Google planning major changes for Summer 2013

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Over the past few weeks and months there has been much speculation and  rumors surrounding changes coming in Google.  Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s webspam team, has also hinted at changes to come.  And while we don’t know when those will be, we do have more details now thanks to a new video posted by Cutts on Youtube.

The biggest change, internally called “Penguin 2.0” is a change dedicated to address blackhat webspam.  It will be more comprehensive than the first Penguin.  This means that many more sites will be affected by Penguin 2.0 than Penguin 1.0 which came out last year around this time.  So what does that mean for the average website owner or webmaster?

Well, if you follow Google’s well known webmaster guidelines you shouldn’t have a problem.   That means your website is designed for users, not search engines, is easy to use and provides relevant unique information.  You should also not be participating in any black or grey hat techniques such as link spamming.

But is all link building bad?

The short answer is no.  You just need to be careful how you do it.  There are many well documented sources describing black hat link building.

Also announced by Cutts was that Google will be targeting “advertorials”.  These are pages on websites that are generally paid for advertisements for a company.  The goal isn’t necessarily to provide useful information (although this isn’t always the case) in most cases these pages are created specifically to pass PageRank.

There are also other changes coming.  The video mentions “Payday Loans” and certain pornography searches are also targets of coming updates.

Google is also working on ways to “soften the blow” that many sites took when the Panda changes were rolled out.  It sounds like they were able to identify grey areas – sites which perhaps weren’t doing anything wrong but were mistakenly grouped into the sites that were.    Google has identified other indicators which can be used to help a site recover from a Panda penalty.

Webmaster changes

The video also outlined some changes coming to both Webmaster Tools and also how Google communicates with webmasters and site owners.

First is to improve their hacking detection.  They want to get better and faster at finding and flagging potentially hacked sites.

But detection isn’t all.  They also want to be able to notify site owners sooner as well.  That means if your site is set up in Webmaster Tools you will get a notification that your site may be compromised.

Even if you don’t have webmaster tools there’s a chance that you’d see the now famous warning messages in Google search results, and if you use Google’s Chrome browser you may have seen those red pages telling you that the site may be compromised.

Google also wants to improve communication with site owners with regards to penalties being assessed.  This has been a thorn in the side of many site owners – when they get a message that Google has detected something unnatural which is affecting the site, however the site owner usually has no idea what that could be.

What the video suggests is that in cases like this they will provide example URLs to show the site owner or webmaster what the issue is so that they may take steps to rectify it.

When does this all happen?

According to the video we should expect to see these changes, and a few more, to be rolled out by the end of summer.  Personally, I expect Penguin changes sooner – within the next few weeks, possibly even by the end of May.

You can view the video in its entirety here:

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