SMX West 2011 SEO Highlights, Practical Advice and Best Practice Tips

With the Farmer / Panda update being around for a while now it is no wonder SEOs and web masters alike are still not 100% clear about what works and what doesn’t. Even though all agree that a Google Algorithm update that affect nearly 12% of all searches is massive there is still a lot of speculation about what has actually changed.

Several posts have been written from the more advanced to complete beginners within the SEO industry. Matt Cutts’ and Singhal’s interview at shed a tiny bit more light about the theory behind the recent update but nothing really practical came out as one would expect given Google’s policy not to get into specific details about their algorithmic changes.

However, during a session called ‘Spam Police’ at SMX West 2011, Google’s Matt Cutts, Bing’s Sasi Parthasarathy and Blekko’s Rich Skrenta made some very valuable points and for the first time since Farmer / Panda was introduced, a Google’s representative answered some “hot” SEO questions. As one would expect.

What is Spam?

Based on Sasi’s comments spam is:

  • Hidden text (this is really old and still valid)
  • Hidden links (e.g links which do not stand out and aren’t clearly marked as links not only they don’t pass any value but potentially harm).
  • Cloaking / Redirecting users to spam content sites
  • Link Farms (YES, Not only Google but Bing are also seriously against content farms). Sasi defined them as “…pages of little useful content which they all link to each other”.
  • Reciprocal links and link exchanges are not spam links as long as the two sites are related. However, unrelated links are being discounted, thus have no value.

 Matt Cutts’ and Google Engineers’ comments on what is spam:

  • Machine generated content. There is high risk of being penalised for this but it would to know how likely is it that an algorithm would pick up machine generated content…
  • Paid links surrounded by low quality content. “When you pay $1 a blog post, this is what you get”, a Google representative said.

Matt also gave a few details about what triggers manual reviews of sites by Google’s engineers as well as how to get warnings:

  • · If an algorithmic spam report has four times the weight, then it might be looked at manually.
  • ·Google webmaster tools can give “parked domain” messages on penalised sites.

2011 SEO Tips And Best Practice

  • Panda international roll out within weeks. Low quality targeted content more prevalent in the US so the impact outside the US won’t be as strong.
  • There will be more algorithmic changes on devaluing further low quality content, make content farms even less visible and original authors more visible.
  • If there is low quality content on your site just remove it in order not to suffer from the Panda update. In cases that low quality content exists for a reason just add a nofollow meta robot instruction so search engines can find it and not index it. When the content becomes valuable just remove the noindex so it will be quickly picked up.
  • Having ads on your site isn’t a bad thing but having just ads or a high ad-to-content ratio can be an issue.
  • Article marketing is not valuable according to Google. Articles syndicated several times do not provide valuable links. One of their engineers said “don’t do the article marketing stuff.”
  • Google confirmed that re-tweets cannot boost rankings (yet) with Matt saying that it’s not part of the algorithm yet. However, signals from re-tweets may help in real-time search results.
  • Links from Press releases DO NOT count for PageRank.
  • Competitors cannot hurt your site by buying links that violate the guidelines. Such links are simple devalued. There may be exceptions if large patterns of violations are found.
  • There is no such thing such  as “White Hat Cloaking”. As long as search crawlers and humans are served with the same content there’s no cloaking. Serving content based on geographic location is not cloaking.
  • Google are planning to decrease the power if exact match domains with shallow content.
  • They are also looking at decreasing the power of “lots of spammy links with exact match anchor text”. Both Google and Bing confirmed
  • As Matt said, “don’t chase algorithm, try to make sites users love.”

Modi is an SEO consultant working for a reputable luxury cruises company who organise Crystal cruises and Regent Seven Seas cruises . He’s always looking for new ways to get the most out of the SERPS. You can connect with  him on Twitter @macmodi

Image by Lalmch from Pixabay

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