Aiming to reduce the number of low-quality articles and pages in natural search engine results, Google have instigated a significant alteration to their algorithm which has impacted a number of 'content farms'.
The big question many businesses must now ask themselves is how should these changes affect their online marketing strategy, especially link building practices? A number of interesting aspects have arisen from these changes.
At the recent SMX West expo in California, Google's Matt Cutts mentioned that if a site has enough low quality content on its pages then that can count against the site as a whole.
That is, low quality content counts against the whole site not just for the individual pages it is on.
Low quality content, then, is clearly a risky liability.
But what exactly does Google mean by 'low quality' and what does this mean in terms of article link building? How does Google determine 'Quality' Content? Google's recent changes target sites which display 'low quality content' in a variety of ways.
The criteria for determining low quality are various but notable inclusions are: • Shallow content (where there is not enough content to be useful) • Poorly written content • Duplicate content or content simply copied from other websites • Content that is not useful or relevant to users The largest impact this will have on many business sites is potentially in how article sites are used for link building and SEO.
Article Marketing and Link Building - What strategies are still viable? Matt Cutts, speaking at SMX West, advised businesses against article marketing strategies that copy articles multiple times throughout the internet in order to build links.
But what does count and what is a good strategy for link building after the update? Here are some of the key things you need to know: • Links in press releases do not count towards Google Page Rank • However, if someone reads your press release and then links to your site, that does count • Article websites are not intrinsically negative, utilizing good article sites for link building can work - but only if you treat these sites as places people go to read articles, not as places Google goes to find links • This means that well written, relevant and useful articles are still an effective link building strategy • However, simply copying identical content twenty times into different sites is not a good strategy • Sites with a variation in the lengths of articles have been identified by Google as sites which are more likely to contain content that's actually useful to readers • Again, the effect is that content written with search engines in mind is likely to lose out, while content that is geared towards users will benefit The general outcome? Link building best practices haven't changed much, but it has become even more important that these best practices are followed.
And, as always, users come before search engines.
After all, what are search engines for but simply a way to attract more users?