Weekly SEO news: 11 January 2011
Welcome to the latest issue of the Search Engine Facts newsletter.

It's a no-brainer that changes on your web pages influence the position of your website on search engines. However, it's not so clear how search engines react to the changes on your site and what exactly causes the changes in the search results. A new search engine patent might have some answers.

Also in the news: how Google might fight content spam, Google's quality declines, users are against search engine regulation and more.

Table of contents:

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Andre Voget, Johannes Selbach, Axandra CEO

1. How your web page changes influence your search engine rankings

It's a no-brainer that changes on your web pages influence the position of your website on search engines. However, it's not so clear how search engines react to the changes on your site and what exactly causes the changes in the search results. A new search engine patent might have some answers.


Several search engine patents deal with the changes on your site

Google published a patent that described how the changes on your web pages influence the rankings of your site 6 years ago. Last month, Microsoft was granted another patent that discusses the influence of web page changes on search engine rankings.

This new patent shows which elements on your web pages might be monitored by search engines.

Which web page elements are monitored by search engines?

According to the new patent, changes of the following web page elements can influence the position of the page in the search results:

  • Keywords that are included in a web page.
  • Keywords that are associated with a web page
  • The anchor texts that are used in links on the page.
  • The colors and the sizes of images on the page.
  • The position of text or images on the page.
  • The frequency of document changes over time.
  • The amount of the web page content that has been changed.
  • Tags that are assigned to the page.
  • Search queries that are used to find the page.

How exactly do changes in these elements influence the rankings of a page?

According to the patent, searches are classified into the two categories "informational" and "navigational". The effect of the web page changes depends on the category of a search query.

A navigational query is a query that is used to find a particular site. For example, a search for "ny times" will lead to the home page of the sites. Examples for information queries are "how do I fix a broken bicycle tire" or "who won the 2011 XYZ awards"?

If the searcher is looking for information about a recent event (2011 XYZ awards) then pages that recently added the keyword could be boosted in the search results.

For navigational queries, pages with static content might get a boost. This methods works fine with some type of sites but it could cause problems with home pages that update their contents regularly (for example nytimes.com).

What does this mean to your website?

This patent was granted to Microsoft but it's likely that Google uses similar methods. Search engines don't just look at the current version of your website.

They also remember how it was in the past. The changes on your website could indicate a change of ownership, they could indicate that you try to keep your website up-to-date, they could be a signal for spam and more.

When you change your web pages, consider which signal you might be sending to search engines.

When you optimize the pages of your website, do not optimize a page that already has high rankings for one of your keywords. Better optimize another page of your site for the new keyword.

The more pages of your website you optimize, the better. Optimize different pages of your website for different but related keywords to show search engines that your website is relevant to a particular topic.

Keep some of the pages fresh and leave others as they are to offer search engines different kind of pages for different search queries.

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2. Search engine news and articles of the week

Beating the content farms

"The fix is simple: prioritize sites that real people find valuable. [...]

[Google is] well equipped to beat this problem in a different way. Let's call it “AutoLike”. It's a way of passively inferring when a user likes a search result, and boosting search rank. In simple terms, Google auto-presses an invisible Like button for this user. Lots of AutoLikes would improve the rank of a search result. [...]

Prediction: Twitter's biggest revenue source will someday be a web search engine that's based on their interest graph."

DeclineCan Google get its Mojo back?

"Google is in serious decline. I don't see how they can deny it. They have famously always been a data-driven organization, and the data is compelling. Business Insider's list of the 15 biggest tech flops of 2010 cited no fewer than four from Google. [...]

[Google] could conceivably lose 90% of their business in the space of a few months, if a qualitatively better search engine comes along. That's not likely to happen, but it could . . . and I'm almost beginning to hope that it does."

Most say no to government regulation of search engines

"77% of adults say there is no need for government regulation of the way that search engines select the recommendations they provide in response to search inquiries. Just 11% believe such regulation is necessary, while just as many (12%) are not sure."

Showdown Why Google and Demand Media are headed for a showdown

"Both companies argue that they produce valuable content that people (and companies) find worthwhile, and that they are not 'content farms' trying to rig Google's algorithms.

But the reality is that much of their content is produced quickly, is often of fairly low quality, and is targeted — in Demand's case, by the company's own algorithms — to match the keywords that people are likely to search for, because those are the ones that will produce the most advertising revenue."

Three's a trend: the decline of Google search quality

"Google is like a monoculture, and thus parasites have a major impact once they have adapted to it - especially if Google has 'lost the war'. If search was more heterogenous, spamsites would find it more costly to scam every site. That is a very interesting argument against the level of Google market dominance. [...]

Half a decade after so many people began unquestioningly modifying their sites to serve Google's needs better, there may start to be enough critical mass for the pendulum to swing back to earlier days, when Google modified its workings to suit the web's existing behaviors."

Search engine newslets

  • Facebook, Google, Microsoft - comparable?
  • Brussels wants 7-year limit on works digitized by Google.
  • Google now solves Sudoku puzzles.
  • Why Google dropped Groupon and local just doesn't scale.
  • Google Maps head plots a new course.
  • Twitter courts Google's Sundar Pichai for head of product.

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3. Get a good start to 2011

We want you to get a good start to 2011!

We want you to get a good start to 2011. That's why we offer you IBP for a discounted price this month. Just click the following image:


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