Google has recently made some pretty significant changes in its ranking algorithm. The latest update, dubbed by Google forum users as "Allegra", has left some web sites in the dust and catapulted others to top positions. Major updates like this can happen a few times a year at Google, which is why picking the right search engine optimization company can be the difference between online success and failure. However, it becomes an increasingly difficult decision when SEO firms themselves are suffering from the Allegra update.
Over-optimization may have played the biggest part in the dropping of seo-guy.com from the top 50 Google results. Filtering out web sites that have had readability sacrificed for optimization is a growing trend at Google. It started with the Sandbox Effect in late 2004, where relatively new sites were not being seen at all in the Google results even with good keyword placement in content and incoming links. Many thought it was a deliberate effort by Google to penalize sites that had SEO work done. It's a few months later and we see many of the 'sandboxed' web sites finally appearing well for their targeted keywords.
With 44 occurrences of 'SEO' on the relatively short home page of seo-guy.com, and many of them in close proximity to each other, the content reads like a page designed for search engine robots, not the visitor. This ranking shift should come as no surprise to SEO professionals as people have been saying it for years now: Sites should be designed for visitors, not search engine robots. Alas, some of us don't listen and this is what happens when search engines finally make their move.
One aspect of search engine optimization that is also affected in a roundabout way is link popularity development. After observing the effects of strictly relevant link exchanges on many of our client's sites recently, we've noticed incredibly fast #1 rankings on Google. It seems Google may be looking out for links pages designed for the sole purpose of raising link popularity and devalues the relevance of the site. After all, if a links page on a real estate site has 100 outgoing links to pharmacy sites, there has to be a lot of content on that page completely unrelated to real estate. Not until now has that been so detrimental to a site's overall relevance to search terms. It goes back to the old rule of thumb: Make your visitors the top priority. Create a resources page that actually contains useful links for your site users. If you need to do reciprocal linking then keep it relevant and work those sites in with other good resources.
Keeping up with the online search world can be overwhelming for the average small business owner or corporate marketing department. Constant Google changes, MSN coming on the scene in a big way, and all the hype around the new Become.com shopping search function can make heads spin. But just keep things simple and follow the main rules that have been around for years. Google, as well as other search engines, won't ever be able to ignore informative, well written content along with good quality votes from other web sites.
About the Author
John Metzler is the co-creator of Abalone Designs, Inc. www.abalone.ca, a Search Engine Optimization company in Vancouver, Canada. He has been involved in web design and web marketing since 1999 and has helped turn Abalone Designs into one of the top SEO companies in the world.