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Be mindful of 'Survival of the fittest' results

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BtoB: Google recently changed its search algorithm, in an update called Google Panda, to eliminate low-quality search results. What will be the impact on marketers?

Joe Pulizzi: It may be one of the biggest, most significant updates from Google in years. Google has called out “content farms,” as well as those sites that feature a disproportionate amount of advertising instead of informative text. Millions of pages in almost every topic area have been squeezed out of their organic search rankings with one push from Google.

BtoB: Does Google view these sites as “bad”?

Pulizzi: Google says “It's not personal.” The company said since this was an algorithmic update, no site is judged individually. Low-quality pages on any one site can cause rankings for the entire site to decline—even high-quality pages. And while some online publishers have struggled with the impact, others are cashing in. Our own Content Marketing Institute site has benefited from slight increases in search engine rankings from Google almost across the board, resulting in traffic additions of about 10% since the Panda update.

BtoB: In what other ways is social media impacting search marketing?

Pulizzi: Google has been indexing content from sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Quora to link to website authority. And it's focusing on quality and relevant links, [so] marketers must create valuable, compelling and relevant content on a consistent basis to a targeted user base.

BtoB: So, Google's Panda update should help savvy content marketers?

Pulizzi: Yes. Those brands that continue to feed the content beast with material that solves customers' pain points—less selling-oriented content and more informative content—will win in the eyes of Google. It's forcing nonmedia brands to think and act like publishers.

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