Google has recently made some pretty significant changes in its ranking algorithm.
The latest update, dubbed by Google forum users as “Allegra”, has left some web
sites in the dust and catapulted others to top positions. Major updates like this can
happen a few times a year at Google, which is why picking the right search engine
optimization company can be the difference between online success and failure.
However, it becomes an increasingly difficult decision when SEO firms themselves
are suffering from the Allegra update.

Over-optimization may have played the biggest part in the dropping of seo- from the top 50 Google results. Filtering out web sites that have had
readability sacrificed for optimization is a growing trend at Google. It started with
the Sandbox Effect in late 2004, where relatively new sites were not being seen at all
in the Google results even with good keyword placement in content and incoming
links. Many thought it was a deliberate effort by Google to penalize sites that had
SEO work done. It’s a few months later and we see many of the ‘sandboxed’ web
sites finally appearing well for their targeted keywords.

With 44 occurrences of ‘SEO’ on the relatively short home page of, and
many of them in close proximity to each other, the content reads like a page
designed for search engine robots, not the visitor. This ranking shift should come as
no surprise to SEO professionals as people have been saying it for years now: Sites
should be designed for visitors, not search engine robots. Alas, some of us don’t
listen and this is what happens when search engines finally make their move.

One aspect of search engine optimization that is also affected in a roundabout way
is link popularity development. After observing the effects of strictly relevant link
exchanges on many of our client’s sites recently, we’ve noticed incredibly fast #1
rankings on Google. It seems Google may be looking out for links pages designed
for the sole purpose of raising link popularity and devalues the relevance of the site.
After all, if a links page on a real estate site has 100 outgoing links to pharmacy
sites, there has to be a lot of content on that page completely unrelated to real
estate. Not until now has that been so detrimental to a site’s overall relevance to
search terms. It goes back to the old rule of thumb: Make your visitors the top
priority. Create a resources page that actually contains useful links for your site
users. If you need to do reciprocal linking then keep it relevant and work those sites
in with other good resources.

Keeping up with the online search world can be overwhelming for the average small
business owner or corporate marketing department. Constant Google changes, MSN
coming on the scene in a big way, and all the hype around the new
shopping search function can make heads spin. But just keep things simple and
follow the main rules that have been around for years. Google, as well as other
search engines, won’t ever be able to ignore informative, well written content along
with good quality votes from other web sites.