Last month I gave a very brief overview of
'The Google Dance', the regular search engine
update shuffle. I also told of two recent
devastating search overhauls, the
'Florida' and 'Georgia' updates, and the
effects they have had on Internet businesses.


Awaiting the normal Google reshuffle can turn experienced web professionals to jelly.

So, imagine the mayhem when Florida and Georgia hit the scene. These were Google's 6th and 7th overhauls, aimed at removing scam sites that use unethical techniques to try to fool the searches to get higher placements.

Previously confident developers suddenly found that their whole SEO (Search Engine Optimization) world had apparently been turned upside down overnight.

It was a shock to say the least. Even we were affected and we have been working with search engine placements for years. We suddenly found that client sites which had previously held #1 positions on Google had vanished totally from view. There was, however, a silver lining to this particular cloud.

As I mentioned last month, in their haste to clean house against the system abusers, Google had also destroyed countless legitimate business sites. How could this possibly be a good thing? Because it wiped the slate clean and got rid of many of the scam sites that were forcing smaller sites out of the high places with their spamming practices. For any site that did find itself on the receiving end of the recent ranking catastrophes, there are still things that can be done to recover your placement.

First, and most important, remove hidden words from your web pages. Most regular internet users will have come across this before. This is where there appears to be a large area of empty space (usually at the bottom of a page). It is full of keywords that are the same color as the background. If you click and drag your mouse over the area, you can see them. This was the first technique that Google slammed because it is simply nothing more than spam.

Next, you want to remove all but the necessary keywords from your Meta-Tags (hidden HTML codes at the top of the page). Limit them to about 25 and don't repeat the same words. Putting hundreds of words, many repeated several times, in the hopes that the search engine spiders will be fooled is a major misconception many web designers fall victim of. Unfortunately, keywords are not a numbers game, more doesn't mean any better, in fact, it's quite the reverse, as many sites have discovered.

Update your content regularly. Search engine robots may be your most regular visitor. If there isn't anything new to keep them interested, you will slip further and further down the listings, being replaced with fresher sites. Plan your content carefully. Describe your business honestly and succinctly. Keep to the point, and carefully arrange the information most relevant to each page.

Sites using search engine unfriendly items such as Flash and frames will never be able to achieve a good search engine results placement (SERP) without major additional development work. If you have frames on your site, all the search engine will see is something like, 'your browser does not support frames.' If you use flash, all it will see is basically, 'flash content here.' Either way, nothing will be recorded about who, what, or where you are.

If you want to use either of these on your site there is a work around. Your web developer can recreate content in a friendly form just for the searches ensuring that your site will be seen.

This is something that we do as a standard. When a site is designed using Flash, we always create a separate non-flash version of the pages. Similarly, for framed sites, we do a lot of rewriting so that any page links are duplicated so the searches can follow into the site.

We can help you take a look at your site to make sure that it is search engine friendly. Don't hesitate to give us a call.

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