Google is in the process of changing it's search algorithm. This will potentially effect every website listed on the search engine.
This latest update, called Caffine, was announced in August last year, but when the switch will come is not certain, although the general precdiction is that sometime around now is probable.
So what changes will Google make in the way it sorts it's results?
Google focuses on the end user, and their experience surfing the web so:
Speed - we want faster results and we don't want to wait an age for a site to download. Slow loading sites could find themselves drifting down the rankings. Want to check the spped of your site? Try this nifty free tool - www.tools.pingdom.com/fpt/
Content - site content and its relevance to the search terms will probably gain more weight.
Mixed Formats - results from Social Media sites like Twitter, MySpace and Facebook will almost certainly be included in the mix, promoting active sites while also giving 'real time' popularity to site rankings.
Domain - the links to the domain, domain age and the keywords contained in it will probably become more important.
So do you need to panic that your site will shortly disappear from Google's searches? Well, no, not if your site is well designed and ethically optimised. But slow loading sites need to look at methods to speed up. There are plenty of ways that this can be achieved by using CSS, minimising Scripts and optimising images.
And if you aren't aware of Social Media Marketing then you need to start paying attention and grasp the basics. This is often more difficult for smaller businesses with fewer resources but it may be necessary to get that Facebook page working and start Tweeting to stay ahead of the pack.