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Thursday, May 03, 2012

Google Algorithm Updates Disrupt The SEO Industr.

Recent changes by Google focusing on 'black hat spam techniques' has left the SEO industry reeling from the barrage of attacks, penalties, and position changes they [Google] have made. Google started a new wave of attacks eater this year and as soon as web owners started to feel the effects of the first punch, they were bombarded with an encore of uppercuts, left jabs and knock out punches which has left the entire SEO industry in shock, very much in panic mode and most defiantly on the run.

The calendar over the last few months is packed with spicy updates called Penguin, Venice, Panda and many unnamed updates too. Internally I suspect this is all refereed to as codename 'Operation Panic'. It's like a war room has been set up with Larry Page at the helm directing his army into battle with the goal of wiping out the effects of manipulative techniques by crafty SEO'ers which trick the algorithm into placing companies at the top of the FREE search results when instead those companies should be paying Google for that traffic!

There is no love on either side of this battle, this is business and were talking about big numbers like $30 Billion a year on Googles side alone. That's a big cake, with companies typically spending some of their traffic generation budget on PPC advertising (Google) and others who pay SEO'ers the same or less to get top in the FREE listings. So we can assume the Search industry is worth $100 billion a year, (give or take a few billion) and when Google eliminates companies from 'gaming their system' the more they [Google] make in PPC ad revenue.

And it is a clever system too, with small companies typically becoming hooked on Google search traffic only to later find (when they are totally helpless) they have falling victim to one of the many penalties and traps laid by Google who then hang them out to dry.

The very latest trap has caused over 3% of companies search results to disappear (a huge portion of the web) and is called the Over Optimization Penalty. When added to the effects of previous updates this year we see that probably more than 20% of the companies who were previously in top positions in January are no longer visible. This is a major victory for Google and no wonder the SEO industry is in shock.

The Over Optimization Penalty refers to a practice where SEO'ers would keyword stuff the anchor text in links pointing to a domain, so if a company wanted to get to the top of search for "Cheap Insurance" they would stuff the same words in the anchor texts of a bunch of manipulated links to that domain. Of course as with all loopholes fragrant abuse has taken place, which has tricked many companies into following others into this hole. As always jealously leads people to research top positions and when they see large numbers of those top positions using the same practice they tend to follow, in this case with devastating results.

In the last few weeks this penalty has taken effect and many are now totally confused as to what links they need to remove. Since this is an algorithm change there is no point doing re-inclusion requests (begging Google for forgiveness) that wont work, instead changes have to be made (manipulated links removed) and then companies have to wait and pray for the best. However when you have thousands of back links pointing to your domain knowing which links to remove is no easy task. Removing the wrong ones is only going to make the situation worse, so forensic link audits are necessary to work out exactly which links are causing the problems.


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