Weekly SEO news: 14 December 2010
Welcome to the latest issue of the Search Engine Facts newsletter.

This week, Google introduced a new advanced search feature that enables you to filter search results by reading level. Which reading level is required to read your web pages and does this influence the position of your site in Google's search results?

In the news: Google Places results come in many different formats, how Google reacts to link spam, local reviews become more important and more.

Table of contents:

We hope that you enjoy this newsletter and that it helps you to get more out of your website. Please pass this newsletter on to your friends.

Best regards,
Andre Voget, Johannes Selbach, Axandra CEO

1. Has your website the right reading level for Google?

This week, Google introduced a new advanced search feature that enables you to filter search results by reading level. Which reading level is required to read your web pages and does this influence the position of your site in Google's search results?

What exactly did Google do?

Here's the official text about the new feature:

"We made it easier for to you pinpoint exactly the information you need with a new advanced search feature that categorizes results by reading level.

For example, if you're writing a college paper on [herbivores] you can refine to see only advanced material, or if you're a grade school teacher preparing for a class on [herbivores] you can refine to see only basic material.

To try it out, click “advanced search” to the right of the search box and click in the new reading level section. You can filter to see only results that are basic, intermediate or advanced, and annotate results with reading levels."

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What is a reading level?

The reading level refers to the readability of a document. Readability is defined as reading ease, especially as it results from a writing style. Extensive research has shown that easy-reading text improves comprehension, retention, reading speed, and reading persistence.

The better the readability of your web pages, the more people will understand your marketing message. The average web surfer has a very short attention span.

How to calculate the readability of your web pages

To analyze the readability of your web pages, check your web pages with IBP's Top 10 Optimizer. The Top 10 Optimizer will tell you the Flesch Kincaid readability level of your web pages.

In addition to the readability of your web pages, the optimizer will also tell you which elements on your web pages you have to change so that Google will give your website high rankings.

Although the readability has only a minor influence on the rankings of your web pages, a high score can mean that your web pages are too difficult to understand for many people. If your website is too difficult, you won't get many conversions. Download IBP and check the readability of your web pages now.

 

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2. Search engine news and articles of the week

Google PlacesGoogle Places isn't testing new layouts… get used to variety

"The layout for local search results will vary depending on how confident our algorithm is in determining if you're looking for local information. So in some instances you might see a full Place Search page, and in others, you'll see a more condensed view. Of course, you can always click on the 'Places' icon on the left to get the full Place Search view"



Discussion: how Google reacts to link spam

A Google employee answered in a forum discussion about link spam:

"We're already aware and have taken action on some of the sites mentioned, so now's a good time to point out that even if we have taken action on a site to address bad linking, it doesn't always mean that you'll see the results of it in such an obvious way like a site being completely obliterated from the index and not showing up for site: queries.

That being said, we can take pretty strong steps to preserve the quality of our results, and link schemes are one of the toughest violations for a webmaster to recover from."



ForbesForbes: Dear Google, now that Groupon is out of the picture will you please get serious about local ads?

"There are so many Groupon clones out there that some consumers are beginning to yawn at, say, a mere $20 off a meal or a 10% discount for a manicure. To get their attention, businesses are going to have to start the deep deep discounting, which won't be sustainable. [...]

You have got to get serious about a local ad strategy. You have been making noises about developing a stronger local ad model for some time and sooner or later we are going to stop believing one is coming."



Local reviews become more important

"67% of local consumers have consulted online customer reviews of local businesses. Women (68%) consult online reviews more than men (66%). [...]

Younger consumers consult online reviews more regularly than older consumers. 60% of consumers aged 55+ have consulted online reviews of local businesses vs. 68% of consumers aged 16-34 have consulted online reviews. [..]

58% of consumers trust a local business more having read positive online reviews."



Rivals say Google plays favorites

"The Internet giant is displaying links to its own services—such as local-business information or its Google Health service—above the links to other, non-Google content found by its search engine. [...]

Those companies say their links are being pushed lower on the results page to make room for the Google sites. Critics include executives at travel site TripAdvisor.com, health site WebMD.com and local-business reviews sites Yelp.com and Citysearch.com, among others."



Search engine newslets

  • Google Webmaster Tools notice of detected doorway pages.
  • Latest Ask.com revamp all about answers.
  • Alibaba passes Google in China online ads.
  • Google released Zeitgeist stats for 2010.
  • The most popular YouTube videos in 2010.
  • Top trends on Twitter in 2010.
  • Google's secret social project is probably just a toolbar.
  • More about Google Maps spam.

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3. Success stories

"Well worth every penny spent."

"Since using IBP for six months we have been able to take a website/business focused on providing candid wedding photography in London, England from a handful of monthly visitors to over 1000 unique visitors per month with Google PR3.

On Google.co.uk we now rank 6-10 for a very targeted keyword and using IBP to target local search terms has been invaluable. For some local keywords, our website can be found on position 1-3 on Google.

IBP has given our business the visibility online to grow and establish an excellent reputation. Well worth every penny spent."
Jiggy, www.rikpenningtonphotography.com



IBP



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