When Google CEO Eric Schmidt spoke that the United States Senate hearings back in September, he was asked if the company’s methods could be a bit more transparent. The CEO of the search engine titan replied “There is a limit to the amount of transparency – it is proprietary and if it was more open it would be heavily gamed”. He did however then state that “we can do a better job describing our changes”. Perhaps the most recent evidence of the “better job” came last week as Matt Cutts stated “Weather report: expect some Panda-related flux in the next few weeks, but will have less impact than previous updates”. This statement is of course referring to the Panda update that was first launched in early spring of 2011.
The Panda update is on every search marketer’s mind and for good reason. The Panda (which is updated on an almost monthly basis) is an algorithm change that acts to weed out poor sites that lack sufficient (and valuable) information. It strikes websites that are considered “spammy” including linkfarms, content farms, and the like.
The enhanced transparency has its advantages and disadvantages with the Panda update. First of all, search marketers know exactly what they’re doing when optimizing a site using “black-hat” SEO tactics. Black-hat SEO includes using unethical and unscrupulous tactics to improve a website’s visibility. Ever heard of steroids in baseball? As Cutt’s recent tweet stated, “expect some panda-related flux in the next few weeks”, the black-hat SEO firms know they better change their methods so they don’t get affected.
The advantages, however, mostly steer to combat the arguments that were presented at the U.S. Senate hearings that suggested Google controls everything on their search engine, and thus prohibits fair competition amongst firms. The Senate feels as though increased transparency and communication may rid the company of any unfair competitive edge they have with what gets published on their search engine and why.
As of now the exact changes have not been released however there is a margin of error that affects reputable websites including Forbes, TheTodayShow.com, and PR Newswire as of recent.
More updates to come as we find out!
Earlier today at the Search Marketing Expo, Google’s Matt Cutts announced that they have developed an update to the Panda algorithm, version 2.2. He further stated that the update has been officially approved, and they are waiting to send it out, which should happen any day now.
Further tweaking and some “clean-up” work will be included with the update, in addition to improving “scraper” detection. This is when a website re-publishes content to trick the algorithm. (Fresh, new content helps with page rank and SEO).
The exact release date has not been revealed, however Cutts did say that the update is imminent and webmasters should expect it any day now.
Cutts also described how the attack of the Panda operates. The algorithm is run against all of the webpages and domains that Google indexes. This is done to pick up which sites should be caught. This occurs on an “infrequent” basis (about once every two weeks).
Websites that get penalized get sent to the very last page of search results, completely damaging their online visibility. Once this happens, it’s tough to recover. JC Penney’s was penalized for about 3 months when they were hit back in February.
Of course, much like anything else, practicing ethical standards and not cheating the system are the best ways to ensure you’re not affected by the vicious bite of the Panda.
This week, Google released their “Content Farm – Panda” update to all English speaking countries including Australia, the United Kingdom, and Canada, where WebiMax, an online marketing company specializing in search engine optimization (SEO), has expanded operations. The initial release of the Panda update took place in February, released only in the United States. Now with the update reaching English language based countries abroad, additional websites that are managed through “black-hat” SEO tactics will be affected.
In February, at the time of the U.S. release of Panda, Kenneth C. Wisnefski, Founder and CEO of WebiMax, stated, “at WebiMax, we embrace these changes and view them not as ‘changes’, but ‘enhancements’ to the SEO industry. Our clients will see improved results from this because of the proper strategies we employ. The SEO industry has unfortunately been an industry that has gotten somewhat of a bad name because of unscrupulous firms that utilize questionable techniques to help improve the online visibility of their clients. We adhere to a Code of Ethics that gives our clients peace of mind, knowing that they will never end up in the news as some companies are starting to.”
On April 1, 2011, Wisnefski announced a major expansion of WebiMax, opening international offices in Australia, Canada, Spain, and the United Kingdom.
“At the original release of the Panda update, we immediately received numerous calls from companies that were negatively affected by it. They were not aware their SEO firm was using these questionable tactics. We have been able to get involved and help with damage control for these clients by repositioning their website on ethical standards. With the timing of WebiMax’s international expansion and Google’s international release of Panda, we expect to be a valuable asset to companies abroad in the same way”, stated Wisnefski.
This presents another golden opportunity for WebiMax to capitalize on continued record growth in 2011.
“Our clients value the experience with WebiMax, notably because of our experienced team of highly skilled experts, an analytics platform that lets them tract their campaigns in real-time, and a code of ethics that govern our strategies”, concludes Wisnefski.
Unfortunately, the search engine optimization (seo) industry is an industry that has been under recent observance for “black hat” services. Since the industry is mostly unregulated, there are some seo companies that do not practice good ethics and get their clients banned from major search engines. There has been a heavy crackdown by search engine titan Google in recent months, and calls for all companies to adhere to a code of ethics.
WebiMax prides itself on their ability to get the job done, and get it done the right way. The following states the WebiMax Code of Ethics:
The WebiMax Code of Ethics:
•Our business operations adheres to all laws and regulations set forth by the agency(ies) of the United States and International Governments for business, cyber and internet regulation.
•We treat each and every client as if we are consulting our own brand and the brands of our own team members.
•Never put the clients business or brand reputation at risk when working to improve the clients rating by finding disreputable ways of accomplishing tasks.
•Adhere to the conventions as specified by the various search engines and directories we use.
•Act in good faith when consulting and giving direction to our clients.
•Maintain complete confidentially about our clients and their information as it relates to their business operations and their SEO results, unless otherwise agreed upon in written contract.
•Never practice in dishonorable means of achieving a higher search engine rating including using linkfarms, hidden links and text, copied content, unauthorized software, doorway pages, or plagiarism.
So far in 2011, we have learned so much. Oil is surging over Middle East conflict, Charlie Sheen is winning with TigerBlood, and social media is being used in a whole new way by advertisers (see our blog titled “Social Media – The New Marketing”). One more thing learned is the strong start to the year that WebiMax is off to, illustrated through 3rd party ranking organizations and their recent coverage in media outlets.
TopSeos.com, the independent authority on ranking internet marketing companies, has ranked WebiMax #1 in the United States in Search Engine Optimization, Local Search, Web Design, Landing Page Optimization, Reputation Management, E-Commerce, and Multilingual SEO for 2011. TopSeos.com offers a full analysis on their website.
Kenneth C. Wisnefski, Founder and CEO, announced that “2011 is on pace for the growth that we anticipated. We are currently in the process of launching our proprietary seo management tool and expanding our reach further across the U.S. and abroad with offices in the United States in Boston and Chicago and abroad in Australia, Canada and Spain.”
A huge proponent for WebiMax’s success is in their abilities to recruit and hire the most talented employees. The management team at WebiMax, led by a serial web entrepreneur, brings with them many years of experience in the industry and has kept the company alert to changing trends in internet marketing.
For example, Google’s algorithms are continuously evolving to ensure only the best websites with original content populate their search engine results. Google changed their view on techniques that were acceptable in the early stages in SEO. The management team at WebiMax noticed this evolving trend and adapted their business model to stay one step ahead of the landscape. While other companies were being penalized by black-hat SEO tactics, WebiMax continued their ethical approach and continued their growth.
“We are ahead of schedule at reaching our target revenue # of $10 million of 2011 and look forward to rest of the year”, states Wisnefski.
As the first couple months of 2011 come to a close, some very important changes have happened this year already to the world of search engine results, notably Google’s commitment to reestablishing the days of “quality content”. We in the industry have been observing major algorithm changes by the search engine titan that have penalized and eliminated websites that use fraudulent tactics to satisfy the algorithms so their websites appear high in page rank.
This is sad news for those webmasters and SEO companies that unfortunately use these tactics, as the “year of the crackdown” starts off strong, but luckily, for those honest and ethical webmasters and SEO companies out there, the changes are embraced!
“Our clients will see good results from this” says WebiMax Founder and CEO Kenneth C. Wisnefski. “Algorithm changes by Google are not feared by WebiMax but welcomed with open arms. Our clients see very positive movement when these updates occur because of the proper strategies WebiMax employs”.
So far in 2011, we’ve heard of major retailer JC Penney penalized when their SEO Company employed these tactics and successfully got the retailer moved to the 8th page of search results. We’ve also heard of Overstock.com getting flagged for similar tactics, which got them moved further down the results list as well. If you’re an industry executive concerned of the livelihood of your company’s website, make sure your SEO Company is not employing these tactics and furthermore, make sure your SEO Company abides to an SEO Code of Ethics. Otherwise, you may wake up one morning and discover Google has moved you to the 10th page of search results for keywords describing your products.
The “year of the crackdowns” is undoubtedly going to affect a lot of websites and companies that may not even be aware that the tactics they are using are prohibited. Don’t wait until it is too late to see if your SEO Company is adhering to a Code of Ethics.
What we’ve learned in SEO so far for 2011: It’s not so much survival of the fittest as it is survival of the ethical.