SEO Update – January 2011
Welcome to our monthly search engine optimisation (SEO) update for February 2011. This update highlights key news in the search industry during January 2011, key SEO-related blog posts from our bloggers in the US and Australia, and key articles covered in our global newsletter.
1. SEO News
a) Google algorithm change to address spam
In an attempt to improve the quality of search results, Google has released a major algorithm change that targets websites offering low levels of original content or content that has been scraped or copied from other websites. Some webmasters in the United States reported seeing large drops in traffic from Google on the 26th of January 2011. The algorithm change was confirmed by Matt Cutts on his personal blog on the 28th of January.
Implication: Searches are more likely to see the website that wrote the original content in the search results, rather than a website that copied or scraped that content. Websites that aggregate content, copy or scrape content from 3rd parties may expect to see a drop in traffic from Google, and in severe cases, removal of large quantities of indexed pages or complete de-indexation may occur. Websites based in the U.S. may notice a change first as Google tends to roll such major algorithm changes in North America before doing so to the rest of the world.
b) Google confirms usage of social signals in algorithm
In May of 2010, Google’s Matt Cutts stated in a Google Webmaster Help video that they did not use signals from social websites such as Twitter and Facebook in their algorithm. They have since had a change of heart and Matt recently announced, that social signals do now play a part. According to the latest video, these social signals are used primarily to populate the real time search results box.
Further to displaying tweets and fresh links in real time, Google is also investigating the possibility of using these web signals more widely in the algorithm and to what extent a user’s reputation can be utilised. Matt goes on to note that the quality of followers will also be important, so users of Twitter shouldn’t just go out and get a bunch of “reciprocal followers” as people have sought reciprocal links in the past.
Implication: Social signals from social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook will become more important in building online brand presence and improving search engine rankings.
c) Paid links
Bruce Clay wrote a post warning against purchasing links for ranking purposes. This post gained a lot of publicity online and resulted in Matt Cutts, the Head of Google’s Webspam Team, to tweet that “Reading Bruce Clay’s blog post about paid links that pass PageRank; it’s a good summary”.
Implication: Don’t buy links for ranking purposes.Carefully consider the risks
d) Yahoo! – now with more Bing
Yahoo recently announced the global Yahoo! and Microsoft Search Alliance has entered the next phase with Bing now powering Yahoo’s organic search results in three more countries, Australia, Brazil and Mexico. Yahoo users in the United States and Canada have been seeing Bing’s results in Yahoo since August 2010.
Implication: SEOs and users in Australia, Brazil and Mexico running ranking monitors for Yahoo and Bing should expect to see the same ranking positions for both Yahoo and Bing.
According to a recent tweet by Matt Cutts, Google will be focusing on cloaking in the first quarter of 2011.
Cloaking is the practice of presenting different webpages or parts thereof to search engine bots than what is presented to a normal user visiting from a web browser. While there are plenty of white hat and ethically sound reasons to employ the techniques, cloaking is a practice that is often exploited by black hats and spammers.
Implication: Cloaking should be avoided if at all possible, however if ethical cloaking is absolutely necessary for your website, double check your implementation against the Google Webmaster Guidelines and read our recent post, SEO Cloaking Techniques to Avoid in 2011, to ensure you are not at risk of possible penalties.
Key blog posts in January:
- Youtube Optimisation
- Four Ways to Optimise Your Apache Web Server for SEO
- How to improve your site indexation – XML Sitemaps Case Study
- SEO New Year’s Resolutions
- Five Things Businesses Should Know About SEO Agencies
- Online Branding: Can You Pay to be Successful?