Google Tightens The Screws Once More

Anyone who builds websites will be following Google’s continued algorithm changes. This last year seems to have had a huge impact on people and their site.

The move to “Measure Quality Content” and the more recent attack on blog networks shows that Google is ramping up it’s battle against what it sees as poor quality web sites or those that don’t obediently follow Google’s own “rules”.

The latest changes are firmly set in the same vein and are aimed at targeting those that don’t comply with the Webmaster Quality Guidelines. The Guidelines have been around for a long time now but presumably this is a better way to identify the so called malpractices.

You can see the full details here


but let’s just look a few quotes from the Matt Cutt’s post.

opposite of “white hat” SEO is something called “black hat webspam” (we say “webspam” to distinguish it from email spam). In the pursuit of higher rankings or traffic, a few sites use techniques that don’t benefit users, where the intent is to look for shortcuts or loopholes that would rank pages higher than they deserve to be to be ranked. We see all sorts of webspam techniques every day, from keyword stuffing to link schemes that attempt to propel sites higher in rankings.

So again Google are referring to over optimization and anything that they would consider to be unnatural linking. From that you can take heart that backlinks must still be a major measure of site importance and will continue to be so in Google’s eyes. Else why would they be on such a major offensive?

Matt explains some changes they have already made. The fact that these are specifically mentioned likely means they are of high importance. Panda (for most of you) will be obvious but you may not be aware or have considered the importance of “less ads/more content above the fold”.

To that end we’ve launched Panda changes that successfully returned higher-quality sites in search results. And earlier this year we launched a page layout algorithm that reduces rankings for sites that don’t make much content available “above the fold.”

So then onto the latest onslaught

In the next few days, we’re launching an important algorithm change targeted at webspam. The change will decrease rankings for sites that we believe are violating Google’s existing quality guidelines.

As I said earlier it has always been a requirement to adhere to the Webmaster Quality guidelines. It even part of the AdSense T&C’s that you do so. I guess this just means they are now better are spotting offenders and will be more aggressively dealing with those offenders.

our advice for webmasters is to focus on creating high quality sites that create a good user experience and employ white hat SEO methods instead of engaging in aggressive webspam tactics.


This final comment is one that you should remember and it is something I have mentioned before. Google’s goal is to have no SEO at all. In a perfect world you would simply create a site with great content and the Google search algorithms would do all the work and decide how good and how relevant your site is. Unfortunately for Google that is still along way off and they need some level of SEO to help them make sense of website content.

We want people doing white hat search engine optimization (or even no search engine optimization at all).


So what do we conclude from all this.

 Firstly Google are aggressively attacking all methods of SEO (or web spam or any numbers of other names depending on where you position yourself in the SEO camp) that they feel messes with their algorithm.

Secondly Google seem to have made a quantum leap in the ability to robotically detect, poor quality content, bad link practices, over optimization etc. Expect this to grow exponentially. My guess is that the Panda idea of having humans assess the site content quality and then feed all that data into a program and tweak it until it gets similar results has been a programmatic success for Google. By using the same techniques (AI?) for other areas website SEO is a logical step.

Thirdly I think this is one of those defining moments, a point in time where SEO techniques needs to change dramatically for a lot of people. Creating websites needs to be about quality and useful content. On site SEO needs to exist but it needs to be simplistic and more general. By that I mean NOT making sure you have a certain percentage of keyword density, by NOT focusing on one keyword to the detriment of all other. It means creating focused content of course. Your website should have a subject and all the content should be structured and relevant but you simply need to focus on the quality of the content, the readability of the text and relevant, descriptive titles. Googlebot is clever enough to know what search expressions should appear in the results.


Those of you who have specifically been creating mini-sites, one page sites, MFA sites, sniper sites or other highly targeted (and highly successful) small websites need to be making changes now. That includes 20 Minute Blogs.


Review your content for over optimized keywords (0.5-1% max i’d say).

Review your content for quality. I mean does it read well, is it grammatically correct, is it relevant is it unique and is it useful. Edit it, update it or even scrap it if it’s not up to scratch.

Add fresh content a new post every 2-4 weeks perhaps.

Get a few good quality backlinks from good sources.

Make sure you also backlink the inner pages of your site.

Vary the anchor text of your backlinks

Work over time to make your site into an authority site.


The days of the small highly SEO’d sites are numbered. You cannot expect to put up a site with a couple of posts and then do nothing more to it and expect it to stay up in the rankings.

That doesn’t mean you can’t build good small sites it just means you must continue to build on the successful ones to turn them into long term, profitable and authoritative sites.

Love to hear your thoughts and experiences so please leave a comment below.






13 responses to “Google Tightens The Screws Once More”

  1. Co Avatar

    Is your Backlink Networks also harmful?
    I used the free version with one anchor text, maybe I can get the sites back on page one with anchor text variation in the platinum membership?
    my sites which are not in the backlink network still rank high.

  2. Moe Avatar

    I have several 20 minute blogs, don’t use black hat methods and am now a little concerned. It seems the ‘set it and leave it’ mentality may be at an end. I have had a couple of those dreaded Google messages that suggests I’m paying for links (I’m not, too mean) which are unfounded. I’ve no idea where the links are coming from other than copious article marketing efforts. However, as they have done this to more ‘standard’ non WP sites with 30-40 pages of solid content I guess I’ll never understand Google. At some point they are sure to over-reach themselves and lose their standing.

    Someone else has remarked that when searching for some standard terms that rubbish sites are being returned on page one or, just ecommerce sites which isn’t good for affiliate sites. If google has nowhere left to put their ads, will adwords die?

    The 20 minute blogs all have at least 3 google adds above the fold, may be it’s time to change that as Ezine isn’t keen on it other. Time for a revamp of the template Tony? I know you were working on it a few months back to make it more editable for including graphics in the header.

    I certainly don’t know much, but IMHO Google is getting too big for it’s boots!

  3. luisa Avatar

    and the profits?

  4. Tasha Avatar

    Finally!! Someone mentioning the importance of grammar. My English isn’t perfect but I do know the difference between your and you’re. It all just seems common sense, to write for a human reader.

  5. Doug Avatar

    Many of my 20 minute blogs have taken a pasting in this last Panda update – even those that were regularly fed with new posts. I’m getting to believe that the day of the set it up and leave it site has passed.
    Personally I’m going to take the remaining sites that still have half decent rankings and fatten them up with some extra pages, good internal linking and restrained page SEO and hope that they can retain their positions.
    For the future….different model – build a list!!
    The people at Google are smarter than I’ll ever be.

  6. Mike Avatar

    Thank you, Tony. As always, your blog is very refreshing, very empowering and very informative. You keep your finger on the pulse of all that’s happening in the I M world, and you always generously share your findings with your members/students — we are so lucky to have found you, because you’re always there for us, with kindness and infinite patience.

    Bless you, and may you always

    Keep smiling!

  7. steve Avatar

    Great post Tony,

    you caught me with the thought to your last post but I didn’t comment. If readers take a deeper look and go to the Google blog it’s interesting to see they have an example of a spun article on there. They also mention only 3-5% of searches will be majorly affected.

    Reading the google groups lately there have been some major sites caught in the crossfire of these constant changes so it will be interesting to see what happens.


  8. Edward Thorpe Avatar

    All this google’s getting smarter stuff is good news to marketers who are building sites on topics they love, while sincerely wanting to provide benefits to their market.

    (NOT that you’d accuse me of doing so 😉

    Anyway & IMHO: it’s about time…
    Stay casual,

  9. Cindy Avatar

    Hey Tony,

    I have been wrestling with the issue of “Not Enough Time”! Not enough time to stay on top of all of my mini-sites plus pay attention to my one love “my life story” site… well, all your post does for me is convince me I should devote my time to my life story blog since my mini-sites are NOT gonna have that much life left for them!

    Thanks for the heads up!

  10. GRose Avatar

    Thanks for the informative article. I have seen my traffic stay the same BUT my Alexa rank has plummeted or should I say gone over into the one million plus mark for my main ‘love site’. I still maintained page rank and my keywords are STILL going up in Google so I just had an Alexa ‘slap’

  11. Morgan Madej Avatar

    I think this is a good move by google to concentrate on quality content and not how many backlinks there are-there were too many sites on page 1 that had absolute gibberish and so in turn google were presenting rubbish results!

    I don’t use spinglish on my sites and I think I am posting useful content but my website has not received any traffic from google since 1st April 2012

    Before then I usually got 20-50 visits per day at this time of year…but I am now getting more traffic from Yahoo and Bing in a similar amount since then!

    The page one rankings I enjoyed for the physical products have disappeared from the first 100 results

    Another site which enjoyed page 1 position 2 for over 6 months has also disappeared.

    Fortunately I have other sites on page 1 position 1 but for how long?

    If only google would advise “Offenders” of their actual offence-just like the police or a creditor would do!

    Thanks Tony for another update on reality and life under the Big g!

  12. Neil Martin Avatar

    Hi Tony

    Very informative post, thank you for the information.

    I am a member of your Exclusive Backlinks network and over the past couple of weeks quite a few of my sites with links on have taken a pasting dropping from Page 1 to Page 10 and beyond. None of the sites are spammy and all have original content as they are client sites.

    Do you think that Google has targeted the Backlink Network in the same way it did Build My Rank?

    Many thanks


    1. Barry Avatar

      Hi Neil

      If you did not vary your links Anchor Text, then Google will detect this and know that these are ‘paid links’ and treat your site accordingly.
      Unfortunately, I had a 20 Minute Blog at #1 for the last 4 months, with no backlinking except the 20 Minute Blog backlinks (anchor text cannot be varied), it’s now dropped out of sight (700+)

      I have read mails from several marketers who have been around a few years, and their opinion is not to do anything to these sites for a week or 2, as they think there is a possibility that Google may well back up on some of the changes.
      Lets hope that they are correct.

      The lessons learned are: 1 – Vary your links and Anchor Text
      2 – Build a list


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