Google has made yet another seemingly small tweak with potentially big impact on SEO. The site's latest changes affect how Google counts external links, which, as you know, is one important attribute to boost pagerank in searches.
According to a post Wednesday on Google's Webmaster blog, domains (www.example.com) and subdomains (pets.example.com) will now be treated the same. That means that linking from pets.example.com to example.com would be counted as an internal link ― not an external link.
Publishers looking in their Webmaster Tools at internal links vs. external links can expect to see their external link number go down, as some links previously classified as external links will now be internal.
Google says the change was meant to present links “in a way that more closely aligns with your idea of which links are actually from your site vs. from other sites.” To be fair, some publishers might find it beneficial to receive a more accurate reading.
But this is bad news for publishers that were able to use the previous classification in order to cross-link across sites to help SEO. Some media companies use their subdomains to link to their main domain in order to boost external links and therefore Google search rank. For instance, networks like About.com use subdomains like retail.about.com.
The latest change is one of many efforts Google is making this year to its search algorithm, and another sign that you can't rely on gaming Google as part of your SEO strategy. At any second, the search giant can change things up.
Will Google's changes affect your site's SEO? Please let us know in the comments below.