by The RevMan
There has been a ton of buzz, especially over the last couple weeks, about some changes Google has been implementing. These changes have actually been happening since late January or early February. The truth is that Google and other search engines are always changing, so it really should never come as a surprise to anyone when Google announces changes.
Despite this, the panic button has been hit once again:
- Matt Cutts announced at the SXSW conference in Austin, TX that an update which will punish “over-optimized sites” will be released in the next few weeks or months.
- Webmasters recently received warning messages via Google Webmaster Tools indicating that they had detected unnatural links.
- Major blog networks have been de-listed by Google.
Before we attempt to untangle the motives behind these three points, first we need to pause and consider a simple question:
What is the goal of a search engine?
That’s a pretty easy question to answer. The goal of a search engine is to create an automated process. The result of running this process (a “search”) should be that the search results provided will give the user the best experience possible. In short, that the searcher finds what they are looking for. Like most processes that programmers are trying to automate, it sounds, intuitively, like an easy task, but it happens to be extremely difficult. This is because automation requires relying solely on logic, and that complicates a lot of computer programming problems.
Now, all of that being said, I have been very upset with Google lately, because they have created a huge mess for themselves and website owners with their constant algorithmic additions. The paradigms which Google looks at when determining search relevancy have become so complex that they now resemble our tax code. In fact, I would claim they are more complicated than our tax code, and I think you and I can agree, that’s a frightening concept!
The result of this high level of complexity is that, like our tax code, no one really seems to understand the Google algorithm. This is likely only to get worse as they try and shut down various so-called “loopholes,” because Google does not like your content, your links, your social network, or something else they will make up next week.
This patchwork strategy gets us to the same place our tax code is today: useless, and only those with the most money will be able to win. I think Google needs to take the advice of a certain Antoine de Saint-Exupry:
“A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”
Matt Cutts’ Announcement
When Matt Cutts announced Google’s plans to begin punishing “over-optimized” sites, I think Danny Sullivan summed it up well in this blog. Check it out—there are a lot of great points in it. One of my favorites:
“Now matters are getting even more confusing, as Google unleashes penalties not for being overtly ‘bad’ but for not being ‘good enough.’”
You can also check out our own Nathan Schaad’s post on the meaning of Over-Optimized websites. The big question is: What does it mean for a site to be over-optimized? There are loads of opinions flying around. For now, all we can do is wait and see what actually happens.
Actions by Google
This is what has the SEO community really buzzing this week. Google has started de-indexing major blog networks. Oh, and this has done some damage to some folks.
Remember the Panda update? Which, by the way, is an ongoing, learning update. Its goal was to eliminate the web of the junky, mass-produced, spammy, backlink-filled content articles. This latest update seems to be along the same line. Miranda Miller makes some great points in her blog so no need for me to carry on about it.
What is a Blog Network?
Simply put, a blog network is a network of blogs that allow your posts, with links, to be posted to hundreds of other blogs through automatic distributions system, thus getting you hundreds of instant links. The problem is twofold: most of the posts are pure junk and you have to pay for it. These are two things which Google particularly dislikes.
So when blog networks like the Build My Rank service and others were de-indexed all the links that came from it were now useless. This caused many, many sites to fall in rankings. The more heavily they relied on these networks, the more they were affected. Pretty straightforward, really.
So, Where to Now?
For those of us who do things right in the first place, we keep doing what we were doing. Obviously, we tweak and get better at it, but that’s part of what we do. We react to new changes in order to best address the spirit of what Google wants. For example, at RevBuilders, we are focusing on producing higher quality content that is aimed at converting the reader rather than search engines. We were already doing this, but a content review revealed we were still putting SEO first in too many cases. We all need to always be critical of our own process and work at getting better.
Have a great weekend. I am off to Disney with the family for a little R&R.
Let me your thoughts or your questions.