So, Google has posted the latest set of updates to the search ranking algorithm with a strong focus on further improving the quality of results. There is a good write-up over at Search Engine Land but the general gist is a focus on improving the quality of results and the way they are displayed.
Well, the changes are always very vague but seem to break down into two main areas being Site Clustering and Page Quality. 7
Site clustering is an ‘improvement’ (fix) to the way we have seen multiple results from a single site. Really, there were a bunch of search queries knocking about that demonstrated several results from a single domain, often for very similar pages so this really needed looking at.
Page Quality is also interesting and is just more aggression in the war on spam and manipulated search results so in practice, what we will see (should see) is more high quality results and less of the junk. There are several code named tweaks with explanations but if you read between the lines there are three main areas detailed being:
- high quality content from trusted sources
- improvements to Panda’s detection of high quality content
- high-quality pages with unique content
The highlighting is mine so what we are really looking at is a further push towards quality. This will be a two way thing with lower quality sites / pages suffering and higher quality sites / pages being rewarded. With the further devaluation of links they really are having to look at other ways to help classify content and trusted sources is another hint that wherever that trust comes from, be it author rank, domain, quality links, social signals or something else – you certainly want to fall under the trusted, high quality, unique content umbrella.
What’s in store?
Well, I would say more of the same. There is this further push towards quality and a rumoured update to the Penguin algorithm that is going to be likely further turning the aggression up on external sources. You don’t have to be an SEO to see bad or manipulated results and many of my clients have competitors that are clearly still benefiting from link manipulation and whilst Penguin hit people who were going hard at it, there is still a lot of pay-to-play SEO out there.
My advice? If you have escaped or recovered from a Panda or Penguin penalty or lost traffic and saw it restored but are still not squeaky clean, you are likely not out of harms way yet. If you want to ensure that you have long term ranking potential then you need to clean up your act and pro-actively do so else you risk losing traffic and having to dig your way out of the hole.
Now, more than ever, and going forward you have to provide a quality experience and to rank well in the organic search you have to be a trusted source and you do that by providing value to searchers with your high quality and unique content. This means you can’t simply pay some company to build links willy-nilly, you have to get involved and focus on quality before someone else does.
Problem or Opportunity?
Don’t get caught up in the ‘oh no, the sky is going to fall in mentality’, instead, see this as an opportunity as you can bet only a small number of sites are using this strategy in your niche and even smaller amount are doing it well. Don’t fall into another bad habit and move your spend onto weak £25 blog posts with no strategy, instead work with a consultant or someone who can help you be the best in your field, commit to putting the work in and learning as you go and over time, you will become unbeatable by those that simply chase the algorithm.
Update 22nd August
It seems that Matt Cutts has thrown a little more light on the upcoming update to the Penguin filter. In a response on Twitter he seemed to indicate that it’s links that people need to watch out for and be more careful with. Personally, I am working with a few sites that have been hit where there competitors seem to still be getting away with things. I would imagine that now they have confidence in their approach, they will be turning the dial up to 11 so if you have bad links and rode out the last Penguin update, don’t expect to be so lucky this time around.