Weekly SEO news: 8 March 2011
Welcome to the latest issue of the Search Engine Facts newsletter.

Google's Amit Singhal and Matt Cutts commented on Google's latest ranking algorithm update. Their comments reveal why Google released the update which was named "Panda".

Also in the news: a new Google patent reveals more information about Google's plans, there's an official online discussion for people who have been hit by the update, is a California IP address good for high rankings and more.

Table of contents:

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1. Official Google statements about the latest algorithm update

Google's Amit Singhal and Matt Cutts commented on Google's latest ranking algorithm update. Their comments reveal why Google released the update which was named "Panda".

Why did Google update the ranking algorithm?

After Google's Caffeine ranking algorithm update in 2009, Google received a lot of fresh content. The "gibberish" spam content that could be found in Google's results before vanished. Unfortunately, a new kind of low quality content appeared in the results.

According to Matt Cutts, "[the new shallow content was like:] what's the bare minimum that I can do that's not spam?" Google does not want to see shallow content in the search results.

How does Google recognize a shallow-content site?

Amit Singhal said that Google hasn't solved the problem yet. Google came up with a variety of questions to judge the quality of a site:

"Would you be comfortable giving this site your credit card? Would you be comfortable giving medicine prescribed by this site to your kids? Do you consider this site to be authoritative? Would it be okay if this was in a magazine? Does this site have excessive ads?"

Based on these questions and more, Google tried to form a definition of low quality. Then they tried to put this in an algorithm.

"We actually came up with a classifier to say, okay, IRS or Wikipedia or New York Times is over on this side, and the low-quality sites are over on this side. [...]

In a hyperspace a bunch of points, some points are red, some points are green, and in others there's some mixture. Your job is to find a plane which says that most things on this side of the place are red, and most of the things on that side of the plane are the opposite of red."

Which sites were hit most by the update?

So-called content-farms were hit by the update. Google's Matt Cutts names Suite101.com. The rankings of that website have dropped drastically and the keyword traffic is down 94% for that site.

In addition to Suite101.com, many other sites have been hit by the algorithm update:

"Our classifier that we built this time does a very good job of finding low-quality sites. It was more cautious with mixed-quality sites, because caution is important. [...]

When people come to Google, that's exactly what they're asking for — our editorial judgment. They're expressed via algorithms."

Google claims that money does not impact algorithm decisions

Some people think that Google changes the algorithm to earn more with Google AdWords ads. According to Amit Singhal, money does not impact their decisions.

Google continues to remove spammers from the search results. If you don't want to risk your online business, use search engine optimization methods that are safe to use with Google.

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2. Search engine news and articles of the week

A new Google patent reveals more details about Google's algorithm update

"The patent basically covers a system for identifying search queries which have low quality content and then asking either publishers or the people searching for that topic to create some better content themselves.

The system takes into account the volume of searches when looking at the quality of the content so for bigger keywords the content would need to be better in order for Google to not need to suggest somebody else writes something."

John Mueller Google: are there any advantages to hosting from a California IP address?

"I wouldn't worry about sub-country level hosting location, unless there are important latency issues that you need to address for your users. Search engines generally won't look at your site's IP address in that granular of a way. If you want to let us (and users :-)) know about the location of your business, you can do that through a Google Places listing and by including your address and phone numbers on your website."

Editor's note: the answer implies that the country level hosting location can be important.

Ex-Microsoft employee: 5 things the Kayak deal tells us about Bing

"Microsoft announced a partnership with Kayak to provide travel results. [...] Less than 2 years ago, Bing was all about internal innovation and buying companies (Farecast, Powerset, etc) that would help it accelerate product development.

Now, with this deal, Microsoft is admitting that it's better for them to outsource innovation to vertical search engines like Kayak, as opposed to trying to build them internally."

GoogleThink you're affected by the recent algorithm change?

In an online discussion forum, Google asks for feedback:

"According to our metrics, this update improves overall search quality. However, we are interested in hearing feedback from site owners and the community as we continue to refine our algorithms.

If you know of a high quality site that has been negatively affected by this change, please bring it to our attention in this thread. Note that as this is an algorithmic change we are unable to make manual exceptions, but in cases of high quality content we can pass the examples along to the engineers who will look at them as they work on future iterations and improvements to the algorithm."

Search engine newslets

  • Will Google penalize sites which only link using the nofollow attribute?
  • Facebook hits record $75 billion valuation on SecondMarket.
  • Patent attack on Google open codec faces 'antitrust probe'.
  • Google to buy UK finance comparison site.
  • Google's 2011 plans are "all about mobile".
  • New Google search results for Twitter accounts.
  • Google tests enhanced suggestions.

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3. Success stories

300,000 readers will read your success story!

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. Click here to tell us your story.

Pradeep"I am spending less on AdWords now."

"I have used IBP for about 5 months now and have made it to the SERP 1 for a very popular photography related target keyword.

Thanks a lot! I am spending less on AdWords now."
Pradeep Sanyal, www.pradeepsanyal.com



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4. Previous articles

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