Google has been rolling out a few updates lately, and there’s a lot of talk around that this could be the cause of smaller sites who are viewing diminished SERP rankings and traffic. If this is the case, I wouldn’t be surprised because the timing that’s being discussed roughly correlates with my own recent drop in page views.
To get a sense of what’s going on and a contextual history of SEO as well, the SEO Book has provided us with another top-shelf article. Yeah, I hate the popup there too, but its worth the read. Definitely check out the graphics at the bottom because it seems to reinforce the idea that brand bias has been greatly exaggerated by the latest round of algorithm changes.
So obviously, something has happened here. Some big brands are shooting up in the SERPs, and inevitably that means that smaller publishers are getting pushed back to the margins. Unfortunately, this has been sort of a trend since Google became the dominant search engine – and while they claim it is only in pursuit of developing a superior product, I’ve found Google’s basic search is becoming increasingly irrelevant for anything other than driving traffic to my sites. Basically, the only reason to enter a generic search in Google is to “see what others are going to see” when they make that search, and even this SEO-related function is being crippled with personalized search results (gladly, these can be turned off once again).
But I’m not saying I know what’s going on, I’m just starting to realize something is going on.
Its time to hit the trenches and test some things out. There’s something about building trust and authority that is related to branding and the type of domains that now dominate Google’s search (moreso than even before)
Social signals and buzz may be coming back into effect, but not exactly in the same way they did before nofollow became the 2.0 standard.
- Is it all about Friendfeed and Twitter?
Is Google trying to head off their new search competition by incorporating social media signals into their algorithm at a higher weight? Are they focusing on the specific sites with the most buzz in lieu of their older pagerank authority system?
- Non-linked Namedropping?
This would probably also be the “simplest way” to implement a brand-influenced ranking algorithm. If Google is just looking at how often the brand is mentioned in assigning its authority, this would lead to a whole new spam-war right as the link war dies down. Instead of hunting for diminishing sources of dofollow links, spammers and automated bots would be plastering their acronyms on every related page. You’d hope this one is too obvious & exploitable to be a significant factor..
- Behavioral Metrics?
There’s no doubt by this point that a lot of websites out there are sitting on piles and piles of user behavioral data. This is a resource that Google, Facebook, and even AOL have been collecting for years and its almost silly at this stage to assume it isn’t being used in some way to influence the online experience from search to sale.
- Conspiracy Central
Let’s face it, media is near the center of political and financial power. Period. Google has been running into increased pressure from the U.S. Federal government, and talk related to monopoly status has been floating around. I’m going to put up a whole post on this later because from my background as a political-economist, it would be silly to ignore the trillion dollar elephant that’s sitting in the room (The US Federal Gov’t is the largest unified financial power in the world with $3-$10 trillion dollars spent annually. . . You think they don’t influence the world with that kind of investment?)
Huomah brings up a good point in relation to the update: Its not time to jump to conclusions or oversimplify the developments with buzzwords like “branding.” Its time to test and gather data…
The first step for me from here is to take a few more looks at the SERPs and take some mental notes of who is ranking where. From there, I’ve got a lot of thinking to do when it comes to building a social brand to my sites. It may just be time for a total overhaul and a consolidation of my online efforts into a single resource.