The new features Google introduce have been coming thick and fast, previews is live in the UK now, does nothing from an SEO point of view but could effect CTR, places is still running despite the ugly lay out and a floating map down the left disguising the cheap clicks, brand ‘related results’ is slowly filtering in making everyone wonder what Google considers a brand, then we have instant which (in my opinion) is pointless.
All these changes yet there is one that I am really struggling with and that is the change to the SERPS that seemed to happen around the middle of October, it has seen a return to the good old days of keyword stuffing and some of the cheapest link building tactics I have come across since 2004.
However let me give you a little background to help you understand why this is so disappointing.
A couple of months ago Rand Fishkin at SEOmoz published a post expressing his worry for the SERPS and the amount of spam in the top results.
When I read this post I wondered what all the fuss was about, my opinion was that the UK SERPS were looking as healthy as ever, sure there were a few exact match URL’s in the results and the odd link spam technique delivered short term value, however on a whole the top results seemed to be the right ones.
So I am feeling pretty optimistic about the way Google are going (so much so that I cleaned a few dodgy links I had) and then, disaster, hundreds of exact match domains hit the top ten, keyword stuffing seems to be all the rage and some of the worst links I have seen in a long time seem to be passing loads of weight, what a nightmare!
I decided to surprise some one this week with flowers, so I simply entered the word ‘florists’ into Google;
Nice result huh?? Let’s just clarify this title tag; florists florist london florists florist london london florist I don’t know about you but I think they want to rank for florist & florists? Just a hunch
Now these tactics worked really well back in 2004, however they shouldn’t even be appearing in the top 200 now let alone number 1!
So you think the ranking is based on links, all I will say is please don’t go there, some of the worst links I have seen in a long time, I’m sure Google will jump all over this before long but the point is, why now!
Even the Big Boys are Joining in!
Do you remember the link building technique of buying expired domains putting up a crappy page and linking to all your sites? Should have stopped working around 2007?? Well it’s back and it is helping sites rank for the most profitable keywords.
Take a look at this web page:
Spam Site (notice the no follow)
The page is clearly set up for link spam yet it seems to be passing weight to the top 5 guys that rank for car insurance! Surely Google should be all over this??
Now I know there will be those of you who say ‘it may be other links passing the weight’, my answer is 90% of the links in question are just like this with very little in terms of quality to all the sites gaining a lovely link from this page.
To top all of this off you may have noticed Google is ranking deep pages of websites instead of the stronger home page in an attempt to increase relevance. The problem is they seem to be deciding on these pages using internal anchor text!!
So you remember those sites with hundreds of keyword rich footer links? They are ranking once again, very well in fact.
Now I know your thinking to yourselves how could Google take such a step back? It’s a good question, my hope is that they are going to flick a switch in a couple of weeks that will remove all these results and kill the tactics used to achieve them.
I have no issues with the sites involved, they’re just examples, they have finally got the benefit of the slightly dated techniques they’re using, my issue is the SERPS are a mess, so much so that my wife (who knows nothing about SEO) is asking why site A etc.. is ranking when it is completely irrelevant.
Please Google sort it out, the SERPS are a pretty ugly place at the minute I can’t see who it benefits apart from websites using SEO’s from 1999.