Matt Cutts’ announcement at the SXSW panel in March gave us fair warning to the impending algorithm update that would inevitably penalize ‘over-optimized’ sites. The roll-out of yesterday’s webspam algorithm confirmed what SEO’s or any avid Google follower, for that matter, already knew was coming. While the algorithm is set to affect 3% of search results and will indeed impact many sites alike, this is a change that most industry leaders will embrace.
Old Resolutions, New Methods
Ever since there has been spam, there have been those working to fight it. Surely, this is nothing new; the only difference is that both spam and the tactics to combat it have become smarter. Google has rolled out many algorithms for this cause, with the incentive to enhance user experience and reward the websites which help them achieve it. For too long, those who have followed ‘white-hat’ methods have watched sites that manipulate the search engines rise to the top. With yesterday’s algorithm, we are glad to see websites with malicious or spammy intent get nailed, and see rewards for the websites that practice ethical strategies.
Caught in the Crossfire?
As unsurprising as this update was for many, there are still those who are scratching their head wondering where their rankings went. And it’s unfortunate, because many may be suffering as a result of a shoddy SEO scheme or because they had hired a company that was dipping into some ‘black hat’ methods to boost rankings. This particular update was geared towards fighting webspam, where pages intentionally try to gain higher rankings on the search engines through manipulative tactics like: duplicate content, keyword stuffing, link schemes, cloaking, doorway pages and sneaky redirects. Learn more about Google’s definition of webspam here.
If You’re Down, You Can Only Go Up. But if You’re Up, Keep it Up!
If your website has lost rankings from this update, it’s time to make some changes. Aim for unique content that users would find useful. Don’t dabble in link buying and stay away from excessive advertising on your web pages. Also, avoid stuffing keywords into content, title tags or meta descriptions. A good rule of thumb is to stay away from anything that would aggravate, confuse or hinder a user’s ability to use your website. If you’re on the opposite end of the spectrum, and have been un-phased by this update or have seen increases, good for you! -Your website is being rewarded for helping Google make search a better experience.
As for SEO…
With the initial announcement of the algorithm roll-out, Matt Cutts’ had this to say about SEO:
Google has said before that search engine optimization, or SEO, can be positive and constructive—and we’re not the only ones. Effective search engine optimization can make a site more crawlable and make individual pages more accessible and easier to find. Search engine optimization includes things as simple as keyword research to ensure that the right words are on the page, not just industry jargon that normal people will never type.
“White hat” search engine optimizers often improve the usability of a site, help create great content, or make sites faster, which is good for both users and search engines. Good search engine optimization can also mean good marketing: thinking about creative ways to make a site more compelling, which can help with search engines as well as social media. The net result of making a great site is often greater awareness of that site on the web, which can translate into more people linking to or visiting a site.
Although there will always be new agencies and new methods that attempt to manipulate the search engines for better rankings, it is a relief to know that the agencies who are doing the right thing are not in this fight alone. So to webmasters and SEO’s who are out there doing it right, keep fighting the good fight!
If you have any questions about this recent update, or want help making your website more fit for the search engines, contact your SEO Agency.
Submitted by Erica Machin, Titan Growth