Weekly SEO news: 5 March 2012

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

Last week, Google announced changes in the way they evaluate links. How does this affect your website rankings and how exactly does Google evaluate links? This week's article has further insights.

In the news: Bing announces Search Quality Insights, Baidu enters South America, what Google+ could have been 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 evaluates links: 7 characteristics

Last week, Google announced changes in the way they evaluate links. How does this affect your website rankings and how exactly does Google evaluate links? This week's article has further insights.

What exactly did Google announce?

Google announced several changes of the ranking algorithm. The most important change was the change of the backlink analysis:

"Link evaluation. We often use characteristics of links to help us figure out the topic of a linked page. We have changed the way in which we evaluate links; in particular, we are turning off a method of link analysis that we used for several years. We often rearchitect or turn off parts of our scoring in order to keep our system maintainable, clean and understandable."

What does this mean for your web page rankings?

Unfortunately, Google doesn't go into detail. As mentioned in Google's statement, Google uses "characteristics of links" to figure out the topic of a linked page.

We'll take a look at the characteristics below. Then we'll try to find out which element could have been changed.

Google link characteristics

Characteristic 1: the text of the link

The anchor text of a link has been the most important factor for a long time. If many sites link to a page with the anchor text "green apple" then the page will get high rankings for the term "green apple".

Characteristic 2: the link power of the linking page

Links from pages with many inbound links have a higher influence than links from pages with few backlinks.

Characteristic 3: content and page proximity

If you sell shoes on your website then the link to your website will have a bigger impact if the text that surrounds the link to your page is about shoes. If the link to your website is surrounded by totally unrelated text then the link won't count as much.

Characteristic 4: link attributes such as nofollow and title

Links that use the rel=nofollow attribute don't affect the position of your web pages on Google. Some webmasters think that using title attributes can have a positive effect if these contain the targeted keywords. Others think that this could trigger a spam filters.

Characteristic 5: redirects and shortened URLs

Redirects and shortened URLs such as http://bit.ly/a4X4th are URLs that redirect to another URL. Should these URLs carry full weight when it comes to calculate the position of a website?

Characteristic 6: the age of a website

The older a link is, the more Google tends to trust that link. Links that remain for a long time seem to have a bigger impact than links that come and go.

Characteristic 7: the affiliation of the linking sites

Links from websites that have the same owner and links from affiliates may have a different influence on the rankings of a web page than links from websites that are not affiliated with the page.

Of course, we can only speculate what Google has changed. It is likely that Google now only considers the anchor text of a link if that link is placed in the right context (page and content proximity). Another possibility is that affiliate links (redirected or with page variables) will have less influence on the rankings of a page.

If you have followed the tips and tricks of this newsletter in the past then Google's change won't have any negative influence on your website rankings. Just continue to get good backlinks and optimize the content of your pages. You can analyze the different links that point to a website here.


2. Search engine news and articles of the week

BingBing announces Search Quality Insights

"We are launching a new blog series we’re calling 'Bing Search Quality Insights' aimed at giving you deeper insight into the algorithms, trends and people behind Bing. This blog is the first in a series that will take you behind the search box for an up close view into the core of the Bing search engine."

The mounting minuses at Google+

"It turns out Google+ is a virtual ghost town compared with the site of rival Facebook Inc., which is preparing for a massive initial public offering. New data from research firm comScore Inc. shows that Google+ users are signing up—but then not doing much there."

BaiduBaidu about to conquer South America: the market to be

"Like in Europe Google’s market share there is over 90%. The South American market is a very interesting one. Especially the Brazilian market. Economically Brazil is labeled one of the five most promising markets in the world. Where many economies are having difficulties, Brazil seems to be going upwards."

What Google+ should have been: Bing's Linked Pages

"Thanks to its relationship with Facebook, Microsoft has the advantage of not needing to build its own identity provider or social network. Everyone's already on Facebook. [...]

When you use Bing to search for people, now you'll be able to find the content that's related to them. That's what Search, plus Your World does for Google, but Bing does it without requiring this new, extra place to waste time online."

Google announces AdWords display ad builder improvements

"The Display Ad Builder now automatically creates suggested image ads, using the existing text ads in your campaign. Click on the suggested ad that you like best. If necessary, customize any fonts, text, or colors that need tweaking. Then incorporate the ad into one of your ad groups."

Search engine newslets

  • Google Places: rich snippet reviews and author now showing.
  • Bing tests new local search layouts.
  • 3 things you need to know about Yandex search.
  • Yahoo warns Facebook of a potential patent fight.
  • Say what? Google’s gigabit network won’t deliver a gig?
  • Google's Susan Wojcicki: where we're heading.
  • Why Google is not popular in Korea.

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3. Success stories

Tell other readers of this newsletter 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.


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4. Previous articles

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