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Google Update Austin: Google Update Florida Again

January 2004

"Wow Google just destroyed my rankings"

A common line I have been told over and over again. Ever since the middle of November Google has been up to some real trickery...

While this update appears to be similar to update Florida, there has not been anywhere near the same amount of coverage. I have read the posts located at the Highrankings Forums, Cre8asite Forums, SearchGuild, and IHelpYou Forums. I have not read the posts at WebmasterWorld since I am not a subscriber. Like the Florida update it is clear that some spam has risen to the top (Google Search: Michigan Data Recovery courtesy MakeMeTop) and some results have improved.

Most SEOs would recommend not making large changes to your site while the search engine is still in a state of flux.

Search Results

Many sites that were not beaten down by the Florida update have been dropped during this update. Some of the common sites which have dropped are

  • those who relied heavily on "on the page" SEO
  • those who exchanged links with off topic sites to rank well
  • location specific sites

Please note that the update is still occurring and many changes were occurring long after the Florida update was done. Right now it appears that the current winners from this update are

  • Amazon
  • large shopping sites
  • directories
  • deep inner pages within sites which may have a strong site rank

What is Google Trying to do?

Contrary to popular belief the CIA does not control the Google Dance.

People like me can make a living manipulating Google's search results. Google does not like this. Essentially Google wants the most relevant (not the most optimized) sites at the top of the search results.

Google may actually periodically re weight factors only for the sake of making it harder to figure out what their algorithm is. Most of the core powerful websites will remain unaffected by the changing algorithms. Those site most likely to rise or fall are those gaming the search engine. Some innocent sites may get lost in the shuffle, but that is not what Google is concerned with. Google wants to provide the most relevant search results to its users.

If Google can make it hard to optimize your site for Google then it will require you to waste resources figuring out the latest algorithm change or conform to what Google desires. Google wants information to appear in the free listings. Google would like commercial sites to use their ads.

What is with the big shakeups?

Any time you introduce a new algorithm which is based on a relational database the results will be a bit shaky off the start. With each update the results will fall more in line with the goals of the new algorithm.

Off the start many of the results may not make sense, but the end goal is that most will. You and I both notice the shakeups more than a normal searcher since we track our specific websites.

Google coping with problems

Many search engine algorithms become less efficient as the size of the database grows. To fight off spamming and to improve functionality of their search product Google is trying to aid PageRank by using other algorithmic features. Instead of being primarily powered by just PageRank they are most likely trying to introduce techniques such as LocalRank, stemming, and latent symantic indexing.

What is PageRank?

PageRank is an overall view of the popularity of a specific page against the entire internet. In general it is an approximation of the odds a random web surfer would come across a page.

The problem with PageRank is that since its base is against the entire internet it is very easy for a small sector of the internet to bond together to manipulate results.

What is LocalRank?

LocalRank is a concept similar to PageRank, but based on a local segment of the web. Teoma reranks the relevancy of search results on the fly (after the search) based upon their local interconnectivity. When Google bought Kaltix it purchased a similar technology.

What is Stemming?

Stemming is the conversion of a word to its base form in an attempt to better understand it. Typically the exact match of the the searched version should have a slightly higher weighting, but the other versions of the word also play into account in search results.

What is Latent Symantic Indexing?

Latent symantic indexing is the organization of search results through conceptually understand each page. Based upon the natural patterns in language, latent symantic indexing can mathematically approximate a good understanding of the purpose of a document.

Why does Google test new technologies on its largest database first?

The reason the change is occurring on the main site first is that it has the most content...meaning that when you look for patterns in a relational database, the larger your initial data set, the better the results you will be able to extract.

After the results are extracted it then easy to apply the results of the research to the other search locations. Some of the short term sloppy results may actually be necessary for Google to compare data to fine tune its algorithm. It may even compare data retrieved from search results.

What Did Google Do?

I think off the start Google implemented a keyword filter on some phrases. The setpoint level is based upon many dynamic factors and could even be determined by the search results.

During the Florida Update I noticed that I was able to get some sites listed (which were filtered out) just by splitting up the words and lowering the keyword density. I have noticed that this update seems to be even less lenient.

I do not believe the change is just a filter, I only believe they use a strong filter in combination with other technologies. After they start to collect data the filter becomes more and more lenient. To see what the search results would be like without the "filter" use allintext: before your search. This will show results similar to the pre Austin dance. I would not grieve about the results though as they will again be changing as the database settles out.

I believe as Google collects data from the search results, whatever type of filter they are using will slowly be lifted and replaced with data from the search results.

What Can I do to Help My Site Out?

If you are a purely commercial website Google is trying to push you to use their ad system. If you still do not want to use the ad system it is going to require accumulating inbound links from quality websites.

A good place to start is by registering your site with some of the top web directories. In addition you will want to look for directories specific to your field.

Where else can I get links?

You can get links from anywhere, but it is appearing that topic related links are becoming more important. The best way to get links is to have content that other people like enough that they just want to link to it.

I hate to be the person to say focus on the content, but as search engines get more advanced it will be harder to manipulate them. Pick a topic that is tight enough that you can be the best at it, and pick a topic you are interested it...as it will be far easier and more enjoyable to create.

If you can get people to want to link to you because you have valuable information, especially if they link without you even asking...then you have a great competitive advantage against most of your competitors. If you need any help with promoting your website feel free to give me a call or shoot me an email.

- by Aaron Wall

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This article may be syndicated in whole are part. Simply provide a link back to the original article or http://www.search-marketing.info. Please note that I do not usually update articles over time and the date last modified on article pages is usually referring to a navigational change.


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