The Function of a Block
Many Web pages distinguish between a header, a footer, sidebars, titles, headings, and the main content of the page. A visitor that scans all these blocks easily selects what is worth reading, but for a machine that is slightly harder. An increasing amount of SEO research shows that Google does evaluate all these blocks differently. Earlier tests indicated that Google’s detection was probably based on the duplicate content of these blocks, but that they probably didn’t differentiate between the role of each block. Now we have stacking proof that a header can be treated significantly different from the footer and it is important to know how this impacts the way you optimize your SEO.
The Location of a Link
An old-fashioned practice of making links less prominent for visitors was to put them in the footer at the bottom of your page. This was for instance used as the entrance to a cluster of SEO landing pages.
Because Google will now also deem those links as less important, it serves no purpose anymore. Rather, interlink your pages from within the relevant and unique content and don’t create pages just for SEO purposes. Integrate all important keywords within pages that have a logical role within your website and choose important pages for the more heavily competed keyword combinations. Important pages are from now on the ones that a visitor is likely to navigate to and not just the ones heavily linked to from your footer menu.
This way, the distribution of link value within your website has become less predictable. It will probably never become as easy as PageRank calculations again, where the amount of links determined how much value each page will receive.
Visibility and Prominence
Google wanting to become more like a human visitor is probably a good thing. It definitely opens a lot of new challenges, but also creates a lot of new weaknesses that spammers can outsmart. Let’s hope this “Pinocchio update” doesn’t bring more problems than it solves.