The month of February was a busy month for Google. In early February many website owners were adjusting to a late January algorithm change announced by Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s Web Spam team. The change which was said to only impact just “over 2% of queries” was designed to drive down spam levels created through sites that copy content and feature low levels of original quality content.
A few weeks later Google made big news in the New York Times when it penalized popular department store J.C. Penny for partaking in the “black hat” SEO technique of buying thousands of links to bolster its search engine rankings for terms like “dresses”, “bedding”, “area rugs”, “skinny jeans”, “home decor”, and the like. Then over the next couple of weeks the search giant would hit Forbes.com, and Overstock.com with similar penalties.
Then, nearly a month after its last algorithm change and following some serious media attention related to penalizing three very large, and very popular websites, Google laid down its heavy hand again by announcing on February 24 that it had again made changes to it’s algorithm. This time, with a much more significant impact.
In a post on the official Google blog Matt Cutts announced,
“… in the last day or so we launched a pretty big algorithmic improvement to our ranking—a change that noticeably impacts 11.8% of our queries—and we wanted to let people know what’s going on. This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites—sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites—sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on. ”
But what does it all mean? Clearly the previous adjustment focusing on duplicate content and low quality sites had been folded into the larger update and would now impact even more queries, but aside from that the statement seems very vague, that is unless you read between the lines.
Sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis: This statement leads me to believe that Google is looking more at semantics; relevance, quality, relation. Semantic analysis is extremely important to Google and a vital part of information retrieval. The stronger the relevance and relation between a series of documents on the site, the more relevant they will be to that specific query.
Important for high-quality sites to be rewarded: Authority and trust have always played a huge roll in Google’s rankings and algorithm, and in my opinion this adds further emphasis. They aren’t very specific, but historically Google’s view on “high-quality” are trusted sites with longevity behind them and strong editorial backlinks.
In the aftermath, many webmasters took a significant blow from the update, some of which were probably unwarranted. Additionally many sites that deserved to be taken down by the change may have gone unscathed. In a recent interview with Wired Magazine, Google Fellow Amit Singhal admitted to these faults, stating, “no algorithm is 100 percent accurate.” But went on to say that Google’s engineers are already working to make updates to improve the algorithm to ensure that sites that deserve to be on the first page of Google are there.
Plastic Surgery Studios prides itself in staying on top of search engine trends, guidelines, and changes. As we come up on the one week mark of this significant algorithm change we are excited to say that to date none of our clients have felt any sort of negative repercussions from this update. We feel that this is largely in part due to the fact that our emphasis is on long term internet marketing strategies. If you were recently impacted by the Google algorithm change or are interested in finding out how we can help to make sure your internet marketing efforts are in line with Google’s quality guidelines, we encourage you to learn more about our Plastic Surgery SEO services.