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Weekly SEO news: 12 December 2006
Welcome to the latest issue of the Search Engine Facts newsletter.

This week, we're taking a look at the statements of Google's Matt Cutts on search engine optimization traps.

In the news: Google claims that click fraud is below 2%, Google might buy an online office software suite 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. Google's Matt Cutts talks about search engine optimization traps

The head of Google's anti-spam team Matt Cutts publicly reviewed some web sites at the 2006 PubCon in Las Vegas. Some statements in these public reviews might help you to improve your rankings on Google and Yahoo.

Duplicate content can create problems

One of the web sites that Matt Cutts analyzed had a problem with duplicate content. The owner of the web site had more than 20 other web sites that offered overlapping content and overlapping pages on different URLs.

Search engines can find out which other web sites belong to you. For example, Alexa shows the different domains that a webmaster owns (these are displayed in the "See other sites owned" column on the left side of the traffic details page).

In addition, the web site used the same meta description tag on dozens of pages. This can cause problems with search engines.

Matt Cutts suggests to vary the pages by adding user comments or reviews. He said that varying the duplicate pages by adding a few extra sentences or by scrambling a few words wouldn't work.

Very big sitemaps can cause problems

Another web site did fine in Google but it couldn't get high rankings on Yahoo. The site had a very large sitemap-type page that listed hundreds of articles on one page. This could trigger the filters of some search engines. Matt Cutts suggested to split the sitemap into smaller pages.

You should use the correct letter case in sitemap files

The same site might had problems with Yahoo because there was a mismatch between the uppercase URL titles on the live pages and the lowercase URL titles according to Yahoo's Site Explorer. That might trigger cloaking filters.

You should focus on quality back links

If inbound links are built too quickly, they don't have a positive effect on the link rankings of a web site (details can be found here).

Reciprocal links should be from related sites that have something in common with your own web site. Reciprocal links with unrelated sites don't help. We recommend ARELIS to find quality links.

Avoid session IDs if possible

Matt Cutts indicated that it makes sense not to use URLs with session IDs. Long URLs with many variables can cause problems with search engine spiders. This is also mentioned in the Google guidelines:

"If fancy features such as JavaScript, cookies, session IDs, frames, DHTML, or Flash keep you from seeing all of your site in a [simple] text browser, then search engine spiders may have trouble crawling your site."

Having too many web sites and private WHOIS might hurt your rankings

Matt Cutts indicated that it might hurt your rankings if you have too many sites and if you use these web sites just to display PPC ads:

"Having lots of sites isn’t automatically bad, and having PPC sites isn’t automatically bad, and having whois privacy turned on isn’t automatically bad, but once you get several of these factors all together, you’re often talking about a very different type of webmaster than the fellow who just has a single site or so."

If you try to cheat Google then it's likely that one of Google's filters will apply to your web site sooner or later.

Your web site should be useful and interesting to web surfers. If you have such a web site, make sure that there are no technical errors that prevent search engines from indexing your web pages.

Make it as easy as possible for search engines to parse your web pages and get good inbound links to show search engines that your web site is important.

2. Search engine news of the week
Google’s click fraud rate is less than 2%

"So how does Google explain the 15-30% click fraud numbers that have surfaced over the past several months? [...] Many advertisers – and click fraud detection companies – are looking at the wrong signals and often class valid clicks as fraudulent, or request refunds for clicks that Google had already discounted."

Editor's note: It seems that many webmasters don't believe that number.

Google 'looking to buy' Microsoft Office clone

"Google is hoping to launch an office software suite that mimics Microsoft Office, according to the developer of the software. However, the Korea-based creator of the ThinkFree suite is reluctant to sell it to Google."

Bringing radio advertising to Google advertisers: an update

"Over the last year, we've been working hard to integrate the dMarc advertising platform into Google AdWords. We're happy to announce that the integration is now complete and we've recently begun a U.S. beta test of Google Audio Ads with a small group of AdWords advertisers."

Search engine newslets

3. Articles of the week
No catching Google for Microsoft online

    "MSN and its other online businesses used to be a pretty big deal. They sat at the top of the pack with AOL and Yahoo! Inc. That was before social networking and video sharing and ... Google Inc."

Looking for a gambit to win at Google's game

"There is a lot about the way Microsoft has run its Internet business that Steve Berkowitz wants to change. But he is finding that redirecting such a behemoth is slow going."

The genius of Yahoo's reorg

    "What's surprising and delightful is just how smart Yahoo's reorg actually is. The basic idea of the new structure is that Yahoo, which even by insider accounts has become a sprawling, red-tape laden megastructure, will now become a sleeker, three-pronged business focused on Yahoo's "three clients": audience, advertisers, and publishers."

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4. Recommended resources

Another 5 out of 5 rating for ARELIS

"ARELIS is a top-rated software program that helps you to build a powerful business network quickly and easily. Your business will benefit in many ways from that network:

You'll get highly targeted visitors to your web site, you'll benefit from new business contacts and your web site will get a higher ranking on search engines because of higher link popularity."
5 out of 5 rating on

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