In China, 2011 was the Year of the Rabbit. If you run a small online business however, 2011 was most likely the Year of the Panda, algorithm that is. From early February many small business owners, regardless of specialty, endured Google’s rankings rollercoaster. For undisclosed reasons search engines (SEs) sporadically (and without warning) tweak their algorithms. These are the factors the engines use that combined with other elements, ultimately determine a site’s rank for a given keyword. Throughout the year, SEs altered these ‘formulas’ a total of 11 times. Need I tell you, it was not a happy year for many online businesses, regardless of their size, whose rankings tumbled, seemingly overnight.

Search Engine Results Page (SERPs) rankings are one reason the Internet is considered an equal opportunity ‘employer.’ It allows small to mid-size online firms to compete with big box stores and multi-national chains for their ‘fair share’ of the market. A first page ranking on a major search engine can mean success; a fall to the third or lower pages of SERPs can mean layoffs or even bankruptcy for smaller firms. High SERPs rankings are very powerful metrics, and the goal of every online business’ SEO campaigns.

But back to our story…Throughout the algorithm changes this past year, the foremost reason for ongoing SEO campaigns and initiatives prevailed. After every algorithm ‘tweak’, well-optimized sites rebounded almost immediately. Their rankings faltered briefly, then went right back up where they had been and remained there.

Who was severely impacted by the Panda and who wasn’t? Big online businesses likely have their own SEO departments. These staffers immediately set to work with the goal of reversing the ‘damage.’ Online businesses with little or inconsistent or outdated optimization, suffered.

What is the lesson here? Same as it ever was: Hire a firm with a reputation for integrity and a stellar track record, such as Active Web Group. We’re not a cookie-cutter ‘proprietary’ ‘one process fits all’ shop where the same formula is applied to every client. Yes, post-Panda, some of our clients experienced sudden ranking downturns. Their sites’ underperforming URLs were quickly targeted and improved. Performing due diligence is but one of our SEO client initiatives.

Maybe you’re not in the market for SEO at this time, but your website is ten years old…Consider an SEO-friendly website redesign. Active Web Group is an industry leader known for its highly effective, search engine-friendly web designs and redesigns. A full-service agency, Active Web Group also has extensive experience in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Programming (all proficiencies including php, asp and, Email Marketing, Website Content Development, Graphic Design, eCommerce, Magento eCommerce, WordPress eCommerce and custom solutions and Pay-Per-Click Marketing. To learn more:

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