January is a time of change here in Michigan.  Holiday decorations are taken down, snow starts to fall instead of during the actual holiday and websites are all atwitter in anticipation of what traffic the magical world of the internet will bring them.  Meanwhile, back at the ranch, website owners sit and develop nervous twitches wondering what Google will change next.  Did anybody happen to see any ranking changes in their site the last couple days of January?  Did you even check your analytics?  If not, you’d better.  Why?  Google is at it again and made a change to their algorithms.

True or False?

True.  It’s usually just mass paranoia when rankings take a dive for no apparent reason, but this time there’s a method to the madness.  Google has been tweaking anything that their spiders see as duplicate content and is now penalizing your site for it.  Does your site have definitions, direct quotes or summaries of other sites featured in your content?  If so, then it’s time to rewrite it.  Something else to look out for is keyword stuffing.  Make sure any keywords you have on your page are relevant to that page and not misleading.  For example, if you had “If you came here looking for information on Keeping Up With The Zahringers, we’d like to tell you about our wonderful alternate programming first!” Bad.

This is just the first of many changes to Google’s algorithms that will be surfacing this year.  While I’m not fond of having a page penalized for having quotes on it (how does this work for news agencies where they actually do indeed quote people?), it does help cut down on the amount of copying of other site’s content that goes on out there.

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