Weekly SEO news: 26 May 2009
Welcome to the latest issue of the Search Engine Facts newsletter.

This week, we're taking a look at a possible -50 penalty on Google. Some websites experienced a -50 position drop for every page. Will this happen to your website?

In the news: Google is experimenting with image search, Google does not like paid blog entries, Yahoo improves display ads 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. Has Google a new -50 penalty?

Webmasters in an online webmaster forum observed an anomaly in Google's results that might indicate a new Google penalty. Which websites have been penalized and could this affect your own website?

Google penalty

What has happened?

Many webmasters reported that their websites lost all of their top positions on Google and dropped to position 50 and below.

The problem is that the usual metrics shows that the websites are okay. For example, one of the websites was older than two years, the inbound links did not change and the Google PageRank in Google's toolbar also did not change. Another penalized website was older than 10 years.

Why have these websites been penalized?

There were several theories in the forum thread:

1. Spam on another websites

One theory was that the websites could have been penalized because the webmaster used spammy methods on another of his domains.

Even if your websites are not linked, Google can still know that you are the owner of both websites. They have several ways to find this out, including WHOIS information and Google accounts.

2. Links to spammy websites

Your website might link to spammy websites even if you don't want to do that. Website widgets, counters and other plugins sometimes put invisible links to other sites on your website.

The server might have also been hacked and there could be a link that you don't want on your website. (Editor's note: You can find a link checker in IBP: Tools > Broken link checker).

3. Paid links from .edu domains

A theory that looks very likely was the use of paid links from .edu domains. It seems that there are many hacked .edu servers that host websites on which these links can appear.

Paid links from other sites might also cause problems. If paid links from .edu pages really can cause a ranking drop then this would enable your competitors to harm your website by purchasing these links for your website.

What should you do now?

We think that it's likely that Google is working on its paid link filters and that paid links from .edu domains and other sites are the reason for the problems.

Stay away from paid links. Google doesn't like them and chances are that your website will get problems if you use them. Better focus on high quality organic links.

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2. Search engine news and articles of the week

Google Image Search refining experiment

"Cameron Beyer spotted a Google Image Search experiment that shows suggestions next to some of the search results. When searching for 'flower', Google displayed suggestions like 'rose flower', 'yellow flower', 'murakami' next to some of the images.

This seems to be a quick and dirty to refine search results until the similar images experiment from Google Labs is integrated in Google Image Search."

The FTC takes on paid posts/Google downgrades paid blog entries

"The Commission's rules may be less effective at squelching behind-the-scenes arrangements between advertisers and bloggers than policies at Google (GOOG), which has been penalizing paid blog entries by demoting them in its search results."

Editor's note: this BusinessWeek article confirms that Google does not like paid links.

Eric SchmidtView from the top: Eric Schmidt of Google (reg. required)

"[Google] actually looked at [buying a newspaper company] and we're trying to avoid crossing the line between the infrastructure and technology that Google provides and the content that our partners provide. There is a line and we're trying to stay on our side it. [...]

We measure our businesses very, very carefully and in both the print and the radio businesses we could not seem to invent or get enough of a signal back to make the network or value really spin – that's one way to describe it."

Yahoo tries to improve display ads

"You could prepare a few taglines, offers, images, logos and colors, and Smart Ads technology combines them to create thousands of ads that can be displayed to your potential customers. [...]

As people like our hipster and our blue-collar guy click on ads, our systems learn what combinations people like them want to see. Is the hipster more interested in convenience and multimedia? Is the blue-collar guy more interested in cost?"

Wolfram Alpha is the new Wolfram Alpha, not the new Google

"Wolfram Alpha is not an alternative to Google or any of the other major search engines; it is another type of search tool that complements Google. They themselves call it 'a computational knowledge engine.' [...]

Wolfram Alpha does not spider the web, as other search engines do. Instead it accesses the hidden web, carefully selected databases that may provide reliable data."

Search engine newslets

  • New logo design at Google.
  • Yahoos: buy one of these five companies (Twitter, Gawker, etc.).
  • What do you want to ask [Live Search's] Qi Lu?
  • Yahoo! chases after Google, adds voice search to iPhone app.
  • Google: the Internet's organized crime family.
  • Why Google doesn't index @ signs (video).

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3. Test-drive the beta version of IBP 11

The beta version of IBP 11 is available. Among many improvements, the new IBP version has a brand new keyword manager:

IBP 11 Beta Version

The new keyword manager uses the unique keyword database of KeywordIndex.com. It helps you to find inexpensive and targeted keywords for Google AdWords and organic search engine optimization.

Note: IBP version 11 will be a free update for you if you have the current version or if you buy it within the next two weeks.

Click here to get the beta version.

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4. Success stories

"I recommend this to everyone who wants to get free search engine traffic."

"I built a website around a niche I have some experience in. After using the IBP software for a few months, I am getting a first page rank for 8 of my 15 keywords that I am targeting.

Four of these keywords are at the #1 position out of 1,250,000 websites. And the other keywords are in the 2nd and third pages. [...]

I really couldn't believe it!!!! This software ROCKS!!!

I recommend this to everyone who wants to get free SE traffic and never pay for advertising again. OH, one more thing, these keywords are showing on all the top search engines, even Google, MSN and Yahoo."
Wilfred Ball, www.RelieveSinusPressure.com

190,000 readers will see YOUR website

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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5. Previous articles

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