Google recently announced significant changes to the algorithm they use to rank websites, continuing their ongoing effort to provide the best possible search results. The change is reported to have affected nearly 12% of search results in the US; a dramatic increase over the 2% impact caused by most algorithm changes.
As has been the case historically, the negative impact of these changes have been most dramatic for websites which achieved their placement status through manipulation of Google’s ranking system. Content generating websites, often called “content farms,” are likely feeling the biggest pinch. These sites produce large volumes of low-quality content in an effort to draw a high volume of search traffic, which facilitates their sale of advertising and affiliate sales commission.
As horror stories of websites dropping from 1st to 70th-place make dramatic headlines and stir uncertainty among Internet business owners, some search engine optimization (SEO) companies have used this mini-crisis to proclaim their own worth, saying that it takes “experts” to keep up on the latest trends and keep your website on top.
However, those paying attention see it differently: It was the very SEO companies that are now proclaiming their worth who put their own clients in this position to begin with, advocating tricks and tactics whose utility was destined to be short-lived. Those who buy into promises of unethical SEO practices will continually rise and fall with each new change, trading short-term gains for long-term progress.
Far from a radical philosophical change in how Google ranks websites, the recent modifications are just another milestone in a continual process which reinforces what has always been true: Websites that provide unique, high-quality content, speak in-depth on one or two topics, and show they’ve earned the respect and credibility of their peers will continue to rank better and better.
My advice is to focus on SEO fundamentals and to build your website for people rather than search engines. Speak honestly, write unique, fresh and useful content, and strive to build a strong network with other like-minded websites through cross-linking. In this way, you will become a valuable resource to your website visitors, align your company with Google’s principles and position yourself for long-term benefit.
For more information on the fundamental skills of ethical search engine optimization, check out my article Search Engine Optimization: The Basics.