Google are continually making small changes to their search algorithm, often up to 600 times within a year, but every now and then they make a more most important change.
No hesitation many of you will have already heard about one of their latest algorithm updates known as Penguin, designed to target web spam and over optimized websites.
I am often asked about Google updates and what force they have had on our clients, and I always have the same answer. 99% of the time Google updates are not a shock to me or any other ‘white hat’ SEO experts; they are simply trying to enforce the same policies they’ve always tried to encourage. Therefore if people have followed the existing quality guidelines generally webmasters should have very little to worry about.
It is obliging to understand that Google does consider search engine optimization (SEO) to be positive when done properly and when it helps to improve the user experience and ensure that the site is relevant with excellence content.
Again something we often highlight to our clients is that websites are planned to be viewed by human visitors, so whilst optimization is significant it should never be at the expense of the user experience and should actually improve the accessibility and ensure that users can find the content most relevant to them as easily as possible.
So what does Google consider to be webspam?
Two key areas Google have targeted with this update are keyword stuffing, and linking schemes from low quality sites or content and sites that have no relevance.
Keyword stuffing is the practice of including lots of keywords within a website in order to try and manipulate rankings. A common way of accomplish this is to have keywords listed in the same colour as the background of the site, therefore not visible to visitors, but search engines can see them. Alternatively people also include an excessive number of keywords within title tags or alt attributes.
Linking schemes that breach search engine guidelines are quite common on article based sites, where you can see hyperlinked keywords that have no relevance to the content on the page.
So in summary as long as you follow the search engine guidelines, then algorithm updates should not have a negative effect on your rankings, in fact they are designed to get better them and remuneration people that focus on building quality sites and content.