The Google Dance

Well, well, well. It seems my last post How to Get Legitimate Backlinks, had come at just the right time. It is obvious to any marketer that right now Google’s index is dancing around like a cat on a hot tin roof!

There has been a lot of discussion and speculation as to why suddenly many thousands of sites are disappearing from the SERPs altogether, while others that previously ranked well for their keywords have dropped considerably.

So what is happening?

Well, I can speculate just as well as the rest of ’em, but I’m going to base my own theories on a fairly strong foundation of observation, knowledge, listening to what other experienced marketers say and weighing the odds.

Back in my last post, I made it clear that my own methods of obtaining links to my sites were slow, ponderous, hard work but natural. The way one would expect to see a site grow over time, slowly and surely. I also know that there are many marketers who don’t have time for all that, or want to see results quickly, so use other, more automated methods of obtaining links to their sites.

Well, its pretty obvious to me that getting links to your site fast using social bookmarking software and automatied comment producing software is unnatural and seen by Google as trying to game the system by artificially pushing your sites up in their index. This is exactly what Google does not like to see, because these are similar to tactics used by spammers to rank quickly in order to make some fast cash.

The way you have to look at it is that Google wants quality, information strong sites at the top of its index, so that when someone types in a serach for, say “how to make money online” they actually get sites that tell them how to make money online and not sites that hit them with a page full of ads and nothing to read. Same goes for every keyword search that is made of their index. If you’re looking for information on what are the the most honest ways of promoting a website, then you should be presented with sites that tell you exactly that. This is why Google are the number one search engine. Their results are pretty much as relevant as is possible and why when you type in the same search in Yahoo or MSN etc, you get widely different results.

Well, recently a lot of information on how to game the system has been published in various blogs with only the best of intentions of course, for instance how to go up against the big boys and stand a chance of competing. Unfortunately, that information is exactly the sort of thing that Google does not want made so public, as it has enough trouble on its hands as it is with spammers.

So when this or that great new piece of software or method of getting links to artificially climb the SERPs gets made public, what do you think Google are going to do about it?

Exactly what they’re doing right now!

And that is tinkering with their index yet again in order to counter the new influx of marketers using artificial tactics and techniques for gaming it. They have the ability to simply not count links that are created by artificial means. So what do you think are going to be ignored first? The easiest ones to spot, ie rapidly obtained social bookmarking tags, blog comments and links contained in duplicate content sources.

I repeat, this is only conjecture on my part, but I reckon I’m not too far off the mark from what I can observe for myself and from what people are saying.

Duplicate content has always been a no-no if you want your site to rank well in the SERPs. Every marketer knows this, yet so many fail to see that by writing one article with a link back to their site in its resource box that is then sprayed all over the net to hundreds of article submission sites using article submission software is going to be a target for ignoring by Google. Not penalising, as that would cause more problems than it would solve, but merely by ingnoring links contained in duplicate articles, Google can easily weed out a big proportion of the sites that have gotten links faster than they would have done naturally.

Similarly with social bookmarking links that have been obtained unnaturally rapidly. No penalty needed, simply ignore the links and the receiving site suddenly gets ranked as it should.

Another type of site that is obviously not welcome in Google’s index is the thin affiliate, or commercial sites that contain lots of ads but very little or no informative, relevant content. These include BANS sites, or eBay store type sites that contain mainly links to eBay auction items but very little true content. Recently GoDaddy had a domain sale of .info sites for 99c each , which many marketers jumped on to use as BANS or thin affiliate sites. Well, many of those sites either failed to get indexed, or if they did, were soon de-indexed again. The problem that was not forseen is that the .info qualifier is meant to identify “information” sites, as .com indicates “commercial” so using .info domains for commerce is viewed by google as wrong.

Google has for many years been at war with MFA (made for adsense) sites. These are sites that contain little useful content and mainly lots of adsense (or similar) PPC ads with the intent to attract visitors from the SERPs who will find the site of no value and click an ad to navigate elsewhere. This has the potential to make the site owners a lot of money if they can get their MFA sites onto the first page of Google’s index, which is why spammers and other get rich quick marketers constantly do battle with Google to get this type of site indexed and highly ranked. By Google ignoring automated software generated links, this is a powerful way for Google to beat the spammers.

So if your own sites are bouncing all over the place in the SERPs at the moment and you are wondering why this is happening, I hope to have shed some light on things. It may not be exactly as I’ve pointed out, but I’ll bet that I’m pretty close to the mark. If your sites are legit, contain plenty of good, original and relevant content and you got your links the slow and steady way, then yuou should have nothing to worry about.

For my part, that is exactly how I’ve been building my own sites – slowly and naturally over a long time. For me then, I hope that Google is stamping out the automation in getting links by simply ignoring them. It makes the playing field more level for me and those like me that do things the honest way!

Terry Didcott
The Honest Way