SEO is not dead, so relax! But it is more conformist. The days of coloring our SEO practices with White, Gray or Black (and for some there is Red, Blue and Yellow) is pretty much over for those with full awareness of the latest in Google algorithm developments. Over the past 10 years SEO was booming, becoming a major industry reaching all continents and feeding many families from New York City to New Delhi. Everyone got a piece of the SEO bubble as it emerged into a profitable industry. The dangers were also apparent, without the necessary grounding or knowledge in SEO practices, pretty much everyone, from high tech guru’s to high school dropouts got into the industry to make a living. The financial uncertainty of 2008 spawned thousands of “SEO Guru’s” and evangelists selling and implementing SEO.
The problem is that many tactics in SEO produced results. We had the slow, solid white hat practitioners committed to quality content, on page optimization and marketing through authoritative channels to black hat tech savvy gurus fabricating synthetic link growth, from blog networks to link farms and many more. Things have changed however, let me tell you why.
The Google Factor
Google is pretty adamant that manipulating their indexed search results or SERP (search engine results pages) goes against anything they intended to make public. Remember the public flogging of JCPenny and Overstock? Google has shareholders to impress and making it public that search results can be influenced or manipulated by 3rd parties is a pretty big embarrassment, especially for the almighty Google.
The Panda Update
The Google Panda update early in 2011 was the start of some serious changes Google had planned. Sites lost traffic and rankings while other were rewarded. Panda cares about site quality, but not so much in content only, but in everything. Site user experience, content quality, content value, load speed etc. Panda refreshes are still being released and the algorithm is becoming smarter, better at detecting quality and real site value than every before.
The Penguin Update
Penguin, released early 2012 was yet another big update that shook the foundations of many sites. Penguin aka “the webspam update” focused, and still is focused on SPAM, in all its shapes and forms. On page spam, off page spam, all spam. Did you ever consider your own footer links to be seen as spammy nowadays? Keyword stuffing into Titles etc. Yes, I know you don’t have 20 keywords in your title, but it’s way more subtle than that. SEO good practice of one year ago, might be spammy today. Most websites are all over-optimized, thanks to the trusty SEO consultants that have not undated their skills or knowledge.
Another huge Penguin factor is the devaluing of external links pointing to your website. It has helped you rank over the past decade but suddenly, they don’t count as much anymore and is associated with ranking losses. Google has, and is still sweeping the internet and devaluing links from all over. Those unnatural link warnings you received? Did you ever submit your SEO companies link reports and try to blame them for your decision to gain more links? You probably just got a ton of other sites in trouble, plus, where links may have helped you, they are now devalued also. It’s like a wildfire out there and it all started with one complaint against a competitor who “might” have had spammy links.
Give Google Credit
Google is very good at detecting spammy links, it’s really not a hard thing to do. But to have the public participate in the spam identification and cleanup, that is priceless. Regardless, Penguin is doing a great job at identifying over-optimized web pages and inbound links to your site. Google has decided to take targeted action on links they feel are spam, and at the same time will let you know they have done so in order to deter you from continuing, just in case it is actually you doing so and not some competitor trying to take you down.
The Orca Update?
Panda and Penguin are doing a great job at cleansing the Google index, providing better search results to users. See it like a big environmental cleanup that will benefit everyone in the end. There is only one thing to fear at this stage. Google’s Matt Cutts has warned of another update that will be much bigger and scary than Penguin. Some are dubbing it the Googlegeddon, but seeing that I have come to love the two black and white creatures, Panda and Penguin, I will dub the update “The Google Orca Update“, another black and white creature with more Bite!
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