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January 11, 2007

Google Weather Report

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It’s been awhile, but Matt Cutts issued his first infrastructure status update of the year last night while I was knee-deep in Operation Apartment Pack-Up hell (moving is divine, isn’t it?). Matt says the executive summary is that things are relatively quiet. Quiet at Google? Is that possible?

If you’ve noticed frequent shifts in rankings it may be because Google’s data pushes every 1-2 days instead of the monthly timeline they used to use. Any shifts in rankings are not because of the PageRank update that Matt says is looming since, as we’ve heard many times, Google is already using the up-to-date PageRank values internally. It’s only us that get the old, outdated, limited scale numbers. Think of it as a glimpse of what your page used to look like to Google.

Though it can be fun to panic over PR issues, try not to. Your entire life’s worth isn’t dependant on PageRank. It’s dependant on how pretty you are.

I found this interesting. Matt commented that supplemental results are not something for site owners to fear and don’t necessarily signify a penalty against your site. He comments:

"If you used to have pages in our main web index and now they’re in the supplemental results, a good hypothesis is that we might not be counting links to your pages with the same weight as we have in the past. The approach I’d recommend in that case is to use solid white-hat SEO to get high-quality links (e.g. editorially given by other sites on the basis of merit)."

See, now that sounds like something to fear to me. If Google is suddenly devaluing the links that were helping my site to rank, that’s going to mean a major shift in my search engine optimization campaign. That doesn’t make me fearful, that makes moderately paranoid and/or homicidal. I’m hoping the only people who will have to worry about this are those not using trusted white-hat strategies, which Matt suggests. But if site owners start to see the type of supplemental hell that we saw last year, signaling that Google may be placing value on different elements or devaluing certain links, then there is definitely room for fear.

On that note, if you’re having trouble getting your pages out of the supplemental index, Supplemental Listings – How To Avoid Them provides a great overview.

Some other things mentioned by Matt that may be of interest to you:

Know that the link: operator only shows a sampling of a site’s inbound links and that Google will be giving its filetype: operator an adjustment so that no additional keywords will be needed to perform a search. For example, simply searching for filetype:pdf will be enough to produce results.

Matt also mentions that Google seems to have fixed the problem where foreign sites using .com TLDs weren’t ranking in their country-specific index. (e.g. a site in the UK with a .com TLD that ranks on Google.com but not in Google.co.uk). Afflicted sites should get relief in a few days.

In other weather news: Matt posted his travel/ vacations plans for the first half of 2007 to hopefully prevent the search community from having panic attacks when he goes a week without blogging. Personally, I hope I’m never important enough that I have to keep people updated on my every move. The GPS tracking device Susan and Bruce make me wear is itchy enough.

So that’s it. Consider yourself up to speed on Google’s updates and Matt’s attempt at a personal life.

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