Published April 22, 2012

Panda Update Redux

In Honor of the 100th year anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, Google sinks “unsinkable” websites.  Leaving the flotsam of sites that still use link exchanges and otherwise cheap linking schemes, The world leader in search decides to throw it’s weight around like an iceberg slowly ripping the hull plates out of websites built specifically to withstand the mysterious algorithm.


No matter what your race, creed or political leaning if your website has dropped in relevant search ranking, your anguish and angst is all too real. If you have been using Google Webmaster tools (and yes I still recommend you do) you will have gotten a short terse note advising you that big brother has decided some of your inbound links are “unnatural” in appearance.


The irony of this statement is that Bing has only recently “out-ed” Google for Buying Links to promote it’s own products.  Like Barry Bonds accusing a major league pitcher of using steroids, search-marketing experts are struggling to determine the depths of this latest Panda Update.


In a recent industry blog post in Web Pro World, William Cross suggested that two websites hit by this latest update, had only one thing in common an “Un-approved” blog comment.  Lazy blog administrators just not wanting to be bothered with long comment strings on their blog had marked both comments as spam.


Never mind that Google has told us that it is taking into account clues from social websites like Twitter and Facebook, apparently it is also taking in information on blog comments that never see the light of day.  Like another James Cameron movie, if the accusation is true, there seems no way to stop the Terminator.


Word Press has long been the format of many blog-based websites and probably will be for some time to come, the source of the un-approved comment problem may be a plug-in called Akismet that is designed to flag spam comments.

Some speculate that Google has a stake in Akismet and that has given the search giant access to the data.


That along with recent comments by Google spokesperson Matt Cutts that in the next updates, websites that are “Over Optimized” will be effected.  We’ll all have to wait and see exactly what that means.  In the world of search optimization, this is nothing new. As search engines make adjustments, there is always a period of analysis and discovery.


The down side is that in order for business websites to compete in search results, they need to be “optimized” for the search program to even “see” what the business is selling.   So the latest push by Google to eliminate the need for search engine optimization is not only counter productive it is another blunder by a business behemoth that proves there is still room in Search Marketing for a better solution than Google.


What Google seems to have forgotten in the chase for market dominance is “marketing.” Yes, humans using a search engine want relevant websites to populate the results, but those relevant results are largely there because the SEOs of the world have gone to the trouble of figuring out the elements that help a website declare what it relates to and how to connect that website with other websites in related subjects. Search Optimization is really just helping search engines present better results.


But Google over the last few years has thought up more ways to throw more convoluted and paid advertising into and ahead of the natural search results so that Internet users have to work harder to find what they are looking for without the input of “Big Brother Google.”


As a personal experiment, (non-scientific at this point) I have begun switching the search preference on browsers of friends and colleagues to Bing. People that I know that use the web all the time for shopping and research but are not marketing professionals. I leave it for a month and then come back and offer to change it back to Google. No one ever takes me up on my offer.


Can we stop Google from continually adjusting its algorithm to mess with search results? The answer is no, and to be honest it keeps Search Marketers in high demand repairing damage to legitimate relevant business websites that drop in search results. Is Google still the largest most dominant search engine? Yes, but look for Bing to keep taking bites out the Google market share.

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