This week Google’s Matt Cutts released a new video on the Google YouTube channel which you can watch here;
A full seven minutes and twenty four seconds of hints from Matt as to where the Google algorithm changes are going to hit next. For us the highlights were as follows;
1.30 – Matt says about Penguin – this latest release is a ‘little bit deeper and will have a little bit more of an impact’. This translates as ‘watch out, all hell is about to be let loose’.
1.50 – Matt says they are going after advertorials to make sure that Page rank does not flow and there is clear and conspicuous disclosure that you are looking at an advertisement. In essence a good thing but watch out all those sites who thought they could monetise their directory areas as these will all now need to be no follow. Just recently we have seen examples of sites with PR4 and above and contain ‘directory’ pages which are currently free, trying to gouge money out of the firms in there to make extra cash. It’s not going to work chaps.
3.10 –Matt talks about going ‘upstream’ to deny the value of a link and of working on more sophisticated link analysis to further change this. The problem with this is that Google is still fixated on Page Rank and the passing of inherent value between sites; in fact it is still fixated on links which are frankly the cornerstone of the algorithm but also their Achilles heel.
4.40 – The good news is that they are looking at ways of promoting and ranking authority sites which suggests that this could push out the spammers and one page exact match domains that often crowd searches, BUT we’re very cautious on how they will determine an authority site. Frankly Google has a hard enough time already deciding which sites are authority and we doubt that this will show any improvement. The chances are that it will, as always, penalise some perfectly good sites which currently rank because they are not considered to be an ‘authority’. When all you do is roofing in Romford it’s going to be hard to be an authority and it is these SME’s which are likely to be hardest hit and miss out again
5.15 – Matt talks about ‘softening the borders’ of Panda to allow sites that have been hit to perhaps rank again. As Panda is all about content quality we can only wait and see if this really does have an effect.
6.20 – Finally Matt says that they are going to deliver on their promise made last October and give Webmasters ‘more examples of where to go to diagnose your site’. We’re taking this to mean that they will finally be giving examples of the types of link s that they don’t like to give Webmasters a chance to affect a clear up without having to thrash wildly around in the dark looking for what is wrong.
6.55 – Matt signs off by describing the upcoming summer as ‘a lot of fun’. Sorry matt, we’re going to have to disagree.
In common with most agencies we take on clients who have been working with other SEO firms before and in the main we inherit whatever has gone before. Much of our time these days is spent cleaning up backlinks and trying to release penalties from sites and this gets in the way of doing any positive work. You want us to create compelling content for clients that gets visitors to the site? Stop sending us on wild goose chases looking for dodgy links in backlink profiles.
And this is still where Google has it wrong.
Frankly we have a huge amount of time and respect for the work that Matt and his colleagues do and let’s be frank, when your title is ‘Head of Webspam’ your days are going to be preoccupied with keeping one step ahead of the guys with the ‘black hats’. If all you see every day is ‘webspam’ then the temptation would be there to assume that the world is full of spam and that the majority of webmasters are out to trick the search results. Of course we’re not suggesting that Matt feels this way however the temptation would be there and we could understand that.
The problem lies in the measures that Google feels are appropriate to deal with sites that ‘transgress’. The assumption is that if you have links that Google doesn’t like then firstly, you put them there and secondly you should clean them up. And there is no grey area; you are either clean or dirty but it just doesn’t work that way.
Most people we deal with use Agencies because they either don’t have the time or the inclination to try and market their businesses themselves. Some don’t understand what make a website tick and most are desperate to find out what they really should be doing. Far too many firms still peddle the get rich quick idea of buying links, the fool proof ways of getting to number one and the guarantee of page one for £99 a month and every day SME’s in the UK sign up with them, falling for the sales pitch. Once they realise that it’s not working and try to get out it’s too late, the damage is done.
Google’s penalties therefore are hitting legitimate businesses whose only crime is to fall for a sales pitch, for which their penalty is to be cast into oblivion for the keywords that drive the business.
You can’t appeal, you can’t negotiate and you can’t discuss it with anyone. Once you’ve been hit with a penalty it’s a nightmare which even Kafka would have had trouble imagining. We’ve seen businesses give up on sites which are their only source of enquiries because Google has taken a dislike.
We’re sorry if this sounds gloomy but we are deeply concerned that what has gone before is just the tip of the iceberg. Over this summer expect sites to take a huge hit and some that currently sit atop the rankings to be thrown out of the top 100 for the keywords that drive their business. Right now we know of five sites, all top three, which are sitting on a time bomb and when it goes off they will lose everything. We know why they are where they are, how they got there and how to put it right but their current Agency is still peddling the wrong advice and the longer they stay on top the more other clients are suckered in because ‘if it works for them, it must work for us’.
Our view is to expect a summer of discontent and whilst you may think it ’fun’ Matt we’re guessing that millions of businesses around the world will find it anything but.