Weekly SEO news: 23 March 2010

Welcome to the latest issue of the Search Engine Facts newsletter.

Last week Google's Matt Cutts gave an interview in which he revealed some things that will help webmasters to better optimize their websites. In this article, you'll find the most important things that Matt Cutts said in the interview.

In the news: Google tests sponsored map icons, Apple probably won't launch a search engine, Twitter mainly delivers traffic to social networks and entertainment websites and more.

Table of contents:

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Best regards,
Andre Voget, Johannes Selbach, Axandra CEO

1. Official Google statements about ranking factors

Last week Google's Matt Cutts gave an interview in which he revealed some things that will help webmasters to better optimize their websites. Here are the most important things that Matt Cutts said in the interview:

1. The more relevant links you have, the more pages of your site will be indexed

Matt Cutts said that the number of pages that Google indexes from your website is roughly proportional to the PageRank of your website. That means that more pages of your website will be indexed if your website has many inbound links.

Google does not have an indexation cap, i.e. they will index all pages of your website if you have enough inbound links. Remember that the PageRank that Google uses in its ranking algorithm is not the PageRank that is displayed in Google's toolbar.

2. Slow servers can cause problems

If Google can only crawl two pages at any given time due to a slow server, Google can set some sort of upper bound on how many pages they will fetch from that host server. This can be a problem for websites that are hosted on shared or slow servers.

3. Duplicate content can cause problems

"Imagine we crawl three pages from a site, and then we discover that the two other pages were duplicates of the third page. We'll drop two out of the three pages and keep only one, and that’s why it looks like it has less good content."

As mentioned above, Google will index your web pages based on the PageRank of your pages. If you have duplicate content, some pages of your website will be discarded and you'll waste ranking opportunities.

Matt Cutts also indicated that if you link from one page to a duplicate page, you can mess up your PageRank. Google also tries to pass the PageRank and other link signals from the duplicate pages to the original page.

If you use the rel=canonical tag on your web pages then the pages needn't be exact duplicates but they should be conceptual duplicates of the same product, or things that are closely related.

"It's totally fine for a page to link to itself with rel=canonical, and it's also totally fine, at least with Google, to have rel=canonical on every page on your site."

However, Google does not always obey the canonical tag:

"The crawling and indexing team wants to reserve the ultimate right to determine if the site owner is accidentally shooting themselves in the foot and not listen to the rel=canonical tag."

4. Affiliate pages don't get high rankings

If a website is an affiliate website that is very similar to other pages (only with a different logo, etc.) then this page won't get high rankings.

If Google detects an affiliate link than this link won't pass any PageRank power.

5. Redirects work but they don't pass the whole PageRank

If you change your domain name and redirect old pages with a 301 redirect from your old page to your new page then the link power will be passed to your new domain name but the overall power of the links will decrease. 301 redirects do not pass the full PageRank.

6. Low quality pages can cause problems

"If there are a large number of pages that we consider low value, then we might not crawl quite as many pages from that site, but that is independent of rel=canonical."

If you have a lot of web pages with thin content then Google might stop crawling your website. Matt Cutts also suggested that it might help to be wordy:

"You really want to have most of your pages have actual products with lots of text on them."

7. PageRank sculpting and website navigation

Google does not want you to sculpt your website for PageRank reasons. The best way to pass link power from one page to other pages is to have a good website navigation.

"Site architecture, how you make links and structure appear on a page in a way to get the most people to the products that you want them to see, is really a better way to approach it then trying to do individual sculpting of PageRank on links."

"You can distribute that PageRank very carefully between related products, and use related links straight to your product pages rather than into your navigation. I think there are ways to do that without necessarily going towards trying to sculpt PageRank."

8. You still shouldn't use JavaScript links for your website navigation

"For a while, we were scanning within JavaScript, and we were looking for links. Google has gotten smarter about JavaScript and can execute some JavaScript.

I wouldn't say that we execute all JavaScript, so there are some conditions in which we don’t execute JavaScript.

We do have the ability to execute a large fraction of JavaScript when we need or want to. One thing to bear in mind if you are advertising via JavaScript is that you can use NoFollow on JavaScript links."

9. Google does not like paid links

Matt Cutts said they Google doesn't want advertisements to affect search engine rankings.

They might put out a call for people to report more about link spam in the coming months. Matt Cutts said that Google "does a lot of stuff" to try to detect ads and make sure that they don't unduly affect search engines.

If you want to get high rankings on Google, you should use search engine optimization methods that lead to lasting results. Don't try to cheat Google.

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2. Search engine news and articles of the week

Map IconsGoogle tests sponsored map icons

"This new feature helps local business owners promote their physical location on the map via an easily recognisable logo, and therefore connect with a larger audience. Advertisers will pay to have these sponsored map icons appear on the Map instead of a generic icon, helping to generate awareness of their locations among the millions of people who visit Google Maps every day."



Why Apple won't be launching a search engine any time soon

"Google CEO Eric Schmidt was on Apple's board. Plenty of Google employees proudly showed off their iPhones. All seemed fine as the two companies took on their common enemy, Microsoft. [...]

If Apple's so unhappy with Google, maybe it needs a new search provider? Unfortunately, the only real alternative would be Microsoft's Bing. So who does Apple hate less these days, Google or Microsoft? That might dictate the choice it makes. But then again, how about some sweet revenge? Why doesn't Apple build its own search engine and take on Google!"



Twitter and news and media websites

"So where are all those Twitter.com visitors going? As illustrated in the chart below, the majority (60%) are going to Social Networks and Entertainment sites (mainly photography and video sharing sites)."



WashingtonHow probable meanings may influence search engine rankings

"When someone types 'George Washington' into a search box, they are probably more interested in the Revolutionary War general and President than some random George in Washington. A search for 'Washington Hotels' is more likely looking for lodging in Washington than hotels named Washington. [...]

Probabilities, in addition to ranking signals based upon things such as relevance and quality and link analysis, may play a role in what pages show up where in search results."



Search engine newslets

  • Google and partners seek TV foothold.
  • Google: A new approach to China.
  • Bing releases a new app for the iPhone.
  • Google search now supports Haitian Kreyol.
  • MoD will not act over Google images.
  • Google's lobbying machine still cranking in 4Q.
  • Google is hiring bond traders.
  • Google Italy & privacy: not what you might think.
  • Google's God complex (humor).

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3. Success stories

"IBP helped me to reach a very ambitious goal."

"IBP helped me to reach a very ambitious goal: starting a consulting company and its website from zero and attracting such enormous traffic within a few years that my website (a) regularly attracts plenty of new customers and (b) generates several times more money via advertising for others than my own advertising costs each year. [...]

IBP helped me to avoid lots of errors which could have prevented that success."
Rüdiger Paschotta, www.rp-photonics.com



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