Search engine optimization for small and very small businesses.

Google Dance Named “Jagger”

You may have noticed that Google is currently updating its ranking algorithm. This seems to be a major update because many people are reporting significant in their rankings. The PageRank of www.MSN.com dropped to PageRank 2 in this latest update so there really seem to be some big changes in the new algorithm.

Google engineer Matt Cutts more or less denies that this is a big update in his blog:

“These days rather than having a large monolithic update, Google tends to have smaller (and more frequent) individual launches. […]

My point is that more than ever, we are constantly working to improve our algorithms and scoring. Some changes are hardly noticed at all. Some changes (e.g. user interface improvements) are more visible. Some changes have nothing to do with spam […] Some changes do try to decrease spam or increase core quality. […]

And again, these PageRanks and backlinks have already been incorporated into scoring a while back (Google updates PageRank continually and continuously), but some people just love to look at PageRanks.)”

There are a few factors that seem to be important in this update:

  • Hidden text spam seems to be more penalized. While most search engines consider white text on white background spamming, it seems that Google now also recognizes text that is hidden in invisible CSS layers. (CSS is a technical web coding protocol. Invisible CSS layers work like white text on a white background: they show some text to the search engines that normal people visiting your page can’t see.)
  • Links from automated link exchanges and text link advertising systems seem to count less.
  • As with every algorithm update, Google tries to remove the spam from its database with this update.

How should you react?

First of all, don’t panic. If your web site rankings have dropped, wait another week to make sure that the index update is over. If your web site is still not listed, take a look at what you might have done wrong.

If you use CSS to hide text on your web pages, remove it. Google doesn’t seem to like that at all. If you use other techniques that might be considered spam, remove them from your pages.

If you have a links page, do not use a link exchange system with a central server but host your link pages on your own web site. Being part of a centralized system makes your web site vulnerable if the centralized system is considered spam.

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