How Natural Products Can Benefit From the New Google Algorithm

While the largest Natural Products Expo West ever was taking place in Anaheim two weeks ago, another even larger event was happening in Austin Texas – the South By South West (SXSW) film, music and interactive show. At SXSW Google announced that is has been working on a new tweak to its algorithm.  Basically, those sites that over-optimize or try to outsmart the system with too many keywords will be penalized.

This is good news for natural products companies. But first a short anecdote.

About 8 years ago, back in the days when search marketers were creating landing pages that were chock full of keywords (You know, the ones in which the same keyword was repeated ten times in a paragraph – truly horrible if you landed on these pages, but great for search optimization.), I was working for a highly ethical client who wanted to improve his company’s search rankings. As a marketing consultant it was my job to inform him about all the options. I told him about using the multiple keywords tactic for hidden landing pages to help the site’s overall search ranking. I explained how these pages can be created so that no one who happened on the site would ever see the pages – and that the only people who would land on them would be those searching with keywords on Google and Yahoo. The client was appalled and flatly stated that he would rather be ranked last than resort to this tactic.

This kind of attitude is common among many in natural products – stay the course as ethically as possible and you will be rewarded eventually.

During the past couple years, Google has been moving in a direction that rewards those natural products companies that focus on truthful, insightful and informative information on their sites. And with its newest algorithm, those companies will see their ranking continue to rise.

There is one caveat.

You have to write new copy. Relying on the same old copy does not do much for your search. And I’m not talking about just refreshing your product pages etc. I’m talking about actually engaging your customers with information that goes beyond your products.

Natural Products Blogging

One of the best ways to accomplish this is through blogging – writing about what is relevant to your customers’ interests, what will be helpful to them, not more stuff about your products and certainly not as an excuse to pepper your content with keywords.

There are two other reasons why blogging can help.

The first is that blogging encourages social sharing. Bing’s Duane Foster was also at SXSW and he noted that one of the key indicators of relevancy for search engines is how your content is being commented on in social media.

The second reason is that most natural products companies do not blog, and the few that do, don’t do it regularly or well. In our Natural Products Marketing Benchmark Report 2011, we found that only 28% of companies surveyed actually blog and of those, 11% found blogging useful.

This does not mean that blogging doesn’t work. What it tells me is that there is a huge opportunity for natural products companies that want to stand out – not just for the search engines, but also within their specific categories, whether that be supplements, organics, food and beverage or personal care.

So how is your blogging coming along? Are you posting regularly and if so, what kinds of gains are your seeing?