Google Cracks Down on the SEO Industry

    November 28, 2003

As this week comes to a close, there is no doubt that the most significant development in the Internet marketing world was Google’s latest update and algorithm change, undergone around the third week of November, and dubbed by the search engine community as “Update Florida”.

The soon-to-become-public mother of all search engines decided to crack down on the search engine optimization industry as its IPO draws near, and implemented a filter against thousands of sites that appeared to have been artificially over-optimized for certain competitive (and commercially appealing) keyphrases, wiping those sites out of the rankings.

What triggers the filter is still a subject of debate, although evidence points to the use of common search engine optimization techniques like placing keywords in the page title, increasing keyword density on the page, or placing keywords in the anchor text of inbound links.

The fact that these techniques have been widely used by many legitimate businesses, has caused thousands of perfectly relevant sites to disappear from the rankings, toghether with sites that clearly abused these techniques (for example, pages belonging to bogus networks of sites that link to each other, created and controlled by unscrupulous webmasters to artificially boost PageRank). We can safely say, therefore, that in its attempt to weed out spammers, Google has thrown out the baby with the bathwater.

A large debate is now going on over if Google did right or wrong, and over what may have been its underlying motivations to take this course of action. Opinions range from the belief that Google did the right thing, to the theory that Google implemented the filter to force the eliminated sites to buy AdWords (paid sponsor listings). One way or the other, one thing is certain: with this move, Google has put a question mark on everything we knew about search engine optimization.

In the meantime, thousands of businesses owners who used (or abused) search engine optimization techniques to push their pages to the top of the Google rankings (making a lot of money in the process) have now found their businesses destroyed. One more proof that focusing on only one Internet marketing strategy (especially search engine optimization, where we will always be at the mercy of the people tweaking the algorithms) is a recipee for disaster.

The evolution of Google will be an interesting development to follow in the months to come. If you want to read more about Google’s recent controversial algorithm change, you can read the following articles (they are somewhat lengthy, but will give you an accurate picture of what’s going on with Google these days, and of what we may expect from them in the future):

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Mario Sanchez publishes The Internet Digest ( ), an internet marketing content site packed with useful articles and resources, and SEO Tutorial ( where you can learn the basics of search engine optimization in four easy steps.