The week of 16th April, Unnatural links, Rich Snippets & More

This week has been a long week in the world of Search Engine Optimisation, with Google updates, sites being dropped, over optimisation or a Google Algorithm error.  Below are the stories that stood out for me.  This is a round up of my tweets @charlesbarsley, follow me and get my tweets and retweets live!

16th April, The New Google Link Algorithm via @Branded_3

Branded3 wrote this post highlighting the changes to Googles algorithm, specifically that google are now targeting tactics some sites use rather than specific types of sites.  The post specifically details the “google unnatural link notices”, what happens if you get one, and touches on what you should do.

Updates to rich snippets:

Later that day an official post on the Google Webmasters Blog, not about unnatural links, but about Rich Snippets.  I’m really excited about the future possibilities for Rich Snippets and looking forward to the opportunity to experiment.  Google have extended their use of Rich Snippets, rolling out Product snippets globally, previously this was limited to just a limited set of locales.  Also Google have improved their Rich Snippets testing tool, previously to test snippets you needed to enter a URL, now you can paste in raw HTML code, so you can test before you put code live.

18th April RT @Hobo_Web: Is Your Website Sinking Like The Titanic in Google?

Across Tuesday & Wednesday webmasters noticed significant changes in rankings of many sites including some previously page one sites being delisted.  Many assumed this was the result of unnatural link warnings, and google was now updating the algorithm to take link building practices into account.

Hobo wrote this great common sense article detailing the difference between good and bad techniques and what you could do if you feel you have been affected.

19th April WOW! Google deindexed a ton of sites, sending people into a frenzy over algo changes. Turns out, it was all an accident

An a day later we wake up and discover it was all a dream… well not quite, though Matt Cutts posted on his Google +

I saw a recent post where several sites were asking about their search rankings. The short explanation is that it turns out that our classifier for parked domains was reading from a couple files which mistakenly were empty. As a result, we classified some sites as parked when they weren’t.

I apologize for this; it looks like the issue is fixed now, and we’ll look into how to prevent this from happening again.

So is everything back to normal?  Some Webmasters have reported they have now bounced back.  But others don’t believe the parked domains was the only thing google changed and still are experiencing unusual rankings.  This whole situation has also sparked a debate of whether Negative SEO works.  Rather than using good practices to boost your site, if you used spammy link building methods on competitors sites would they drop in the rankings.  The jury is still out, but one things certain, I wouldn’t like to be google!  If they punish sites who use unnatural link building practices then they are encouraging Black Hat SEO, but if they don’t punish these sites they could still have poor sites high in the rankings.  Is there a compromise they could reach and just ignore negative links.

20th April Key Takeaways from IonSearch 2012 | Search Laboratory Blog via @searchlabs

A nice read to finish the week, a write up from Search Laboratory of the inaugural IonSearch Marketing Conference.  With the whole conference condensed into a set of key takeaway bullet points.  Everyone will take something away from this.

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