14 Jan Garbage In, Garbage Out: The Dirt on Google’s New Algorithm
Google’s new search algorithm has Web marketers scrambling for content instead of search engine rankings.
When the world’s most popular search engine rolled out its new search algorithm in late November it changed the landscape for search engine-savvy marketers. Sites that had enjoyed top ranking with free listings in their key phrases for years disappeared completely. Their traffic dropped off. Their free ride was over.
Google’s decision to change their search algorithm was a good one. For too long, Google’s page rank system treated every Web site as valuable and every hyperlink from one site to another as an endorsement. This made it too easy for webmasters to exchange links and leave breadcrumb trails to their sites from unsuspecting forums, Internet directories and guest books.
Their latest algorithm considers keyword proximity and other factors of artificial rank boosting. It assumes that commercial sites are more likely to be optimized and that non-commercial sites are less likely to be optimized. Then, it works to bypass and exclude pages that fail scrutiny.
It attempts to return the most relevant results, while at the same time avoiding the most optimized results.
Tactics that used to be sought after now work against you. High keyword density and keyword proximity used to be viewed as a sign of relevance. Now, they are more likely to be viewed as a sign of optimization. Too many keyword-laden links to your site and or reciprocating links also work against you.
Changes in Google’s algorithm provide an ideal opportunity for Web marketers to re-evaluate the substance of their sites and develop marketing strategies that aren’t dependent on free search engine listing:
Improve your content
Providing good content is the best insurance policy against the retribution of search engine algorithms. Good content keeps visitors coming back. It increases your rank in search engines and provides the baseline for a successful Web site.
Remove signs of over-optimization
Get rid of invisible keywords, computer-generated doorway pages and cloaking. Anything placed in your site solely to search engines should be suspect.
Build solid link partnerships
Good links from appropriate sites will still improve your search engine rankings. More importantly, they will provide you with traffic that is not dependent on changes to the search engine algorithms.
Explore log files
Understand where your site traffic comes from and what keywords searchers use to find your site. Let the presence or absence of keywords influence content to be added or removed from your site, where to promote your site and AdWord purchases.
Use public relations
Consider a public relations campaign in 2004 that will increase and generate meaningful content for your Web site, while, at the same time, increasing your awareness and relevance to site visitors. Promote your Web site as the place to go for meaningful content and deliver it.
Consider advertising and Web-based promotion
Don’t expect a free ride to sell your products and services. Develop a 12-month plan to promote your site using paid advertising and Web-based promotion.
Changes in the Google algorithm also bring us back to reality. It makes the key to search engine optimization the same as the key to effective marketing: your ability to stand out from the crowd – rather than your ability to exploit it.
Troy Janisch is president and founder of the Icon Interactive Group (www.iconinteractive.com), an industry leader helping companies integrate Internet and other Interactive media into sales channels, marketing strategies, and overall branding. He can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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