Posted (and updated) from last week's SEO Coach newsletter:
What's Up, Big Daddy? How Google's latest move affects you, me, and them
With all the talk (and occasional hysteria) about Google's "Bigdaddy" update, I thought readers could use a little help understanding it. There's been a lot of crazy speculation, and the real story is both simpler and more complex than what you've probably heard.
So let me start with what Bigdaddy isn't about:
- Bigdaddy is not a new data center, people got this idea because it was rolled out in a single data center first and Matt posted a picture
- Bigdaddy is not a new ranking algorithm, people got this idea because some rankings have changed, I suspect the ranking/retrieval algorithm is not changing much if at all
- Bigdaddy is not completely finished, because nothing at Google is ever finished
- Bigdaddy is not Matt Cutts' baby, it belongs to another team at Google, but Matt is sharing a lot of helpful information about it.
Because today's search engines rely heavily on the linking relationships between web pages and web sites to determine their search results (rankings), the search engine's picture of the web (what they index) has a huge bearing on who wins and losings in the rankings.
Google's new indexing policies are changing the shape of the web.
When I say that, I mean it literally. When Google's view of the web changes, that affects what pages and sites people find, which in turn affects what they link to. Google's influence on the web is huge, and outside of the SEO world, very much underestimated.
To those of us in the SEO world, Google's changes can have a dramatic impact, positive or negative, for our rankings and long term success. When a page that links to you is dropped from Google's index, or moved from the main index to their "supplemental" index, you lose the benefit of that link.
Beyond this, Google is clearly moving toward a system based on trust. Google has different levels of trust for different sites, and for different links. Although we can't change Google's opinion of the sites that link to us, we can definitely influence Google's trust for our own sites.
If you want to improve your site's reputation with Google, you can do something about it. There are two sides to this coin - the sites that link to you, and the sites you link to. I'll talk about building links in a future article, for now let's focus on your outgoing links.
When you link to untrusted sites, your site loses trust. You should periodically review your outbound links - if you link to a less trustworthy site, your site will lose trust. In particular, be mindful of irrelevant or indiscriminate link exchanges, both on your site and those you link to.
If you sell advertising on your site, in particular if you sell advertising as text links, you can lose trust if you don't add the "rel=nofollow" attribute to those links. Google has zero trust for paid links - whether this can affect your own trust and rankings isn't certain, but I don't know why it wouldn't. To be safe, use nofollow on untrusted or paid links.
Please don't overthink this. If you are linking to 100 web sites, and a couple of them aren't trusted by Google, the impact is likely to be negligible. The biggest mistakes I see people make are:
- focusing on link exchanges (reciprocal links) - these are worth next to nothing to your rankings and can be harmful
- automated linking programs - these can actually get you penalized and have long term consequences
- lack of natural link building and promotion - it's not always easy, but the right strategy can be very profitable even without higher rankings
Thought for the day: Doing well in SEO isn't about reverse engineering the ranking algorithm any more - that game ended a long time ago.