The SEO Merry Go Round – You Just Can’t Afford To Get Off

As 2011 steams ahead, so too is Google with their algorithm changes and innovation. In a recent interview Amit Singhal, a Google software engineer, advised Google’s innovation cycle is accelerating and the search giant is just getting started on the next generation of search. And if new releases and plans for 2011 are anything to go by, search marketers are in for a bumpy ride.

This year to date we have already seen the farmer update, as well as Google hinting that soon to follow will be an algorithm change which will lessen the weight assigned to keyword domains.
So what is the implication of some of these changes, and what else is coming?

Google FarmerFarmer Update

The farmer update, which was released in February 2011, targets the many content farms that have sprung up in the past few years. Whilst content is king, Google’s aim is to deliver quality search results and content. On that basis content sites which contain a vast amount of low quality content have seen a dramatic decline in rankings and traffic.

Implication: Despite the effect the farmer update will have on article submission as a key form of link building – it also has several other ramifications. Websites which have created content for the sole basis of ranking could also be in trouble as this algorithm change isn’t just targeting content farms. Sites which contain a sizeable amount of low quality content created for search are also in the firing line and the impact can spread far beyond penalisation of these pages. Google has indicated overall site rankings could be impacted as a result of poor content so it’s time for SEOs to get with the times and produce content which is fit for users not just spiders.

For more details on the Farmer update click here.

Keyword Rich Domains Under Review

In a recent video on YouTube Matt Cutts stated; We have looked at the rankings and weights that we give to keyword domains and some people have complained that we are giving a little too much weight for keywords in domains. So we have been thinking about adjusting that mix a bit and sort of turning the knob down within the algorithm, so that given 2 different domains it wouldn’t necessarily help you as much to have a domain name with a bunch of keywords in it.
Whilst Google is yet to adjust the algorithm there is no doubt that if Matt Cutts is talking about it, there is an algorithm change on its way.

Implication: This will be an interesting space to watch as Google will need to juggle how this impacts sites with keyword rich domains that are legitimate brands (not just created for the basis of ranking). Some experts believe Google may start by targeting hyphenated domains as this is a clear a signal of a spammy domain name.

Google Social Search Updates

Social Search StrategyInnovation and algorithm changes in the field of social search are high on the agenda for 2011. It has been widely publicised that social factors affect rankings and their influence is likely to increase overtime however Google is also pushing the envelope in the area of personalising results through social data. In February Google announced changes to search that will bring that will bring users more relevant, recommended results from their connections.

Implication: It is still very early days in the area of social search and there is no doubt Google has stumbled a few times and will continue to do so as they experiment. Like the impact of the farmer update, social factors will force SEO tactics to be more closely aligned with other online marketing strategies. In particular alignment across content and social media will have a significant impact on SEO outcomes in the months and years ahead.

What else do you think Google has in store in 2011?

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