In the last few Google updates, there have been some significant changes to how the search results are displayed. The media machine has covered these events extensively as these updates have unfolded. Because of the unique position I’m in, I have an inside look at the ranking trends of thousands of pages and keywords around the web for many small businesses of different industries.
SBA study for Small Business Statistics and Research has shown that 99.7% of small firms represent the US economy, and generated 44% of total US new jobs over the past 17 years. The study also states that Small Business makes up 50.7% of US GDP and the number continue to rise.
With the latest update from Google we all watched as online businesses shut down, consultants started advising customers to get a new domain name and start over, and an untold number of websites lost their rankings in the search results. Critics have claimed that the domestic impact of recent Google Updates forcing local businesses into bankruptcy because they are unable to compete with Big Brands such like Amazon and ebay.
Winning Competitive Markets
Whether directed at these businesses or not, the updates Google made in May and June have put a lot of smaller website’s out of the first page (or out of business). What we saw when testing the websites and link factors after the fallout was Google ranking the larger, internal linking, more diverse external link portfolios.
This specifically occurred in keyword verticals that could overlap or perhaps previously “competed” with large websites. Almost across the board we see Wikipedia beating website’s that previously ranked, and in the Ecommerce space Amazon wins over niche specific web pages.
If you look closely, you’ll see Google starting to show results in favor of larger corporate businesses.
The reasons for website’s losing rankings are pretty obvious after a close look at the data on thousands of keywords. Bad page layouts without relevant information or user experience, repetitive anchor text, and sitewide backlinks all were causes for Google penalization. Even following all of the recovery plan strategies doesn’t put small businesses back in the positions they previously held.
After a few months of the analyzing the Penguin update we started to see improved rankings. This falls right in line with a later Panda update that was publicized and gives indication that Google pulled back some of the updates that shook the industry so hard. But will this algorithm stay?
Major Shifts in Google’s Business Philosophy
Google recently unveiled a major change to its shopping search engine. Starting this fall, product search results for users in the United States will be influenced by how much retailers and advertisers pay, a company executive said.
In the past, product search results were based mainly on relevance and the program was free.
Inc.com columnist Jeff Haden, who has written 40 non fiction books, recently wrote how Google is killing organic search by including a recent study that was put together by wordstream.com.
According to Larry Kim, the founder and CTO at Wordstream Inc, ”click-through rate from Google paid ads outnumbered organic listing by nearly a 2:1 ratio for commercial searches in the US.”
Interestingly enough, Google’s annual Economic Impact Report was released recently and claims to have helped provide $80 billion dollars economic activity to businesses in 2011. This is either a well placed piece of Online Reputation Management, or begs the question, “What businesses? The conglomerates?”
Is Google the Gatekeeper of Internet and Threatening Consumer Welfare?
Google was dubbed several times as the “Big Brother” over the enormous power it has on information that users find. This has made Google a monopoly gatekeeper. Google is in position to decide who will succeed and who will fail; this has also characterized Google as the “Biggest Kingmaker” on this earth.
The overall experience of the search results should be (and I believe Google wants it to be) good for the user. Google is/should be testing whether these updates are useful by measuring click activity and ever changing.
From what I’m seeing in the rankings, there will be more rollbacks to come. For small businesses, this means continuing to update pages with relevant content, gain traction by creating a buzz around the web and in social spaces and you’ll see your organic rankings come back.
Important References, Citations and Resources –
The Small Business Share of GDP, 1998-2004 By Kathryn Kobe, Economic Consulting Services, LLC Washington, D.C. 20036.
Google Ads and the War on Free Clicks researched produced by WordStream, Inc.
As Google Tweaks Searches, Some Get Lost in the Web By SARAH E. NEEDLEMAN And EMILY MALTBY
Economic Impact – Google Economic Impact by Google