Weekly SEO news: 16 March 2010

Welcome to the latest issue of the Search Engine Facts newsletter.

Webmasters in online forums reported an unusual Google behavior. New web pages of some sites are indexed with a longer delay. Is it a new Google penalty? Or is it just a bug that affects only certain websites?

In the news: an interview with Google's Matt Cutts, Google announces microdata support for rich snippets, Google's CEO Eric Schmidt talks about Google's business and more.

Table of contents:

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Andre Voget, Johannes Selbach, Axandra CEO

1. A new Google penalty? What can you do against it?

Webmasters in online forums reported an unusual Google behavior. New web pages of some sites are indexed with a longer delay. Is it a new Google penalty? Or is it just a bug that affects only certain websites?

What is the exact problem?

The websites that reported the problem were used to immediate inclusion of their pages in Google's search results.

If your website has a certain number of inbound links and if it has been indexed by Google, Google usually indexes new pages very quickly. That does not mean that the new pages get high rankings for any keyword but that the new pages can be found in Google's results if you search for the exact web page title or other unique elements that appear on the new web page.

These websites that were used to immediate inclusion now observed a 7 day delay for new website content:

"My blog has been afloat for almost 1.5 years, was always indexed by Google fast and smooth, and was ranked pretty high by main keywords in its niche. However, it's been several weeks that Google seems to have stopped indexing my new posts. [...]

It seems as if [Google is] applying an algorithm like 'posting day + 7 days' or something when indexing my new posts."

Is this really a new Google penalty? What can you do against it?

Many of the web pages that have the 7 day indexing problem are Wordpress blogs. There are several theories why these blogs aren't indexed as quickly as before:

  1. The affected websites all seem to use the same SEO plugin for Wordpress that screws up the code and prevents Google from indexing the website pages correctly.

    If you use an SEO plugin, consider if you really need it. These plugins don't do real SEO. They hide certain pages on your website from search engine spiders and they allow you to edit the header information of your web pages. This can also be done through the regular Wordpress interface.

  2. Although the new blog post wasn't listed for 7 days on Google, the index page of the blog was listed in Google's search results.

    As the index page of a blog often shows the latest blog posts, it is likely that Google uses the 7 day delay for the blog page because the post can only be found on the blog index page during that time.

  3. Some of the affected blogs publish press releases on their websites. As the same press release can also be found on many other websites, Google might return the first publisher of the press release in the search results and discard all other pages with the same content.

  4. Other affected websites seem to be AdSense scraper websites. These websites have very little unique content and they have been built to attract visitors that then click on the AdSense ads on the website.

  5. Some of the affected websites installed user agent sniffers on their server. These programs return different pages to different user agents (human web surfers, Googlebot and other bots).

    Using such a script on your server can easily prevent Google's indexing robot from indexing your website and it can be misinterpreted as a spamming (cloaking) attempt. This is very similar to the SEO plugin problem above.

It looks as if the 7 day delay might be related to two different website types: websites that use server scripts that return different pages to different user agents and websites that contain little or no unique content.

The 7 day delay for blogs that display the content both on the blog index page and the blog posting page is not a penalty but a Google feature that prevents duplicate results.

Google robotIf your website is a Made-For-AdSense scraper website then it's probably time to think about a new business model. Google might give these websites lower rankings in the future.

If you use bot blocking scripts or other server scripts that change the content that is delivered to visitors of your website then you should make sure that you're not accidentally blocking Google. It's better not to use these scripts at all.

If you want to know how to get your website on Google's first result page, take a look at the success story below.

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2. Search engine news and articles of the week

Google[Google's] Matt Cutts interviewed by Eric Enge

"The number of pages that we crawl is roughly proportional to your PageRank. So if you have a lot of incoming links on your root page, we'll definitely crawl that. Then your root page may link to other pages, and those will get PageRank and we'll crawl those as well. As you get deeper and deeper in your site, however, PageRank tends to decline. [...]

Typically, the 301 Redirect would pass PageRank. It can be a very useful tool to migrate between pages on a site, or even migrate between sites."

Google announces microdata support for rich snippets

"By using microdata markup in your web pages, you can specify reviews, people profiles, or events information on your web pages that Google may use to improve the presentation of your pages in Google search results. [...]

Marking up your content does not guarantee that rich snippets will show for your site."

Top 5 moments from [Google CEO] Eric Schmidt's talk in Abu Dhabi

"There are many, many things that Google could do, that we chose not to do. [...] Google is collecting a staggering amount of information about who we are, what we’re thinking, and even where we are. [...] It was quite the effective moment that showed we still trust government less than we trust Google. But should we trust either?"

Related: Six delusions of Google's arrogant leaders.

GoogleGoogle '99% certain' to shut China engine

"In a hardening of positions on both sides, the Chinese government also on Friday threw down a direct public challenge to the US search company, with a warning that it was not prepared to compromise on internet censorship to stop Google leaving."

Search engine newslets

  • Facebook reaches top ranking in US.
  • Apple's spat with Google is getting personal.
  • How Google works.
  • One analysis of the Google Buzz mess.
  • Google news tax could boost local papers.
  • Microsoft's Bing to sponsor the Simpsons.

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3. Success stories

"An unlisted, brand new site to number one on Google in two weeks!"

"Just before Christmas, we were wondering why we were not getting the level of enquiries we were used to in the winter season. As Yorkshire based wedding photographers we rely in the 'off' season for weddings on new clients booking and paying deposits.

After a bit of research we found that for our search terms we had been inundated with new competition and other local photographers spending thousands on SEO.

Consequently, as we had taken our eye off the ball with our own website we were effectively invisible on Google with a position between page PAGE 28 and PAGE 53 depending on search terms, despite having been around for a number of years and well established in the wedding industry.

We didn't want to spend a fortune with any of the reputable companies we contacted to help with our SEO, we were being quoted figures like £2000 per month over several months to redress the damage.

We were recommended IBP by one of the companies, which we investigated and subsequently purchased. We are quite frankly amazed by the results!

In just SIX WEEKS following carefully the recommendations made by the software, we have climbed to PAGE 2 on Google and are Number 1 on Yahoo/Alta Vista.

For the different search terms we ranked we moved up an average of 206 places in just SIX weeks! I am amazed that this software is such a well kept secret!

Personally I can't understand how any business with a web presence can afford to be without it!

We've now tried IBP on our other websites, www.theportraitpeople.co.uk and www.themakeoverpeople.co.uk. The Portrait people site is building steadily though there is a lot of competition. The Makeover site was brand new, with a new domain name in February this year. The site was built and designed with IBP in mind tweaked with IBP before using IBP to do the first submissions to search engines. Here we are in March, just TWO WEEKS later and we are on Google, PAGE 1, POSITION 1 and 2. An unlisted, brand new site to number ONE on Google in TWO WEEKS! Unbelievable!"
Andy Hopkinson, www.theportraitpeople.co.uk

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New version of the Google AdWords eBook

Our popular Google AdWords eBook is now available in a new edition. You can get further information here.

If you purchased the eBook in the past, just use your previous download link and login information to download the latest version.

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4. Previous articles

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