Monthly Update – August 2011

Welcome to our monthly SEO update for August 2011. This update highlights key news in the search industry during August 2011, key SEO related blog posts from our bloggers in the US and Australia and key articles covered in our global newsletter.


1.  SEO News

a) New and improved Google sitelinks

As many users have noticed, Google made some major changes to their sitelinks feature. Sitelinks are the extra domain links listed below some ranking pages. They are most common for brand related search results and provide users with other internal page links relevant to their query.

Through a Webmaster Central post, Google stated there were four changes to the update.

  • Increased visibility. In appearance the links now look much like the other organic results. They consume much more space within the SERPs with the links now at full text size above the URL and a one line description.
  • Variations by search queries. Previously sitelinks were the same for a domain across all search queries. These can now vary from query to query to provide more relevant results.
  • Integration of other ranking pages. When sitelinks are implemented for the first ranking result, other subsequent ranking pages will be integrated in the sitelinks and removed from their ranking position.
  • Increased quality. Outside of the user view, there were changes to the algorithm used to generated sitelinks. This update combined factors from other Google ranking systems into the sitelinks algorithm.

Google Webmaster Tools also provided an update on managing sitelinks. In response to variations for different search queries, webmasters can now demote pages from any parent page located within the website. This will notify Google of your wish not to use the demoted page when sitelinks are implemented for the parent page. However it’s important to remember demotions are only suggestions and do not guarantee the page will not appear.

Implications: These new changes have expanded sitelinks significantly and provide websites with more real estate and links within the search results. To benefit from the changes ensure your site is well structured and sitelinks are optimised in Google Webmaster Tools by demoting any non relevant pages.

b) Submit URLs to Google with Fetch as Googlebot

Submitting URLs to Google was just made much easier with an update to the Fetch as Googlebot feature in Google Webmaster Tools.

Previously the quickest way to notify Google of new URLs or changes to your site was to submit the URL to the Submit Your Site/Add URL page. This new Fetch as Googlebot functionality supersedes this approach.

It works by offering users the opportunity to “Submit to index” a URL once the Fetch as Googlebot feature has returned that URL.

When the “Submit to index” feature is put into operation the single URL or URL and all linked pages can be submitted.

As it’s up to Google to decide what’s included in their index, submitting URLs to them does not guarantee indexing and this process  only notifies Google of your intent to have the URL indexed. Submitting to the index also comes with a limit of 50 single URLs per week and 10 URLs and all linked pages per month.

Implications: Ensure you submit URLs to Google via the Fetch as Googlebot for occasions when you would like a fast update to the Google index, for example when launching a new site or when you have added new content that you would like to be indexed quickly.

c) A new, improved form for reporting webspam

In its ever present efforts to address webspam and quality within its search results, Google has created a new webspam reporting form.

The idea behind the form is to allow web users to notify Google of the websites in their search results who are violating the Google Webmaster Guidelines. It also provides a central resource for what Google considers webspam or other search engine issues they would like to be made aware of (e.g. inappropriate or personal content).

Implications: Google is actively encouraging user feedback for improving their search results. Consider reporting ranking competitors that you feel are not meeting the Google’s guidelines and ensure that your website is clear of any deceptive onsite or offsite SEO practices as your competitors will likely be looking to report their competitors and you could be impacted.

d) Making the most of improvements to the +1 button

Google continues to rollout additional features to the +1 button. The +1 button can now help generate more engagement and conversation about web content by allowing users to share pages and create +Snippets.

A +Snippet consists of the page title, an image and a description. The +Snippet is to be displayed in a popup when a user hovers over the +1 button on the page. Below the snippet, users can share the page with specific circles or friends.

In similar fashion to Rich Snippets, +Snippets are created by marking up content from the page. To create +Snippets use the appropriate attributes from to markup the title, image and description you wish to use from within the page content.

Implications: Ensure your pages make use of social media sharing buttons as this is potentially another source of traffic and can affect social search rankings. The new features can enhance users social media engagement with your content and increase your social signals.

2. Blogs

Key blog posts in August:


3. Newsletter

Key newsletter articles in August:

See mgeale's author page for links to connect on social media.

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