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February 9, 2011

SEO Hot Tub – January 28, 2011

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In the latest SEO Hot Tub our analysts have come across a wide variety of SEO updates. These include the important webspam post by Matt Cutts, Google removing search features, Bing adding features and some insights into the rankings of “site:” searches.

Google search and search engine spam

Matt Cutts used the Official Google Blog to make an important announcement about Google’s progress on tackling webspam. The post was in response to some recent stories about the quality of Google’s search results sliding. He specifically mentions three areas they’re targeting; spammy on-page content, hacked sites and content farms.

This is in conjunction with three recent advancements Google made to help tackle each area.

To detect on-page spammy content Google launched the document-level classifier. The classifier is better at identifying content that overuses keywords and is general of very low quality.

Hacked websites have been announced to the webmaster via Google Webmaster Tools for a while now. But Google launched a new notification for people using their search results. If they detect a hacked website the text “This site may be compromised” will be displayed underneath the search result with a link to a support page with the types of dangers hacked websites can cause users and webmasters.

Content farms are aggregators of content or websites that contain large amounts of low quality content that could rank for long tail searches. Last year Google implemented the May Day algorithm change, which was to address the quality of pages ranking for long tail keywords and remove content farms from the SERPs.

The takeaways from Matt’s post are not too concerning for ethical sites. But it does reinforce the importance of Google Webmaster Tools (Google notifies webmasters if their site has been hacked) and of having unique content written according to specifications set by the keywords you are targeting.

Retiring real estate on Google Maps

The Real Estate search feature on Google Maps has been retired. The feature was added in 2009 and listed property for sale or rent. The decision to discontinue the feature was due to low usage and better property search tools available elsewhere.

This may be a welcoming sign for many aggregator websites who have seen Google make inroads into their markets (e.g. event times, booking accommodation). In recent times many search engines have continually added content features to their search results pages and taken out any reason for search users to leave. But this move may suggest specialised websites are still preferred by users because of their built up trust and service.

Bing Feature Update: Enhanced auto results put you in the driver’s seat

Bing has announced a new enhanced search feature for motor enthusiast. By searching for a car make, Bing will present the search results along with additional information about the car make. This includes price, fuel economy, user ratings and listings in your area. However for the feature to appear the search query needs to be very focused (e.g. “jeep grand cherokee 2011”)

Google Ranks Site: Results In Order Of Some Importance

A post on Search Engine Round Table picked apart a Google Webmaster video where Matt Cutts discuss the ranking of pages from a “site:” search. The “site:” is a Google search operator that calls upon the indexed pages from a website (site:bruceclay.com.au). It’s a handy feature for reviewing the pages a website has in the index.

Matt is vague in his answer. He says they use a few different factors. PageRank isn’t exactly used but some version of it. And the length of the URL is important because short URLs tend to be at the top of the website structure.

That’s the latest SEO updates we’ve found here at BCA for the past few weeks. As always there are many changes and updates, feel free to vent or praise or comment. Your soapbox awaits…

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