Internet marketing companies and search engine optimisation experts are poring over their websites today, after Google released its latest algorithm changes, designed to weed out "webspam" sites which manipulate search rankings.
Google's latest tweak will punish sites using dirty tactics to trick search spiders - such as keyword stuffing
Most reputable SEO companies use "white hat" techniques for search engine optimisation and Internet marketing. But various nefarious webmasters ride roughshod over their good work: creating unnatural copy which reads like a random selection of words, or stuffing completely unrelated keyword links into articles.
"Good" SEO involves a mix of techniques - including ensuring onsite copy contains the right keywords in the right volume, writing the right title tags and descriptions, and a mix of regular, quality content updates; meaningful blog posts and newsworthy press releases.
Inbound links are another metric Google uses for PageRank - based on the premise that users will happily share links to sites which host trustworthy, valuable and informative content. Sites full of spammy rubbish clearly wouldn't be linked as they are useless.
Linkbuilding schemes are a relatively complex area, but a good strategy will ensure the right websites for your industry are hosting links to your content. "Bad" linkbuilding schemes include buying backlinks from random sites, or participating in link schemes where vast swathes of sites backlink to each other in a bid to dupe Google's algorithm.
It seems Google is actually manually reviewing sites which its algorithm has flagged as having "unnatural links". Around one-million messages have been sent to webmasters who Google suspects have dabbled in black hat link schemes. The fact Google has done this send-out manually shows how important it is to get this right: webmasters who've built links with great content may still be flagged by the robotic algorithm - human review checks whether the spiders were right.
The latest update will see these "bad" SEO practices penalised - so sites who use honest, white hat techniques don't get pushed down the rankings by cheats.
"The change will decrease rankings for sites that we believe are violating Google's existing quality guidelines," said Google engineer Matt Cutts in a blog post. "We've always targeted webspam in our rankings, and this algorithm represents another improvement in our efforts to reduce webspam and promote high quality content... our advice to webmasters is to focus on creating high quality sites that create a good user experience."
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