Back in February, search-engine giant Google made a change in its algorithms aimed at cutting the number of junk-content sites -- sometimes known as "content mills" that appear at the top of search results. The idea was to assign lower ranking to sites that use a lot of recycled or duplicate content, or that had many stories overstuffed with repetitive key words in an obvious attempt to rank higher.
It's been a few months now, and businesses have had a chance to see the impact of this change. While some businesses may be benefiting from fewer junk links at the top, other legitimate ecommerce businesses have seen their traffic cut right along with such sites such as eHow, The Wall Street Journal recently reported.
How can businesses regain the traffic they lost to the Google change? Here are six ideas:
1. Create unique content. Merchants who have been taking manufacturer packaging language and slapping it on their websites can write unique product information instead. That should help you avoid the black mark from Google for duplicate content that sends your site's ratings down.
2. Do more email marketing. Many ecommerce companies have relied solely on search terms and Google to bring them traffic. It may now be time to diversify -- sending out more email and other direct marketing to prospects to bring them to your site.
3. Pick up the phone. One company the Journal profiled has decided to make 75 calls weekly to previous customers with offers to lure them back to the site. No algorithm can interfere with a direct marketing campaign.
4. Start a business blog. Your company can create unique content while reaching out to customers and building relationships. Talk about current projects, upcoming products, events you're attending or new clients you've signed. Posts don't have to be long, and even one a week would help your site seem busier to search engines. Each blog post also gives you something to share in social media.
5. Change one thing on your site weekly. If no one at the company has the time or skill for blogging, take another approach. Just try to find one thing to update on your site each week. Add a press release, a sale notice, a team bio or a new product notice. Constantly changing sites get better rankings.
6. Build your links. Consider guest posting or just leaving interesting comments on the blogs of prominent sites in your industry. You should be able to link back to your site. These “inbound” links should help improve your rankings.
Has your business been affected by Google's algorithm change? Leave a comment and tell us if it's helped or hurt your business.