Weekly SEO news: 31 August 2010

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

Google has been granted a new patent some days ago. The patent can give us further insight on how Google judges the influence of the links to your site on your Google rankings.

In the news: Google's John Mueller talks about duplicate content and Google's terms of service, there might be another Google algorithm update and more.

Table of contents:

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Andre Voget, Johannes Selbach, Axandra CEO

1. New Google patent: how to judge the value of a link

Google has been granted a new patent with the name "Determining quality of linked documents" some days ago. The patent might give us further insight on how Google judges the influence of a link on the search engine positions of a web page.

What is the patent about?

Here's the official abstract:

"A ranking component ranks documents, such as web pages or web sites, to obtain a ranking score that defines a quality judgment of the document. The ranking score of a particular document is based on the ranking score of the documents which link to it and based on affiliation among the documents."

According to the patent description, Google could rank the backlinks to a web page differently based on the relation of the pages to each other.

For example, links from pages that have the same author might have less influence on the rankings of a web page that have no affiliation with the linked site.

The patent also contains an image that illustrated how the related of web pages might be:

Google patent

How does Google limit the value of a link?

According to the patent, Google might do the following:

  • Google assigns a maximum value to links that come from affiliated pages.
  • Google might assign individual values to links from independent pages.

That means that three links from an affiliated website carry more value than a single link but the total value of all links from the affiliated website is limited.

How can Google recognize affiliated web pages?

The patent shows a number of methods that Google can use to determine the affiliation of web pages:

  • Interlinking: websites that are more closely interlinked to each other than the average pages on the websites might be considered to be affiliated.

  • Hostnames: web pages that have the same domain name or subdomains that are on the same domain are probably affiliated.

  • IP addresses: if the first two or three components of the IP addresses are identical, the web pages might be affiliated.

  • Visitors: web pages that share many visitors during the same browsing session can be considered to be affiliated.

What does this mean for your website rankings?

Although Google has been granted the patent this month, they filed it a few years ago. That means that the methods described in the patent probably have been in use at Google for several years.

Basically, the patent confirms the previous recommendations in our newsletter and in our SEO software IBP:

  • Try to get high quality backlinks from as many different websites as possible.
  • Do not participate in automated linking schemes.
  • The quality of the links is more important than the quantity of the links.

If you haven't done it yet, download our SEO software tool IBP now and optimize the links to your website as well as the content of your pages. IBP's Top 10 Optimizer is based on Google's latest ranking algorithm and it tells you what is needed to get high rankings on Google with the current algorithm.

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2. Search engine news and articles of the week

John MuellerGoogle's John Mueller: how to prevent duplicate content

"Using the robots meta tag with 'noindex' ('follow' is implied, so you don't have to specify it separately) is a fairly good solution. [...]

At any rate, I would definitely not recommend using the robots.txt to disallow crawling of those print pages since that would make it impossible for us to see the meta-tag and to recognize that the content is the same as in the article pages. [...]

It probably makes sense to prevent a print-version from being indexed (as it is now), but past that I don't think it's necessary to tweak it further with a rel=canonical. It might however make sense to place the rel=canonical on the individual pages (pointing to the preferred URL for that particular page) to prevent duplicate content such as that found in the last search."

Google's John Mueller: using Google Translate can violate Google's TOS

"Just want to add a word of warning here -- using automated translation tools to directly create content for your site could be seen as creating auto-generated content, which would be against our Webmaster Guidelines.

Instead of just taking the output of a program like Google Translate, I'd strongly recommend at least having it corrected before putting it online. While Googlebot may initially fall for some Spanish keywords in your text, your users are not going to appreciate content that has been automatically translated and published without a review."

Google How Google cost me $4 million

"Without a bit of advertising, sales of gift baskets had grown 400 percent. [...] Then, one day, he woke up to find that Google, the source of 80 percent of the company's revenue, had banished his site from its search results. [...]

This was right before the holiday season, when we typically make 40 to 60 percent of our annual revenue. It was really, really devastating."

Editor's note: being on Google's first result page can have a major effect on your company's revenue.

Discussion: Mayday-style long-tail update happening again?

"We spotted Mayday a few days before it became widespread. I am seeing the same type of update happening again on our largest property. Another large scale whack to longtail is in the works this week. [...]

For one of our sites with millions of pages we been effected largely and in fact a lot of spam sites have taken over the 1st position. And backlink analysis show pure comment spam. I hope its just some dance because of some links that we built."

85-90% of search traffic comes from organic search

"EcoMowers has only 5% of this market, and primarily generates traffic through PPC and SEO channels. In fact, he gets 50% SEO traffic through organic search, and 50% through paid search.

Now, given that the Web's traffic is 85-90% organic search, it is clear to me that Andy has not yet leveraged SEO to its fullest potential, and doing so would give him the biggest bang for the buck at this point. To get from 5% market share to 20% market share in his market Andy clearly has a low-hanging fruit in front of him."

Editor's note: get your share by getting your website on Google's first result page.

Search engine newslets

  • Google Realtime Search now has its own page.
  • Yahoo's July 2010 retail insights.
  • What's a good way to kick off a new RSS feed? (video)
  • Discussion: exact long tail phrases in the title are not ranking well.
  • 23 walls of Googley.
  • Discussion: are Google AdSense ad links more powerful than other formats?
  • Bubble blinders: the untold story of the search business model.
  • Find out what’s hot on search with the Google Beat.
  • Google tests centered layout.
  • Is Google objective?

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3. Success stories

Bears"Our results are more consistent and higher."

"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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