Through extensive testing that I have done, it is clear that Google has taken and “anti-SEO” approach to their algorithm. Due to this, they have creating a filter which will remove heavily optimized sites from the SERPs. Google’s reliance on PageRankâ„¢ to grade the authority of pages has led to the wholesale trading and buying of links with the primary purpose of influencing rankings on Google rather than for natural linking reasons. But what did Google really expect would happen when they released their Toolbar with the PageRank information included?
Obviously, they didn’t expect the rash of link popularity companies to sprout up overnight and fill its index with spam links in attempt to manipulate their algorithm. In some instances, webmasters would not link to sites unless they thought it would benefit them for Google.
Optimizing your site for Google consisted mainly of ensuring your page had your primary search phrase placed in all appropriate places on your page (the “on page” factors) and that your keyword phrase was inserted in the anchor text of your incoming links (the “off page” factors).
This update was an attempt to penalize sites that were “too relevant”. However, it is clear that Google’s new criteria for punishing highly optimized sites is not across the board, but for only major terms that are likely to be manipulated.
Because of their Toolbar, their search results, and Google AdWords, Google has a comprehensive list of commercial terms that are most often searched for. When you couple that information with the amount of money they are willing to pay per click through AdWords, Google has a gold mine of information.
With the above in mind, we have come to the following conclusions:
- As we reported earlier, Google is trying to force webmasters to use AdWords. By removing them from the SERPs just before the holiday shopping rush starts online, this forces them to use AdWords or be out.
- It has been stated that Google is trying to separate their results into non-commercial and commercial. Commercial results will be AdWords and non-commercial the natural listings, primarily used for research purposes. While many search results look as if this is what is occuring, it is highly unlikely that the search algorithm is that good to determine what is a commercial or non-commercial site. If Google does this, all webmasters need to do is setup an “information only” site with links to their commercial site.
- Google has added anti-SEO technology which effects frequently searched and frequently optimized for keyword phrases. Whenever a user enters such a keyword phrase into Google, this technology drops pages that were overly optimized from the results.
What You Should Do
Your overall strategy should be encompassing everything we have suggested over the years. However, if you have had a signifcant drop in the rankings, the following is highly recommended:
- Slightly “de-optimize” your sites. If you have full control over any links, you should redo the anchor text and remove the keyword phrase from the anchor text, and instead, work it into the body text surrounding the anchor text and place the keyword phrase in the Title of that page, but only if it makes logical sense to do so. This will help you with the current algorithm, but remember it can change again in the future.
- If you have many sites that you control, separate them into subgroups, and if they are on the same server, now is the time to get a new server with a different IP block.
- Do a keyword density analysis on the top ten sites that appear in the SERPs and then model your site after those results.
Despite all the growing theories about this update, there is no great conspiracy theory. Google is attempting to redress the balance by trying to eradicate obvious search engine manipulation from their most competitive results. It is clear that the new algorithm is not doing this properly, but as it occurred last year, they made a major patch to their update the day after Thanksgiving. With the number of datacenters that have been cycled through daily, it is clear that Google is retooling this algorithm. If they do follow the same pattern as last year, we should see a revised update go live on the system by noon Pacific time tomorrow.