How Google Will Change SEO in 2008

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  • January 10, 2008

2007 will be remembered by most webmasters and SEO’s as the year that Google publicly started the paid link crackdown.

2008 will be the year that this crackdown really starts to have an effect on the sites that consumers see when they perform searches on Google.

Google is getting better and better at detecting paid links. They have removed the ability for thousands of sites to pass PageRank and even reduced the ability of some sites to rank for their own names. 2008 will see every site that continues to publicly sell links receive harsh penalties in both search engine rankings and PR passing ability.

The knock on effect of this will be that sites who relied on paid links will gradually slip further and further down the rankings and be replaced by sites that spent 2007 carrying out aggressive viral marketing to build natural links. As these natural links start to age and gain trust and the top ranking sites lose links by the thousand we will see rankings change dramatically.

Most high quality sites will have been attracting links from mainstream media sites in 2007 so we won’t see many big names missing from the rankings, the knock on effect being that consumers will be remain happy with Google.

I also see the reliance on domain trust being turned back up a notch in 2008 as Google gets better at assigning trust to domains. Previously the fact trust was based on link age meant that newer sites struggled slightly and Google was forced to introduce the Query Deserves Freshness algorithm to improve results for topical searches. With paid links removed from the mix Google can assign trust based on links gained over the past year with a much greater confidence than ever before resulting in higher quality results and happier webmasters. A win win situation.

In 2007 we saw sites that regularly publish news and blog posts being granted almost instant spidering and extremely quick indexing. Trusted domains could get rankings for fresh keywords within an hour of publishing a new article. Google struggles to update it’s search results in real time and in 2008 I see the search results for breaking news queries almost mirroring the results seen in Google News.

The current reliance on domain trust is very good at removing spam but isn’t always very good at giving relevant results. Is Wikipedia always a useful result to have? Google thinks so, even if the article is useless. During 2008 I expect Google to increase the integration of toolbar and social bookmark data as well as link data on a page by basis to decide whether individual articles on sites like Wikipedia and mainstream news websites are worthy of good rankings. An article on the BBC would normally outrank a Daily Mail article thanks to internal links and domain trust but if the Daily Mail article has links from thousands of high quality blogs and 50,000 social bookmarks Google should be able to tell that this article is a more popular and useful result.

Patrick Altoft

About Patrick Altoft

Patrick is the Director of Strategy at Branded3 and has spent the last 11 years working on the SEO strategies of some of the UK's largest brands. Patrick’s SEO knowledge and experience is highly regarded by many, and he’s regularly invited to speak at the world’s biggest search conferences and events.

  • Sucker

    Sounds almost like SEO utopia :)

  • Wayne Liew

    Google already shown part of where will they move to in 2007.

    I think search engine traffic will be much more difficult for new webmaster’s grab but the search results will become much more relevant (main objective of a search engine).

    Although there are sites who are going against Google even though they have their Page Rank abolished, I do think that the number of such acts will go down since the Internet is becoming more and more competitive. Taking off of such sites from the search index will also be bound to happen.

    Anyway, do you see Yahoo having a chance of becoming a more popular search engine in 2008? 😆

  • Darren Lovelock

    Nice article. I’m a Google lover myself but recently I cant get over how hypocritical they are being. Why is it ok for them to sell links (adsense) but no-one else? I can see their logic in wanting better quality search results (thats what we all want) by not allowing the buying of links for PR. However, webmasters were doing this so their sites can get higher rankings. Why then does Google still let anyone with enough money buy the no1 spot? Surely this is wrong too? Hopefully in 2008 they’ll notice the error in their ways and remove the sponsored listing from above the natural search results if they truly want to provide better quality results.

    • Matthew

      That’s an interesting way of looking at it. The only main difference I can think of is that adwords ads will send you traffic for that 1 keyphrase you purchase and not raise the overall results for keywords across your domain, where as a bunch of quality links would raise all of your serps as you become more trusted.

      I guess it’s all related to trust and artificially increasing your trust with google. They would have no problem you spending $$$$ on banners that do not follow as that would effect the overall results.

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  • Paul Fleming

    I guess the likes of Text Links Ads will be the main ones suffering from this kind of change (I heard that they have altered their code, I wonder if this is to combat exactly this) but I wonder it’s a little tougher to detect the Pay-per-Post people but maybe they are also part of the target. I’m sure they’ll figure out a workaround.

    While I do agree that this is a touch hypocritical on Google’s part, I like that they are evening the playing field a little by not allowing those with big budgets (except sponsored links as mentioned above but still not as valuable as the top organic) to buy their way to the top and are having to actually work hard to get there.

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  • TJ

    Interesting. Especially in light of how you have currently an ad running on your sidebar for (text link market).

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  • mani

    Hello Dear i read your article and its realy good I am SEO and I dont do spaming i do only clean Seo working only content updation and related link submission. I want to know that, will google take action (crackdown) against my site???

    • Patrick Altoft

      As long as you obey the guidelines they have no reason to crack down on your site.

  • Silver Web Solutions

    I believe Google will put emphasis (if they don’t already) on rankings based on their own products. For instance, most people don’t know that Google has a social media website called Orkut. It’s a lot bigger in the UK than in the USA. I’ll be testing this out soon. I’m focusing my internet marketing on Google-owned products (Orkut, YouTube, etc.) but not neglecting other social media sites.

  • Wordpress Hosting

    My advice would be to stay away from tnx

    • Best Buy Coupons

      ABsolutely Right I agree with you….

  • nakliyat

    i think google has a big change in seo nowadays.
    site ranks always changing :(

  • Jon

    they have slapped old established sites with many established links in favour of crappy blogs and new social media garbage

    Over night I have lost a lot of my traffic after years of working white hat to imrpove it..

    Basically this “paid link” is fundamentally floored as how can they tell if its paid or not.

    People with legitmiate sites with legitimate links have paid the penalty..

    I hope someone has the balls to take on google and bring out a new search engine cause right now there search results are crap

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