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04 Apr 2012
Google has recently started providing updates on algorithm changes that are being rolled out via its Inside Search blog. Just over a month ago, Google released an announcement detailing 40 updates across various Google properties. One of these updates was as follows: "Link evaluation. We often use characteristics of links to help us figure out the topic of a linked page. We have changed the way in which we evaluate links; in particular, we are turning off a method of link analysis that we used for several years. We often rearchitect or turn off parts of our scoring in order to keep our system maintainable, clean and understandable."
Google has recently started providing updates on algorithm changes that are being rolled out via its Inside Search blog.
"Link evaluation. We often use characteristics of links to help us figure out the topic of a linked page. We have changed the way in which we evaluate links; in particular, we are turning off a method of link analysis that we used for several years. We often rearchitect or turn off parts of our scoring in order to keep our system maintainable, clean and understandable."
As you may expect, we don't know for sure what the 'method of link analysis' that was turned off was, but since this was posted by Google there has been a lot of flux in many SERPs, which appears to be related to how elements of links are being evaluated as a ranking factor. In addition to this, Google has sent out over 750,000 messages to Google Webmaster Tools accounts notifying webmasters if links have been found that contravene Google's webmaster guidelines and that a penalty has therefore been placed on the site that will cause a drop in rankings.
April 3rd saw a second post on the Inside Search blog, again with some points relating to link related algorithm updates.
Specific points of note are:
- Tweaks to handling of anchor text. [launch codename "PC"] This month we turned off a classifier related to anchor text (the visible text appearing in links). Our experimental data suggested that other methods of anchor processing had greater success, so turning off this component made our scoring cleaner and more robust.
- Better interpretation and use of anchor text. We've improved systems we use to interpret and use anchor text, and determine how relevant a given anchor might be for a given query and website.
The specific mention of anchor text in both of these cases is worthy of note. One of the most recognised 'flaws' in Google's ranking algorithm is its weighting towards links as a ranking factor, but more specifically the significant ranking impact that keyword-driven links can have (i.e. links that contain, often exclusively, competitive keywords in the anchor text).
Much of the discussion in the industry, and our own research, is that sites that have a heavy reliance on paid links, specifically with a large proportion of keyword-driven links, are seeing an often significant downturn in rankings. While there are currently many sites that seem to be exceptions to this, it is likely that Google will continue to improve this area of its algorithm in an attempt to devalue all links that break their webmaster guidelines.
At Epiphany we recognised a long time ago that loopholes such as this in Google's algorithm are likely to be relatively short-lived. That's why we invested a significant amount of money, time and effort in building significant Online PR, Copywriting and Creative functions within our business. These functions aim to serve our clients' SEO campaigns in generating high quality links that are in line with Google's guidelines, and that are very difficult to be replicated by their competitors.We recently released a short animation to explain this in more detail.
Our move towards a more 'creative'-focused approach to link building in the past year enables you and our clients' SEO campaigns to get ahead and stay ahead of the competition, in line with Google's best practice.