Google seems to be at it yet again with algorithm changes. This time there was no announcement from Matt Cutts, head of web spam at Google. Instead, what many in the SEO field have begun to notice is a dramatic shift unlike anything we’ve seen.
Google has made it well known that their latest PANDA and Penguin updates were meant to penalize black-hat tactics and “level the playing field” to a certain extent. Then came the exact-match domain bomb they dropped and even legit websites with 100% white-hat optimization practices were targeted. The latest movements seem to specifically target the white hat, quality SEO guys.
The observation, first reported by SEO “guru” Jeremy Kelsall, a senior member of the Warrior Forum, seems to show Google attempting to sway organic results in order to encourage people to click on their ads. As you can see by the example below, it’s mainly affecting general keyword searches. This would make sense as very popular search phrases attract the most advertisers and advertising dollars. Notice how that none of the top results (except the video) have optimized for this keyword, thus leading people to believe that Google is trying to emphasize the paid ads by making the organic results appear less relevant.
I have yet to see this affect local businesses, but it’s certainly an eye-opening discovery. It’s worth noting that even our large international clients have yet to see any drop in rankings for popular terms they’re targeting, so all I have to go by is what other SEO experts are reporting. Needless to say, people who have already been frustrated with their white-hat tactics being penalized by Google are surely to be even more upset by this shift.
Despite all the recent changes within Google’s search results, one thing is for sure: having a Google+ account matters. So make sure you set one up for yourself and your business and claim your Google authorship. There have been some examples where having a Google+ account allowed some to overcome this disputed “update” by Google.
TRBO will continue to monitor this and keep you posted. If you have any insight on this development or have seen your rankings drop we’d love to hear about it. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about Google and ranking highly, please leave TRBO a note here or call 877-673-7096 x2.