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Google is conducting a house cleaning stemming from what appears to be an algorithm update. Several SEOs have noted the typical precursors of change including a decrease in counted back-links and minor fluctuations in page-rank values. For the past few days, Google’s results have been bouncing, with placements moving up and down frequently. For a short period last Friday, Google was displaying site descriptions drawn from the Open Directory Project. Last week, just after we began to note these indicators several sites in the SEO sector started losing their placements.

The StepForth domain is doing quite well remaining in the Top10 for our targets across all major search engines. Our continued high placements, when considered against those of some of our competitors show many of the critical items that bring success when chasing highly competitive keyword phrases.

Content continues to be king. We create virtually all our own content. The wording of our site content, including those of our sub-domain sites (news, blog, consultancy, etc…) is written with our target keyword phrases in mind. While the INDEX page only changes two or three times a year, the internal structure grows bigger every day. Google really appreciates topically relevant content and is known to revisit sites when content changes. Blogs are good tools to help your site bulk up topical content. While they don’t have to rank themselves, they easily expand the amount of content offered at the domain.

The next major difference seen between SEO sites that continued to rank well and SEO sites that recently lost placements is topically conservative linking strategies. Sites that continue to rank well tend to only seek incoming links from highly relevant sources. SEO sites that have spread their URLs widely across forums, blogs and client-site networks seem to have lost positioning.

SEOs have been cautious about site-wide links for at least six months which has lead to a decline in link-selling schemes. That caution has paid off for those who avoided the temptation to place site-wide links in as many places as possible. Google does recognize the line between all-in links strategies and “valid” text-link advertising.

Lastly, we continue to note the high value of anchor text (text used to phrase a link). A tight focus on our target keyword phrases when links are directed to a page in the StepForth domain helps support strong rankings under those phrases.

With an update obviously underway, webmasters are advised to check the keyword phrases used on their sites, make certain SEO basics are covered and continue to cultivate topical links from relevant sites.