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.