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Google drops the bomb on googlebombing..

The author

Malcolm Slade

Head of Technical SEO

Backlinks backfire I've been hit by it. You may have been too. February 2007 saw a massive index change as far as a lot of SEOs are concerned. Personally I lost 4 really competitive positions (top 3 on high traffic terms) on one website. These positions were literally buried in the results. Another was totally unaffected. Others are complaining too in the discussion forums

Really takes the wind out of your sails... You work and work and then it feels like Google just takes the rug right from under your feet.

Personally I'd been working a year on my site, and almost feel like i'm back to square one.

If you know about the importance of backlinks already, then hark back to the time when miserable failure made George Bush's CV on the white house page pop up as the number one result. Because it ain't they're anymore sonny. Did Google lose their sense of humour? To be fair it was an old joke. The basic trick of googlebombing was to exploit the 'authority' algorithm that attampts to find sites that point the user to a useful resource. You get as many sites to link to a target site with the same anchor text and in theory the target site should appear top of the results. In the case of miserable failure, thousands of webmasters and bloggers all linked to George Bush's CV on the website with the words 'miserable failure' causing that page to be seen by Google as the most authoritative page on miserable failures. Google's latest (February 2007) algorithm change (known as the Google Dance) seems to have heavily penalised sites benefitting from that type of link strategy. It seems like a lot of backlinks (those links from external sites that point to you), from directories for example, have been devalued massively. I suspect this because the site that i lost major ground on one was the one that had recieved the most link love from a recent directory submission. Furthermore a major event happened earlier this year that was bound to shakeup the Google index. A hitherto major source of high quality authoritative back links was Wikipedia. In a response to search engine spammers and general critics, wikipedia introduced a robots "no follow" tag, and so blocking the search engines from indexing their external links. This meant that the page rank benefit of wikipedia would not carry over to sites it linked to. Perhaps this can also explain the 'burying' of sites that myself and others have experienced. If your top rankings have been affected by the latest algorithm change, do not despair - there are loads of others out there affected too and soon advice will be on hand as to how to claw back lost ground.