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November 26, 2003
Google Gurgles: It's a G-Thing
Google is the 800-pound gorilla, it's the elephant in the living room, it's all the metaphors you can grab, and ... it's independent, their people have minds of their own, they're not locked into a contract, and they can do what they want!

Recently (Nov. 10-ish) Google initiated another reiterative update (called the Google Dance), these things are given names like tropical storms and this one was designated Florida. Previously G. gave great weight to the text used in links pointing at your site. In Florida, it seems like links are de-emphasized, blogs are more emphasized, and there's a penalty factor for sites that exceed some parameter indicated they're over-tweaking the search engine optimization (SEO). Finally, there's a Google-Gotcha factor for those who tweak the nose of the Gods too blatently.

Among the SEO community there's a segment of DABDA (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance) that's pretty much stuck in D&A, and then there's some people who are riding with the wave and not obsessing about it.

But if your livelihood depends on driving people to your site in a pure-play (ie, web-only, no bricks just clicks) retail business, then the Florida algorithm changes could put you out of business.

But from a purist/idealist perspective, the Florida change is good, because it punishes gaming the search engines and encourages good basic technique. Sites that were built with good basics are still listed on Google. It may be harder for people to target top listings on specific keywords, but from the user perspective that's probably a good thing.

But the crowd that's locked in D&A sees a conspiracy in this, thinking that Google wants to herd the pure-plays into buying more advertising, and wants to improve their position prior to their IPO. But my take is that they're continually trying to produce good search results, that's their basic product.

So, what does it matter and what should people do? (Always a good question at the end of a personal passion phillipic!)

If I had a website for my business, I'd build a spreadsheet of the search phrases I anticipate people in my audience would be typing in. Once a month I'd do a Google search on each term, and I'd write down my site's place in the results- first listing, first page, second page, and nevermind. Then I'd do the same at DMOZ, because that feeds the other search engines. And if I saw a problem, I'd try to address it, but only through mainstream whitehat techniques.


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