News From StepForth Search Engine Placement Inc.
Wednesday, November 17th, 2004
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| Highlights of the Week: Florida Update Plus One -
The Year Google Grew Up
has been a full year since the infamous Florida Update rewrote
Google's rankings with a massive pre-Christmas purge of previously
well placed sites. The update, which caught virtually everyone
by surprise is assumed by most to be the introduction of
semantic contextualization software added to a variation
of the Hilltop
Expert Document Algorithm. It took Google about six
to eight weeks to re-establish stable listings and they took
a savage beating in the SEO press during that period. For
a short time it looked like the shift was a failure with
spammy sites and "big-box" stores dominating the Top listings
but after a while Google's listings began to make sense again.
The inclusion of Hilltop added great weight to certain types
of links and as Mike Banks Valentine points out in today's WebProNews,
radically cut the value of reciprocal links. Incoming links
were the meat and potatoes of PageRank but five years of
commercialization had turned them into junk food. Googlebot
needed a better diet and direct one way reference links from
"credible" and relevant sites is considered much healthier
than the junk peddled by fast-link dealers or cooked up in
kitchen-sink sites between friends.
The Florida Update effected more than site rankings in the SEO industry. New businesses sprang up finding, buying and selling links as SEOs and site owners became obsessed with PageRank values and link-building. Savvy site designers and a few SEOs began producing instant expert sites, using them as "back-door leader-pages" designed to drive spiders rather than attract them. Websites with incoming links from "authority sites" such as news-sites, major forums and other high PageRank properties started to rank better than they had before, thus increasing the value and popularity of these authority sites.
Perhaps the greatest effect of the Florida Update was the sudden rise in the popularity of BLOGS. As explained in dozens of articles over the past two months, Blogs have become big, primarily because of their extraordinary effect on link-densities at Google. When a thousand bloggers rapidly create links to a specific website or Blog entry, that site or entry rapidly rises in the rankings. Proof of this phenomena is found in the results of both Google Ranking contests held earlier this year. The winner in both cases harnessed the power of keyword enriched anchor text-links from thousands of Blogs.
It is easy to speculate on Google's commercial interest in promoting incoming links from Blogs and news-sites. Google owns the biggest Blog software developer, Blogger, and has AdWords/AdSense being displayed across many "authority sites". Google also controls the world's most popular News-Search tools, Google-News. With the pressures of becoming a publicly traded company, Google needs to harness as many revenue sources as possible. When you control the environment, forcing a change in user behaviours may be simpler in the long run than waiting for change to happen organically. There may be some merit to this view. The people working for Google wouldn't be the geniuses they are if they didn't see the financial angles but after a year has passed, it appears the shift was motivated by much more complex changes happening at the Googleplex.
Google has a number of interesting features and has been busy acquiring the means to develop others. Through direct purchase of software (and often the companies that make it), innovative in-house development and the massive infusion of energy spurred by the IPO, Google has raced ahead of its competition in the past three months and is seen to be leading in just about every facet of search. It is rumoured to be developing a proprietary browser and may even be working on a proprietary operating system. The introduction of a semantic/context driven algorithm that values links from established authoritative sites has improved Google's listings and provided the stability needed to integrate Google's various features into a branded base of products. That many of the most beneficial incoming links originate from websites already involved with Google in one way or another, (aside from their own listings), more likely stems from chasing the brand as opposed to chasing the buck. Once the brand is established, the bucks tend to follow.
Google has established one of the most popular brands that has ever existed but that brand, in most consumer's eyes, only extends to its search engine. Google's founders have always stated that information-flow was their major focus. Information, is a bigger word than search and requires a larger vision to articulate. One year after the biggest shake-up in search engine history, Google is positioning itself to surpass simple search and grow into branded information provision.
by Jim Hedger, Contributing Writer
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|StepForth Quick Tip of the Week : Link Building 101
Over the next few StepForth newsletters I will be covering some of the basics of a successful link building campaign. Before you take on a link building campaign there are a few steps to take into account.
Link Building - Introduction to Link Popularity
The term Link Popularity refers to a quantifiable number of relevant inbound links to a given site. It has become increasingly important as of late to consider Link building as a significant part of any SEO campaign. Google tends to give the most weight to relevant linking than any other major search engine (It is also now widely believed in the SEO community that other major engines are valuing backlinks in their placement algorithms).
Assessing How Many Inbound Links You Need
An excellent initial approach with any link building campaign is to evaluate where your site is currently positioned in the search engines. After a careful examination of your desired keyword target, search for the phrase and take note how your site ranks against the competition.
Visit websites ranking higher than your site for that given keyword phrase and perform a series of backlink checks. Use the "link:" function to view the incoming links to the site. The results will show a listing of some of the sites linking back to them.
For Example type in Google: ----->
Typically the number of links you will require will be an average of those among the top ranking sites. Check the top 10 results and throw away the link counts for the top and bottom sites. Average the remaining sites, and this will give you a good idea of the number you may require. This is of course rough, but a good place to start.
Stay tuned next week - "Understanding Link Relevancy"
Mark Johnstone , StepForth Office Manager
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| Bill's Bark: How to leapfrog your competition - The 1% solution
It is the combination of little things that can get your business ahead of your competition on the net. This article demonstrates easy ways to create more attention, interest and desire to invest in your website's offerings. All of these suggestions offer multi-faceted benefits to you, your potential customers and the search engine spiders. By implementing these ideas chances are your conversion to sale ratio will dramatically increase.
Each of these elements should be accessible from every page in the site. They are easy and legitimate ways to increase pages with relevant content on your website; they are cost free and require minimal upkeep. Further this also offers several opportunities to lend more credibility to the site and, in particular, your online business or service. Once properly set up the search engines can spider this information and give more positive weight to the relevancy and focus of the site. And as always, try to compose keyword-enriched titles.
Several components to enhance your website may encompass creating the following pages:
FAQs - If someone is interested in what the site
has to offer an FAQ page can be very beneficial; pretty well everyone
has questions they would like answered. Keep the questions focused
and offer succinct answers. With clarity comes confidence and this
will help leverage the site both for the customer and the search
engine spiders. A side benefit may include a reduction in the number
of emails you receive requiring you to respond repeatedly to similarly
Testimonials - What a superb source for in-house
digital advertising! Most satisfied customers would readily consent
to writing a testament for a product or service they received from
you. And certainly, if tastefully executed, they probably would
not mind their company's name, logo and web address displayed as
well. Providing a link to your client's site can be an asset top
them - It's a win-win situation, you acquire a testominial and
they get a link.
On line articles - Some people buy on impulse
while others prefer to make informed decisions. Sometimes in order
to convert a prospect into a client all one needs is to be kept
up to date or find a trustworthy resource and/or authority. On-line
articles can provide pertinent educational, reference and/or technical
information. This resource alone may keep customers coming back
to your site over and over again. Get permission to link to these
articles and make sure they are pertinent to your industry. This
is also an excellent avenue for attaining high quality relevant
Links page - It's easy to create and maintain
a reciprocal links page. Remember it is the quality not the quantity
of links that matters. Organize by category or theme. Set up alphabetical
or geographical location limiters.
Site map - a simple snapshot showing the site's
blueprint can assist the customer as well as search engine spiders
in navigating and understanding what the site is all about.
Text navigation map - With the advent of new
technologies it is becoming more common for many sites to have
an unspiderable image-based menu design. A text navigation system
at the bottom of each page overcomes this limitation.
Contact us - Following up on Jim Hedger's recent
articles about the new and upcoming arena of personalized
and localized search engine results consider adding the following
regional and local identifiers: your company address, state and
zip code, plus in addition to your toll free numbers, include
local area information such as your telephone area code.
Valentine's Day is less than 3 months away! The time is NOW to set up your campaign to enhance your visibility and generate qualified prospects to your site.
I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU
This weekly feature is an opportunity to have an informative interactive column. You can email me at email@example.com and send along any particular questions, comments, feedback, tips or ideas.
Bill Stroll , StepForth Sales and Marketing Manager
CMC Espresso is your premier family-owned manufacturer and distributor of Espresso Carts, Smoothie Carts, Coffee Carts, Kiosks, and Vending Food Carts. We offer a full line of espresso and Coffee Brewing Equipment, including: Rancilio Espresso Machines with true Italian styling, Obel Espresso Grinders, Bunn Coffee Brewers and Grinders, Espresso Accessories, Training Videos, and much more...
|The Net Reality:
The 100K Virgin Faced Cheese Sandwich
Ten years ago, Diana Duyser made a grilled cheese sandwich. She took a small bite and when she did, she saw the most wonderful thing she had ever seen! On her sandwich, burnt into the butter, Ms. Duyser saw the face of the Virgin Mary. Now that's something you don't see everyday. Being a sensible and highly devout person, Ms. Duyser didn't finish the sandwich, she preserved it instead. Now she's trying to sell it.
Last week she put the preserved sandwich up for auction at E-Bay and drew bids upwards of US$22,000, a pretty good wage for creating a religious icon, even after a decade of inflation is factored in. After over 100,000 page views, E-Bay pulled the plug and the auction was cancelled. After two days of intense and highly-humourous mass-media play, E-Bay reversed its decision and re-instated the auction. The sandwich is now
drawing bids upwards of $100,000.
Examples like this one serve to remind us that the unseen hand of bizarre market forces can truly redistribute the wealth of the Earth.
by Jim Hedger, Contributing Writer
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