Weekly SEO news: 28 August 2007
Welcome to the latest issue of the Search Engine Facts newsletter.

This week, we explain how webmasters can fake the PageRank of their websites and how you can spot these fake sites.

In the news: a new open source search engine tries to be better than Google, web surfers ignore ads and a study shows that people tend to trust Google more than they should.

Table of contents:

We hope that you enjoy this newsletter and that it helps you to get more out of your website. Please pass this newsletter on to your friends.

Best regards,
Andre Voget, Johannes Selbach, Axandra CEO

1. How to fake PageRank and how to find websites with faked PR

Although most professional search engine optimizers agree that the green PageRank display has little to do with the actual performance of a website in Google and other search engines, many webmasters still focus on websites with a high PageRank when it comes to link building and website promotion.

How to fake the PageRank of a website

The PageRank of a web page can be faked with a combination of a 301 redirect and cloaking. It works like this:

  • When a search engine spiders visits a web page URL, the server redirects the spider to a web page with high PageRank.

  • Google assigns the high PageRank to the page with the redirection because it thinks that the pages are identical.

  • When a human web surfer visits the web page URL, the server does not redirect the surfer. That means that the web surfer sees the web page of the faker and the Google toolbar displays the PageRank of the redirected URL:

To web surfers, it looks as if the web page has a very high PageRank although it hasn't. Note that this method doesn't increase the rankings of the page in any way. It just influences the PageRank display in Google's toolbar.

Google doesn't like cloaking at all so you risk the rankings of your website if you use the method above.

How to check if a website has a faked PageRank

If you think that a web page might have a faked PageRank then you can do the following simple check:

  • Search Google for "info:domain.com" (without the quotation marks, replace domain.com with the domain that you want to check).

  • If there are no results or if the returned URLs don't match the original URL then it's likely that the PageRank has been faked. If Google returns only one URL for the query and if the URL is the same as the checked URL then the PageRank is okay.

What about the PageRank of your own website?

The green pixels in Google's toolbar are not important. It's important that your website has high rankings for keywords that convert to sales. Website promotion is about getting leads and sales. It's not about getting green pixels.

Don't focus on the PageRank display in Google's toolbar but try to get good rankings for keywords that are relevant to your website. High rankings for relevant keywords that convert to sales are much better than having a lot of green pixels.

2. Search engine news of the week
Tall Street is a new open source search engine

"We want to build a fair ranking system where everyone gets an input into the rankings. If you think a site doesn't belong, you can mark it as spam. If you find a site that is better then what is showing as the best then you can sign up and invest in it. [...]

We think current search rankings were too static, while the web isn't."

In Google we trust: users' decisions on rank, position, and relevance

"An eye tracking experiment revealed that college student users have substantial trust in Google's ability to rank results by their true relevance to the query. When the participants selected a link to follow from Google's result pages, their decisions were strongly biased towards links higher in position even if the abstracts themselves were less relevant. [...]

This demonstrated trust in Google has implications for the search engine's tremendous potential influence on culture, society, and user traffic on the Web."

Eyetracking shows web audience ignores ads

"A newly released eyetracking study by usability guru Jakob Nielsen shows that online banner blindness is worsening. Nielsen says that banner ads (indicated by green outlines in his heat maps below) didn’t even receive light focus from skimmers, scanners and readers—and neither did non-ad content in the same areas."

Search engine newslets

  • Does Yahoo Search hold the key to online spending?
  • Microsoft releases experimental search site Tafiti.
  • Google result thumbnail.
  • See an SEO doodle in Google AdWords results.
  • Baidu spanks Google in China's online ad market.
  • Forget iPhone, the Gphone is here.
  • Web search IPO stalls on underwriter doubts.
  • Corrupted DMOZ editors?
  • Google may start New York transit guide to boost ads.
3. Articles of the week
Google deems cost-per-action as the 'Holy Grail'

"First, CPA has the potential to significantly reduce the occurrence of click fraud--a bigger problem than most pay-per-click advertisers realize. [...]

Secondly, if CPA becomes the dominant advertising model for Google, it will affect the entire search marketing industry. The acquisition of clicks will become less interesting to marketers, and as such, strategies and tactics will change."

Yahoo!, Microsoft ink web pact with Chinese government

"Microsoft and Yahoo! have signed a pact with the Chinese government that 'encourages' the big name web players to record the identities of bloggers and censor content. So says Reporters Without Borders, an organization that fights for journalistic rights across the globe."

Google AdWords: Improved top ad placement formula now in effect

"Advertisers with ads in or near a top spot may begin to see a change in the average number of clicks these ads receive, and also in their CPCs. The degree to which your clicks and CPCs may be impacted will depend on a number of factors, so it's difficult to say today how much of a difference you can expect to see."

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4. Get a permanent link from our website

Suggest your website and get a permanent link from our site

We have just released a brand new website for IBP. As IBP and ARELIS merged into one application, we felt that it was time to reflect this by creating a single website for the integrated IBP solution.

The new IBP website has a new recommended sites section. If your website is related to ours, feel free to suggest your website.

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5. Recommended resources

"We rank top in our state searches"

"Bands are a dime a dozen. However, to be popular among searches your site has to stand out. The Great Imponderables not only soared for their local area, but rank top in our state searches. Even more impressive is how we rank for general search terms.

IBP was instrumental in seeing how we compared with other similar sites. As a result, we were able to develop our page to achieve top rankings. Now, if the band itself can do the same..."
Rick Creel, The Great Imponderables

Get your site mentioned in front of 130,000+ subscribers

    We want to hear from you about your successes with IBP or ARELIS. Just write us 2-3 sentences and you might get featured in this newsletter along with your web site address.


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