Weekly SEO news: 7 April 2009
Welcome to the latest issue of the Search Engine Facts newsletter.

This week, we're taking a look at Google's latest ranking algorithm changes. They are good for searchers but they might be bad for your website.

In the news: Google becomes more local, Murdoch wants a Google rebellion, Google seems to be a startup-killer 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. How Google's latest algorithm changes affect your website

Google improves its ranking algorithm on an ongoing basis. During the last weeks, Google changed three things on the result pages that are visible to all Google users.

The changes are an improvement for searchers but they might be bad for your website.

1. Google has increased the snippet length. Less visitors for you?

Google now shows an extended snippet for queries that consist of three or more keywords. The idea behind this change is that these multi-word queries are very targeted and complex. The usual short snippet might not contain enough information.

What does this change mean for your website?

The longer snippet contains much more information. As Google tries to provide the user with the most relevant information in the snippet, the snippet might already contain the answer to the user's query. The longer snippets might result in the following:

  • Fewer users might click through to your website because they get the answer to their question in the search results.

  • Users might begin to use more multiple-word queries to get more detailed search result snippets.

  • As the longer snippets need more space, the longer snippets move another result page below the fold and web surfers will see fewer results at first glance. That increases the importance of very high rankings.

It seems that Google ignores the meta description tag for the snippets. That means that you must include a call to action in your web page titles.

2. Google now shows more related searches at the bottom of the results

When you search for a keyword, Google will display related searches at the bottom (and sometimes at the top) of the search results.

For example, if you search for the keyword "principles of physics", Google will suggest "angular momentum," "special relativity," "big bang" and "quantum mechanic" as related terms that could help you find what you need.

What does this change mean for your website?

It's important that you optimize the different pages of your website for different keywords. Do not concentrate on a single keyword but cover a wide range of keywords so that Googly will classify your website as relevant to the complete topic.

The more related keywords and pages can be found on your website, the better.

3. Google now shows local results based on IP addresses

Search Google for the keyword "pizza" and you'll see local results in the middle of the search results. These local results are delivered based on the IP address of the searcher. That means that you will get different results than people in another city.

What does this change mean for your website?

It's now easier to rank for competitive keywords for some local searches. While it's very difficult to get a high ranking for a very competitive keyword such as "lawyer" in the regular results, it's much easier to be listed for that keyword in the local results if you're living in a small town.

You should submit your website to Google Maps so that web surfers can find you in these local searches. You can submit your website to Google Maps with IBP's semi-automatic directory submitter.

If you run a local business, you should include your business name, your category and the name of your city in the title tag of your homepage.

If you want to get on top of Google's search results then your website must have optimized content and good inbound links. If you give Google what it wants then your website will get the best possible rankings.

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2. Search engine news and articles of the week

Google LocalGoogle becomes more local

"We like to make search as easy as we can, so we've just finished the worldwide rollout of local search results on a map, which will now appear even when you don't type in a location. When you search on Google, we will guess where you are and show results near you."

Editor's note: Further information about this new feature can be found in the article above.

Murdoch wants a Google rebellion

"Rupert Murdoch threw down the gauntlet to Google Thursday, accusing the search giant of poaching content it doesn't own and urging media outlets to fight back. [...] Sites like Google, which don't produce any journalism of their own, have made themselves into destinations for readers."

Wikia SearchWikia death proves Google is search-startup killer

"Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales' open source, human-powered Google killer died a quiet death Tuesday, making Wikia.com the latest object lesson in the futility of trying to unseat Google as the king of search engines. [...] Wikia even managed to force Google to adopt a Wikia-like feature in November that solicits user opinions on whether search results are relevant."

Guardian: Google is just an amoral menace

"Google presents a far greater threat to the livelihood of individuals and the future of commercial institutions important to the community. [...] Google is the portal to a massive audience: you comply with its terms or feel the weight of its boot on your windpipe. [...] What we are seeing is a much older and toxic capitalist model - the classic monopoly that destroys industries and individual enterprise in its bid for ever greater profits."

Google sees voice search as core

"Google has said it sees voice search as a major opportunity for the company in building a presence on the mobile web. [...] Early iterations that worked best with North American accents had problems understanding other accents, including British."

Search engine newslets

  • Google's plan for out-of-print books is challenged.
  • Second circuit says Google's keyword ad sales may be use in commerce.
  • Google says it is still examining Korea's real-name verification law.
  • The Google ventures cheat sheet.
  • Little known Live.com features: currency conversion, calculator and dictionary.

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3. Success stories

Bears"We recommend IBP."

"Over the years we have tried many SEO methods on our site at www.freebears.com, including high-priced US companies, low-priced companies in India, and rather random in-house methods.

While we have varying levels of success, the cost was too high. Then we decided to try IBP. Since we started using IBP our search results are more consistent and higher than with any of our previous SEO options.

We especially like the easy way we can track search engine rankings and see the effect of page changes.

The suggestions that IBP makes for improving rankings have also helped us. We recommend IBP for anyone who wants to understand SEO and wants to stop wasting money by having someone else do their SEO for them."
Gary, www.freebears.com

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Let us know how IBP has helped you to improve your website and we might publish your success story with a link to your website in this newsletter. The more detailed your story is, the better.

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4. Previous articles

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