With Google announcing on Friday the launch of the latest Panda update, dubbed Panda 3.4, it is clear to everyone that sitting still is the best way to move very quickly. Down.


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Google’s latest algorithmic changes will affect 1.6% of queries, which may not sound an awful lot until you realise that with Google serving up 3 billion searches a day that’s 48 million searches affected on a daily basis (or 555 affected searches every second!)

All of which can be very daunting for anyone looking to start up a new business, or expand an existing high street business into the online world. For those of us who have been working online for many years there are clear advantages, such as domain age and established resources which have accumulated many links and much authority. But for anyone starting out it is hopelessly overwhelming.

Even for those who may not have really invested fully in online marketing, and who are just now realising that more needs to be done, the challenge seems utterly hopeless.

What’s the point of competing with huge established businesses which dominate the search results?

Surely there’s just no way for any newcomer to make a name for themselves, to achieve online success in the face of these behemoths of the digital age?

And yet, as search moves forwards, as Google rolls out yet more updates, there is a clear message here. For those who have large, lumbering online presences the regular updates, changes and opportunities can be hard to adapt to very quickly, whereas newcomers can find themselves riding a wave that many longstanding businesses have missed.

More than that, because as SEO continues to change, and social media marketing becomes an ever stronger and more effective facility for online marketing, there are opportunities to achieve phenomenal success.

Perhaps it is of particular interest that Google decided to announce the launch of its latest Panda release through Twitter. That says a good deal, and has got a lot of people talking. Make no mistake, Google very much has social media firmly targeted, and is making sure it plays an increasingly important role.

Which is of course where Google+ comes in. Whilst some people wondered if Google+ would just be another Buzz, a failed attempt to take on existing social media platforms, the ‘plus one’ feature is clearly here to stay, and is having a massive impact on the search results.

But do you fully realise how much of an impact the Google +1 button is making?

And how much more of an impact those +1’s are having now with the release of the latest Panda update?

I wrote recently about how to maximise the effectiveness of your SEO through personalised search, and this is now very much an area which everyone needs to focus on. Not to the exclusion of standard SEO, but definitely as a significant element within your overall SEO strategy.

True, Google+ is still seeming to play second fiddle to Facebook and Twitter in the social media stakes, but that’s not where it ends by far. Perhaps you may have noticed that some searches now include G+ posts alongside the standard results. These standard web search results are now including a growing number of G+ related content, from authorships and +1’s to shares and even Google Circle statistics. Make no mistake, G+ is here to stay, and it’s affecting search results in a big way.

So what about those business owners looking to get started in SEO and online marketing, or take the next step? How does Google+ fit into their plans?

Here’s the thing. As I’ve mentioned before, if you operate within a community niche trying to get your site to the top of the search results  is now largely meaningless. With personalised search, we’re all going to see wildly different results anyway. What’s important now is to make sure that you get your website to the top of the personalised results of those people you’re trying to target.

And this is where Google+ steps neatly into the frame. Because anything you write, publish or share may now very likely appear in the search results of those people following you. That means that all your followers are now much more likely to see any of your content appear high up their search results, just because they follow you. In other words, one of the quickest ways of getting to the top of the search results is to have followers on Google+, and to make sure your content is shared.

Of course, this means that the more followers you have the more people will see your content appearing high up their search results, and so one of your priorities right now must be to increase the number of followers you have. Hold a competition, give a free ebook away or provide some other valuable service available only to those who are following your Google+ profile.

But even more than this, if one of those people who follows you sees the content you’ve published or shared, which they are highly likely to, and they decide it is worth sharing, then all of their followers will now be able to see your content prioritised too if they carry out a relevant Google Social Search. So having 1,000 followers, each with 1,000 followers means your content could be actively promoted to the top of the results for a million people. Not only that, those 1,000,000 people are more likely to have an interest in your content, since they follow people who follow you, or they follow you directly.

So the message is clear. It is not too late to make huge strides in online marketing. Anyone can get their website and content high up the search results. But right now the best way of achieving this is to focus on increasing your Google+ followers, sharing as much of your content as possible through Google+, and slapping +1 links everywhere you can find a few spare pixels’ worth of space.

For more SEO and online marketing advice please follow me on Twitter and Facebook, and of course, join me on Google+.

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