Google’s made some very big changes in the past couple of weeks, and it’s affecting more sites than previously expected. In what way? Depending on how SEO has been done, some sites are dropping a few positions, some are dropping by multiple pages.
So what’s causing this? Well, one major form of SEO that’s a bit gray-hat that some companies have been using is paid backlink networks. These are public networks that people pay for posts on, where posts can be put on various different blogs that have specific anchor text going back to the customer’s site. This is something that I’ve seen a lot of India SEO “experts” use in particular (you’ve likely been offered their services at least once, easy to tell from the “Dear Sir/Madam” at the start of the email).
Well the problem with these networks is that they contain sites that are not very niched. They’re basically like blog versions of link farms. Worthless content, awkward linking from blatant anchor text. Google has noticed these. Certainly for a while, in all likeliness for a very long time. Only now have they taken some major action.
That action is to drop all link benefits from these blog networks (they tend to be interconnected) completely. And so if you were getting some link juice from these types of blogs (whether you know it or not), you have most likely dropped a position or two.
That isn’t the only change from Google – they also are changing the way follow and no follow affect PageRank. It’s still too soon to see exactly how this is being changed, but it’s changed. SEOmoz has a constant update of the Google algorithm changes, so chances are one of the more recent changes are the first big Panda hit are what’s affecting things.
If you do SEO and don’t plan on making changes anytime soon (or haven’t made changes in a while), expect to see some serious position ranking drops.