After pandas, penguins, penalties, and panic, Google is now adding salt to our wounds and stealing any shred of hope we had to re-gain our rankings or compete for any decent spot in the search engine.
Many of our readers have spent thousands of hours learning about and applying SEO practices to their websites, only to find the game changing and their rankings failing.
Remember the days when blog networks and article marketing were touted as solid linking strategies? Now all of those once-valued links you obtained from those systems have landed most of you in Google purgatory.
And now, SEO will become even harder?
Well, that’s what Matt Cutts, head of Google’s webspam team had to say…
Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan sat down with Matt Cutts during a “You & A with Matt Cutts” at the recent SMX Conference in Seattle.
When Sullivan asked Cutts about information related to paid links (LINK), Cutts said Google is constantly working on improving its tools that discover blog networks and link buying.
Google has been warning against link buying for years, and according to Cutts, the practice will become riskier as Google builds more tools and enforces it more.
Cutts also mentioned that people who purchase links may think they are escaping Google’s clutches but most are unaware of the footprint of the website from which they are buying links. This is where Google steps in. Essentially, Cutts is saying…you will have a hard time escaping Google if you buy links. (my own words)
Cutts went on to explain how SEO is entering a new phase and it will become more difficult.
“I believe, if you ask any SEO, is SEO harder now than 5-6 years ago, I think they’d say it’s a little more challenging. You can expect that to increase. Google is getting more serious about buying and selling links. Penguin showed that some stuff that may work short term won’t work in the long term.”
If you are feeling a little downtrodden, I understand. But, there is some good news on the horizon. Here are some more valid points discussed at the session:
I’ve Been Hit!
Has your rankings suffered as a result of the latest Google changes? Did you get one of those dreaded link message alerts in your Webmaster tools account?
According to Cutts, Google wants to see “earnest effort” on your part in eliminating those links from your profile. Once you remove them or at least make an effort, you can submit a reconsideration request. Google will then consider how much “progress” you made.
Sullivan asks, “What if you can’t get rid of bad links pointing to a page, should we get rid of the page?”
Cutts responded, “If it’s not an important page, you could. Or you could at least document the effort to remove the links and share it with us.”
Good news! Google is discussing the possibility of a “disavow-this-link tool that will allow webmasters to “disavow” any suspect links they see pointing to their sites. Cutts said even though Google has implemented many protective measures to combat negative SEO, there has been a lot of discussion on the topic. If the disavow link materializes, it will be ready in a matter of months.
Negative SEO refers to outside parties sending spammy links to your site to manipulate its rankings and get your site downgraded. With this disavow link you could potentially tell Google you had no part in the suspicious links which could maintain or help your rankings in the long run.
Cutts Clears Up Misconceptions About Panda and Penguin
Are they penalties? Algorithm changes?
Cutts talks about the difference between signals and penalties, a word Google rarely uses.
Here is the exchange:
Danny: What’s the deal with Penguin. Is it a penalty?
Matt: We look at it as something designed to tackle low-quality content. It started out with Panda, and then we noticed that there was still a lot of spam and Penguin was designed to tackle that. It’s an algorithmic change, but when we use a word like “penalty,” we’re talking about a manual action taken by the web spam team — it wasn’t that.
We don’t think of it as a penalty. We think of it as, “We have over 200 signals, and this is one of the signals.”
Danny: So from now, does “penalty” mean it’s a human thing?
Matt: That’s pretty much how we look at it. In fact, we don’t use the word “penalty” much, we refer to things as a “manual action.” Part of the reason why we do that breakdown is, how transparent can we be? We do monthly updates where we talk about changes, and in the past year, we’ve been more transparent about times when we take manual action. We send out alerts via Google Webmaster Tools.
What is Your Experience?
Many of you have commented that Google downgraded your site and you are disgruntled and unhappy because of it. And others including SEO consultants/companies mentioned that their sites have not suffered at all. Some sites have even received a boost. Do you fall into one of these categories?
If so, we would love to hear from you. How have you handled your downgraded site rankings? Why do you think your site/sites have escaped the latest updates?