On July 1st 2009 Google’s new algorithm kicked in much to the confusion of webmasters around the world. Some even compared it to the now infamous Big Daddy Algo change back in 2006. In this post I’ll summarise the different factors that could have changed and analyse their impact on rankings.
1) Internal Links and the “Nofollow” attribute.
Internal links are any links found within a website such as navigational links, breadcrumb trails and contextual links. Internal links have always been used by Google to determine the importance of all pages within a site. Internal links also played a major role in funnelling pagerank throughout a site and using the “nofollow” attribute, savvy webmasters were even able to tell Google which pages to channel pagerank to and which pages not.
On July 1st, this is officially no longer the case. Google’s has made the nofollow attribute redundant (for pagerank sculpting at least) by allowing pagerank to flow to internal pages with nofollow links.
2) External Links
Following on from the point above, prior to July 1st webmasters rarely linked to external websites for fear that these links would leak much needed pagerank to external sites. When they did link to external sites, they added a nofollow. Again, July 1st saw a change in this and it now seems that linking to external sites has risen up the agenda for Google. Google now looks more favourably upon sites that link to relevant authoritative sites and rewards them for this.
3) Link Popularity vs Authority
Last but not least, link popularity. Google has always valued link popularity (the amount and relevancy of links pointing to a site) however with the July 1st algo change, it seems that Google has decreased the importance of the quantity of links and is now focusing soley on quality. Examples of non-quality links include forum links, social links and blog comment links.
In a nutshell, Google is now increasing the importance it places on editorial links from authoritative sources such as major online publications, newspapers and niche bloggers, very much how it is in the offline world.
In summary, Google’s July 1st algo change has decreased the importance of traditional onsite SEO and is placing much more focus on external factors.