The Latest Google Changes
The goal of these Google changes is to improve user experience by fulfilling their needs for information. These changes are targeted at “webspam” tactics to manipulate search engine ranking. These Tactics include everything from keyword stuffing to link schemes. Keyword stuffing means loading a webpage up with keywords solely for the search engine ranking purposes. Link schemes are designed to affect how a site ranks, rather than for enhancing the user experience. These include link exchanges, reciprocal linking, or linking to spammy sites.
The latest changes involve how Google will penalize the over-use of backlinks. Many webmasters are already seeing some of their sites getting pushed down in the rankings or de-indexed. For example, Google recently took action against prominent blog networks, like BuildMyRank. Some of these webmasters are receiving warning messages from Google (through Google Webmaster Tools) regarding their unnatural links. Google isn’t telling them the exact URLs that have a problem because they don’t want the link networks to know that they are onto them.
These SEO experts are referring to this issue as over-optimization or negative SEO.
You can test for this by:
1. Searching to see if your pages are ranking on Google.
2. Doing an exact search for your keyword phrase and seeing where your webpage shows up.
3. Doing a broad search for your keyword phrase and noting where your webpage is found in the rankings.
4. If your rank equally on each search, you aren’t over-optimized. If your rank significantly better on an exact keyword search than on a broad keyword search, then you may be over-doing it and Google is penalizing you.
You can fix this “negative” SEO by improving your link profile and adding some “click here” links and links that are not for your specific keyword phrase. It is more natural to have a mixture of links.
Here are situations that may result in a drop in ranking due to these Google changes:
1. Your competitors could have improved their link profile by gaining links from high authority sites. You can follow this strategy to improve the search engine ranking of your sites.
2. Your site may have dropped because Google changed its algorithm and now gives more weight to an attribute that your site may be weak on or lacking. This means you didn’t do anything wrong. Google tweaks its way of scoring pages constantly.
3. One of the sites linking to you may have shut down. Once this happens, you no longer get credit for those links.
4. Another site may have cheated, and now it outranks you. Google usually catches on eventually.
5. Some of the sites linking to you were devalued. An example of these is directory links.
6. You could be the victim of one of your competitor’s attacks on your site. Bad links can be created to your site by someone wanting to negatively impact your SEO. This is rare, but possible.
7. Finally, you tried using “webspam” tactics and got caught by Google. Two examples would be joining link networks or buying anchor text links with high page ranks. If this is you, cease and desist immediately…or else Google will find out.
Here’s a video where Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz.or does a very good job reviewing some of the tactics that may result in an over-optimization penalty with the latest Google changes:
According to this video, here are some strategies to start/stop doing so you aren’t penalized:
1. Use authentic titles. It should sound like something a human being would say and not be loaded with keywords.
2. Change up your anchor text and use modified versions of your keywords on each page.
3. Stop using footers that are filled with links.
4. Be sure not to get backlinks from sources that are likely to result in a penalty, like link networks, comment spam, forum signatures, reciprocal lists, article marketing sites, SEO-focused directories.
In other words, stop spammy titles, keyword stuffing, unnatural link-building, and overuse of exact keyword anchor text.
Google continues to make it very clear that they want people to focus on creating good content and not on writing for search engine rankings.
It’s important that we stay abreast of Google changes and how they may impact our sites.
How are your sites faring with these Google changes?
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