Allegra: Ranking Changes Through LSI Or Penalties?

The Allegra algorithm update in February 2005 brought about ranking changes in the SERPs. However, there was a bit of confusion over the exact cause of some websites losing their top positions in the search results. There were speculations that it was because Google tweaked the Latent Semantic Indexing or LSI system while others believed that the search engine was imposing penalties on websites with suspicious inbound links.

What’s It For

Google was confident that the update continued the search engine’s focus on improving relevance in the results by reducing spam websites. This conclusion was deduced after Allegra was rolled out since several shady sites were no longer listed in the SERPs after the update. Nonetheless, there was no clear statement from the developers on the changes they implemented.

What Were Its Effects

It’s believed that the Allegra update affected these three areas: duplicate content, suspicious links, and LSI. As a result, there were several site operators who lost their place at the top of the results pages as others took over those positions. It caused a big stir in the webmaster community, but not as much as the significant upset felt over the Florida update; although this one was the most talked about since.

Here’s an in-depth look at each of the affected areas:

  • Duplicate Content – Google reportedly cracked down on duplicate content and devalued those that were found guilty of plagiarism. Allegra marked the shift of the spotlight toward unique content as well as in having a clean page structure for website optimization.
  • Suspicious Links – With previous updates such as Boston and Dominic which focused on the quality of links, Allegra has been deemed as the prelude to Google’s recognition of suspicious hyperlinks especially those that come from dubious sources such as link farms and other link schemes. The search engine penalized sites that practiced this tactic.
  • Latent Semantic Indexing – LSI was introduced when the Brandy update was rolled out. Some SEO specialists believe that Google tweaked the system for the first time since its implementation with Allegra.

Moreover, some webmasters thought that the update affected the Google Sandbox, which is a spam tool or filter utilized by the search engine. Typically, it’s used on newly-launched websites that appeared to be conducting suspicious online activity by adding a considerable amount of new content within a very short time. The premise was that any site that’s able to add several new posts at once must be piling up duplicate content or doing search engine spamming.

What It Means for You

Until today, duplicate content still hurts your SEO strategies. While your site may not be penalized for having similar posts within it, your domain and page authority suffers. Google prioritizes unique content and wants to provide users with diverse results. With this, they choose to consolidate articles that look the same and show only one version.

It’s crucial that you eliminate duplicate content in your website because:

  • It Confuses Search Bots Search bots are under time pressure to crawl through billions of pages and index new content daily. If your site has duplicate content, these machines won’t know which version they should show or hide to users. Plus, they will have a difficult time in directing the link metrics such as trust, authority, anchor text, and link equity as well as in deciding to dump the score all on one page or spread it toward several versions.
  • It Leads to Ranking and Traffic Losses Moreover, it can lead to ranking and traffic losses because duplicate content makes it hard for other sites to choose a page to visit especially in your link building strategies. Thus, the inbound links lose their power in boosting SEO for that particular post since they are diluted among the duplicates.

These are some ways to solve your duplicate content issue:

  • Canonical Tags – These labels are used to consolidate signals and allow you to choose your preferred version.
  • 301 Redirects – This function prevents alternate versions of pages from being displayed.
  • URL Parameters – You can set up URL parameters that inform search bots what to do instead of leaving them to figure things out for themselves.
  • Alternate Attribute – The alternate attribute is a piece of HTML code that is used to merge alternate versions of a page like mobile or different languages. For the latter, you can use “hreflang” to show the appropriate country or language iteration in the search results. This value does not increase rankings; it only facilitates the display of the right version.