INTERNET SEARCH FIRM Google has taken a look at its search rankings, explaining that it will penalise those web sites that over-egg their search optimisation cake.
The firm's ranking algorithm or Panda system is a difficult beast to ride, and many web sites have complained that changes to it have seen them fall down the rankings. Google has explained some recent changes in a blog post that tells search engine optimisation (SEO) abusers to rein in their efforts.
Google engineer Matt Cutts said that good search optimisation makes the web a better place, but warned that web sites that jam their pages with keywords and other spider bait do not. There needs to be a balance he said, and Google will make that balance itself.
"In the pursuit of higher rankings or traffic, a few sites use techniques that don't benefit users, where the intent is to look for shortcuts or loopholes that would rank pages higher than they deserve to be to be ranked. We see all sorts of webspam techniques every day, from keyword stuffing to link schemes that attempt to propel sites higher in rankings," he said.
"The goal of many of our ranking changes is to help searchers find sites that provide a great user experience and fulfill their information needs. We also want the "good guys" making great sites for users, not just algorithms, to see their effort rewarded."
To achieve this the firm will make some changes to Panda that will boost the rankings of sites that "don't make much content available 'above the fold'".
"We've always targeted webspam in our rankings, and this algorithm represents another improvement in our efforts to reduce webspam and promote high quality content," said Cutts.
"While we can't divulge specific signals because we don't want to give people a way to game our search results and worsen the experience for users, our advice for webmasters is to focus on creating high quality sites that create a good user experience and employ white hat SEO methods instead of engaging in aggressive webspam tactics."
Cutts reckons that only those web sites that are aggressively gaming or spamming its results will be affected, but has provided a template of sorts for all web designers to follow. µ