Critical Google Ranking Change Leaked

At a panel style question and answer discussion a few days ago Matt Cutts - regarded as the public face of Google Search - let slip that Google are working on an update that may have a significant effect on thier search rankings.

In response to a question on how Google handles searches where there are some very well optimised pages that are outranking everything else for a particular search, Mr Cutts said:

"Most search engines have made a lot of progress in being able to crawl through all that richer content... what about all the people optimizing really hard and doing a lot of SEO? Normally we don’t normally pre-announce changes but there is something we have been working in the last few months and hopefully in the next couple of months or so we hope to release it. The idea is we are trying to level the playing field a bit. All those people doing, for lack of a better word, over optimization or overly doing their SEO, compared to those making great content and great site.

We are trying to make GoogleBot smarter, make our relevance better, and we are also looking for those who abuse it, like too many keywords on a page, or exchange way too many links or go well beyond what you normally expect. We have several engineers on my team working on this right now."

So what does this mean for your web site?

The good news is that if you have been doing what Google have always asked from the start - writing for people, not search engines - you may find your rankings improving as other pages lose position.

However, if you do have a lot of pages that are 'over optimised' you may lose some rankings. Since Mr Cutts did not give any details, we can only base it on earlier comments about what search engines look for.
Write unique content that is written for human readers
Do not repeat the keyword excessively in the page content. You would expect it in the headers and a few times in the content.
Look at the links pointing to the page - if all the links are using the same single keyword or key phrase, this may look suspect. Natural links tend to have varied link text.

Of course, we will only really see the effects once the changes are made live, and Google never reveals it's complete ranking algorithm, so actively monitoring your site will be vital.

There is some more information and a copy of the audio at SearchEngineLand.

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