Weekly SEO news: 20 November 2012
Welcome to the latest issue of the Search Engine Facts newsletter.

In an interview, former Google web-spam member Andre Weyher gave more information about the way Google detects web spam. The most important facts and statements can be found in this week's article.

In the news: issues with Google's disavow links tool, the latest search engine statistics, information about Google reconsideration requests, 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. Inside Google: a former Google web-spam team member gives tips
In an interview, former Google web-spam member Andre Weyher gave more information about the way Google detects web spam. The most important facts and statements can be found in this article.

inside Google

1. How does Google detect web spam?

Google uses on-page signals such as keyword stuffing or hidden content. They also judge the quality of the web page content. Any type of scraped, synonymized or poorly written text is seen as a spam signal.

In addition to the on-page signals, Google uses the backlink profile of a web page to detect spam. Google analyzes many different backlink elements: how many links are there in total? What is the quality of the pages they come in from? Do the pages look “real” or are they just there to host the links? What anchors texts are used? The commercial vs. non commercial ratio of the anchor texts.

2. What are commercial keywords and how do they influence your backlink profile?

A commercial keyword is a keyword with a high search volume or a keyword that has a high financial value, for example "cheap flights" or "car insurance".

If 90% of the anchor texts in a backlink profile are commercial keywords, it is likely that the backlinks are spammy, especially if there are thousands of these links.

Andre says that a natural backlink profile usually has non-commercial keywords in the anchor texts (long tail keywords, the URL of the website, etc.)

3. On-page optimization is a key element of any SEO strategy

Andre Weyher is very clear that on-page optimization is very important:

"On-page tactics are often overlooked, while in reality they should be a key element in your SEO strategy. [...]

Be very thorough about your basic elements like titles, descriptions and H1/H2 headers. People are so focused on putting the most expensive fuel in their car (link building) that they totally forget about the basics like putting wheels on it (on page elements)."

IBP's Top 10 Optimizer is the perfect tool that helps you to optimize all on-page signals of your web pages.

4. Which link building techniques work with Google?

Automated link building puts your website at risk. Successful link building is very similar to relationship management:

"If your website is about cheese production, reach out to people in the milk industry, like I mentioned before, relevance is the new PageRank."

Andre also says that you shouldn't dismiss directories completely. Good quality, moderated directories, or niche directories are still worth looking in to. The quality of the pages that link to your site is also important. Three links from authentic pages will do much more than 1000 links from spam blogs. Quality is more important than quantity.

The link building tool in IBP will help you to find high quality websites. It also helps you to keep track of your link building activities.

If you are a regular reader of our weekly newsletter, the above won't come as a surprise to you. Andre Weyher confirms the tactics and methods that we've been recommending for years.

If you've used IBP in the past to promote your website, chances are that your rankings are better than ever before. If you haven't used IBP yet, do it now to make sure that your website gets the best possible rankings on Google:

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2. Search engine news and articles of the week

StatisticsOctober 2012 U.S. search engine rankings

"Google Sites led the U.S. explicit core search market in October with 66.9 percent market share (up 0.2 percentage points), followed by Microsoft Sites with 16 percent (up 0.1 percentage points) and Yahoo! Sites with 12.2 percent. Ask Network accounted for 3.2 percent of explicit core searches, followed by AOL, Inc. with 1.8 percent. [...]

17.6 billion explicit core searches were conducted in October (up 8 percent), with Google Sites ranking first with 11.8 billion (up 8 percent). Microsoft Sites ranked second with 2.8 billion searches (up 9 percent), followed by Yahoo! Sites with 2.1 billion (up 8 percent), Ask Network with 560 million and AOL, Inc. with 309 million (up 8 percent)."

Editor's note: to get your website in front of these search engine users, optimize your pages so that they get high rankings.

Google: file reconsideration requests in the language of your site

Google's Matt Cutts explained in an online discussion why an English reconsideration request for an Italian website was rejected by Google:

"This person, after violating our quality guidelines, had done multiple reconsideration requests. His English-language reconsideration request was selected to get a more personalized response, but then when the Googler started to investigate the site, the actual site was in Italian. That's what triggered the 'this language is not supported' message because the person handling the case was expecting an English-language site based on the English-language reconsideration request."

Matt CuttsHow long does a reconsideration request take to process?

Matt Cutts answers this question in a video. You should get a confirmation message within one week. Google sends three different message types: 1. "The reconsideration request has been granted", 2. "You still have to correct some issues", 3. "The website wasn't penalized and it is an algorithmic issue. The whole consideration request shouldn't take longer than 'a couple of weeks'.

Online discussion: 100% of links used in Google's disavow tool but Google still penalizes the site

"We removed 70% (750 domains) by contacting webmasters over a 3-month period and then on October 16th uploaded a text file with the remaining 30% (350 domains) to Google's new Disavow feature. We then sent in a reconsider request explaining every I've stated above. [...]

Google's reply: We've reviewed your site and we still see links to your site that violate our quality guidelines."

Editor's note: to get better search engine rankings, focus on things that you can influence and only use Google's disavow links tool if you spammed Google in the past.

Yahoo! plots alliance with Facebook in new search deal

"The two Internet giants have already collaborated together on a number of small projects, for example to share Yahoo! news on Facebook, and recently agreed to settle a number of long-standing lawsuits over patents. However, board members expect the talks to lead to much more substantial collaboration based around web-based search."

Search engine newslets
  • Discussion: was there another Panda refresh update?
  • Twitter improves its search result pages.
  • Google announces a new 300x600 ad format.
  • Google adds airport targeting to Google AdWords.
  • Humor: Google House View (beta).
  • Google after antitrust: The good, the bad, and the ugly.

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