Monthly Archives: February 2008

Sites claiming to offer a new, innovative solution for "Flash SEO" called SWFAddress aka "Deep Links", "Deep Linking" and/or other. Unfortunately, these sites are promoting techniques based on SWFAddress which is a method for Flash SEO that I've blogged about, taken the creator to task on and that even he admits, is sub-optimal in terms of SEO!

"The case is valid. Deep links with anchors published on other sites will tell Google to index the start page."
- Google Groups

Not to worry though because identifying sites using SWFAddress is easy! If a Flash site uses #anchors (a pound sign) in it's URLs chances are it's using SWFAddress. The problem with this SWFAddress is that it functions in only one direction, or so to speak.

Google ignores the #anchor in SWFAddress URLs as well as the entire path following the #anchor in URL. When users with Flash cut and paste a link from their address bar into their blog, digg and/or Linkedin, Google ignores everything starting with the #anchor and as a result misallocates keyword relevancy and PageRank to the "start page".

Some credit where it's due would have been nice but, either way I commend the good folks at Asual for their efforts as well as the new "COPY LINK TO CLIPBOARD" link in the footer of there SEO sample pages.

In case you missed it, I recently posted that Google's "Average Number of Words Per Query have Increased!" In response, JohnW raised a very good question about how Google calculated this number and whether or not it's a rounded number.

Avinash Kaushik, Analytics Evangelist for Google and author of the book "Web Analytics: An Hour A Day" responded to my request for clarification on this topic via email earlier today. I asked Avinash how Google calculated this figure and if Google rounded up, for example if 3.?? was rounded to 4 or if the actual value is equal to or greater than 4?

Here is what Avinash said:
"I believe that the right term is "average number of words in a query" are 4. I did not get enough clarity if it is 3.6 or 4.2. But none the less it was a movement from 3 to 4."

So in answer to JohnW's question it does seem likely that this number is round. Either way, the number is officially 4!

Thanks Avinash & JohnW!

Like their "Quick Start Guide", it seems that the Google Webmaster Team's new booklet titled "Making the Most of Your Content: A Publisher's Guide to the Web" has slipped under most folk's radar but, not mine! Not to be confused with "Marketing and Advertising Using Google", this new "Google booklet" provides a wealth of information for anyone interested in search and especially Google.com. Best of all "Making the Most of Your Content: A Publisher's Guide to the Web" by the Google Webmaster Team is FREE of charge and can be downloaded in .pdf format free, by anyone with a connection to the internet.

"Making the Most of Your Content: A Publisher's Guide to the Web" by Google starts out with an overview of how Googlebot crawls the web. From there, the booklet explains how search has evolved since 2001 and introduces what many refer to as the "Google Freshness Factor". "What's new in Google web search?" is followed by a section called "Can Google find your site?". In "Can Google find your site?" the webmaster team explains how it's possible for Google to miss websites and or page on the web.

In the section titled "Can Google index your site?" the Google webmaster team explains how important structure and content are to search engines. This section investigates "indexability" and issues that hamper Google's ability to download a page for inclusion in search engine results pages. A few common mistakes by webmasters impacting indexability include fully dynamic pages, Flash, Javascript and frames. Google suggests using "alternative text" (important to note that "alternative text" is produced by ALT attributes) as well as descriptive file names (for example ourlogo.jpg and not image2.jpg) in web pages. In addition to these Google provides information on how to make URLs more search engine friendly, sever and network issues impacting search and the Robots Exclusion Protocol in terms of Robots.txt and/or robot meta data.

"Controlling what Google indexes" explains how webmasters can prevent Google from indexing page contents and how webmasters wishing to have content included on Google may do so. The booklet then explains the differences between robots.txt and robots meta tags. Webmasters wishing to have their content indexed by Google in search results should see the section called "Controlling caching and snippets". "Controlling caching and snippets" explains how Google chooses snippets displayed in Google search results and provides meta data examples to help webmasters and online marketers better control what users see in search results.

My favorite section of the new Google Webmaster Team booklet "Making the Most of Your Content: A Publisher's Guide to the Web", is called "Does your site have unique and useful content?". In this section Google reveals that search engine results are based on 200 criteria in addition to PageRank and seems to indicate that webmasters shouldn't "fixate" on PageRank alone but also on other factors Google considers. Google provides a few tips for webmasters looking to increase rankings in this section including:

1. Make great content that grabs users attention.

2. Involve users by helping to create a community with your site.

3. Monitor site usage via Google Webmaster Tools (Google Sitemaps in xml), Google Analytics, Urchin and/or other.

4. Quality inbound links, Google says they are important.

5. Clear text links, Google says text links and the "anchor text" or words linking to those links are important.

In addition to what webmasters should do to help make their sites more Googlebot friendly, Google says webmasters should not fill pages with keywords, cloak (return different results to users and search engines) or use "crawler pages" to manipulate search engines.

The next section of Google's new booklet for webmasters is Q&A, containing frequently asked questions answered by the Google Webmaster Team. My favorite is "Why can't you do one-on-one support for my website?" and Google's answer is that there are 100 million sites.

Following the Google Webmaster Team Q&A there is a glossary of definitions where Google "boils down" 20 or so, technical definitions into terms that anyone can understand. Two definitions really stood out to me because they are often not typically understood by all webmasters, developers and/or designers.

Dynamic content - Content such as images, animations, or video which rely on Flash, JavaScript, frames, or dynamically generated URLs.

To index - The process of having your site's content added to a search engine.

All and all, this is one of the best resources I've seen for helping non-technical folks better understand the basics of "natural" or "organic search". No matter your level of expertise I suggest "Making the Most of Your Content: A Publisher's Guide to the Web" by the Google Webmaster Team. This easy to understand booklet published by Google is one resource that I'll be using to help better explain search to clients in simple terms.

Both Google's "Making the Most of Your Content" & "Marketing and Advertising Using Google are available free.

Links to this post:
Search Engine Land - SearchCap: The Day In Search, February 11, 2008

Avinash Kaushik, Google's Analytics Evangelist and author of "Web Analytics: An Hour A Day" hosted an invitation only event at Google's Atlanta office earlier in the week. The meeting "agenda" was traditional "Google style", a meet & greet over Ping-Pong followed by (absolutely fantabulous) hors d'oeuvres and multi-colored icy cold adult beverages served in the game room at Google Atlanta. All in all, the group was 50/50 Googler to non-Googler with 15-20 of us total.

After a little "schmoozing" it was time to get down to business and Avinash's main talk followed by Q&A as well as a short feedback session all topped off with FREE swag from Google. At the end of our meeting, Avinash asked if we would mind "beta testing" a presentation (which included that latest non-published until now perhaps, Google stats) he was working on and had put together during his flight to Atlanta, GA earlier in the day.

Big News:
- The average Google query now consists of 4 words and not 3! That's up for the first time ever as of Q4 2007, from the long-time 3 word per query Google user average.

Other:
- 14% of Google clicks come from paid search and 86% of clicks are organic. (up slightly)

- 25% of Google's user queries are unique, meaning no other user has used the same query previously. (unchanged)* [see update below]

The meeting was informative as well as educational! I must say, Avinash is one of the best speakers I've seen in addition to having a great sense of humor and being quite personable. Thanks Google and hats off to you Avinash! It was a pleasure...

* UPDATE
Many thanks to Philipp Lenssen for pointing out an important issue concerning Google's definition of "unique queries". Here is what Matt Cutts said in response to the issue at Google Blogoscoped a few months ago:

"Philipp, I think that's a pretty accurate estimate if you look over a time period of a month or so. So if you had queries from the last month or so, 20-25% of queries the next day would be new/unique. It also depends a little bit about whether you're defining it only as web queries, or all queries to Google (e.g. blog search, book search, patent search, etc.)."

- http://blogoscoped.com/forum/100228.html

Links to this post:
SEOBOOK - What is a #1 Google Ranking Worth?

Search Engine Land - SearchCap: The Day In Search, February 4, 2008

SearchEngineWatch.com - Search Headlines & Links: February 4, 2008