Google has taken the beta label off a project that is significantly younger than Gmail, which remains in beta. Google Website Optimizer has been available to AdWords customers for the past year, but now the company is making it available to anyone who wants to test out different web site layouts.
Basically, the tool lets you try out different designs on you web page to see which one performs best. Want to see which ad unit is more likely to get people to click? Want to see which RSS icon is more likely to get people to subscribe to your site’s feed? Google Website Optimizer will let you set up an experiment and track the results.
There’s also a new Google Website Optimizer blog that you can follow for news and tips related to the tool. Since I do my own SEO for my websites, I’m looking forward to fiddling around with this new tool.
A day doesn’t go by when I’m not contacted by a real estate agent or a new blogger who wants to exchange links. I even get requests to add a link by webmasters of sites that have nothing to do with real estate. Knowing how Google views such reciprocal links, I’m tempted to remove even my blogroll. At the very least, I’ll think twice about adding anyone else.
Be careful before exchanging links with anyone, and avoid it if possible. Make your content so compelling that people link to you, and keep your outgoing links, especially on your homepage of your static site, limited.
My main website is currently #1 in Google, in organic results, for the search terms “Seattle real estate for sale“, before Realtor.com, Trulia or any local real estate brokerage. It also is in the top 10 for “Seattle Homes”, “Seattle Homes for Sale” and “Seattle, Washington Real Estate”, and I try to update the site weekly. However, due to an old penalty, my site is practically non-existent in Yahoo. Though the penalty has been lifted, I’ve had a hard time getting anywhere or regaining my past placement.
Being penalized by Google for excessive and/or spammy reciprocal linking can take affect in several different ways. One of the most common ways is the -30 effect where your website is immediately dropped 30 ranking points. If you have experienced loss of rankings within Google and you have questionable spammy reciprocal links (especially Realtor to Realtor linking), you may be penalized. If you do believe you have been penalized, you will need to follow the Google reinclusion instructions after your site is cleaned up.