1. Google Places (April 2010).
Google's goal: With one in five searches being location specific, Google's Local Business Center was re-launched as Google Places to target regional, consumer-facing businesses.
What experts say: "[Google] is displaying links to its own services … above the links to other, non-Google content found by its search engine." - Amir Efrati, The Wall Street Journal.
Your opportunity: Any company would be well served to sign up for a Google Places listing. However, many industrial buyers are not necessarily looking for regional suppliers. Products such as fasteners, valves, gaskets, etc. do not need to be purchased locally. Therefore, industrial companies need to also be present on targeted B2B verticals that offer national as well as regional search capabilities.
2. Mayday (May 2010).
Google's goal: To better address long tail search terms (3+ words), Google rewards sites that offer deep and relevant content.
What experts say: "This is an algorithmic change in Google, looking for higher quality sites to surface for long tail queries."- Matt Cutts, head of Google's Webspam team.
Your opportunity: Build out your site's content as much as possible. Include product details, specifications, and customer testimonials. If you have a print catalog, make sure to post its content in HTML format. Include words, phrases and other details that an engineer would use to find your products/services (e.g. "22B-Z series parallel shaft BLDC gearmotor," versus "gearmotor"). Customer-oriented tips, articles and news can also help.
3. Caffeine (June 2010).
Google's goal: With a focus on speed, Google boosted the rate at which it locates, indexes and lists new content, including social media content. As a result, websites with fresher content are cataloged faster so that they can be presented in search results—provided they are relevant.
What experts say: "Essentially it means that Google is able to find new content more quickly. So, for instance, a new Twitter update … [will] be posted to Google search results more quickly."- John D. Sutter, CNN.
Your opportunity: Regularly update your website. If you have time to write a daily or weekly blog, do so. If you publish a customer newsletter, post it on your site. Consider adding a "satisfied customer update"—a quick two-paragraph description of how your product/service was used to solve a customer's problem.
4. Farmer/Panda (February 2011).
Google's goal: Arguably the most influential change Google has ever made, the intention is to push down websites that churn out large volumes of mediocre or "borrowed" information for questionable profit (e.g. eHow.com, Suite101.com), ensuring relevant, quality content appears in search results.
What experts say: "This takes aim at … the types of sites that pull content from other sources typically by pulling from an RSS feed without permission." – NYMagazine.com
Your opportunity: In a nutshell, when you update your website, you should do so with meaningful information. Consider offering CAD models if applicable or, if you supply custom services, make sure to include details about your capabilities, new technologies, quality assurances, materials and tolerances. It would also be helpful to provide a FAQs section, which should be updated regularly.
General search engine algorithms will continue to evolve and change over time. Nearly all changes are designed to drive searchers toward higher quality information. Those industrial marketers who publish rich and relevant content on their websites should reap the benefits. In addition, companies need to look beyond general search engines to draw website visitors and, more importantly, qualified sales opportunities.
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