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November 2003 Google Update & Dance

November 25, 2003

Rank for $ales is happy to provide all its clients and users this new section, where every month Serge Thibodeau, president & CEO of Rank for $ales discusses his views on the current monthly Google update and dance cycle.

Serge! Please help me! I am desperate. In the past few days, actually since November 18, I've seen my rankings drop faster than a rock. What have I done wrong? The reason I am so desperate is that I used to be between number 5 and 8 on the first Google page, but now I am nowhere to be found. Our sales for this week have dropped a staggering 80% as a result of this. Thanks for a great newsletter.

Glad you like our newsletter. I must have received over 30 emails similar to this one since last Monday. Relax. All is not lost. Do you remember "update Dominick"? For those that are newer to all of this, update Dominick was the last major monthly dance in April of 2003, where Google made some major algorithm changes which affected over 60% of all websites, which is of course a huge number of sites, accounting for over 1.8 billion pages at the time! (Note: the Google dance is the monthly major update Google does to its main database and usually occurs past the 15th or 20th of each month).

Google's new SPAM filter
To help prevent spam and improve the quality of search results, Google just introduced a new spam filter. Basically, what it does is it also acts as a keyword phrase filter. Some keyword phrases in many sites were unchanged, but many highly competitive phrases were significantly modified. Some site owners and Webmasters witnessed their sites drop from fairly high listings to not being in the top 500 sites.

Unlike other spam filters, this spam penalty does not affect a particular page or a website's overall perceived content value. The resulting effect can be significantly lowered site rankings for certain specific searches in the actual content of that page. If some site owners have some commonly paired words on their sites such as "search" and "marketing", Google's new spam filter will check to see how these keywords are placed on the resulting page, and, to a lesser extent, in the incoming links.

This new Google algorithm is looking for a more "native" and existing context, in an attempt in better preventing SEO'd sites from over-populating Google's search results. In essence, the goal of this spam filter is to get Webmasters and SEO's to adjust their optimized content to be written and adjusted for the users and visitors, not the search engines.

However, the danger with this assumption and change in Google's PageRank technology is that good SEO usually falls pretty much in line with good website design principles and good overall Web page structure and proper layout. This spam filter is very selective and it is only triggered by some terms on certain selective searches.

In the beginning of the Google November update "dance", this spam filter was adjusted by Google in a rather broad fashion. Later, it appeared to be adjusting itself more in line with more practical search results, which is typical of Google. Update Dominick in April of 2003 was in a way similar to this, although somewhat different.

I have seen some well-optimized sites getting back in pretty much the same places they were in before this new spam filter was implemented. However, contrary to update Dominick, this new filter is the first in recent search engine history where Webmasters and site owners have not been able to "reverse" engineer exactly what the search engine did, down to the smallest detail.

In light of all this, and to remain on the safe side, I would NOT recommend making any important changes in this current update, while Google is still adjusting and tweaking their new spam filter.

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Discussion written by Serge Thibodeau,
President & CEO,
Rank for $ales
Copyright (c) Serge Thibodeau 2003

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