Google has always seen links to a webpage as being very important. It
uses all of the following to rate a page's worthiness to rank highly:
- number of links to a page
- quality of the pages those links are coming from (measured in PageRank)
- the text within and surrounding the link to a page
The first two factors are semi-permanent and reflected in the PageRank
of a page. Every month or so Google will check incoming links again
and adjust the PageRank of sites, if necessary.
The text within and surrounding the link to a page is used as one
aspect of search result ranking. Many webmasters have taken advantage
of this over the years, and have included their keywords in any links
to their site where they get to choose what the link says - this is
typically reciprocal links or paid text ads or some directory
So, there were many links on the web where the link text was written
with search engines in mind, rather than the websurfing public. Many
link pages never get any human visitors at all!
Google would have noticed that the practice of placing search terms on
link text was giving some sites more prominence in search results than
they deserved - so last November they introduced a filter to fix the
Basically the filter looks at any page that ranks well for a
commercial query (nobody knows how they determine commercial), and
looks at the link text that points to it. If Google's software notices
a high percentage of those links using the same wording, it removes
the value of those links, and the oage in question plummets in
IMPORTANT: Last November Google results changed more significantly
than ever before. The travel industry was hit very hard. Many
webmasters were very upset. Google's search algorithm is secret, as is
how they tweaked it in November. This answer uses my own theory,
arrived at from discussions with many search engine experts last
November. There are differing opinions as to what caused so many sites
to drop so dramatically - all can only be educated guesses at best.
I invited thirty affected webmasters at random (via a popular forum)
and all fitted in with my take on things - as does yours. Sites are
still being freshly affected. More information in a previous anwser I
wrote on this topic:
I found two links to your site that use your site's title in the link text:
The combination of the keywords being in those links to your site, and
in your site's title would be the reason why your site ranked well
before. Google's filter will be the reason why that is no longer the
There isn't a simple one. Think of the previous high ranking as one
that you were fortunate to have for a while but didn't deserve.
Nothing to do with how good or bad your site is in humans terms, but
it's worthiness to rank well in Google's search algorithm - an
algorithm that only looks at words and link relationships.
To rank better than at present you need more genuine links pointing to
your site. If you have any control over the linking text, make sure
that it varies as much as possible, so as not to activate the filter.
Nobody knows what the figure is, but less than quarter of links to
your site using the same wording should be okay.