Weekly SEO news: 2 May 2006
Welcome to the latest issue of the Search Engine Facts newsletter.

This week, we're taking a look at Google's website penalty notification experiment. Does Google think that you're a spammer?

In the news: Amazon switches from Microsoft to Google, Google doesn't like the new Microsoft browser, Google tests new search result formats and more.

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. Facts of the week: Does Google think that your web site is spam?

Google has extended the penalty notification experiment that was started last year. Google’s Webspam team now works with the Google Sitemaps team to alert some (but not all) site owners of penalties for their site.

What is the penalty notification experiment?

In September 2005, Google started to send email messages to some webmasters who used spam elements on their web sites. Google has now extended this program to users of Google Sitemaps.

If you verify your site in Google Sitemaps and then are penalized by the Google webspam team for hidden text on your pages, then Google may explicitly confirm a penalty and offer you a reinclusion request specifically for that site.

Does Google inform all webmasters about spam elements on their sites?

Google does not inform all webmasters when it detect spam elements on a web site:

"If the webspam team detects a spammer that is creating dozens or hundreds of sites with doorway pages followed by a sneaky redirect, there’s no reason that we’d want the spammer to realize that we’d caught those pages.

So Google clearly shouldn’t contact every site that is penalized–it would tip off spammers that they’d been caught, and then the spammers would start over and try to be sneakier next time."

What does this mean to your web site and your Google rankings?

Even if you did not want to do it, there might be some elements that Google considers as spam. Google is still testing this program so its likely that you will not be informed about the problem.

If you have spam elements on your pages, Google will downrank your site, or they will even ban your complete site from their index.

For that reason, you should make sure that your web site does not contain spam elements. You can find a list of 9 elements that search engines consider as spam on this page.

Using spam elements on your web site will get your web site banned from Google sooner or later. Focus on ethical search engine optimization methods such as optimizing your web page contents and getting good inbound links.

2. Search engine news of the week

New Google test: more from the top result

    "Google tests another interface for search results. You can already see for some top results a list of three or four important pages from that site."

Amazon switches to Microsoft from Google

"Microsoft Corp. scored an important win against rival Google Inc. over the weekend, as Amazon.com began using its technology to power the Internet retailer’s A9 search unit."

Editor's note: Amazon's search engine Alexa.com also switched from Google to Microsoft.

Google putting more ads on "commercial" searches

    "Google is rolling out a 'quality change' that shows fewer AdWords ads on queries that users might prefer not to see ads on, and more ads on queries where seeing ads might be useful, said Google Spokesman Mike Mayzel."

New Microsoft Browser Raises Google's Hackles

    "Google, which only recently began beefing up its lobbying efforts in Washington, says it expressed concerns about competition in the Web search business in recent talks with the Justice Department and the European Commission, both of which have brought previous antitrust actions against Microsoft."

Search engine newslets

3. Articles of the week

The counterattack on Google

    "Now Yahoo and No. 3 search engine MSN are about to launch their long-awaited Google counterattack. In May, Yahoo will roll out a revamped technology foundation, including a more robust system of servers and software, followed later this year with improved ways to manage and rank ads."

Ballmer: Not the time to scale back

"As for the competition with Google, Ballmer said that one of the keys is having better technology to serve up advertising. The company is in the process of transitioning its search engine from the former Overture service, now owned by Yahoo, to Microsoft's own AdCenter engine."

The Fox of search engines

"Barry Diller turned Fox into a legitimate fourth major TV network. Can he do the same thing with Ask.com in search?"

Typed too fast? Google profits from your typo

"Google, which runs the largest ad network on the Internet, is making millions of dollars a year by filling otherwise unused Web sites with ads. In many instances, these ad-filled pages appear when users mistype an Internet address, such as 'BistBuy.com.'"

Google condemned for click-fraud settlement

"The settlement won't adequately compensate harmed advertisers or penalize Google, says an attorney who has a related case pending against the company."

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4. ARELIS and IBP beta version 7 available

We're currently developing the new generation of our web promotion tools ARELIS and IBP. We've opened the test of the new version to the public, and you can be among the first to test the new generation.

Beta version 7 is now available.

What's new?

Both ARELIS and IBP have been integrated into one user interface. IBP and ARELIS are still two independent programs but it is now much easier to work with both programs on the same web site.

In addition, the new Top 10 Inbound Link Optimizer tool will help you to get better search engine rankings.

What's the catch?

Expect problems when testing the new version. That's why it is called a public beta test. Only if you're comfortable testing pre-release versions that are not intended for daily work, you should download the test version.

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5. Recommended resources

A free, comprehensive SEO ebook for you

SEO eBookIf you have a question about search engine marketing, it is probably answered in this eBook.

It covers everything from an introduction to search engine marketing to tips and tricks on how to improve your order page.

If you need high search engine rankings, this free eBook is for you.

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6. Previous articles

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