Earlier today, Google made the speculation about a change to their ranking algorithm official.
Unlike the 'days of old', the Google algorithm (used to determine organic rankings for various search terms) takes into accounts a couple of hundred factors .... while many still obsess over PageRank.
Cross-posted to no less than 4 Google blogs on Friday as well as a few employee blogs, Google described how speed (page weight and off-site imported content) will now enter into the SEO playbook.
Over the past two years, Google has been much more transparent about the ranking process, literally inviting webmasters to participate. (Hello XML sitemaps ?? :)
The fact is .... with approximately 70 per cent of the search market worldwide, Google needs to keep their results relevant, protecting and improving their core product. A little help directly from webmasters and others helps to help them identify 'trusted sources' .. while weeding through a sea of 'other stuff'.
It's truly a monumental task as the web continues to grow with millions of search terms ... to deliver relevant results on a consistent basis.
Google Webmaster Central continues to add LOTS of information. Reporting tools are available, as well as a growing library of videos.
The bottom line ... Getting 'above the fold' in Google's listings in their main search index is FREE advertising.
Do it right (or white hat), you may win (and reap gobs of pageviews).
Try to trick Google??? (or 'black hat SEO') ... you could be looking at a penalty (which usually isn't too easy to recover from).
Despite the fact that I only take an occasional small project and maintain a few legacy projects at this point .... I don't advocate 'do-it-yourself SEO' but there are now hundreds (probably thousands) of good SEO people and companies out there in all different price ranges offering all types of services.
With all the social media madness going on (and a lot of misinformation), and a given that much of it may change in the coming weeks, months and years .... getting with SEO and staying current on changes, such as yesterday's ... is more important than ever.