According to the U.S. Geological Survey, it’s estimated that every day across the globe, seismographs record approximately 2,750 earthquakes, of which less than 10% are detected by humans. So right now as you read this, there’s probably an earthquake rumbling somewhere deep beneath your feet, but it’s far too weak to be felt, so why worry yourself about it? After all, whatever can’t be felt, can’t possibly cause any harm right?
The same can be said of changes frequently made to the Google PageRank algorithm. Typically, they’re so subtle that few people even notice them, but recently Google announced a major alteration during the last week of February, 2012 that had already affected many Web properties. With upwards of 12% of all Google searches being affected by the new algorithm, many online businesses are scrambling to retain their delicate web-relevance.
With users demanding fewer ‘low quality’ sites showing up in search ranks, the Google team has specifically set their sites on targeting ‘content farms’ which are websites designed specifically to collect content based on the most-searched topics on any given day. Lots of high- visibility news sites like AOL and The Huffington Post have been accused of engaging in such slight-of-hand tactics, and knowing where to draw the line is often a murky area with no definitive boundary.
An example is the website Demand Media. Valued at close to $2 billion, more than even the New York Times Co., Demand does put out a ton of good, viable content on a wide range of topics, but other industry insiders suspect that they’re simply flooding the marketplace in order to generate the top page ranking with as many keywords as possible. Not surprisingly, Demand denied such allegations, but when you stop and think about what a quagmire it is to police the Web, the challenges become quickly apparent, and often overwhelming to enforce.
Google also brought down the hammer recently on some other reputable companies like JC Penny and Overstock after discovering that they had created phony websites that linked back to their own, thereby generating a higher Google ranking. So how does this end? Simple: it doesn’t.
Much like an arm’s race among competing nations, once one side has the
‘weaponry’ (which in this case is a temporary command of the current algorithm), the other side quickly amasses their own stockpile, with the back-and-forth pattern simply repeating itself over and over again.
Bottom line: whomever seems to be ‘on top’ today might quickly have the proverbial page rank rug yanked out from underneath them tomorrow . . . or whenever the algorithm changes which it’s bound to do countless times. But like the earthquake analogy at the start, the vast majority of changes won’t even be noticeable. So my advice is to just keep on producing good, honest, interesting content, and let the chips fall where they may.