9 Ways to Keep Google Happy

A recent Google patent application has the SEO community buzzing. At a bare minimum this document reveals the direction Google is taking its future search criteria. Changes in the way Google will be evaluating pages for search rankings are intended to address two major problems:

- Search engine spam, and

- Ensuring that "fresh" documents score higher than "stale" ones

Here is a summary of some of the general principles outlined in the document. Most SEO specialists agree these are reasonable principles, and it is only a matter of time before they are adopted.

1. Anchor text of links is still very important. Focus on your anchor text. It should contain your most important keyword.

2. Google expects that anchor texts will vary. A lot of identical anchor text suggests an "unnatural" linking pattern. Anchor texts should vary, but contain related phrases.

3. Google will record when specific links were first discovered, and watch how they change over time. Links with a long life span are considered more valuable than links with a short life span. This adds support to the link delay theory -- that links do not start "counting" until they have been in place for a few months. So get working on those links right now, but don't expect immediate gratification from Google.

4. If a new website gets a flood of new inbound links, this will be an indicator of possible spam activity. Links should be introduced gradually and according to a consistent pattern.

5. Google acknowledges that there may be link "spikes", and so an influx of new links will be interpreted as legitimate if some of the links are from "authoritative" sites. Go after links from authoritative sites.

6. If a stale webpage continues to receive new incoming links, it will be considered fresh. Keep adding links pointing to important pages.

7. Links from fresh pages will in some cases be more valuable than links from "stale" or old pages that have not been recently updated. Get links from pages that are active. If you have high value links from important sites, develop a strategy for keeping those links fresh.

8. Google places more value on a site where link growth remains constant and slow. Slow and steady wins the race. Keep getting those links.

9. Pages with many inbound links will require proportionately more new links in order to remain fresh. The assumption is that the more links a page has, the more it should be getting in the future. Otherwise it starts slipping into the "stale" category. Focus more attention on your most important pages.

Regardless of whether of not Google implements all of these criteria, the general direction is clear. More importantly, these points make good SEO sense, and provide a very good place to start when planning a link strategy.

Rick Hendershot publishes the Linknet Network, a group of websites and blogs that offer web owners advertising and link promotion opportunities.

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