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I’ll be talking about some of the latest topics in SEO and search today. Here is an outline of the topics for the next couple hours. Feel free, at any time, to stop me and ask questions.
But before I get into SEO and Search, let me tell you a little bit about who I am.
My name is Barry Schwartz.
I live just outside NYC.
I graduated with honors at...
My wife gifted me with my beautiful two year old daughter.
I am the CEO of RustyBrick...
On the search side, I have been writing about search since 2003. I’ve written 10k stories here but likely 50k on other sites. This site specifically tracks forum threads on search and SEO. We’ve been recognized as one of the top blogs on SEO and search by Danny Sullivan, AdAge, MarketingSherpa, SEJournal & others.
In 2005 I became news Editor at Search Engine Watch working with Danny... Then we split off to start Search Engine Land in December 2006. SELand is the authority on search news and tips.
I also run a small conference ...
Finally, I’ve been cited and interviewed on TV, radio and print at many well-known news organizations.
Enough about me, let’s get into SEO.
I figured the best way to talk about the future is to fundamentally understand the direction Google has been going. So let’s go through some of Google’s history and then move into Panda.
First, how does Google work? They have a robot or spider named GoogleBot. GoogleBot crawls from web page to web page discovering new content on the web.
That content is then indexed and stored in Google’s servers. Here is a picture of one of Google’s original servers. The query comes later and the query triggers off a bunch of requests to bring back the best search result from Google’s index, which was found by GoogleBot - in most cases.
During the old days, Google updated their index monthly. GoogleBot continually crawled the web and then about once a month, Google would push out the new index to all their data centers. Since Google had many data centers, this process normally took a week or so to be seen everywhere. Also, PageRank was updated at this point and since PR was a huge component back then, SEOs paid very careful attend. That is a TShirt of the real Google Dance.
Eventually, Google started doing more real time “rolling updates”, sometimes referred to as “Everflux.” Thus the Google Dance eventually died but people still talk about it till today. So now, what types of updates do we have?
The types of updates can be broken down into three categories. Algo, Data Refreshes and Index (aka Infrastructure).
Does everyone understand how Google worked and now works? Okay, let’s move on to some of the more famous Google updates...
Here are 14 of the more well known updates that have happened since Google began rolling updates in 2003. Let’s go through each one briefly and lead our way to Panda.
Fritz update was an update to Google’s infrastructure or index. It allowed Google to update their search index and thus the results daily, as opposed to monthly.
Then the SEO & Webmaster community was shocked by the Florida Update. Google till this day has learned to never release a major algorithmic or index update prior to the holiday seasons again.
Austin was nothing compared to Florida but it did have major tweaks to Florida.
Then the infamous Sandbox. New sites simply would not rank well...
Bourbon then hit the following year. Some say this made the Sandbox Filter less obvious but it was one of the first to target less in your face off-page SEO tactics.
The following year we had two updates, one was index related aka Big Daddy and during the same time, Jagger, an algorithm update. Most confused the two because they overlapped. Big Daddy rolled out on test servers, SEOs played with it and gave Cutts feedback. So by the time it rolled out, Jagger was also underway and rolling out.
Because of the new index & infrastructure, Google decided to do away with the supplemental index. The supplemental index was a separate index Google managed and updated at a much slower rate than the main index. But with Big Daddy Google didn’t need it - or they said. It might be that supplemental results confused SEOs & searchers.
Google then declared war on paid links. Danny announced it first, then Google warned us and then it hit. Why did Google wait? Many felt they couldn’t beat paid links algorithmically, so offered incentives. But either way, it was smart - lower the PageRank of sites selling links and they lose the salability to sell those links.
Next update was an index update but this was rolled out over months to various data centers which made it look like it was a Google Dance. Anyway, was rumored to target SEO’d content and links but really, it was an index update, not algorithmic.
But then came the Vince update named after a Google engineer. Many SEOs called it the brand update because bigger brands started to outrank the smaller players. No longer was Google a place the mom and pop shops could evenly compete with Big Brands. But Google disagreed.
The following year, May Day came. It was one of the first content quality algorithms. Impact was mostly felt on long tail keywords, lots of e-commerce sites targeting long tail keywords.
Then Google came out with their new index/infrastructure, Caffeine. Pages went missing from the index, when they should not have. Google wanted no one to notice the change, but it allowed Google to...
Then came along the Scraper Update, with a warning of Panda to come.
That brings up to Panda a month later, named Panda after a Google engineer, while Danny named it the Farmer Update.
That is all I have to say about Panda.... Okay, I am kidding - now that we know a little bit about the history of Google’s updates - you should have a better understanding that all these updates aimed at two primary things: (1) search results that were fresher and deeper and (2) provided a quality results.
So let’s dig deeper into the Panda Update.
Here is my general Panda break down. Let’s start with why Panda by looking at some events prior to the Panda update.
Duncan Morris Distlled
No real improvements, only more sites hit by it.
Google Webmaster Tools notifications
Forbes gets response from Matt Cutts in Google Webmaster Forums
Outed by NY Times and get Google response from press.
Traffic dropped, sales dropped
Keywords position change?
Do you rank for your unique company name?
Site command shows nothing
PageRank 0? New Site? Old Site?
To talk about future of search, you need to understand the evolution of search
Maps, Video, News & Product Huge: Blog Search, Book Search, Catalogs, Code Search, Directory, Finance, Images, Local/Maps, News, Patent Search, Product Search, Scholar, Video, Web Search
People ask questions and get answers
Urbanspoon restaurant finder or Google Goggles, etc.
Urbanspoon restaurant finder or Google Goggles, etc.
Bing also looks at the global Facebook collective. Social Search is search results ranked by social factors, not searching social content...That is real time search...
Google Social Search Since Oct. 2009 in Labs; Jan. 2010 fully Google Social integrated in web search Since Feb. 2011 Google +1 since March 2011
Oct. 2010; blended since Feb. 2011Facebook-only & isn’t “Bing Social Search”Bing Social Search really real-time search
Publishing content in real time, little time between creation of content and publishing content
“ Real Time Search” means searching through content “published” in “real time” Mostly Twitter, but also Facebook updates, TwitPics, Google Buzz, etc.
Top updates not ranked by time.
It is not just about links and keyword density. It is about getting eye balls and tweets, and likes.
Businesses telling people to Google Me to find me...
Billboards, TV commercials with slogans, Google me.
But even without explicit requests to Google me, people go to the internet to learn more about TV commercials, radio ads and newspaper ads.
See the spike in searches Super Bowl night during the airing of the commercial.
It is getting social, with follow me on Twitter and Like me on Facebook. Customer service on Twitter. Picking up new clients on Twitter. etc.
Sending people away from home page and to Facebook and Twitter Brisk Eminem Super Bowl Commercial 2011
No matter what, your customers are searching for you. Make sure you are found in Google, Bing, on Twitter and Facebook.
so many more ideas, just search “link building tips”
Taller SEO por Barry Schwartz
Latest Hot Topics In SEO & Search ISDI SEO Workshop June 14, 2011 Barry Schwartz
SEO & Search• About Me• Google Updates • History • Famous Updates • Panda• SEO Penalties• Future SEO & Search
Dewey Update• March/April 2008• Index Update• Google Dance Like• Targets: • SEO’d Content • Links
Vince / Brand Update• March 2009• Algorithm Update• Big Brands Take Over• Google Said Not Brands • Trust, Authority, Quality & PageRank
May Day Update• April - May 2010• Algorithm Update• Long Tail Impact• Quality Change• Many Sites Hurt• Quality vs Off Topic
Caffeine Update• August 2009 - June 2010• Infrastructure Update• No Ranking Change• Pages Missing From Index• Faster, Fresher, Deeper Index, Within Minutes
Scraper Update• January 2011• Targets Low Quality Scraper Sites• Warned Days Prior• Panda Soon To Come
Panda Update• Late February 2011• Algorithm Update• 12% Of Results Changed• Targets Low Quality Sites, Less Useful Sites, Little Content, Little Value
Famous Updates• Fritz (Summer 2003) • Paid Links (October 2007)• Florida (November 2003) • Dewey Update (Mar 2008)• Austin Update (Jan 2004) • Vince / Brand (March 2009)• The Sandbox (April 2004) • May Day (May 2010)• Bourbon (May 2005) • Caffeine (June 2010)• Big Daddy (October 2005) • Scraper Filter (Jan. 2011)• Supplemental (Jan 2007) • Panda (February 2011)
Google Updates• How Google Updates• Famous Updates• Panda In Detail
Panda Update In Detail• Pre-Panda• Panda Goals• SEO Opinion• Tips & Techniques• Have Sites Recovered
The Pre-Panda Google• Bad Press• SEOs Complaining vs Taking Advantage• Google’s Focus On Hacked Sites• Poor Quality Results• Content Farms Rule?
Pre-Panda Press• Paul Kedrosky, Dishwashers, and How Google Eats Its Own Tail: Google has become a snake that too readily consumes its own keyword tail. Identify some words that show up in proﬁtable searches -- from appliances, to mesothelioma suits, to kayak lessons -- churn out content cheaply and regularly, and youre done. On the web, no-one knows youre a content- grinder. The result, however, is awful. Pages and pages of Google results that are just, for practical purposes, advertisements in the loose guise of articles, original or re-purposed. It hearkens back to the dark days of 1999, before Google arrived, when search had become largely useless, with results completely overwhelmed by spam and info-clutter.
Pre-Panda Press• Alan Patrick, On the increasing uselessness of Google: The lead up to the Christmas and New Year holidays required researching a number of consumer goods to buy, which of course meant using Google to search for them and ratings reviews thereof. But this year it really hit home just how badly Googles systems have been spammed, as typically anything on Page 1 of the search results was some form of SEO spam - most typically a site that doesnt actually sell you anything, just points to other sites (often doing the same thing) while slipping you some Ads (no doubt sold as "relevant")... Google is like a monoculture, and thus parasites have a major impact once they have adapted to it - especially if Google has "lost the war". If search was more heterogenous, spamsites would ﬁnd it more costly to scam every site. That is a very interesting argument against the level of Google market dominance.
Pre-Panda Press• Jeff Atwood, Trouble in the House of Google: Throughout my investigation I had nagging doubts that we were seeing serious cracks in the algorithmic search foundations of the house that Google built. But I was afraid to write an article about it for fear Id be claimed an incompetent kook. I wasnt comfortable sharing that opinion widely, because we might be doing something obviously wrong. Which we tend to do frequently and often. Gravity cant be wrong. Were just clumsy … right? I cant help noticing that were not the only site to have serious problems with Google search results in the last few months. In fact, the drum beat of deteriorating Google search quality has been practically deafening of late.
Pre-Panda Press• TechCrunch: Why We Desperately Need a New (and Better) Google The problem is that content on the internet is growing exponentially and the vast majority of this content is spam. This is created by unscrupulous companies that know how to manipulate Google’s page- ranking systems to get their websites listed at the top of your search results. When you visit these sites, they take you to the websites of other companies that want to sell you their goods. (The spammers get paid for every click.) This is exactly what blogger Paul Kedrosky found when trying to buy a dishwasher.
Pre-Panda Press• ReadWriteWeb: Content Farms: Why Media, Blogs & Google Should Be Worried Google Needs to Wake Up and Smell the Coffee I can only hope that Google and other search engines ﬁnd betters ways to surface quality content, for its own sake as well as ours. Because right now Google is being inﬁltrated on a vast scale by content farms. If you thought it was bad enough that many professional blogs pump out 30 posts a day, often regurgitations of press releases or quick write-ups of "news" such as Twitter being down for a few minutes (note the irony of that tweet), this new type of Google gaming is on a far bigger scale. What Demand Media, Answers.com and AOL are doing is having a much greater impact on the quality and ﬁndability of content on the Web.
Complaints• Aaron Wall of SEO Book on Mahalo *• Michael Gray on eHow, About.com, etc. *• WebmasterWorld Complaints On Google Quality *
Hacked Sites• 2009-2010 Focus on Hacked Sites• 2011 Move Resources Back To Search Quality• Google Reduced Hacked Sites In Results by 90%
Panda Update In Detail• Pre-Panda• Panda Goals• SEO Opinion• Tips & Techniques• Have Sites Recovered
Google’s Answer: Panda• Shut Press• Answer To Bing• Answer To Quality• Shinny Search Results
Quiet The Press• Matt Cutts Admits Faults Referencing Press *• Says Spam Reduced• Hack Sites Less• Index Size & Freshness Improved• Promises Improvements
Bing & Blekko• Google Copying Bing• Blekko Mocking Google Spam & Bans Content Farms• Facebook Planting Smear Campaigns
Quality = Panda• February 24, 2011 *• 12% Results Change• Huge Changes In Results• April 11th, 2% Changes & Global Rollout• 84% Overlap on Chrome Extension
40% Say Hurt• 40% said Less Google Trafﬁc (Negative Impact)• 25% said Same Google Trafﬁc (No Impact)• 18% said More Google Trafﬁc (Positive Impact)• 14% said Dont Know Yet Source: SERoundtable.com
Types Of Sites Hurt• Low Quality Content?• Mass Produced Content?• Sites With Lots of Ads?• Copied Content• Less Useful Content
Did Google Improve?• Google Says Yes Wired.com: Do you feel that this update has done what you wanted it to do? • 84% Blocklist Overlap Cutts: I would say so. I got an e-mail from someone who wrote out of the blue and • Wired Quote said, “Hey, a couple months ago, I was worried that my daughter had pediatric multiple sclerosis, and the content farms “According to our were ranking above government sites,” metrics, this update Now, she said, the government sites areimproves overall search ranking higher. So I just wanted to write and say thank you. quality,” Wysz, Google Forums. Singhal: It’s really doing what we said it would do.
Did Google Improve? "Farmer," on the other hand, as a reaction to criticisms regarding the quality - as• SEOs Mostly Say No opposed to relevance - of sites appearing in the search results,• Bias? has achieved the same sort of scale of collateral damage as "Florida" without actually hitting the mark. - WebmasterWorld
Google Advice : Help• Google Opens Support Thread• ~4,000 Posts Since March• Very Few Google Responses
Google Advice: Jan 28One thing that is very important to our users (and algorithms) ishigh-quality, unique and compelling content. Looking through that site, I have a hard time ﬁnding content that is onlyavailable on the site itself. If you do have such high-quality, unique and compelling content, Id recommend separating it from the auto-generated rest of the site, and making sure that the auto-generated part is blocked from crawling and indexing, so that search engines can focus on what makes your site unique and valuable to users world-wide. - John Mueller, Google
Google Advice: March 7 Our recent update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites, sothe key thing for webmasters to do is make sure their sites are thehighest quality possible. We looked at a variety of signals to detect low quality sites. Bear in mind that people searching on Google typically dont want to see shallow or poorly written content, content that’s copied from other websites, or information that are just not thatuseful. In addition, its important for webmasters to know that low quality content on part of a site can impact a sites ranking as a whole. For this reason, if you believe youve been impacted by this change you should evaluate all the content on your site and do your best to improve the overall quality of the pages on your domain. Removing low quality pages or moving them to a different domain could help your rankings for the higher quality content. - Wysz, Google
Google Advice: May 6• Amit Singhal• 23 Questions
Google Advice: Q1• Would you trust the information presented in this article?
Google Advice: Q2• Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?
Google Advice: Q3• Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?
Google Advice: Q4• Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?
Google Advice: Q5• Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?
Google Advice: Q6• Are the topics driven by genuine interests of readers of the site, or does the site generate content by attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?
Google Advice: Q7• Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
Google Advice: Q8• Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
Google Advice: Q9• How much quality control is done on content?
Google Advice: Q10• Does the article describe both sides of a story?
Google Advice: Q11• Is the site a recognized authority on its topic?
Google Advice: Q12• Is the content mass- produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?
Google Advice: Q13• Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
Google Advice: Q14• For a health related query, would you trust information from this site?
Google Advice: Q15• Would you recognize this site as an authoritative source when mentioned by name?
Google Advice: Q16• Does this article provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
Google Advice: Q17• Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
Google Advice: Q18• Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
Google Advice: Q19• Does this article have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?
Google Advice: Q20• Would you expect to see this article in a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?
Google Advice: Q21• Are the articles short, unsubstantial, or otherwise lacking in helpful speciﬁcs?
Google Advice: Q22• Are the pages produced with great care and attention to detail vs. less attention to detail?
Google Advice: Q23• Would users complain when they see pages from this site?
Google Advice: May 6 One other speciﬁc piece of guidance weve offered is that low-quality content on some parts of a website• Amit Singhal can impact the whole site’s rankings, and thus removing low quality pages, merging or• 23 Questions improving the content of individual shallow pages into more• Solution useful pages, or moving low quality pages to a different domain could eventually help the rankings of your higher-quality content.
SEO Advice• Check Your Analytics Data To Ensure Youre Investigating the Right Problem• Pinpoint The Query Categories and Pages In Decline• Make a Prioritized Plan• File A Reconsideration Request Vanessa Fox: http://selnd.com/gcovE8
SEO Advice• Address the most • Dont delete, improve the signiﬁcantly impacted content of the page pages ﬁrst, get rid of immediately. them • Reduce the number of• Use Meta Robots internal links noindex, follow tag on individual pages • Improve the content X ad density ratio. More• Delete the pages unique content on ad permanently heavy pages. Ben Pfeiffer: http://ser.bz/eW8vZH
SEO Advice• Remove redundant • Address boilerplate content. pagination Reduce it, or consider making it unique for each• Use the rel="canonical" page attribute on duplicate pages • Give Google feedback on the• Do nothing quite yet, watch update and how it impacted your website and see what happens• Revisit those dark and • Submit a reinclusion request forgotten parts of your once you have cleaned up website, eliminate any junk portions of your website Ben Pfeiffer: http://ser.bz/eW8vZH
SEO Advice• Reduce Number Of Ads • More Investment in Content• Move Placement Of Ads • Different Writing Styles• Quality Content • Vary Length Of Articles• Don’t Let Google Access Questionable Pages • Info Architecture To Expose Good Content
SEO Advice• Wary of UGC• Analytics: See Pages With Low Time Spent• Site Speed?• Do Not Manipulate Google
Panda Update In Detail• Pre-Panda• Panda Goals• SEO Opinion• Tips & Techniques• Have Sites Recovered
Any Recovery?• April Some Reports of Incremental Returns• False Full Recovery Reports• Poll• Expert SEOs
Did You Recover From Panda? 8% 5% No Yes - Not Fully 13% Yes - Fully N/A 74%
Search Marketing & SEO• Search Marketing is working to be found when someone overtly expresses a need or desire • Search or • Shaking A Phone or • Taking A Picture
Search Marketing & SEO• SEO is working to be visible in the unpaid search results Paid Free
Social Media is...• Social Networking: Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn• Social Bookmarking: Delicious, StumbleUpon• Social News: Reddit, Digg• Social Knowledge: Wikipedia,Yahoo Answers• Social Sharing: Twitter,YouTube, Flickr,Yelp, Foursquare, Facebook…
Search 4.0• Social Search• Human Elements• Twitter, Facebook, Google Reader, Google +1, Blocksites, etc
Social Search Is...• Search Results Inﬂuenced By Social Sites • Your Social Network • Global Social Networks• Not Searching Social Content • Facebook Search or Twitter Search
Q1: Mobile SEO?Is there any main difference between the Mobile SEO respect conventional SEO?
Mobile SEO Issues : Old Phones• Google’s Mobile Index vs. Web Index• UserAgent : Googlebot-Mobile• HTTP "Accept” Header to Serve Mobile Pages• Mobile Markup Languages• WML, XHTML Basic, XHTML MP & cHTML• Mobile XML Sitemap• Resources: http://goo.gl/izztR
Mobile SEO Issues: Smart Phones• Detect UserAgent: http://goo.gl/QC5TY• Use Special Stylesheet• Keep URLs The Same• Keep Content The Same• Make User Interface Easier• Make Speed Faster
Mobile SEO Issues• Duplicate URLs with Same Content • m.domain.com • domain.com/&printable=yes• Different Content on Same URLs • Cloaking • IP Delivery• One Site, One Content, Different Dress
Q2: Speed CrawlHow can you make Google to crawl your website after an update in your content, pages, etc?
Increase Crawl Frequency• Update Content Often• RSS Feeds May Help• XML Sitemap Files• Higher PageRank• More Links & Higher Up In Site Structure
Q3: Panda Expanded Is the Panda algorithm identifying duplicate contents and patterns: same URLs, titles…(?). If your site hasbeen hit, how can this be overcome? Will it be enough ifyou rewrite the content? or should you add more value by adding more contents (images, video…). How goodwill the algorithm be at identifying those same things in other languages.
Cutts On Languages Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ets7nHOV1Yo
Q4: Hit By Panda?Do you know of any site which has really been hit byPanda (not any other kind penalization/ban) and has managed to get rid of it? If so, How?
Q5: UGC How does Google consider users’ proﬁles on socialnetworks and user generated content by them? Couldbe a lot of void users proﬁles (therefore, dupes) or not frequently updated a signal of a low quality site? What about used generated content?
If users are creating content for your site (eg if you have a wiki or something similarly user-created), then Ithink its deﬁnitely a good idea to help them to create high-quality content, be that by providing a spellingchecking mechanism, or by making it possible for other users (or you :-)) to ﬁx quality-issues as they arefound.On the other hand, if these are comments or testimonials left behind by users, then I think it would be a bitweird to modify them. Would you like to have that happen to feedback that you leave behind on other sites?Personally, that would bother me a bit. As the site-owner, I think its ﬁne (and usually expected) to make aneditorial decision in whether or not a comment should remain on your site. Ultimately, its up to you do makea decision on where you want to draw a line :-).One way to think about this is to look at what users are searching for when they reach pages like that. Arethey looking for the content in the comments? If so, one solution could be to take some of those commentsand to keep a cleaner version within your own content, referencing the exact user comment further belowon that page. For example: "Update: In response to this article, XZY left an insightful comment saying ABC.You can ﬁnd the full comment below."Another possible solution might be to allow users to "+1" (upvote) comments, and to only show the mostinsightful ones by default. Users would still be able to view all comments (maybe on a separate URL that isntindexed, or through the use of AJAX), but by default, the ones shown and allowed to be indexed would be theones that your users have found to be the most important ones. Depending on your audience, I imagine thatcould result in the lower-quality comments disappearing on their own.Hope this gives you some ideas :) -- it would be great to hear back from you regarding your choice and howthat works out for you.
Link Building Tips• Quality Pages • Badges/Awards• Guest Posting • Incentives• Sponsorships/Partners • Testimonials• Infographics • Get Scrapped• Videos • Exchange Links• Tools • Paid Links...