Natural Search Blog


Relationship Between Link Growth And Indexation

With every passing day, the number of websites and hence the number of web pages are growing at an explosive rate on the internet. This can cause a major headache to the search engines as they gear up to meet the challenge of crawling and subsequently indexing the new sites popping up everywhere in the cybersphere.

Today, when a new web site is launched, it will take a while before its pages get crawled and indexed in Google. With the increasing strain on hardware and resources due to the rapid growth of new sites, Google has become very strict in its policy of admitting sites and retaining web pages of sites in its index. It is a case of survival of the fittest in cyberspace.

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Inbound Deep Links Benefit Page Rank Distribution Sitewide

Many a time, you would have come across sites (especially the large ones) where the deeper you dig into the site hierarchy, you can see the Pagerank toolbar grayed out or having a value 0. In general, the home page is the starting point for a website and it accrues the maximum Page rank.

The entire domain’s authority and trust is reflected by this page rank value. The home page then tends to distribute this page rank to the first level (categories), the second level (sub-categories) and the third level product pages which we often refer to as link juice. In general, the first level pages tend to derive the maximum link juice from the home page. But in a site with excessive number of sub-categories and product pages (money pages), the pagerank distribution is not proportional with some gaining link juice and a large majority not gaining any.

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Link Building Tactics That Influence Search Engine Ranking Factors

Today’s post dwells on the discussion of link buillding tactics that influence search engine ranking factors in 2009. Link acquisition is a key component of the ranking algorithms. The number of external links pointing to your site and the anchor text contained therein can certainly propel your site to the top of the search results pages.

I will be discussing only the top 4 factors under each section with a mention of the value score allotted by the SEO professionals . This biennial survey by Rand Fishkin at SEOMoz picks the brains of the top 72 SEO professionals from all over the world and their collective wisdom is presented in this post.

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PageRank Sculpting – The Nofollow Debate

At SMX Advanced in Seattle last month, Matt Cutts made his intentions clear when he advised SEOs not to waste too much time on internal page rank sculpting using the nofollow tag and instead concentrate on spending that time on creating useful content.
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Amazon’s Secret to Dominating SERP Results

Many e-tailers have looked with envy at Amazon.com’s sheer omnipresence within the search results on Google. Search for any product ranging from new book titles, to new music releases, to home improvement products, to even products from their new grocery line, and you’ll find Amazon links garnering page 1 or 2 rankings on Google and other engines. Why does it seem like such an unfair advantage?

Can you keep a secret? There is an unfair advantage. Amazon is applying conditional 301 URL redirects through their massive affiliate marketing program.

Most online merchants outsource the management and administration of their affiliate program to a provider who tracks all affiliate activity, using special tracking URLs. These URLs typically break the link association between affiliate and merchant site pages. As a result, most natural search traffic comes from brand related keywords, as opposed to long tail keywords. Most merchants can only imagine the sudden natural search boost they’d get from their tens of thousands of existing affiliate sites deeply linking to their website pages with great anchor text. But not Amazon!

Amazon’s affiliate (“associate”) program is fully integrated into the website. So the URL that you get by clicking from Guy Kawasaki’s blog for example to buy one of his favorite books from Amazon doesn’t route you through a third party tracking URL, as would be the case with most merchant affilate programs. Instead, you’ll find it links to an Amazon.com URL (to be precise: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0060521996/guykawasakico-20), with the notable associate’s name at the end of the URL so Guy can earn his commission.

However, refresh that page with your browser’s Googlebot User Agent detection turned on, and you’ll see what Googlebot (and others) get when they request that same URL: http://www.amazon.com/Innovators-Dilemma-Revolutionary-Business-Essentials/dp/0060521996 delivered via a 301 redirect script. That’s the same URL that shows up in Google when you search for this book title.

So if you are a human coming in from affiliate land, you get one URL used to track your referrer’s commission. If you are a bot visiting this URL, you are told these URLs now redirect to the keyword URLs. In this way, Amazon is able to have its cake and eat it too – provide an owned and operated affiliate management system while harvesting the PageRank from millions of deep affiliate backlinks to maximize their ranking visibility in your long tail search query.

(Note I’ve abstained from hyperlinking these URLs so bots crawling this content do not further entrench Amazon’s ranking on these URLs, although they are already #4 in the query above!).

So is this strategy ethical? Conditional redirects are a no-no because it sends mixed signals to the engine – is the URL permanently moved or not? If it is, but only for bots, then you are crossing the SEO line. But in Amazon’s case it appears searchers as well as general site users also get the keyword URL, so it is merely the affiliate users that get an “old” URL. If that’s the case across the board, it would be difficult to argue Amazon is abusing this concept, but rather have cleverly engineered a solution to a visibility problem that other merchants would replicate if they could. In fact, from a searcher perspective, were it not for Amazon, many long tail product queries consumers conduct would return zero recognizable retail brands to buy from, with all due respect to PriceGrabber, DealTime, BizRate, NexTag, and eBay.

As a result of this long tail strategy, I’d speculate that Amazon’s natural search keyword traffic distribution looks more like 40/60 brand to non-brand, rather than the typical 80/20 or 90/10 distribution curve most merchants (who lack affiliate search benefits) receive.

Brian

Google’s Ranking Advice in Blended Search at SMX West

David Bailey at SMX WestJust a quick post here on some simple tips that David Bailey of Google advised in this morning’s session on “The Blended Search Revolution” at the SMX West conference in Santa Clara:

Flickr Starts Nofollowing

Solitary RockA couple of my colleagues, Brian Brown and Jeff Muendel, identified that Flickr has begun NOFOLLOWing hyperlinks in their photo profile pages. I’ve confirmed this and have a few more details to add. (more…)

Double Your Trouble: Google Highlights Duplication Issues

Maile Ohye posted a great piece on Google Webmaster Central on the effects of duplicate content as caused by common URL parameters. There is great information in that post, not least of which it validates exactly what a few of us have stated for a while: duplication should be addressed because it can water down your PageRank.

Double Trouble: Duplicate Content Problems

Maile suggests a few ways of addressing dupe content, and she also reveals a few details of Google’s workings that are interesting, including: (more…)

In other news, a new free Clinic

Search Engine Journal today opened free SEO Clinic for sites in need of optimization or with specific challenges that have not been overcome.

A group of leading SEOs including Carsten Cumbrowski, Ahmed Bilal, and Rhea Drysdale will review one submission per week delivering a thorough review of usability and site navigation, link building, and copywriting from the perspective of placement in the four leading engines (Google, Yahoo!, MSN and Ask).

It’s clear though that “free” is as free as having your site criticized in one of the SEO clinics experts like to host at conferences.  If chosen for review, the findings and recommendations will be posted for others to peruse.  I’d do as much myself and appreciate their efforts to help others with these case studies but as a website owner, someone responsible for SEO, or marketing manager for a major brand, I might not be so inclined to have my successes and failures outlined in detail for everyone to see.  That concern aside, I do hope they get some quality sites and develop a thorough library of reviews (perhaps I’ll sign up myself!).

To participate, simply contact the team here.

Google Employees Can’t Find PageRank – Must Search For It

Last night, I was comparing relative popularity of a few keywords in Google Trends, and I noticed that the term, “PageRank”, apparently has the highest number of searches in the US from people in the city of Mountain View, California:

Google PageRank Searches
Searches for PageRank by Top US Cities

http://www.google.com/trends?q=pagerank&ctab=0&geo=US&date=all

As you may be aware, Google headquarters is located in Mountain View (see map).

So the most likely reason that most US ”PageRank” searches happen in that little town is that Google employees are frequently submitting searches for info about PageRank. They may be searching for what people are saying about PageRank, or they may be searching for new research papers concerning the algorithm. But, they’re definitely searching for it…

For the one place in the world that has the most PageRank of all, you’d think they wouldn’t have to search for it. ;-)

 

 

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