Last updated: May 17, 2012 - 8:23am
Google recently tweaked the way its search engine ranks websites, seeking to downplay sites it suspects of artificially boosting their rankings. Now some small businesses say they are scrambling to avoid being relegated to the Internet's junk bin.
Google declines to divulge specifics of its search-ranking algorithm, but it discourages paid links and low-quality website links. According to Google, the recent shifts in its algorithm, known as "Penguin," will enhance the user experience and don't punish businesses that follow its guidelines. "The Penguin algorithm update was designed to reduce Web spam, which is when websites try to get a higher search ranking than they deserve by deceiving or manipulating search engines," says Matt Cutts, a Google engineer. "In many cases, the affected sites had been spamming for a long time," Cutts adds. Among the tactics Google dislikes are "keyword stuffing," or overloading Web pages with keywords, and paying for inbound links as a way to artificially boost search rankings. Google makes about 500 changes to its algorithm annually. Penguin, the most recent update, affects only 3.1% of U.S.-based Google search queries, Cutts says.
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