Thursday, September 6, 2007

No Google toolbar pagerank update for a couple of weeks (via Matt Cutts)

Just read an interesting tidbit written by Matt Cutts over at the Digital Point forum. His post can be found here. You can read the post, but the interesting part is quoted here:

"As far as the toolbar PageRank, I definitely wouldn't expect to see it in the next few days. Probably not even in the next couple weeks, if I had to guess."

The post in which Mr. Cutts posted the comment is here.

So, I'm guessing that we're looking at late October or early November, just in time for the holiday season. It's just my opinion, though.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

New major algo changes coming from Google?

Watching the hand-wringing over the next PR update, and the record amount of time that Google has waited to make this update makes me wonder how large the algorithm change will be in this update. Some clues:

  • Many websites are being dropped from the index, only to reappear several days later. This indicates that the Google engineers are testing a new piece of the algorithm to see how it affects certain websites.
  • Matt Cutts' indications that the Big 'G will be cracking down on paid links - it's almost certain that a large algo change will be implemented in an attempt to curtail the power of compensated links.
  • The simple length of time between this update and the last update, showing that they are doing some substantial testing before deploying the new updates.
  • Huge SERP movements up and down - I've seen this on a number of my sites that have had stable SERP rankings over the last year.
  • The rapidity of backlink updates in the webmaster tools. I know that this is an ongoing thing, but I've had 3 major BL updates since the beginning of August.
  • The "directory penalty". This isn't something that's been advertised, but I believe that Google will, if not completely penalize, at least downgrade links from directories so that they have less power. In my webmaster tools, I show very few links from directories, whereas I had thousands of them as late as June.
  • More of a focus on "authority site" links that are naturally positioned. Again, this is a fight against paid links. (although I have seen an increasing # of authority sites selling text links in the last few weeks)
Each of these taken one by one don't indicate anything different from Google's normal practice of incremental changes and algo updates. Taken all together, they show indications of a MAJOR algo change.

Webmasters get ready - the next few months could be a headache if you're not ready.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The speed of Google updates and indexing

(note: this is a guest post written by Gary Sims who runs Simo's Sagacity)

At the turn of the century Google's index wasn't very fresh, sometimes up to 3 or 4 months would pass before the index was updated. Then in the middle of the year 2000 Google started doing monthly updates which lead to what became known as the Google Dance. Fast forward to 2003 and Google started doing incremental updates to their index. That meant that the spider was sent out to update a small portion of the index on a daily basis. From then until now Google have been getting better and better at the incremental updates, in other words the index is updated faster and is fresher.

Their updates are go good now, under the right circumstances pages of popular websites can appear in the Google index in minutes and new sites can appear in hours.

Recently I started a new technology blog with some friends (Hi-Tech
) and we had resigned ourselves to the fact that it would take weeks for Google to read our site and then only 1 page and it would take months before the site became integrated fully into the index. We we were surprised (and relieved) that our blog turned up in just 2 days. And now only a couple of weeks later we have over 80 pages in the index (including the comments to the blog posts). And Google are still keeping up the pace. The index is normally only 24-48 behind what we have on the blog and we are getting about 1/3 of our traffic the search engine.

How did we do it, first we got some links out their to our site, I posted on some of my other blogs about the new blog and also we heavily used Technorati and Digg. The result was that Google came, saw and conquered.

I think Google need to be congratulated on their freshness of their index and their on going effort to keep on top of the vast quantity of material which is created on the web every day,

Thanks Google.

Gary Sims
Simo's Sagacity

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Thou shalt not keyword stuff. (or shalt thou?)

One of the things that many SEO experts recommend when building a site with optimization in mind is to refrain from "keyword stuffing". This involves dropping a large number of keywords, often duplicated, in the keyword META Tag. I've found that it isn't the case that keyword stuffing is a detrimental thing in all instances.

Many of the websites I build and manage are for local companies that are targeting a local client base. For example, I built a site for an electrical contractor in my local area. He doesn't want work in Florida or New York; he only desires inquiries from local residents and/or businesses. When building his site, I chose a domain name with his keywords, then I stuffed the heck out of the keyword META tag. I didn't use the exact same keyword many times, but I used hundreds of variations in it. I wasn't sure how this would affect his rankings. Here's what I found:

  • The electrical contractor's site was ranked in the top ten in both Yahoo and MSN in less than a week for ALL the major keywords. This was several months ago, and he remains near the top, bouncing between #3 and #6 on both Yahoo and MSN.
  • Google, at first, wouldn't touch the site, and only indexed the home page.
  • After several months, the website slowly started moving up the SERP rankings in Google, and is now in the top 20. This is WITH the stuffed keyword META tag still in place.
  • The site is ranked #1 in Google for one of the more obscure keywords, and I expect that some of the more competitive keywords will rank in the top 10 soon.
Conclusion: while the stuffed keywords seemed to anger the Google gods at first, eventually the age of the domain overcame that and the site started to move up the rankings. Yahoo and MSN don't seem to care about keyword stuffing, and in fact ranked the site highly even in it's infancy.

I wouldn't recommend trying this on a site that you require high rankings for, but if you have a site that doesn't require any SEO, give it a test and see if your conclusions are the same.