Weekly SEO news: 10 April 2012

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

Google has recently published their monthly "Search quality highlights" post. In March, Google made 50 changes. What are the most important changes and do you have to change something on your web pages?

In the news: Google recommends to remove all paid links, no matter how old they are, users that block your site in Google's search results can influence your rankings, details about Google's AdWords Quality Score and more.

Table of contents:

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Andre Voget, Johannes Selbach, Axandra CEO

1. Official: Google changes 50 things (+ to do list for your rankings)

Google has recently published their monthly "Search quality highlights" post. In March, Google made 50 changes. What are the most important changes and do you have to change something on your web pages?

Not all of Google's changes affect your rankings

Most of the 50 changes that Google did in March won't affect your search engine rankings. For example, Google's Autocomplete feature now supports math symbols. This makes it easier to search for popular equations such as E = mc2 but it doesn't affect the majority of the searches.

Here are the changes that will have the biggest impact on the search results:

1. Tweaks to handling of anchor text and better interpretation and use of anchor text

Google announced two changes regarding anchor texts:

"We turned off a classifier related to anchor text (the visible text appearing in links). Our experimental data suggested that other methods of anchor processing had greater success, so turning off this component made our scoring cleaner and more robust."

"We’ve improved systems we use to interpret and use anchor text, and determine how relevant a given anchor might be for a given query and website."

What does this mean for your website?

Unfortunately, Google doesn't go into detail. One can only guess. It might be that an anchor text now only counts if the surrounding content is also related to the topic of the anchor text.

If the links to a web page overuse the same anchor text, the value of these links might be lowered.

To do: Check the backlinks of your website with a backlink analysis tool. The anchor texts that point to a website should contain the targeted keywords but they should also vary.

2. Better handling of queries with both navigational and local intent

"A navigational query is a search where it looks like the user is looking to navigate to a particular website, such as 'New York Times' [...]

What if the user doesn’t actually know the right URL? What if the URL they’re searching for seems to be a parked domain (with no content)? This change improves results for this kind of search."

"This change improves the balance of results we show, and helps ensure you’ll find highly relevant navigational results or local results towards the top of the page as appropriate for your query."

What does this mean for your website?

These changes mean that Google will prefer navigational and local results on the top of the result list if Google is sure that you're looking for a local service or a particular website.

To do: if you target local keywords, it is important that your website is listed correctly in Google Places.

3. Other interesting changes

Google has improved the algorithm for direct answers, which means that searchers will get the answer to their question on the search result page. Many won't visit the listed sites then.

Google also improved the image search feature and the index now also contains fresher sites.

Google is continually tweaking the algorithm. Cool tricks that work today might not work tomorrow. For that reason, it is important to optimize your website with techniques that last.

Avoid tricks that try to game Google's algorithm and use safe SEO methods

Create good website content and show Google that the content is relevant to your keywords. Then get backlinks from the right kind of website to show Google that your website is liked by the right kind of people.

These two steps make sure that your rankings will last even if Google changes the algorithm.

Google changes the algorithm to make sure that the best websites are listed first. The right type of content and the right type of links show Google that your website is such a good site.

 

2. Search engine news and articles of the week

John MuellerGoogle: remove all paid links, no matter how old they are

In an online discussion, Google's John Mueller gave the following advice:

"Regarding the age of the unnatural links, I'd work to have them all removed, regardless of the age. For instance, in the general case where a site has been buying links for 2 years, it would be a good idea to go back that far. [...]

If you're serious about your site's standing in our search results, then I'd strongly advise not to try to wait the penalty out. These are generally not issues that expire after a few days, they can affect your site's standing for quite some time."

Editor's note: if you want to get lasting results, try to get high quality backlinks that are not artificial.



2012 social media marketing industry report

For social media marketers, search engine optimization (SEO) was the No. 2 marketing channel behind e-mail marketing. 65% percent of social media marketers say they use SEO, only 38% use paid search advertising.

B2B social marketers were slightly more likely to do SEO (67%) than their B2C marketers (62%). 68% of the respondents said they’re planning to increase their SEO efforts."

Editor's note: Try IBP if you want to optimize your pages.



Matt CuttsVideo: Is data about the sites that users block being used in ranking?

Google's Matt Cutts answers that question in a video. If a website is blocked by many users that look real to Google, then the blocks can affect the rankings of a website. Matt Cutts says that Google tries to filter fake spam votes but this still looks like an issue that could be abused by competitors.



Elements of Google's AdWords Quality Score

In an online discussion, Google's Tanmay Arora discussed the "ingredients" of Google's AdWords Quality Score. The relevance of a keyword is not entirely determined by its presence on the landing page but also by the number of users clicking on your ad when they search for that keyword.

New keywords get a historical Quality Score until they have their own statistics. The click is based on exact match keywords. The more impressions a keyword has, the more important is the click through rate of an ad.

Editor's note: further information on how to improve your Google AdWords campaigns can be found here.



Search engine newslets

  • ACCC wins appeal against Google.
  • Google removing link support for Direct Connect rel=publisher verification?
  • Yandex search to become social in 2012.
  • Larry Page’s first year as Google CEO: impatience is a virtue.

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3. Success stories

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