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Is there Google collateral damage with the ever changing Google Algorithm? The New York Times was let into the inner sanctum of Google and reported back in their article Google Keeps Tweaking its Search Algorithms.
As always, tweaking and quality control involve a balancing act. "You make a change, and it affects some queries positively and others negatively", Mr. Manber says. "You can't only launch things that are 100 percent positive."
It is common to find websites getting big traffic fluctuations as the search engines continually change the algorithms. Over months, a search engine results position will be steadily increasing as you get additional inbound links. Then all of a sudden your ranking will disappear. A quick visit around the forums will often give you the answer. That its not only you that is hurting, that there are many others that have been effected. More to the point, you may find that people have a diverse range of reasons for why they think their website rankings have dropped. Then as often as not, your rankings and traffic will appear again.
The answer? I consider it is in a large part due to Google collateral damage of new parts of the algorithm that are again tweaked to bring deserving websites back again. And what if your websites rankings do not come back!….
One of the latest parts of the algorithm effecting many websites has been the change in the way inbound links are dealt with. There has been a big push from Google against paid links (April 14th, with extra added May 12th, 2007 - over 660 comments), and link spam. This has in my opinion hurt many websites and had collateral damage. It has been one of the most fundamental shifts in Google in the past year.
Our existing algorithms had already discounted these links without any people involved. However, our manual spamfighters had detected these links as well (Matt Cutts).
My opinion The Google collateral damage is in any link that is exchanged that is slightly off theme, and does not have enough unique descriptive text around it.
Where a pages rankings has been based on anything like the above, it is likely to have lost positions in the last month.
There has even been an SEO website that has fallen from grace. Found Agency is a large Australian SEO firm that can no longer be found on Google for its business name (Found Agency). It is well known that you can overdo your linking, enough to kill a domains rankings. Whether or not this was a manual or algorithmic cause, the result is clear - not being able to be found by your business name is not the best for an SEO agency. My take on the matter is that it has happened at the same time as links have been in the news at Google.
And have any of my websites been effected - the best way of knowing the edges is to explore the edges.