If you thought Google’s drive to remove spammy sites from search results had slowed, think again. Matt Cutts has published an article on the Google Webmaster Central blog alerting everyone to new update that’s about to be released. As usual, Google won’t give any specific details, however, it seems this update will only affect 3% of website. Whilst that number sounds small, the big Panda update only affected 12% of websites, and that created a huge storm. Three percent is still a quarter of that number, so the update will have a significant effect across the Internet.
Web spam is a real problem, especially for businesses that create good quality web sites only to see the top rankings in search results going to those spammy web sites. What is important for small businesses to understand now is that search is changing. Local search is having a much bigger impact, as is the ‘intent’ of those searching. In some cases, local results will outrank non-local web sites in a big way. Likewise, with the introduction of semantic search, web pages that may appear on page two of search results may suddenly appear at number one, if the users intent matches the content of a particular page.
As Cutts advises web site owners:
The goal of many of our ranking changes is to help searchers find sites that provide a great user experience and fulfill their information needs. We also want the “good guys” making great sites for users, not just algorithms, to see their effort rewarded…..
It’s interesting to also note this statement he makes at the end of the article:
We want people doing white hat search engine optimization (or even no search engine optimization at all) to be free to focus on creating amazing, compelling web sites.
I am not so sure about the “no search engine optimization at all” part of the statement. There are many web sites that have never been optimized, and despite having great content, rarely receive more than a handful of visitors. I do agree that quality should be your number one goal. That doesn’t mean you cannot undertake SEO activities on that content after it has been written. Tweak for keywords, ensure your page titles, headings and images are optimized, and that your internal linking is strong and well thought out. External linking is also encouraged, and despite what everyone says, inbound links from quality sites are a must and should be encouraged.
If Google can clean out all the spam and open the way for quality sites to float to the top, more power to them. In reality, spammers are already trying to find ways to work around Google’s algorithms – that shouldn’t stop you creating content that fits that ‘quality’ score, and it shouldn’t stop you undertaking white hat search engine optimization techniques to get your pages noticed.