Are you just getting used to Google’s last major algorithm change, Panda, from April 2011? Don’t get comfortable because another change is on the way. And this one is expected to be one of the biggest.
At South By Southwest (SXSW) last week, Matt Cutts, Google’s head of Internet spam, spoke to a panel about search engine optimization (SEO) and revealed that a new algorithm change is in the works. (You can find audio and a rough transcription of the panel here.) The meat and potatoes of what Cutts said is:
What about the people optimizing really hard and doing a lot of SEO. We don’t normally pre-announce changes but there is something we are working in the last few months and hope to release it in the next months or few weeks. We are trying to level the playing field a bit.
All those people doing, for lack of a better word, over optimization or overly SEO – versus those making great content and great sites. We are trying to make GoogleBot smarter, make our relevance better, and we are also looking for those who abuse it, like too many keywords on a page, or exchange way too many links, or go well beyond what you normally expect. We have several engineers on my team working on this right now.
At this point, there is lots of speculation about what sort of changes will be involved in the next algorithm enabled by Google. Early last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Google was about to begin its largest overhaul to date. This change is expected to involve “semantic search,” as well as changes to SEO, advertising, and page ranks. But, as is normal with Google, we don’t have many details about the update. Like Cutts said at SXSW, it is already unconventional for Google to even have mentioned that an update was coming.
There is no way to know what the penalties will look like until we start to see sites that previously ranked well drop unexpectedly and without other reasons. Here are some suggestions from Kenneth Wisnefski, online marketing expert and founder and CEO of WebiMax, on how to prepare for the changes to the Google algorithm:
Step 1: Break from the old keyword mentality, embrace synonyms
Since Google is changing their dependency on keyword ranking to include comparable “like” words, webmasters should evaluate their website copy and brand message. Webmasters can now use similar words in context, pulling dependency away from using the same keyword throughout the page.
Step 2: Build up your FAQ page
Google admits they will place more relevance on definitions and direct answers. This move is an attempt to return to the end user highly authoritative responses to questions they are searching for. Businesses can leverage this by increasing their FAQ or “Ask an Expert” page on their website by answering direct questions related to their products, services, company, and industry. Doing this important step will help their page get indexed for a wide variety of keywords.
Step 3: Don’t sell, educate
Treat your website as much as an opportunity to educate users as an opportunity to sell your product. If you sell seeds for flowers, educate the reader about how to pick the best seeds for your garden, don’t just offer them tulips.
The thing to keep in mind with these upcoming changes to the algorithm is that, with every change, Google has always intended to make the algorithm more human. Google wants to solidify its place as the best search engine in the world, so it is working hard to make sure the results are exactly what users are looking for every time. Pretty ambitious, huh? They’re trying hard and this next change is intended to help with that goal.
There’s no way to know when these changes will begin to have an effect on website rankings, so try some of these tips (they certainly won’t hurt you) and hopefully they’ll help you avoid losing any rankings in the upcoming weeks and months.
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