If you are new to writing articles online, you may be curious about what happened in the past in terms of SEO evolution and how Google updates completely changed the rules of articles ranking among the years.

Here is at least how I perceived these changes, both as a passive observer of the forums and as the active writer writer I am today.

1. Keywords

In the past, it seemed that the more the better was the rule. Put as many times the words you want to rank for, use them in titles, in the introduction, in the conclusion and who cares if your article was empty, your article would rank pretty well.

KeywordsCredit: Anna Langova

This is a period I hated as a reader. So many articles were built around the following scheme:

- a title promising you to tell you everything you need to know about X 

- an introduction telling you how important it is to know X (you already know that, this is why you are looking for it)

- empty sentences just to keep you reading

- a conclusion pretending that this was everything you needed to know about X even if nothing was really written about it

Google changed its algorithm and you are now punished for using the same words too many times in your articles. Probably a good thing for the readers as it seems to have purged a lot of low content articles but some writers are still writing to update their library written before this change.

To adapt this change, InfoBarrel has decreased dramatically the keyword density thresholds. Squidoo uses automatic filters which lock lenses.

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2. EMD Penalty

I saw a lot of people speaking about EMD and how bad it was all of a sudden, etc... but I had a hard time to even find out what EMD was...

EMD or Exact Match Domain is about the domain name matching a keyword. Imagine you are looking for the best party supplies and it happens that someone has a blog called best-party-supplies.com, doesn't it seem a good idea for Google to show you this blog?

The problem is that the advantage Google was giving to these was too big and bloggers started to benefit from it, registering a lot of high-earning keywords as domain names, etc...

If you are writing for InfoBarrel, you don't need to worry too much about it since the domain name here is infobarrel.com. But I still wanted to mention it as it was something big happening in the SEO world.

3. Backlinks

BacklinkCredit: Peter Griffin

A high quality website is a website that people share and link to. Google concluded that a website with a lot of links was a good one.

No need to have graduated in Logic to see the error in this reasoning and now Google is again changing its rules. From now on, too many backlinks will cause your blog/site/article problems. Why? Because Google will accuse you of trying to game the system.

To avoid the situation, if you link to your own work, you may want to use no-follow links that still keep your readers reading your different pages but does not pretend to be a link due to quality.

A bit like refraining from giving your own work some "+1", "like", etc... Sharing on social media is still fine but having many do-follow backlinks is not, unless they are real links from people who admire your work.

InfoBarrel is know letting you know how many links you have on each of your article and if one has too many, you may want to edit any links you can (or disavow the links at Google).

4. Next Updates?

It is hard to know what Google has in mind but I suspect them to constantly try to penalize people trying to "game the system". Some are honest and don't realize this is what they are doing (they simply follow some magical rules to rank better) and therefore, updates come as a surprise to them.

An example I have in mind is articles falsely updated. I think about it as this is something irritating as a reader. Imagine you are looking for some information about something happening in 2013. Are yo uhappy when you find an article clearly written for the 2012 event and where the author simply changed 2012 in 2013?

Or if you want to filter the results and only see recent articles, are you satisfied if you find something written years ago and where the publication date is clearly just faked (published recently but written a long time ago, keeping the date of the article by updating it but still keeping some outdated information...).

At Squidoo, for example, updating lenses help the internal ranking of the lenses on the site. Some people have no problems saying how they do it: add a module, remove it the next time, add it again, etc... and do not get that what they are doing is clearly taking advantage of some automatic calculation and is going against the reader satisfaction.

This is the kind of things I expect Google to take action against. I would not be surprised to see something artificially maintained updated (many small updates) to be penalized in the future.

Of course this is just a thought and Google may never do it but I wanted to show what kind of things and reasoning are not appreciated by Google.

Further Reading

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If you enjoyed reading this article, you may be interested in this book about the evolution of the Internet in general.