Zebra: The New Animal in Google’s Zoo?

It all started one fine spring day in the year 2011 and the SEO world was changed forever. The first animal adopted by the Google Zoo was the Chinese endangered animal on WWF’s (World Wildlife Fund) poster, the Panda. A year later, Google adopted the Antarctica resident, the penguin as the mascot for its next major update. Over the next few days many people lost their sleep trying to dream up logical ways of recovering from the slide they witnessed in their website traffic. Unfortunately, this penguin, unlike the one in Happy Feet was not created to make people happy and Google used the animal’s webbed feet to try and clear up the World Wide Web of many small websites which were trying to make themselves visible among much larger players.

But this was definitely not the end of SEO troubles for small companies, especially those who lacked the resources to run PPC (pay per click) advertisements. What does it matter if the smaller players find it hard to operate as long as Google gets paid through advertisement services such as AdSense and/or PPC? After all, it’s just business not personal and if I were operating a virtual monopoly of any business like Google, I would do the same. Please note I call it a virtual monopoly because there is still Yahoo!, Bing, aj, lycos etc, but I have often felt that it’s all just a joke.

Coming back to topic, the second animal in Google’s algorithm zoo was the endangered Panda. I won’t even try to discuss, what the Panda updates have been all about, because it’s already been discussed at length by a bunch of experts from all over the world. Suffices to say, this Panda was also a dragon warrior and severely hammered the traffic of many sites, which according to Google were wearing black hats i.e. using Black Hat SEO techniques. All in all, the round house kick delivered by Google’s Panda has completely winded many websites, which had managed to hold their own after the advent of the Penguin.

According to Google’s propaganda machine such as Matt Cutts’ blog, Google forums etc, we have been informed that Google tweaks its search algorithm almost daily and only chooses to name the updates if a major algorithm change occurs. But funny part is such announcements have always come after the fact i.e. only after the changes have already been made. The positive side to such an approach would be Sun Tzu’s way of attacking the enemy and catching them unawares. It has often seemed to me that Google is basically waging a proxy war against the websites which do not pay Google to run advertisements or are not affiliated with its AdSense program. All this talk about thin content is just an excuse, just like Bush junior’s WMD excuse for the Iraq war to fill the pockets of Shell et al. But that’s just my point of view, what matters is whether you think so too and if yes, what are you going to do about it.

Back to topic, recently I came about a blog mentioning a Zebra update, while ludicrous, it’s definitely well written and of course completely fictitious (in case you are still wondering). But the theory definitely has a few merits. Consider the origin of the animals in Google’s zoo – the penguin from Antarctica, the panda from Asia (China to be precise), so the continents that remain are Africa, Europe, North America, South America and Australia. Probable indigenous and unique animals, which can be included in the zoo, would therefore include the zebra (as reported), the lemming, the rattlesnake, the llama and the kangaroo respectively. Please note this list is not exhaustive and I will be happy to accommodate any changes that you might suggest.

If that happens, the lemming will probably drown your site so far down that you will lose page rank on every page, once the rattlesnake bites you well I probably don’t need to tell you the details, while, the llama will spit on your face making you wish you had never done any SEO work on your site. The last one or the kangaroo update will be a savior for enlightened websites and webmasters, who finally see reason. This update will allow your website to leap-frog back to your previous position once you understand that you cannot afford to not run PPC advertisements if you want to maintain a proper presence online. This is just my vision of the past, present and future of Google’s algorithm updates. Please feel free to disagree or agree according to your own experiences regarding such matters over the last year.

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