Weekly SEO news: 1 March 2011
Welcome to the latest issue of the Search Engine Facts newsletter.

Last week, Google released one of the biggest ranking algorithms updates of the last months. The change noticeably impacts 11.8% of all queries on Google. How does this affect the rankings of your website on Google?

Also in the news: Google penalizes Overstock.com, Google does not want you to buy reviews, Matt Cutts talks about delivering different content to different IP addresses and more.

Table of contents:

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Andre Voget, Johannes Selbach, Axandra CEO

1. Google has released a major ranking algorithm update

Last week, Google released one of the biggest ranking algorithms updates of the last months. The change noticeably impacts 11.8% of all queries on Google. How does this affect the rankings of your website on Google?

algorithm update

What has Google changed?

Google has announced that they made a major change in their ranking algorithm:

"We launched a pretty big algorithmic improvement to our ranking [...] This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites—sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful.

At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites—sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on."

This is an addition to the scraper spam update that Google released earlier this month.

This is a noticeable update that affects about 12% of all queries and the search result pages can change a lot:

"We can’t make a major improvement without affecting rankings for many sites. It has to be that some sites will go up and some will go down. [...] It is important for high-quality sites to be rewarded, and that’s exactly what this change does."

Which websites will be affected by this update?

Although Google does not officially confirm it, this algorithm update tries to remove so-called content-farms from the search results. Content farms are websites that invest as little time and money as possible to generate a large amount of content created by authors who are usually not familiar with the topic they write about.

Content farms try to get visitors through high rankings for as many different keywords as possible. These visitors should click on the ads that are displayed on the content farm sites.

It seems like websites such as ezinearticles.com, hubpages.com, articlesbase.com, findarticles.com and answerbag.com have lost thousands of high rankings.


How will this change affect your own website?

Google's anti-spam team is serious about eliminating spam from the search results. They announced that the are working on "many more updates that we believe will substantially improve the quality of the pages in our results".

If you have used any shady tactics to improve the position of your website on Google, you should stop this right now! It's very risky to use dubious methods on Google.

If you don't want to risk your online business, use search engine optimization methods that are safe to use with Google.


Google announced that the new algorithm will be available in the U.S. only at this time. Other countries will get the new algorithm within the next months.

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2. Search engine news and articles of the week

Google penalizes Overstock for search tactics

There's another victim in Google's war against paid links:

"The Overstock incident is the second move by Google in two weeks against a large retailer for allegedly violating guidelines. Earlier this month, the New York Times reported that Google lowered the ranking of links to J.C. Penney Co. in response to tactics employed by an SEO consultant on its behalf. [...]

Until recently, links to Overstock pages were among the top three results for such words on Google search results. By Tuesday afternoon, links to Overstock for those same searches dropped to between No. 40 and No. 70 in the rankings."

Related: Why Google smacked Overstock and search results algorithm borders on censorship

Google Google does not want you to buy reviews

In an online forum, there's a discussion about buying reviews for Google Places and similar services: "If you own a local business, please don't purchase these kinds of services. I genuinely believe it pays to play by the rules."

Google's review guidelines are also clear: "Don’t use reviews for advertising or post the same or similar reviews across multiple places. Obviously, don’t post fake reviews intended to boost or lower ratings."

The role of search and social media in the purchase pathway

"A causal relationship exists between search and social media in regard to moving consumers toward conversion [...]

The research clearly indicates that search plays a dominant role at the beginning of the purchase process to establish a consumer’s consideration set. Furthermore, category blogs and earned social media in the form of user reviews are very influential and sought out by consumers to solidify purchasing decisions."

Matt CuttsVideo: Is changing the language of page titles based on the user's IP considered cloaking?

Google's Matt Cutts answered that question in a video. As long as you show Google's spiders the same content that regular website users get, this won't cause problems.

Google indexes the Internet with IP addresses from the U.S. Google should get the same content that website visitors from the U.S. get.

Search engine newslets

  • Google releases recipes search.
  • Google accidentally deletes the Gmail accounts of 40,000 people.
  • Bing expands Facebook "Liked Results".
  • DOJ threatens to nix Google merger.
  • Google drops reverse phone number lookup.

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3. Success stories

300,000 readers will read your success story!

Let us know how IBP has helped you to improve your website and we might publish your success story with a link to your website in this newsletter. The more detailed your story is, the better. Click here to tell us your story.

Downlite"IBP is hand down amazing."

"I had tried several packages over the eCommerce career and IBP hands down is amazing!

We run a manufacturer direct down bedding online website and compete against the big boys. We always knew it was important to focus on SEO and like most had a million options on how to do it. We parallel tested two of our websites - one using IBP and one with [other SEO tool].

The website that we optimized with IBP now has top 5 rankings on most of our key terms and we can not say enough good things about IBP.

We made sure to use every service and recommendation IBP provides and our sales have doubled this year as a result."
Stefan Hunter, www.downlite.com


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4. Previous articles

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