Category Archives: search

The perfect algorithm – how would yours work?

Search engine ranking algorithms are a mysterious thing. Very few people on earth have access to their exact blueprint, for those of us who think we have cracked it, it all seems relatively simple. Put enough of the right things in place in the right combination and presto you are in, right, simple huh? In reality of course, hardly.

Work at the coalface dictates that the safes combination gets harder to crack as more people try to open it for their target terms. It just doesn’t do anymore to think of ones documents in simple structure word count and number terms. As the document numbers increase, some keywords can take on an almost esoteric level of attainment. The access parameters are ratcheted up to a point of ‘hey if you want to score here, you gotta be doing real good‘. So, whats a man to do then?

Techno crackhead SEO’s on observation acid

SEO minded people who think about this sort of stuff might well share some of my musings, specifically in terms of thinking like a search engine algorithm. The theory being of course that any successful understanding of anything makes it a whole lot easier to apply what we have learned and therefore, apply in attacking it – hardly rocket science there.

Too many people I think, tend to approach SEO from a rigid bits and bytes approach. They forget that at their very core, search algos are built by ordinary thinking human beings, subject to similar influences as us all. They are people who visit the same kinds of conferences, interact with the same kinds of people via forums and blogs and pubs and restaurants. The only difference between them and us, and lets not make no mistake about it, it is very much them and us is that they hold the keys and are in a state of continual defence and counter offence.

Observation observation observation

If you look at most sites that perform well consistently today, then amongst the more competitive of SERPs, there are a number of observable constants.

It seems almost obvious to say, but I’ll say it nonetheless that most good sites with good competitive rankings are relatively well balanced and have the right combinations of the required signals to rank.

Really Rob? No shit sherlock, well yeah but it doesn’t hurt to say them out loud now does it.

Content content content

On the content side its pretty safe to say that a site has to have the right level of keywords, spread about in the right kind of way. In the overwhelming majority of cases pages that rank for keywords have them on the page.

Trust me baby and I’m popular too

On the trust side a site needs the right level of authority in its field, with the right kinds of people linking in, in the right kinds of way.

On the social side its not a bad thing to to hope that the site is discussed often enough in the right web social circles.

Do people hang at your party?

From the visitor perspective, we know that search engines can deduce a hell of a lot from the actions of people who are either logged in or have a toolbar installed. Toolbar data being a great way of obtaining that vital user behaviour data useful for indicating the right positive or neagitive feedback signals.

If you can objectively measure how people behave ‘on site’ then overtime, with sufficient data, some excellent assumptions can be made.

If questions like, ‘Once on a site how long do visitors stick around‘ can be answered or ‘Are they off in a heartbeat flicking back to the SERP for a better result‘ then asking the questions of ‘Is this a common phenomena‘ and ‘How many different people in different parts of the planet engage in such behaviour patterns‘ really do help to make assumptions and say that these would be the kinds of signals that should be folded in and added to a sites overall ability to rank.

We don’t like SEO’s we don’t want or need their sphere of influence

For the Search engines, an SEO’s ability to influence the latter aspects mentioned is next to zero. As a result, this information should outweigh many of the other established or accepted signals that many assume to be weightier.

For me, this should be the holy grail of a search engineers work, creating an algo that is next to unmanipulable, at least by the direct actions of search engine marketers.

Other contributions of course are things like ‘user personalisation’, often talked about as the next big SEO challenge, with algos tailored towards surf history, age and user behaviour; almost dictating that the day of the universal SERP are on their way out.

SEO on its deathbed?

Absolutely not! Good SEO’s who appreciate the ever shifting sands already have an excellent take on all of the factors required to rank. Even with the private data mining capabilities mentioned, the search engines still require good, well structured sites made and promoted by people with a good understanding for what creates and sustains buzz and interest in this Internet world – that demand isn’t going to go away anytime soon.

Conclusion

Its no surprise that the big search players all make a big play on the benefits of membership to their little cookie clubs and whatnot, and maybe a day will come even, where they are arrogant enough to make you play their game or go off and find something else to search with, who knows.
They can hardly be blamed mind, cos after all, it all helps in the quest for the perfect algo right?

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Will a long Blogroll flush your site down the search engine ranking toilet?

Brad wrote an interesting piece today which got me thinking about the topic of linking out, authority scores, pagerank leakage and all those old chestnuts.

Lots of papers out there on PageRank and theories and counter theories on how linking out can effect your PR adversely/positively and all that, so I’m not going to rehash any of those arguments.

I have to confess, there was a time when I was kinda obsessed with the whole SEO PR leakage thing too, worring about ‘bleeding’ precious PR and all that jazz, however I do think the ‘game’ has moved on a little, in terms of the SE algo’s have matured to a more considered examination of what is and what is not a good or a bad page worth ranking. Why do I think this? Well just go and look at a few well ranking sites and see how they link out. One immediate one that springs to mind is Wikipedia, although their recent decision to stick a nofollow tag on their outbounds may come back and bite them ( I hope) ;) .

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MyBlogLog – Y! Privacy and Widgetisation

I love the recent Y! acquisition, mybloglog. Its like a myspace with bells on. Ive encountered some really nice and interesting people too. In case you haven’t seen or used it before its a social media platform. You can join communities, add contacts, upload photos and if you install a piece of code you can get stats and display photos of visitors from their network on your site as they arrive.

mybloglog.gif
On the user front I think its kinda cool. IMO I think It adds an extra dimension to ones website by way of showing an extra human dimension. You can see the latest faces of people who have visited and if you so feel inclined, go and check them out to see what they are all about; at least thats what Ive found myself doing!

Their stats page is cool too. Gives you a non fussy overview of where your readers came from, what they viewed and what they clicked. It even tells you what ads they clicked on too.
stats.gif

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Web PRO News Videos from Search Conferences

Web Pro News have put together some really good videos together over at their site.

This link here entitled the do’s and dont’s of Digg is a great discussion on doing well in Digg as well as things to avoid. Its also a good general discussion around social media, tips for choosing an SEO, PPC and arbitrage, the future of search, trends in the industry and a few other related topics.

If you are interested in search and blogging and site monetisation and social media and all the other stuff that makes up this thing called the internet such an interesting space to play in, then go check them out, they are definitely worth a look!

Good stuff, well done Mike,Neil and Todd . :)

Warning: Make sure you have some time on your hand as I spent like um…2 hours watching all sorts of interesting stuff over there!

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Pay to Blog what’s the big deal?

I was just over at tech crunch reading some of the broohah about some deal that fell through regarding performancing and payperpost and was kinda surpised at the level of snorting and derision being applied there. There is this guy named Ted, who like most people trying to get things off of the floor in life has managed to obtain $3 million dollars in funding for an idea, which he feels might just fly. So far he has managed to stir up a bit of controversy, with various high profile people like Matt Cutts coming out against the idea in general.

So ok, I can see why a search engine might have an issue with squillions of bloggers being paid to promote and talk about things using keyword rich anchor text to distort the search landscape but thats just tough I guess, they’ll find a way to deal with it, or mightn’t bother even, hardly the end of the world for mfa sites adsense now is it. Besides what with all this talk about mature algos and whatnot, I doubt it’ll make a huge difference anyways, a storm in a teacup even? Perhaps, or maybe some might see it as the thin end of a wedge. The lines get a little blurred when you think ahead and envisage a SERP full of results containing blogs that have been written on the basis of some monetary consideration. In those scenarios, where would the distinction between paid ads and paid ads masquerading as free serps be drawn? Should the search engine be held accountable for its editorial decisions?

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