Google’s algorithm updates have legitimized SEO practices. The days of tricky strategies or trying to dupe the search engines are gone. So if you’re looking for “easy,” don’t bother.

Small Business owners, big brand companies and marketing pros are reeling from the aftershocks of Google’s recent updates, Panda and Penguin (code-names).

Launched in February 2011, Panda began to enforce Google’s SEO guidelines using artificial intelligence in new ways. Google’s longstanding SEO “rules” were beginning to change and Panda just was the tip of the iceberg. Lazy SEO managers who didn’t pay attention to this warning would soon be in for a rude awakening.

If Panda was just the tip of the iceberg, Penguin’s release in April was like the whole damn iceberg that sank the Titanic! That’s exactly want happened to the traffic of millions of websites, as they seemingly overnight saw their website traffic sink!

So what happened?

The Google Penguin and Panda updates “humanized” the way the search engines view your website. The new standard focuses on legitimate and quality content, originality, and the overall user experience. The message to marketing pros and website owners is very clear… stop focusing on tricks and “technology” to dupe the search engines, and start focusing on people. Obtaining generic backlinks or content, keyword stuffing, or pursuing affiliate “traffic” will do little for your website. It may likely even hurt you. If your website appeals to a real person, it will appeal to Google’s new algorithms too!

You may saying to yourself, “okay, so I’ll just make sure I update my site regularly with good original content, and I’ll appease the Google gods!” If only it were that simple. The Penguin and Panda messages go much much deeper. With this series of changes, the search engines are openly acknowledging that a website isn’t the only place online that the Brand needs to maintain a responsible presence. Big brother is watching and indexing everything you do online with regards to your website. That means social media interaction, engagement with customers, and how well your website content is received and shared online, all factor into this new ranking.