When my boss was trying to decide what to give up for Lent, I suggested that he give up Google. As you can imagine, this would be hard for a guy who heads up an online marketing company. Homeboy basically lives in Google Analytics.
Not to mention having to carry out all his usual search queries (“rand fishkin in boyscout uniform,” “where to buy pink socks,” “who is jk rowling and why are all my employees mad that I don’t know who that is,” etc.) in Bing would just plain suck. I hear they have to pay people to use that mumbo jumbo.
So he’s still using Google and the rest of us are still sitting on the edge of our seats waiting to see what the next algorithm shake-up has in store for our industry and our clients.
Google Update March 2014
As it turns out, that update was announced March 2014 at Search Marketing Expo. At the expo, Cutts reported that his team is working on the “next generation” Panda update that would have a direct impact on helping small businesses perform better in search results.
At this point, we’re all pretty used to the harsh, punishing, and unforgiving updates that the search engine rolls out. I think I said “awe” in my head when I read about this update. More of a kitten than a panda if you ask me…
According to Search Engine Land, it’s not clear when the update will adorably chase an unwinding ball of yarn out of its basket roll out, but we could be looking at a few months. Either way, if you see a boost in rankings and traffic for your small business’s website, that could be why. Alternatively, I suppose your big business’s website could see a drop in its rankings and traffic as well.
One Search Engine Land commenter questioned how they will determine what websites are owned by small businesses. Does a small website translate to a small business? Will backlinks and number of reviews be taken into consideration? These are just guesses at this point.
Why Small Businesses Struggle in Search Results
When “traditional” advertising and marketing strategies worked (things like billboards, direct mail, print, radio, TV, and yellow pages), big companies had a seemingly insurmountable advantage over small bootstrapped companies—money. Virtually all of these old school, “outbound” advertising channels are owned by a handful of large, media companies—Clear Channel, Comcast, AT&T, etc.
This is especially helpful for small businesses that can’t afford to hire full time people to write and publish website content, maintain their social media profiles, manage their PPC campaigns, etc.
But even with outsourced online marketing, you’ll still get what you pay for, as I demonstrated in one of my recent blog posts, “Can I Get SEO for $50 a Month?”. Spoiler alert—no.
Small Businesses Have an Even Harder Time Recovering from Penalties
If a small business does get royally screwed by their cheap SEO company, they undoubtedly have a harder time recovering from any consequential penalty.
Big brands like Interflora and Rap Genius have been known to recover quite quickly. Interflora was back on just 11 days after Google hit it, and Rap Genius only 10 days.
These results definitely aren’t typical, though. In fact, there was a lot of backlash in the SEO community when Google lifted Rap Genius’ penalty so quickly.
“Would any other webmaster with such a penalty be able to get back so soon? Doubtful,” Search Engine Land reporter Barry Schwartz said.
Losing months (or, gulp, years) of traffic, leads, and sales from the Web is devastating for any business, but it could be a nail in a coffin for a small business—particularly when they can’t scrape by on brand familiarity alone.
So if you own a small business, look forward to the Google kitten update. And if you’re looking for a company that’s up for the challenge of getting your small business ranked up with the big dogs, we’ve done it before and we’ll do it again.
About The Author: Lexie serves as Blue Corona's Content Marketing Manager. She's also the author of our soon-to-be famous, and someday to be written white paper, "Horse Hat SEO: Giddy-Up Your Google Rankings."
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