Next for Google Algorithms?
10/16/2004 - Author, Pam Roth,
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.
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.
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,
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
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