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Google's Changes to SEO

Google's Summer Changes to online business rankings

Matt Cutts, a Google engineer, outlined the upcoming changes this summer.  Here is a summary.

This summer, Google hopes to put another few nails in the coffin of Black Hat SEO (Search Engine Optimization) practitioners, while rewarding White Hat webmasters.  All website have a natural or an unpaid ranking.  That ranking is responsible for where the page shows up in search results.  Black Hat SEO practitioners use dubious techniques that offer short term results.  These techniques often raise the ire of Google and other search engines, and the websites that they manipulate, can be eventually banned from search results, confining them to the dark recesses of the internet where nobody goes.  White Hat practitioners on the other hand, do positive things that organically grows traffic to the website and has lasting effects on web traffic.

In May of 2013, Matt Cutts of Google outlined some of the changes that Google is implementing to its search algorithms.  First and foremost among the changes, they will reward the White Hat techniques.  Their algorithms are designed to recognize compelling, high quality web sites.  Google will introduce search methodologies that detect and recognize authority, and reward those web sites with higher page ranking.  It doesn't matter what you are an authority on, if you consistently deliver good information (measure by many things including how long a person is on the website), then Google will reward you with higher page rankings.

The Black Hats will be punished.  They have two tools called Panda and Penguin.  Penguin detects sites that spam, or put viruses and malware on your computer.  Penguin already has had an update, and will be further enhanced.  Penguin will now detect spam links.  If you go around putting links on every forum or where ever you are allowed to post, with no regard to actually contributing to that site (like comments in a forum), not only will you be ignored, but you might invoke the wrath of Google and be banned from search results.

Panda detects thin sites that try to improve page ranking with material from other websites.  If you have a business website that harvests material in your area of business and re-posts it, you will be punished with a lower page rank.  You are better off to link to it.  However, Panda will have new link analysis, so that if you are genuinely trying to help people find other information, you will not be considered a marginal site and your page rankings may improve.

Hackers will often hack a genuine business website, and add a link to load malware, viruses or spam on your computer when you visit that site.  The original site webmaster may be unaware that it has happened.  Google will provide tools to help webmasters clean up and avoid hacking on their sites.  The webmasters will be offered a set of tools to help businesses create and maintain high quality web sites.

If Google succeeds this summer, the advertorial will be dead.  Advertorials are web pages designed to look like content but are paid advertisements.  There will be no punishment if there is clear and conspicuous disclosure that the content is paid for.  Businesses would be better off by not paying for SEO, and creating sites where they offer good information, expert advice, compelling graphics and engaging content.

In terms of the user experience, the enhance Google of the summer of 2013 will provide cleaner search results.  Often times for a very esoteric topic, one will find search results clusters from just one domain.  These are frustrating, and Google is working on enhancing that aspect, as well as their overall Page Rank algorithm to provide contextually correct search results.  So as a user, expect to see a lot less spam, and a lot more authorative search results.

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