Hopefully nothing!  But you need to be aware of ongoing Google efforts to improve their search algorithms because it could affect your SERPs (search engine ranking positions).

Last year, it was actually a Panda that caused some websites to lose significant organic traffic.  Google’s Panda algorithm and subsequent updates were developed to focus on the impact of “on-site” search factors.  Primary SEO considerations from these algorithm changes included:

Duplicate Content – If your site has wording that can be found elsewhere on the internet, Google assumes your “expertise” is not unique.  Penalty!  I like to use Copyscape.com to check for duplicate content when I’m evaluating a website.

Thin Content – Google considers unique, rich quality content to equate to relevance in the search.  You can check their take on this here. Thin content = Penalty!

Ads/Affiliates – Some sites load up on affiliate ads to create a revenue stream.  Too many of these or ads that aren’t relevant to the content of the site – Penalty!

Page Load – Believe it or not, the time it takes for your website to load is considered a valuable factor to Google relative to the user experience.  Here’s a quick resource to determine your website load time.  If it takes longer than 2 seconds, Penalty!

Link Profile – Adding links for the sake of quantity is being devalued.  SEO practices such as article submissions, weak PR releases, reciprocal links and repetitive anchor text use are not as successful for SEO as in the past.  A few good quality links of a variety are now better than a large quantity.  Lots of low quality links – Penalty!

This year, Google introduced the Penguin algorithm changes.  The focus here is projected to be primarily relative to “off-site” search factors.  So far, the impact has been minimal to most websites.  However, discussions on the SEO blogs indicate a potentially major impact coming very soon.  And the key emphasis appears to be sites that have a high volume of low-quality links.  When the update takes place (and it won’t be announced), one way to see if you’ve been affected is to check your Analytics.  Click on Traffic Sources, then Sources, then Search, then Organic.  If you see a serious drop in visits, you may have been affected by the Penguin.

All that said, the best practices trend today for SEO involves Content Marketing.  Quality content is essential in helping you achieve credibility for ranking.  This includes blogs and guest blogging, Social Media contributions (Q&A sites, postings, etc. that have a good chance of being shared), changing up content on your website, news-worthy quality press releases, use of anchor text links, etc. Strive for engagement and creativity. It’s a longer-term approach and commitment, but will help you to remain at the top of your game (or should I say ranking?)!

Cheryl Johnston is the President of Net Valued Marketing and works closely with Fingerprint Marketing relative to SEO and PPC for their clients.