Google's Panda Update + Social = New Enterprise SEM Opportunities

Enterprise-level search engine optimization (SEO) campaigns must be goal-focused, yet nimble enough to jump on new opportunities that result from social media market shifts and search engine algorithm updates.

Several recent noteworthy developments have created new opportunities for search engine marketers. But change also has to come from within if larger organizations want to take advantage of improving their positioning in the current search marketplace.

Recent History

In January, Google assured search engine marketers that it would take action against search engine spam -- scraper sites, sites with little original content, and sites that gamed its algorithm into achieving top listings for what was obviously low-quality content.

In February, Google made good on its promise and delivered a new ranking algorithm designed to eradicate high rankings for scraped, replicated and interlinked low-quality websites. The algorithm eventually became known as the Panda update.

Also during this timeframe, big brands like JCPenney, among others, were publicly outed and penalized in Google's search results for buying into certain types of contrived content creation and linking schemes produced by "spammers."

Some enterprise-level search engine marketers cringed at the sight of such downfalls and scrambled to quickly change their link building and content creation practices. Others knew that their search engine marketing initiatives were rooted in best practices and beyond reproach from Google.

Ensuring your search engine marketing team is nimble and responsive to these types of algorithm shifts is a working imperative for enterprise-level organizations.

While one door closed for those companies that bowed under the pressures of securing quick results with risk-riddled tactics, another door opened for those enterprises that are capable for joining forces across different business and marketing disciplines and work together to continually invest in earning high-quality back links to their collective works of unique, original and timely content.

Social Time Zones

Like the old saying goes, "timing is everything." This is especially true now for enterprise-level search engine marketers.

Also in February, Google announced it would begin integrating information from social networking sites, such Twitter, Flickr, and Quora, into its web search algorithms. Bing's search results are also under the influence of social networking data from Twitter and Facebook for friend-liked results.

And, as of April, Gmail users and their "friends" who are logged in to Google -- an estimated 20 percent of the U.S. market -- can see what other friends label as +1 in their search results, be it paid or earned.

From a search marketer's perspective, the introduction of social content being used as a factor for producing relevant search rankings assuages the importance of producing timely content and branded messaging around trending memes and themes.

Enterprises that are still hung up on controlling the messages made through social networks rather than focusing on participating in the conversation need to break down operational business boundaries and change their online marketing ways. No, you don't have to shoot all the lawyers, but you do need to ensure that your search engine marketing team is unencumbered by content approval processes.

While timeliness is a key opportunity for big brands, savvy search engine marketers realize that all these recent developments add up to new opportunities to improve their overall online visibility. In this case, search engine marketers can "double down" on improving a brand's overall search engine visibility when they simply work to unite social media marketing initiatives with link building campaigns.

In Conclusion

Google has said that its search algorithm uses more than 200 signals. Not to be outdone, Bing has said that its search algorithm analyzes at more than 1,000 signals.

The elimination of link farms and content scrapers, along with the introduction of prominent temporal signals from authoritative social media networks, have combined to create new opportunities for enterprise-level search engine marketers -- especially when it comes to link building programs.

Just remember that anything worth doing is worth measuring. Setting up a centralized dashboard is a working imperative if online marketers are to fulfill business goals, while tearing down barriers built around more traditional business and marketing disciplines.

About the author

A frequent speaker at major search marketing conferences like SES and SMX, P.J. Fusco has been working in the Internet industry since 1996 when she developed her first search engine marketing (SEM) service while acting as general manager for a regional ISP. She was the in-house SEO manager for Jupitermedia and has performed as the SEM manager for an international health and beauty dot-com corporation generating more than $1 billion a year in e-commerce sales.

Today, P.J. is SEO manager at Covario Inc., working with Covario's talented SEO team to provide strategic services for a host of clients, including more than 60 Fortune 500 enterprises and Internet 100 companies.