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SEARCH ENGINE TRICKS

Google's Next Big Move
By: Developer Shed
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    2003-11-27

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    Google's Next Big Move
    by David Leonhardt

    November 2003 might go down in history as the month that Google
    shook a lot of smug webmasters and search engine optimization
    (SEO) specialists from the apple tree. But more than likely, it
    was just a precursor of the BIG shakeup to come.

    Google touts highly its secret PageRank algorithm. Although
    PageRank is just one factor in choosing what sites appear on a
    specific search, it is the main way that Google determines the
    "importance" of a website.

    In recent months, SEO specialists have become expert at
    manipulating PageRank, particularly through link exchanges.

    There is nothing wrong with links. They make the Web a web
    rather than a series of isolated islands. However, PageRank
    relies on the naturally "democratic" nature of the web, whereby
    webmasters link to sites they feel are important for their
    visitors. Google rightly sees link exchanges designed to boost
    PageRank as stuffing the ballot box.

    I was not surprised to see Google try to counter all the SEO
    efforts. In fact, I have been arguing the case with many non-
    believing SEO specialists over the past couple months. But I was
    surprised to see the clumsy way in which Google chose to do it.

    Google targeted specific search terms, including many of the most
    competitive and commercial terms. Many websites lost top
    positions in five or six terms, but maintain their positions in
    several others. This had never happened before. Give credit to
    Barry Lloyd of www.SearchEngineGuide.com for cleverly uncovering
    the process.

    For Google, this shakeup is just a temporary fix. It will have
    to make much bigger changes if it is serious about harnessing the
    "democratic" nature of the Web and neutralizing the artificial
    results of so many link exchanges.

    Here are a few techniques Google might use (remember to think
    like a search engine):

    1. Google might start valuing inbound links within paragraphs
    much higher than links that stand on their own. (For all we
    know, Google is already doing this.) Such links are much less
    likely to be the product of a link exchange, and therefore more
    likely to be genuine "democratic" votes.

    2. Google might look at the concentration of inbound links across
    a website. If most inbound links point to the home page, that is
    another possible indicator of a link exchange, or at least that
    the site's content is not important enough to draw inbound links
    (and it is content that Google wants to deliver to its
    searchers).

    3. Google might take a sample of inbound links to a domain, and
    check to see how many are reciprocated back to the linking
    domains. If a high percentage are reciprocated, Google might
    reduce the site's PageRank accordingly. Or it might set a cut-
    point, dropping from its index any website with too many of its
    inbound links reciprocated.

    4. Google might start valuing outbound links more highly. Two
    pages with 100 inbound links are, in theory, valued equally, even
    if one has 20 outbound links and the other has none. But why
    should Google send its searchers down a dead-end street, when the
    information highway is paved just as smoothly on a major
    thoroughfare?

    5. Google might weigh a website's outbound link concentration. A
    website with most outbound links concentrated on just a few pages
    is more likely to be a "link-exchanger" than a site with links
    spread out across its pages.

    Google might use a combination of these techniques and ones not
    mentioned here. We cannot predict the exact algorithm, nor can
    we assume that it will remain constant. What we can do is to
    prepare our websites to look and act like a website would on a
    "democratic" Web as Google would see it.

    For Google to hold its own against upstart search engines, it
    must deliver on its PageRank promise. Its results reflect the
    "democratic" nature of the Web. Its algorithm must prod
    webmasters to give links on their own merit. That won't be easy
    or even completely possible. And people will always find ways to
    turn Google's algorithm to their advantage. But the techniques
    above can send the Internet a long way back to where Google
    promises it will be.

    The time is now to start preparing your website for the changes
    to come.

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR (plain text)

    David Leonhardt is an online and offline publicity specialist who
    believes in getting in front of the ball, rather than chasing it
    downhill. To get your website optimized, email him at
    info@thehappyguy.com . For a copy of Don't Get Banned By The
    Search Engines: http://thehappyguy.com/SEO.html . For a copy of
    Get In The News: http://thehappyguy.com/publicity-self-promotion-
    report.html .

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    David Leonhardt is an online and offline publicity specialist who
    believes in getting in front of the ball, rather than chasing it
    downhill. To get your website optimized, email him at
    info@thehappyguy.com
    . Pick up a copy of Don't Get Banned By The Search Engines or of
    Get In The News
    .
    DISCLAIMER: The content provided in this article is not warranted or guaranteed by Developer Shed, Inc. The content provided is intended for entertainment and/or educational purposes in order to introduce to the reader key ideas, concepts, and/or product reviews. As such it is incumbent upon the reader to employ real-world tactics for security and implementation of best practices. We are not liable for any negative consequences that may result from implementing any information covered in our articles or tutorials. If this is a hardware review, it is not recommended to open and/or modify your hardware.

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