Call me a cynic but why is it that every time Christmas comes round, Google starts to do something out of the ordinary with its organic and PPC algorithms?!

Earlier this month, some websites became the target of yet another Google attack on e-commerce sites in the run up to Christmas. The search engine has launched a new landing page quality score algorithm for the AdWords sponsored listings.

In a nutshell, this update is forcing many advertisers to submit higher bids for their keywords, in order to maintain high positions within the sponsored listings.

For certain keywords, Google has even suspended campaigns, telling the advertiser that its campaign is no longer active and that it has to either increase its quality rating or up its bid price (even when it has been consistently getting high click through rates and conversions). And worst of all, Google did this without warning anyone. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you!

To top things off, Google has also started to penalise some websites in the organic rankings.

There has been a lot of discussion over at WebmasterWorld about what has been called the ‘Minus 30 Penalty’. No, not because winter is finally settling in, but because certain sites that have supposedly been abusing the ‘Google system’ have seen their visibility in the natural listings plummet!

It’s been referred to as the ‘Minus 30 Penalty’ because sites that have been hit by this penalty are being knocked down to position 31 (top of page 4) for certain keyword phrases when they previously enjoyed No.1 rankings (even for their own domain & business name).

Now I have no problem with Google penalising sites that are using unethical techniques, in fact I 100% welcome it, as it plays to our advantage being an ethical SEO company. But I do feel for those online shopping sites that have been caught in the cross-fire and have been banished to the Google desert just before their busiest time of the year. Surely Google isn’t thinking:

 “Eh, if we penalise some of these e-commerce sites just before Christmas, then they’ll have no option but to run Adwords campaigns, which in turn will push up the competition levels and raise bid prices for top positions, thus lining our pockets for a bigger Xmas bonus!”

I know one goose that’s getting fat this Christmas and it ain’t Yahoo!