If you have a business website the current changes to the search engines may affect the flow of traffic to your site. At the beginning of 2011, search giant Google made changes to its algorithms which changed not only how people search, but what shows up in those results. But what are those changes and how do they relate to the business web design industry?

In January of 2011, Google made the announcement that it would be changing the parameters when it comes to the content that shows up during searches. The update was called “Farmer” and was essentially aimed at websites who produce below par content and poor quality pages, but were showing up at the top of the Google search engine. These sites – called content farms – will routinely put out several articles, guides, how to’s, and other sites that lack in a general sense of giving out quality advice. These sites usually regurgitate content that has already been published.

Then again in April 2011, Google continued this with another update known as “Panda”. The aftermath of these changes have hurt many of these content farms, but have also concerned those who might not have or even know what a content farm is.

In the wake of this shakeup, the head of the Google Search Amit Singhal posted a blog that went over some of the changes and how they might have affected a website’s visibility in the search engine. Google have not disclosed any details of the algorithms which determine where a site will be ranked but have issued these questions as a form of guidance, indicating what Google is monitoring:

  • Ask yourself if you trust the information that is listed on the site or within the article itself
  • Could you give credit card information to a website of this calibre
  • Is the site or article written by an expert or enthusiast that knows the topic or subject
  • Are there spelling or fact errors
  • Are there articles on the same topic listed on the site, only reworded to sound different
  • Does the content on the site offer comprehensive advice or help

These questions should help you in understanding the targeted sites these updates went after and whether your site needs updating in order to conform. Ultimately, the Google updates work to be beneficial to those websites that quality and comprehensive content, allowing them to be within the top spots in the search pages.