If you’re a Google watcher you know the search engine giant has been on a tear of late, making major changes to the way they do their business that will effect your business for years to come.

Let’s recap some of the seismic shifts over the last month:

The Death of the Anchor Text Link in Press Releases

anchor-text-links

An anchor text link is when you make your keyword an actual link like this:  professional SEO company New Jersey

Notice, if you click the link it takes you to our SEO product page.  Back in the day (like 2 months ago), linking your keyword phrase to a relevant page about that keyword phrase was a way to strengthen the association between that keyword phrase and your relevant pages.  This was according to Google’s own rules about emphasizing relevant keywords and worked especially well when sites, other than your own, would link to your site via the keyword phrase.  So how to get other sites to link to you using your preferred keyword phrase?  Well, that, of course was the million dollar question, and it was at the core of many company’s link building and SEO strategies, none more important and effective than press releases.

The thinking was that by deploying the strategic use of anchor text keywords in press releases, your press release would be distributed by a press release service and was bound to get picked up and posted by one of the thousands of online news services.  Let’s say you got your press release, along with your anchor text links, picked up by Yahoo News.  Your press release, along with the anchor text links linking back to your own web page, would be posted on dozens, hundreds or even thousands of other websites around the Internet scoring you beaucoup SEO points.

In fact, major press release sites like PRWEb and PRNewswire charge a premium to add hypertext linked keywords and have actively marketed the advantages of using this feature which are still posted as a feature on their respective websites, weeks after Google changed the rules which you can see here at PRWeb and PR Newswire.

But that has now all changed as extensively reported by Google watchers and published in crystal clear language on Google’s own Webmaster Tools page HERE.

Google Analytics Now Hides Keyword Traffic

One of the great thing about using Google Analytics was the ability to monitor your website traffic and see what keywords were being used to reach your pages.  Not anymore.

As of November 2013, Google will now encrypt 100% of organic keyword search data.  Their lame excuse has something to do with protecting  privacy but excuse me for being skeptical when that same keyword data has now been moved within the Google Adwords Pay Per Click management tool as discussed in detail HERE.  

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The New Normal

So, while Google makes suspect claims of privacy for removing keyword research from the free Google Analytics dashboard, you can now view that very same data within the Google Adwords PPC tool.  As we wrote in a recent blog post about “Google is Not Your Friend,” Google is really all about beating down on SEO and moving everyone to Pay Per Click advertising.  It’s so obvious to everyone else I wish they would just come out and say it!  You can read more about the new Google Adwords tool  HERE.

GOOGLE CHANGES FREE KEYWORD TOOL

As outlined in the paragraph above, Google has moved all the keyword data that is now listed as (not provided) in Google Analytics and moved it to the Adwords tool inside their Pay Per Click Dashboard.

To take advantage of the Paid & Organic report, you have to link your AdWords account to Webmaster Tools, and you have to be a verified owner or be granted access by one.  -Google

And while the Google Keyword Tool is still free to use and access, you now need a Google account to access it.  This continues the march toward moving all your organic search engine data, access and information within the Google Adwords paid PPC environment.  Read about it in Google’s own words HERE.

Optimizing For “GIST”

As speech recognition for search increases, Google claims to be de-emphasizing keywords and casting a wider net for the “gist” of what searchers are looking for by trying to better  discern the meaning of searches.  Out of all the changes Google has made I’m least sure of what the impact of this will be but we’ll keep an eye out as it continues to evolve.

The New Hummingbird Update

hummingbird_616Ah, another day another mysterious Google algorithm update with a cute animal name, this one called Hummingbird.

Billed as one of the largest changes to the search algorithm since the Caffeine update of 2009, TechCrunch’s Greg Kumparak, who was presumably at the recent Google announcement had this to say:

“The main focus, and something that went repeated many a time, was that the new algorithm allows Google to more quickly parse full questions (as opposed to parsing searches word-by-word), and to identify and rank answers to those questions from the content they’ve indexed.”
The “gist,” as Google would say, is that Hummingbird is designed to handle more complex searches.  You can read more HERE.
BOTTOM LINE:  To help you navigate the ongoing world of SEO we’ll be keeping our eyes open for more news and changes as they’re announced.  While we are cutting back on using anchor text links, we still believe in the judicious use of keywords and META tags within the context of useful RELEVANT content.  As a business owner you need to be a content creator.  It’s the new marketing.  And by generating good, quality, useful content for your customers and prospects and participating and engaging in social media, I think the rest will take care of itself.
Are you using content marketing effectively?  Let us know what’s working for you!