Will the new Google Zebra update be the end of Black Hat SEO?
For the past years, the undying speculation regarding the Google Zebra update has been concerning web developers and SEOs around the world, primarily because it was said that Google Zebra is going to be the end of black hat SEO techniques. In order to explain the concept of Google Zebra and the primary purposes of this newly-implemented algorithm, it is strongly necessary to have a proper understanding of the black hat SEO techniques, what they involve and how can this new “animal” in Google’s Zoo end their unethical activities.
Exactly like its name suggests, black hat SEO involves those search engines optimization techniques that aim to improve one website’s page rank through inappropriate manners that lead to a serious penalty brought to its actual ranking and an eventual de-indexing of its pages. Black hat SEO strategies include keyword stuffing, which is a term used for describing the content that contains an overall keyword density that exceeds 2 or 3 percent per 300 or 400-word article, backlinks placed on websites belonging to different niches, over-promotional content, spam messages in the comment area, improper use of social networks (again, mostly promotional content) and other similar techniques.
As you can easily observe, web developers using black hat SEO techniques are disapproved by the search engines and especially by Google, which discredits them and penalizes them through a lower ranking. Now, what does the Google Zebra update aim to do against the irrelevance of the black hat SEO strategies? After scouring the blogosphere and reading Google’s esteemed engineer Matt Cutts’ personal blog and Twitter account we can simply conclude that the newly-released algorithm has two main purposes: first, this algorithm is actually a penalty created for penalizing unreliable merchants around the world.
What this means is that Google Zebra is specifically designed to indentify fake customer reviews or ratings, downgrading poor quality merchants and penalizing them seriously by banning them. According to Matt Cutts and one of his most recent tweets, Google Zebra is composed of several algorithms meant to analyze various aspects of the merchants in questions, crediting only those ones that receive at least 90 percent of positive customer ratings and more than 500 transactions monthly. Given that many merchants nowadays pay writers for writing fake reviews, creating numerous accounts and leaving good ratings, Zebra aims to end this unethical manner to increase one website’s ranking.
Secondly, Google Zebra acts as a penalty meant to penalize social media spam. As mentioned above, black hat SEO techniques include using social networks in order to get credited, but without transmitting any value or quality to the reader. Thus, this algorithm will penalize those websites that do the following through social networks:
1. Have an unnatural increase of followers or fans
2. Buy links from other private networks
3. Over-optimize the keywords of retweeted links
4. Include spambots that can automatically detect breaking news or other popular content and place links or advertorials in the comment area
5. Have a great number of followed links included in press releases and other content.
Even though Google’s spiders themselves are specifically created to detect these penalty signs, on page SEO experts warn that Google Zebra can also penalize them by dropping websites’ rankings down. If Matt Cutts’ prediction about the soon release of this algorithm is true, then the entire world of SEO is going to suffer severe modifications that will destroy poor quality merchants’ path to the Google top 10.