November 4, 2011
This just in- the world’s largest search engine, Google, has just recently announced a change to its search algorithm that is said to impact 35% of all Web searches. This is certain to put search engine optimisation companies in a frenzy. Last June it was reported that Google’s Caffeine web indexing system which promised “50 per cent fresher results” was completed, and now Google has altered the system’s algorithm to better determine when to give the most updated results. According to an article on zdnet.com the web giant is trying to give the most relevant and recent results to its users through an algorithm that is “able to figure out if a result from a week ago about a TV show is recent, or if a result from a week ago about breaking news is too old,” as Google fellow Amit Singhal would put it.
Freshneness and Search Engine Optimisation
According to an article on techcrunch.com this update is particularly beneficial and useful for searches where freshness matters (QDF - Query Defines Freshness). TechCrunch added that the new algorithm is said to know the different types of searches and “freshness” needs of each of these searches and delivers results accordingly. For searches about news and recent events or of regularly occurring events such as the Presidential elections, football games, the Oscars or company statistics, Google will automatically give users the most recent information available; some only minutes old, without the user having to type in a specific year or date. This is an important factor to consider for consultants that deal with search engine optimisation. Otherwise, it will give the sites most relevant to the user’s search.
TechCrunch states that Google has also added the Panda update, meant to decrease the rankings of “content farms”-- sites that accumulate content in order to lure search-engine traffic and consequently fill up the page with low-quality results.
Desired Results with Unintended SEO Effects
With so much information coming in every minute, many experts agree that such a move to change the search algorithm was just right as it has brought quality sites with original, updated content to the surface where they belong, though many others SEO experts think otherwise. According to CNN Money the change has dramatically “shaken up” the businesses of some websites, moving some up the ranks and unfortunately for some, down it. CNN Money indicates that an estimated $1 billion in annual revenue has shifted around the largest internet properties, with some sites such as Mahalo.com, Wisegeek.com and Ezinearticles.com experiencing the fall immediately.
While some say that this is Google’s way of penalising those sites with copied content, many search engine optimistion consultants feel it has had a negative effect on sites that don’t really deserve it. Take for instance the experience of My3cents.com, as published by CNN Money. Max Spankie, who operates the site, was taken aback by how negatively it had affected his site, when just a few short months ago it was recognised as a top consumer complaint site by the non-profit Consumer Federation of America. Morris Rosenthal, a publisher of laptop repair how-to books and owner of the site FonerBooks.com also shares a similar sentiment, saying that searches for his books now go to other sites- one that even allows the illegal download of his book for free- instead of going straight to his website. This flaw can be attributed to the slower website hosts of these small to medium-sized businesses, notes whitehatworks.com, as these businesses often “cannot afford to be hosted on super fast hosts and do not have large teams that can restructure their websites to go faster”.
Keeping Up with Search Engine Optimisation Changes
For those sites that have fallen behind, there is still hope for getting back on top with or without the assistance of a search engine optimisation consultant to help with any desired changes. Though no manual changes can be made, CNN Money reports that Google will often make necessary changes to its algorithm once legitimate challenges have been established; and these challenges are beginning to form via the Webmasters discussion forum about the topic.
Since the new algorithm is extremely effective in spotting genuine and quality content, then it would be best to proactively make changes there now in order to climb back up website rankings later. Webuildyourblog.com suggests making website content as unique as possible, and adding various types of content to websites or blogs, such as images and videos. Also, adding backlinks and internal links will signal search engines of the relative importance of a certain webpage.
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