Over the Easter holiday weekend, Google began a toolbar PageRank update. I say began, because even today I am still seeing changes happening. This was not unexpected as Google seems to favor an April PR update historically.
Normally, I would not blog this, as I am a fervent believer in the “PageRank is not a big deal” mentality. I put little if any stock in that little green bar, and instruct our clients likewise. We rather belong to the “build it and they will come” theory of SEO. In part we belief that natural links, on page optimization, fresh content, elimination of duplication and unique text are the key to organic search success.
Google has been monkeying around with the algorithm since before Christmas, and it’s not even close to being over yet. A great deal of the changes, fluctuations and odd behavior recently can be attributed to Google’s new search engine, Google Caffeine. We have seen pages drop, pages rise, indexed pages fluctuating from week to week with discrepancies in the thousands, incredibly quick indexing of pages…. And now a TB PageRank update (again).
First let me say that I have said, and will continue to anyone who will listen, that this update is to get Google “back to good”. We find that the site’s fairing well are updated regularly, fast loading and content rich. While backlinks and PageRank obviously still play a part, their influence seems to have been reduced significantly. This is a rather summarized snapshot of the ranking factors, but the “meat and potatoes” of Google’s quest to improve search results and squash the seemingly uncontrollable pieces of the algorithm which seem most likely to be abused or cheated. Like paid links for example….
Google has in the past, and continues to make a dedicated effort to stop the influence caused in their search results from paid and reciprocal linking. You see these links are not earned, but rather purchased or traded… Thus making them and their influence rather fake.
I think that in effect, while Google has made significant progress in identifying, penalizing and removing many “cheaters”…. They were still overall unsuccessful. So to top off the campaign war on paid links, Google did the one thing guaranteed to slow down the link brokers…. They removed a great deal of the weight that these unnatural links are allowed to carry. Bravo! They solved the paradigm.
So in effect, the folks selling links have just had the bottom fall out of their market. Their products, once more precious than gold, have significantly less retail value to a trained eye. Sure, they will continue to sell links, and many will still buy…. But, as people catch on and the word is spread, their clients will dwindle.
Back to topic, the reason I an blogging this is simple…. This appears to have been a bit more than a toolbar PageRank update. Many site’s have seen a significant drop in organic search traffic from Google as a result of this update. Sure it would be easy to say and even prove in a fishbowl that the sites have less PageRank and call this the cause as a short sighted theory. However, I think that along with the little green bar, we are seeing the soft implementation of Google Caffeine.
So what does this mean if your traffic has fallen off and not recovered?
I would suggest that you examine the content on your website, for freshness and uniqueness. Work on your page load speeds, eradicate all controllable duplicate content and give your website some TLC. Growth is a big key factor, but growth of pages is not the answer… You have to create unique and valuable content. Then if you find some time, go after some quality and highly relevant backlinks. Don’t worry about the PR of these inbound links, but rather concern yourself with link text, position of the link with regard to the textual content and related content on the page.