Every few months, the Google math wizards and technical engineers make additions and rewrites to their gigantic search equation, usually in an effort to clean up search results and discourage bad internet marketing behavior.

When they make these changes, SEO and tech geeks like me try to figure out what it all means. We get so wrapped up in the technical stuff we sometimes lose sight of what the changes are intended to do – deliver better, more appropriate search results. (One of the resources I use to keep up on this information is #SEOChat on Twitter, where these algorithm changes are discussed at length.)

Google is at it again this month. Between May 17th and May 21st, the search engine overlords released two different changes to their algorithm. Google is well aware that both changes create a lot of positive advantages for small business owners, and now is the time to take advantage of this opportunity.

Understanding Pandas and Paydays

Google has the wackiest names for algorithm updates. They’re always quirky and memorable. It’s safe to assume Google thinks their fun names will ease the negative feelings the changes always create. A guy can hope, right?

This time around, there are lots of things to love about Pandas and Payday Loans. 

Panda 4.0 

This is Google’s latest attempt to ween website owners and writers away from poorly written, sparse or irrelevant content. First launched in 2011, the original version of this update severely cut down on search engine results for low-quality websites filled with multiple pages containing fewer than 350 words. This was especially true for pages that were repetitive and meaningless. Some legitimate websites were impacted also, mostly for having duplicate versions of their writing on different web pages or for not having enough written content at all.

While this latest update is a softer and gentler version of Panda, it will still have an impact on websites across the internet. If you have great content about your products, services and news on your website, you may see a noticeable increase in traffic to your site as more low-quality competitors are kicked out of search results.

Payday Loan 2.0

This update specifically targets spammy, product-related words to clean up search results. Think of it as Google’s version of going through and removing all the Viagra ads and Nigerian Princes from your email inbox, leaving you with only meaningful emails from actual connections.

This is great news for small business owners and a small dilemma for mega companies trying to dominate in every category. For more on this topic, check out this explanation from Dr. Peter Meyers of Moz SEO on how eBay was negatively impacted in his Payday Loan update overview.

If you are a business owner that sells a product that could otherwise be found on eBay, expect to see your website traffic increase noticeably over the next few weeks. Make sure to refresh your product pages with the most up to date information and consider writing a blog or two about your biggest sellers.

Taking Action

In the wake of Google’s Panda and Payday updates, small business owners have a chance to improve visibility and compete against bigger brands.

To take advantage of the changes you have to act now. Actually, you need to write now! I will always recommend writing, writing and more fantastic writing. That emphasis is extremely important today as consistently creating new and useful information about your products and services will help you to stay visible and relevant on the web.

While the math and lingo behind Google’s updates can be overwhelming, taking action to leverage the changes doesn’t have to be.

Interested in learning more about measuring your web statistics and knowing how Google algorithm changes affect your site? Check out our podcast on understanding your web traffic to learn more.