Google Panda, Google raters, EWOQ and the death of keyword spamming/stuffing for SEO

A couple of days ago, Barry Schwartz over at wrote about a very interesting manual that has been leaked from Google. Supposedly, this manual deals with the general guidelines of website rating and had been written for the Google search engine quality raters. So this is a lot of new terms to take in and a lot of debatable info has been recently flowing around the internet about these so-called raters, who are supposedly simple people like you and I, who Google had hired to independently rate the search results, or a part of the search results. Very interesting info indeed. I won’t post the link to the manual because I’m not a fan of leaking or divulging information that is for Google eyes only, but let me just tell you that all the data that’s in the Quality Rating Guidelines just brings me to one conclusion: black hat SEO techniques are doomed and I can even safely say that keyword tweaking is also doomed.

Before all of you SEOs out there jump on me saying keyword tweaks still work, let me tell you that there are two sides to that story. There are these nice chaps over at EWOQ that are actually contracted search result raters for Google Quality Eval or Rating. We’re not talking about whitelists here, but rather a human factor to check upon the algorithm generated results. The people who work for Google and are checking the search results are all gathered in this group called EWOQ, and they use proprietary software to screen black hat seo, check site relevance and give a simple quality report, actually just a rating that goes from spam to “vital”, “useful”, “relevant”, “slightly relevant” and “off-topic/useless”. That’s right guys, each and every link (site) is rated from vital to spam, according to how relevant and useful the information is. So before you go tweaking your keywords until you hit the algorithm sweetspot, just keep in mind that EWOQ has it’s eyes on you. Your website might get on the top spot for a moment and fall way back because you have obviously tried to tweak the Google algorithm. So hands off tweaking and of course cloaking/hiding keywords with javascript or css techniques!

At first I thought this was a major gamechanger for SEOs around the world, but after thinking about it, you can only come to one conclusion: if you go black hat, you have to live with the fear that you might fall off the top, getting hit by penalties from the human factor. If you go white hat, there is not much left in terms of tweaking after Google Panda 2.5.2 has ravaged the SEO scene: keyword tweaking has been strongly penalised, you can actually see how your site climbs back a good number of positions after you have deleted a couple of instances of your main keyphrase. This is something I’ve witnessed myself, actually.

So there is this question bugging me, because noone has asked it yet: What do these chaps rate? Do they rate our websites directly too, or are they just some quality raters that rate a small portion of the search results called, henceforth, the Google sandbox. Google takes a small part of it’s results and puts it ina  so-called Sandbox so that algorithm changes can be tested in the sandbox and would not affect the websites all around the world. We all wish it was the latter, of course, because google testing it’s own algo would be good news, but how can we be sure?

Anyways I will tell you that there are certain signs on a website that do tell a story of a website that has something relevant to tell. A website that serves up lyrics, recipes, quotes, proverbs, poems is usually not rated spam. However, if there is a high number of ppc ads or other types of ads on it, it could be reconsidered and badged spam. On the otehr hand, if your thinking about a local business, your business, you might want to verify the authenticity of your business by adding phone numbers, a real address and a working contact form to your pages, because apparently, that means you are legit. I can see the point in this, because if people from one geographical location were to invade another geolocation just because the market there is better, the term local business would become obsolete, everyone would be targeting the best geolocations. Also beware of copying paragraphs worth of text even from sources such as Wikipedia! This kind of information is likely to be found on hundreds of sites, because if you’ve thought about it, others have too.

I won’t start on how I can substantiate this information and I won’t tell you about the links to link quality reporting interfaces I’ve found in the manual. I will also not resort to trying to prove that what I’m telling you is true and you have to change your SEO methods because of it. I will simply change mine and hope that other SEOs give up the remainder of their SEO tweaking techniques in favor of creating very informative, specifics-rich content for the visitors of the site. It’s not about the number of occurrances of the keyphrase anymore, Google knows what you’re talking about from your title. Leave the neccessary signs for it to know what your site is about and write the rest for your audience.

P.S.: If you run into a link like this one:*$!#*$! in your web acces log or crawler log, apparently, it is a sign of having been rated by a quality rater from the EWOQ team.

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