On May 13, Matt Cutts released a video to discuss some major SEO changes in the summer of 2013. When do these changes start? I suspect they’re rolling out now now and should be complete by late August. He talks of what I translate into 10 “Shock and Awe” updates that are designed to improve Google’s search results. These are aimed at spammers and black hats trying to game Google while awarding the good with higher rankings.
Before we get further into the meaning of each update, it is important to point out that there is actually simplicity in understanding the overall principles of what you should do with your website and its marketing. Don’t try to game Google. Read the Webmaster Guidelines and understand them. Produce good content (written, images, video) that people will enjoy and want to naturally link to. It’s also important to have a well-built site that is optimized for fast browsing and mobile devices.
While, simple principles, it’s not always easy to do all of this. I liken it to trying to stay healthy. You can say, “Eat healthy, get exercise, cut out fats and sugars, drink more and get more sleep,” but doing it is another matter. You have to follow through.
When you don’t follow through, the “weight” might not come off, and when that happens it’s time to make a change. Sometimes that change comes in the form of a supplement or a diet pill, but we all know these are temporary solutions. Band-Aids, if you will. Like weight loss, you have to commit to SEO in order to get the most out of it. Relying on someone named “Sammy” with a Gmail address who promises to rank you at the “top of the search engines” for only $99 per month isn’t going to get the job done right.
And finally, an underlying message I always take from these update announcements is that if you cannot buy the “oomph” in your website and content production, then you can always use AdWords to boost traffic to your website. Heck, Google makes over 90% of its billions of dollars in revenue each quarter from it’s advertising platform.
Creative marketing on their part, right?
Let’s break down Matt’s explanation of the summer updates so everyone can understand.
1. Penguin Updates
The next generation Penguin update, Penguin 4 (AKA Penguin 2.0), which is expected to launch in the next few weeks, will go deeper and have more of an impact than the first Penguin update. We expect to hear more an outcry from the SEO community than we did after past updates.
Earlier this year, Google went after some websites for using advertorials as a means to artificially inflate their link profile. Matt Cutts said Google will soon take a stronger stance against those using advertorials in a means that violates their webmaster guidelines.
3. Spammy Queries
While queries that tend to be spammy in nature, such as [pay day loans] or some pornographic related queries, were somewhat less likely to be a target for Google’s search spam team, Matt Cutts said Google is more likely to look at this area in the near future. He made it sound like these requests are coming from outside of Google and thus Google wants to address those concerns with these types of queries.
4. Going Upstream
Matt Cutts said they want to go more “upstream” to deter link spammers and the value of the links they are acquiring from the sources. This seems to imply to me that Google will go after more link networks, like they’ve done in the past.
5. Sophisticated Link Analysis
Matt promises that Google is going to get even better at their link analysis. Google’s head of search spam explained that Google is in the early stages of this much more “sophisticated” link analysis software but when it is released, they will be much better at understanding links.
6. Improvements On Hacked Sites
Google has done a lot of work with hacked sites and their index, specifically labeling the search results of potentially hacked sites, removing those sites and also warnings webmasters about the hack. Matt said Google is working on rolling out a new feature to better detect hacked sites in the upcoming months. Cutts also added they plan on improving webmaster communication in regards to hacked sites.
7. Authority Boost
Google hopes to give sites that are an authority in a specific industry, community or space a ranking boost. So if you are an authority in the medical or travel spaces, Google hopes that related queries will return your site above less authoritative web sites.
8. Panda Sympathy
While many sites have been impacted by the Google Panda update, Matt Cutts said that many of those impacted are borderline cases. Google is looking for ways to “soften” that impact by looking at other quality metrics to move those on the line to not be impacted by the Panda algorithm.
9. Domain Clusters in SERPs
The number of clusters of the same domain name showing on the first page of Google’s search results should lessen this year. Google’s Matt Cutts said they want to make the search results on the first page even more diverse, but when you click to the second results page, you may be more likely to see clustered results from the same domain name. Google is constantly tweaking how many search results from the same domain name show up on a single page of search results.
10. Improved Webmaster Communication
As always, Google is always saying they want to improve their communication with webmasters. Matt Cutts said to expect even more detailed examples within webmaster notifications received within Google Webmaster Tools.