In a stunning move, even as the dust settles from their deindexing of some blog networks last week, Google is announcing a brand new ranking algorithm designed to level the playing field for domains in competitive industries.
Each year, Google changes its search algorithm 400 to 600 times. While most of these changes are minor, every few months there’s a major update that significantly affect the search results, and this is one of those times.
Professional SEO’s have long been complaining about competitors that are unfairly able to influence the search results through nefarious methods like buying links, having “undeserving” sites rank higher.
In competitive niches, these links cost a fortune, with some .edu links commanding hundreds, or even thousands of dollars monthly for a single link. The fact is, not enough webmasters are doing the right thing by reporting their competitors and link prices have skyrocketed.
Not only has this underground economy become a rich mans game that few can sustain, but it’s also taking money out of Googles pockets by siphoning off potential Adwords revenue.
That’s one of the reasons Google just showed us how buying AdWords can increase your organic clicks - Because they want you to spend your text link money with them instead!
After the JC Penney embarrassment in the press last year showing how easy it was to game the rearch results, Google almost immediately released the first Farmer / Panda update in an attempt to regain control.
Now though, everything as we know it is about to change, and as @mattcutt says, this one single update will make Panda look… cuddly.
More than Just Links
Not only will this impact the dominance of the wealthiest 2% of webmasters who can buy the expensive links, but it will ALSO affects the elite few who can afford to hire talent that’s financially out of reach for the rest of us.
Some websites have the good fortune of being run by people who are not only smarter than others, but they have more money too, and it’s just not fair. They get the best graphics, the best copywriters, the best conversion testing, the best platforms to run on, faster servers… I could go on but it’s just ridiculous and makes my blood boil.
How is This Fair?
Having more resources at their disposal gives these domains a completely unfair advantage over others who weren’t born with a silver spoon in their mouths, and it’s about time someone actually gave a damn about them!
- Just because a company can afford authors to write great content, why should that give them an advantage?
- Just because a company “knows the right people” in the social media space who are able to get the word out through Twitter and Facebook, why should they be rewarded with higher positioning?
- Just because a company can hire more talented graphic artists and programmers to create a better website, why should they rank higher than those using free WordPress themes and Googled images?
- Just because a company has the money to not only hire an SEO consultant, but to implement their advice too, how is it fair that they would then rank better and make even MORE money?
What’s this update called?
The code name for the project was “Obamarank”, but some are referring to it as the “Occupy Update” or the “Alinsky Algorithm” – I don’t know what Google will settle on.
All I do know, is that this change does more to fight the injustices in the current system than any changes that have ever come before.
I think it’s a long overdue move by Google, who has in the past been accused of being unfair and of showing a preference to “big brands” that really don’t need the extra money that ranking well brings them anyway.
Being rolled out slowly, so as not to shake up the entire world, Google’s plan is to add a certain level of randomness to every search, bringing those that are less fortunate (i.e. those with terrible websites and very few backlinks) to the first page of the search results.
While this is unconfirmed, there is speculation among industry professionals that as many as five of the top ten search results will be pulling from results that were previously not in the top ten pages!
And, it won’t be the same five results that get elevated for every search either, because these too, are of course, heavily personalized.
Some Are Happy
Because it’s an election year, politicians are even speaking out at the prospect of seeing these results, and in a statement this morning, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said this:
We are delighted that Google has taken these steps to redistribute the SERP wealth, instead of continuing to reward those who already have far more than their fair share of traffic.
Some Are Not
In contrast, showing what appears to be the first show of solidarity since Ronald Regan was president, all house and senate Republican members AND the remaining 2012 presidential candidates (except Ron Paul) issued a joint statement”
This shift in the very foundation of the search results will have seismic consequences, and will likely raise the price of gasoline and make us less safe from terrorism in the process.
Ron Paul issued his own statement, but it was just an incoherent rant about not trusting Google, pointing to examples of hypocracy dating back years and one appalling privacy issue after another. Basically, it just sounded like he was trying to make Google out to be a ‘bad guy‘.
When asked at this morning’s White House press briefing if Mr. Obama would be giving a statement , Presidential spokesman Jay Carney said only this:
Although the Republicans MAY be correct about this rankings update raising the price of gas, we simply have to help those who are less fortunate among us. Besides, we shouldn’t be using oil anyway.
In a followup question by Fox News, it was asked if a stimulus package might be considered to help out business consumers with the rising cost of clicks on Google Adwords too, but Mr. Carney declined to comment, and immediately left the room.
What should you do?
In response to this pending shift, I predict that certain “on-page” ranking factors will change, and I’ve put together the following steps to help you benefit from this change.
1. Stop adding content
Clearly, if you have time to add content, then you aren’t doing any real work to feed your family, like working at the neighborhood 7-Eleven.
By adding content regularly you are demonstrating that you have too much time on your hands, and the goal of this update is to help the working class. I recommend moving to a content publishing schedule that is no more than one new post every six months at the very most, which will also help with any Panda issues you might be having.
2. Make More Errors
When you DO add content, stop being so picky with your spelling. Using good grammar and spelling leaves a footprint that you have an education, and that’s something that is increasingly available only to the wealthy.
By “dumbing down” your content and including plenty of grammatical errors, you will better demonstrate your need for this ranking assistance.
It may be possible to heighten this effect by using broken English too, and I have a suspicion they may be giving selection preferences to selected minority operated sites in an apparent sort of “affirmative action” algorithm
3. Steal Your Photographs
By using licensed photographs purchased from reputable photo exchanges, you are demonstrating that you are in the elite group of people who have enough money to spend on things like this.
However, by snagging photos out of Google image search, you’re clearly making a statement that you need their help. I’d also recommend not changing the image name, since that also demonstrates that you might have an education.
4. Host on a Shared Server
Dedicated webhosting servers are expensive, and most people on a budget host on a shared server. Make sure that you’re on a server with at least six dozen other domains that you do not own or have any association with, so nobody can accuse you of being one of the “elites”.
Better yet, if your site is made in WordPress, get rid of your hosting account altogether and host your site at WordPress.com where it’s completely free. Nothing says “I’m broke and uneducated” better than hosting your domain at a free service.
It’s About Time
For far too long, those who have all the money have been winning the game, and it’s about time they tried to balance the scales.
Thank you Google, for doing the right thing and for living up to your “don’t be evil” credo.
I salute you!