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What's Next for Google Algorithms?    
10/16/2004 - Author, Pam Roth, CreatingOnline.com
The latest tweaking which Google has apparently done to its algorithms in August and September of 2004 has caused quite a stir, to say the least. Websites that have enjoyed high rankings for years are suddenly finding themselves demoted to the ranks of oblivion. Some webmasters have reported decreases in their traffic by 50% or more. Many have already hit the panic button. Will your site be next?

I've done some research, including reading about some of the companies Google has recently acquired and reading the data on the new technology that came along with these companies. I, of course, mind you, do not have access to Google's exact algorithm technology or any kind of special relationship with Google. I am simply conveying here my personal interpretation of some of the new algorithms Google apparently now has available to them and may be currently using or planning to use in the very near future.

FRESH IS BETTER: I'm not talking about vegetables here, but rather one of the technologies Google has acquired which could possibly be on the horizon. It involves the storage of information about each individual user's previous searches via cookies, which cookies are then used to reorder the search results on the user's subsequent searches. These subsequent search results will supposedly be divided into groups in the following order of priority:

1. Newly indexed sites which were not available at the time of the last search will appear first.

2. Those sites which the user visited during their last search, but which have had updates in the interim will appear next. Also, the extent of the updates will also determine the site's ranking order within this group.

3. Those websites which were present at the time of the user's last search, but which the user did not visit will appear next.

4. At the bottom of the list will be the websites which the user had already visited during a previous search which have not had any updates.

This doesn't seem very fair to the websites that get blocked out of search results simply because they had already been visited in the past, but I would imagine there will be an option for the user to "include previously visited links." No, it does not reward webmasters for the work they have put into developing their high-quality site, but then Google is not in the business of rewarding webmasters. Their primary goal is to make a user's search experience as productive as possible by showing updated and valuable content. Therefore, my recommendation here would be to UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE! And do it regularly and to as large an extent as is reasonably possible.
[ Read more about this at the U.S. Patents website ]

CONTENT QUALITY: Along with Google's acquisition of Applied Semantics last year came their CIRCA technology (Conceptual Information Retrieval and Communication Architecture), which presumably has now given the Googlebots the ability to intelligently think and learn almost like a human when it comes to determining contextual meaning, which intelligence is progressive over time as data accumulates. Therefore, while we may have already begun seeing the results of some of this technology, it is destined to become more refined as time goes on, with ongoing fluctuations in page ranking during the process. 

These human-like bots will be capable of discriminating between individual words and groups of words combined together as a "meaningful" unit. If a webmaster fills a page with primarily keywords (to fool the search engines), the Googlebots are now able to tell that there is an illogical sequence of words on this page, called "word sense disambiguation algorithm", and this page could be severely penalized. Pages filled with words grouped together in a meaningful and logical format will represent high user value. If a website has multiple pages containing "related concepts", such as content covering various aspects of different issues, but which all relate to one basic theme, this will help to reinforce the value of each individual page even more. The website will then be deemed an "authority" on a given topic and it's ranking will soar. As well, textual content can be assessed in even greater detail, that is, in terms of "strength" (how close the relationship of each word is.) For example, a "dog" is a kind of "pet", as well as a kind of "species." However, the relationship between the words "dog" and "pet" is closer (stronger) than that which exists between the words "dog" and "species." The capabilities of this powerful new "intelligent" technology that "learns" is such that the days of fooling the search engines in any way, shape, or form are soon going to be history.
[ Read more about CIRCA technology ]

LINK QUALITY: The quality of a website's linking system is carrying even more weight now. Besides evaluation of the content of your pages, the content of the pages linking to you and those pages to which you are linking are being evaluated. Just like the old saying, "Show me your friends, and I'll tell you what you are", your website is being judged more and more by the quality of your inbound and outbound links. A large number of acquired "random" backlinks will soon not carry the weight it once did, once thought to indicate a site's popularity. Value will be assessed primarily on the quality of the content of the two web sites/pages that are linked, the degree of similarity of the content between the two linked sites/pages, and finally the current PR of each linked site/page. Now more than ever, it is going to pay to avoid involvement with web spammers, link farms, and other linking schemes, sometimes referred to as "bad neighborhoods", which sites have little valuable "Googlebot food" (lots of high-quality, informative, well-composed, textual content.) In fact, a website's ranking could be significantly adversely affected if involved in these types of linking schemes. Exchanging links with highly-ranked websites containing similar or compatible high-quality content is the key. This applies to both your inbound and outbound links, including your website's internal linking structure. Totally unrelated links (assumed to be an obvious link exchange between two sites to inflate their ranking) and a larger than usual number of affiliate links on a page devoid of much other valuable textual content will significantly demote a website's ranking. Finally, proper link "composition" can also earn bonus points. Although image linking (i.e, ad banners and buttons) with alt tags still count for something, text links composed of rich, meaningful words are considered even more valuable. In other words, "Click Here" should never be used as an anchor link.

SUMMARY: The above is great news for web searchers. But what does this mean to webmasters? Well, in my opinion, I think this means that the "wild west days" of the internet will soon be history. Quick and easy, unethical shortcuts to getting traffic will be something we only talk about to our grandchildren when describing the "early days of the internet." If all goes as planned, the internet should become a web of primarily quality sites filled with valuable information that is all easy to find. Webmasters with hopes of high ranking will need to do the work to get the results. We all know what "the work" is, so I won't go into the details here, but basically life online will soon mirror life offline. In other words, to succeed on the internet, we'll need to "stay in school" and be open to learning all we can, obey the "traffic" laws, live in a decent "neighborhood", become a "valuable resource" to society, and make sure that our "backlink friends" are people we'd be proud to introduce to Mom and Dad. ;-)

USEFUL LINK: RankPulse.com, which tracks the Google search-rankings of 1,000 keywords. Free information, charts, graphs reflecting the daily fluctuations of Google results.

Getting The Search Engine Ranking Your Website Deserves: : META Tags Yield To Google's PageRank As Search Engine Standard
Author: John Henderson
Instant PDF Download: $7.00

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