If you know anything about search engine optimization or Google, then you most likely realize they have been making more changes than your favorite social network recently. Let’s face it, nobody likes it when Facebook changes, however after days of complaining it seems like everyone adapts and can’t even remember what the interface used to look like. So that aspect is good, people adapt and simply get used to it. I think all of these changes that Google are making will eventually lead to a better search experience for the user and for the SEO experts out there.
Here is a letter that Google has recently been sending out:
Dear site owner or webmaster of (X website),
We’ve detected that some of your site’s pages may be using techniques that are outside Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Specifically, look for possibly artificial or unnatural links pointing to your site that could be intended to manipulate PageRank. Examples of unnatural linking could include buying links to pass PageRank or participating in link schemes. We encourage you to make changes to your site so that it meets our quality guidelines. Once you’ve made these changes, please submit your site for reconsideration in Google’s search results.
If you find unnatural links to your site that you are unable to control or remove, please provide the details in your reconsideration request.
If you have any questions about how to resolve this issue, please see our Webmaster Help Forum for support.
Google Search Quality Team
My initial questions are what does this mean? What do I need to change? What is going to happen to my website. Oh and I am probably going to have a few expletives for Google. After reading through the letter again, it becomes clear that Google is cracking down on manipulative SEO practices. Google loves content and if your site has good content, then other sites or blogs will naturally want to have a link to your content. The issue is that people are using unnatural link-building methods, such as using blog networks. Basically this is using a network of blogs that are usually unreadable and have unrelated topics, simply to create anchor-text links back to your website. These blogs seem to be public enemy #1 to Google at the moment. Again I see this as a good thing.
Google says they are trying to make their GoogleBot smarter, they want to penalize those that abuse it, and want to reward those sites that have great content. So what can you do to make sure your site is ready for the changes that Google is in the process of making? Here are some basic things to make sure your site is ready.
Create good content. This has been and most likely always will be important, we have all heard it before and I’ll say it again “content is king”. Create well-written unique content that is relevant and users will find valuable. Add your own photographs, this will help with SEO and it will help engage your users. Another thing to think about are videos, because users love to watch videos and Google loves videos as well.
Your site also needs to go social. Your site needs to have a presence on social media, and an authoritative presence is even better. It’s good to be visible and interact with users on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube at the least. Pinterest is also becoming important in the social media world. This will all take time and effort, however it is very important, because it’s where the conversation is happening. Again you need good content here that will engage your users, this way they share your content and it will help you see rankings in Google.
Obviously link building is still very important, however it has to be done on the up and up. Sites that use “black hat” techniques such as the blog networks will be penalized. However, if your site is creating good well-written content, which your users will benefit from, you will gain links naturally from your users. Again content is king and building relationships with other web-masters in your niche will help you get these natural links.
Lastly make sure your site and social networks create some sort of positive user experience. As most of us know search engines follow people, this seems to be proven in most cases. You can get users to your site several different ways, including social media campaigns, press releases, offline marketing, and many other techniques. If you can get users to your site and interact, you will see a positive impact from the search engines.
So make a site that is useful, interesting, compelling, and relevant, and people will naturally interact, stay on your site longer and have an overall increased user experience. Once this happens everything else should fall into place for your site.
In the end this is why I believe that, much like all of the Facebook changes, the changes Google are making to its algorithm will have a positive impact on everyone’s search experience, and it will force site owners and SEO experts to create better websites with great content. Eventually people will forget what it used to be like, just like they do with the Facebook Changes.