inc. and Vodafone Group Plc, is working to have “the best security and user experience,” Jeffrey Nelson, a company spokesman, said today in an e-mailed statement. The Basking Ridge, New Jersey- based carrier will allow the Google service, called Google Wallet, “when those goals are achieved."
There are rumors, however, that the block is really due to the fact that Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile have a payment system of their own in the works and that this is the reason for the block. In any case, if you use Google as a method of taking payments, consider picking up another payment option, if only in addition to Google.