Posts Tagged ‘ranking’

Google Caffeine: A Look Ahead

November 16th, 2009 2 comments

Google Caffeine was first previewed in August 2009 and will go live soon.

Any change to Google’s algorithm is of course big news, spawning reams of Internet chatter, a whole lot of speculation and probably some fear-mongering, along with some brand new websites (e.g. Compare Caffeine!)

What exactly Google Caffeine will do, though, is largely unknown even though some have reported that it will be a change to Google’s indexing methods and Matt Cutts (and webmasters who tried the beta version) note that there will be changes to rankings. One thing that will not change will be the look and feel of Google.

A big change noted by many (of us) who previewed Google Caffeine was the speed of results – it’s about twice as fast, if you can believe that.

Matt Cutts summarizes on his blog:

The Caffeine update isn’t about making some UI changes here or there. Currently, even power users won’t notice much of a difference at all. This update is primarily under the hood: we’re rewriting the foundation of some of our infrastructure. But some of the search results do change.

While Google has very kindly (mercifully, for those who will inevitably move down) held off until after the Christmas season, that is largely because of flack they have received in the past. It does not seem to be because Caffeine will have as profound an effect on search results as have major updates of the past. provides a good overview of changes it found in a comparison of Caffeine to “Old Google” (i.e. the one we’re using today). Some changes they identified are as follows:

* Google Sitelinks disappearing from some results.
* Rich Snippets disappearing from some results.
* Caffeine has difficulties handling 301’s. ( This is a bug )
* Page 1 results mostly contain the same sites, however positioning is quiet different
* Page 3 and onwards seem generate completely different results.
* The index page on root domain now has more weight.
* Pages with heavy keyword stuffing are been penalised.
* Pagerank Sculpting is no longer effective. ( further confirming the rel=nofollow topic )
* Brand name / Domain trust further effecting SERP. ( a step further in the Google Vince Update? )
* Number of inbound links from external domains
* External links using targeted keywords as anchors carry more weight.

The last four points are nothing new by the way. It seems to me, then, that Caffeine will simply entail that SEOs continue to explore the long tail of relevant content, staying away from suicidal blackhat practices like keyword stuffing and over optimization and continuing to acquire legitimate organic links. So once again, Caffeine seems like no big news for SEO, although it might be relatively big news in Search.

What Caffeine actually looks like and how it will actually affect all us webmasters will, of course, have to wait to be seen. I suspect it will affect legitimate sites very little and it will only give webmasters and SEOs more work to do. In any case, we will all find out for sure, come 2010.

To learn more, see:

Google killing Pagerank? Finally?

October 17th, 2009 No comments

Is this newsworthy? overrated? overdetermined? Who’s Jim?

Categories: Search engines Tags: , ,

Ask yourself why you should be number one.

September 13th, 2009 No comments

Todd Friesen has written a good piece on the ridiculous assumption so many website owners seem to have, that they should be #1, whether they deserve it or not. It’s worth linking to: You Don’t Deserve #1.

Categories: SEO, the SEO industry Tags:

Starting an SEO business

May 13th, 2009 No comments

I’m officially relaunching this website as an SEO business, complete with this SEO blog.

Search engine optimization has been a booming business for a while now.

In some respects, I think that’s a shame.

Not in and of itself, of course, because I love the vibrancy of search  and the web in general (of course). It’s a shame because an industry with so much potential (still very much so, ten years after the launch of Google) attracts so much profound BS. A friend of mine complains that “SEOs are almost to a person, a collection of one-trick-ponies and snake oil salesman.” I would add “loud mouth braggarts” and “frackin phoneys” and I would also say, “But let’s emphasize: ‘almost to a person.'”

Jill Whalen recently complained about companies wanting to get into the SEO business and she quotes an email she received – from someone in India – that read (quoting verbatim) “i want to start SEO (search engine optimization) business.but before    that i want to know about SEO.” She gives them “props for wanting to know about SEO *before* they set up shop.” The real gist of her post comes when she complains: “new SEO companies keep popping up like dandelions in Spring. This would be okay if they weren’t getting paid for their services. But apparently they are.”

She’s dead on, of course. My own experience has at least one similar anecdote.

Two years ago, I got a call from a small company in Oakville, Ontario, after I was part of a massive layoff from a company that specialized in building sites that dominated SERPs (and still do, to this day. They also specialized in PPC arbitrage – the cause of both their rise and their downfall – but that’s another story). I had a few meetings with a couple guys from this small company in Oakville, who wanted to know everything I knew about SEO. Stupidly, I actually went along with the whole charade, as I explained to them things like the value of original description tag content, clean code and a bunch of other things, while they feverishly took notes. The funny thing (or not) was that they were already getting paid to do SEO. Just as funny (or not) was their boast of being able to rank for “terms like ‘hamilton rebar company.'” They also bragged to me that they were page one in Google for “Ontario’s best SEO.”

You’re bragging about being able to rank for a term that no one in their right mind is actually going to look for?

You’re really only telling me that Google knows how to do its job. You’re not saying very much about your ability to do SEO. And people are buying your services?

As Whalen points out, real SEO is difficult work. The industry is changing all the time and you have to keep up with what is going on. Not by listening to other SEOs, either, but by paying attention to changes at Google, knowing all about social media and its implicatons for SEO… and lots of other things. In other words: actually having lived through some of the ups and downs of the search engine industry over the years. Google whacks and penalizations are a really good experience, for an example.

In other words, earn your stripes, as they say.

Here’re some more things you should know:

  • Know how difficult it is to rank for truly competitive terms. Succeed at this. Fail at this, too.
  • Know what it is like to work with an aged domain versus a new domain, wrestling out of the sandbox.
  • Fully understand the difference between quality links and crapola links – that still might add up to something with enough quantity.
  • Know what trustrank is.

Know a zillion other subtleties about site development, url and site structure, long tail content development… and a zillion other things.

Then you will know how to apply your experience to leverage the search presence of any website or company, on a case-by-case basis.

Then you can start a company.

That’s where I am.

Anyway, that’s my introductory blog. That’s where I’m starting up from. And let me say one more time: “But let’s emphasize that word ‘almost.'”

Read Jill Whalen’s smartly written discussion about BS in the SEO industry.

Categories: SEO, the SEO industry Tags: , ,