I have recently written about backlink audits on domains that have extensive manipulation of their link profile. The single largest reason to manipulate an anchor text profile is to make money by achieving good positions for specific commercial keywords; other smaller reasons could be for political interest (elections) or promotion or defense of an individual’s name (ego).
Because it is commercial intent that drives manipulation of search engine rankings, it is safe to say that it is the searches with commercial intent that are altered.
How could search engines identify commercial queries?
Google has a large and ever growing list of commercial queries powered by us, the purchasers of ads powered by Google.
While Google specifically says that in no way does the advertisements that a website buys affect the organic rankings of that site in Google’s organic search results, they do fall short of saying that this data is used to affect the rankings of organic search results of other websites ranking organically for search queries.
Commercial Queries vs Spammy Queries?
It could be interesting to look to see how search engines could automatically identify commercial queries. and spammy queries.
Commercial queries, the opposite o information keywords, are simple queries that have monetary value. A highly informational keyword like “apartheid” (an reference to a period in South African history) will have a very few number of advertisers, and a very low cost of the keyword. These two metrics being low, makes the keyword highly informational an therefor non-commercial.
Spammy queries need to have other metrics. They must be commercial keywords (having advertisers and higher CPC) but there also must be a page quality/site quality dimension to it as well. If a keywords is commercial and the site is labeled as thin, then rankings for the site will be adjusted downwards.
Google’s Matt Cutts did suggest that in rewriting Panda they made it softer and gentler to help small businesses. This could mean that Panda was made less black and white and instead allowed sites to be effected by Panda at varying levels. Could this evaluation of sites under the new Panda have created an ability to Google to have a sliding degree of site/page quality? I think it certainly could have, and I think this is exactly what has enabled Google to be able to decide what is a commercial site deserving for a commercial query and which is thin when compared to the rest of the sites.
What does this mean for online businesses?
This means that you need to keep developing your websites regardless of your current position in the market. It is no longer is a viable marketing solution to keep doing what you have always done. If you are going to compete for highly competitive keywords in search, you are going to have to build a site that your visitors really believe is worth their attention and has a distinct value in them revisiting. So:
1. Create revisit value – it does not have to be a blog for readers to come back to read, but it does need to be something that the visitors look forward to and benefit directly and immediately from. This could be new incentives, new sale items, or new merchandise. Creativity is key here, but the best ideas are highly creative and also very simple to maintain. Don’t build something that needs much of your time to keep going.
2. Make your site a single access point for information. If your website is about trading stocks, where money is made by signing up with online brokers, be sure to create value in the information. Add economic calendars, tickers for currencies and commodity prices, add news articles with specialist analysis that can help the readers – even call it something like “Breakfast Brief” so people know they are to come back every day with their bowl of cornflakes.
3. Network – there is nothing better than getting to know the people who are considered experts in this field. If you don’t read and discuss things with authors in this field who are smarter than you, then you are going to find that you are doing a lot of teach and not much learning.
How might Google find commercial anchors – http://www.seobythesea.com/2012/11/not-all-anchor-text-is-equal-other-co-citation-observations/
Payday Loan 3.0 & Spammy Queries. Are all spammy queries commercial by definition? – http://searchengineland.com/google-launching-payday-loan-algorithm-3-0-targeting-spammy-queries-week-193821
Interesting forum discussion discussing the definition of spammy queries – http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4679408.htm