Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Google Allegra Update, WMD and Osama Bin Laden

The latest Google algo update, Allegra (Italian for light, as in “not heavy”) is now about a month old and many are trying to make sense of it, as per usual when an update hits the SERPs.

The usual chorus of indignation, Google vilification and Webmasters falling out of their prams, reverberates through the forums and many blogs.

What do I know about it? Nothing much, much like everyone else. Well, no, not exactly. My brother-in-law heard reports about some theory on Allegra, which an SEO guy apparently had ripped off a page of a kid on the Internet. The kid’s dad had told him about it, even though he’d (the dad, not the kid) only heard it from his niece’s boyfriend. Something like that…

Looking for explanations on Allegra (or any other update for that matter) is like looking for WMD. Or Osama Bin Laden. As Jackie Mason once put it in one of my favourite sketches:
We know where Osama Bin Laden is: he’s either in Afghanistan or he’s not in Afghanistan.

But a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do…

“My” preferred theory on Allegra is that it further favours spontaneous links, decreasing thereby the value of engineered links like reciprocal links. Extrapolating from previous updates that would appear to be a logical next step. How would Google tell the difference beween spontaneous and engineered links? There are various scenarios but looking at the text anchor would give clues. Most reciprocal linkers systematically use the same text anchor in all their incoming links, so that’s a bit of a giveaway.

Another indicator is the destination page. Spontaneous links usually arises when the linker quotes from and links to a deep content page. Destination pages of spontaneous links rarely point to the home page of a site. Reciprocal links however, almost always do.

The bottom line of the theory would be to use a lot of different text anchors and have links pointed to all pages of your site, if you’re reliant on reciprocal links.

But it’s all speculation, assuming, hypothetical, guessing, estimating, deducing, extrapolating etc. Who really know but Google?

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