Why do the Search Engines keep changing what they want?

One of the common posts that come up on forums is ” why do the search engines keep changing their minds what they want” ? Well here some old news, the search engines really don’t chop and change what they want, really they don’t They all want one thing, to deliver the most relevant pages to searchers. it isn’t rocket science (despite what some of the telephone sake oil salespeople SEO’s tell you). SEO is simple, here are off my cuff the simple basics of seo.

Make sure your site can be spidered

If it can not then all else is wasted, this is a basic that believe it or not many overlook.

Make sure the spiders can spider it quickly and understand the importance of every page in your site.

Set up a nice clean navigation and folder structure with the site broken down into pockets of focused and related pages. Put in place a site map, with links to the pages, and a brief text explanation of what to expect from each page.

Carry out keyword research an do not cut corners

Keyword research is the bedrock of any marketing, be it PPC or organic SEO, get it right and it is a joy, get it wrong you pay the price miles down the line when you have to come all the way back and start again.

Create the structure above, and create informative clear crisp focused pages

A page should focus on a subject and the subject should be clearly identifiable. Make the subject the page title and your away.

Create clear page titles

How on earth do you expect a search algo to know what your pages are about if they are not clearly marked? Keep in mind that the page title serves two masters, the search engine, and more importantly the searcher. A clear focused page title will encourage clicks to your page.

Be proud of your site

Let people know it exists, submit to directories, contact other sites that are likely to be able to share client types, and swap links.

Link out

So much is made of incoming links, but I am a firm believer that you can assist the search algo’s greatly by linking out to good authority pages from within your site. This is how it was in the beginning with academics citing each others work, and this still works today.

Use the right anchor text

Anchor text was again how we did it in the early days, but people kind of lost track of that. Now again they realise the importance of anchor text. Use descriptive anchor text when possible, and this includes internal links within your own site.

Take a look and tell me what is new there? the answer is nothing really. So SEO doesn’t change, the search engines don’t keep changing their minds over what they want. The problem is that too many people create sites that algo chase one factor or another, and when the weight is altered for this factor, they have to move onto another to shore it up. Create a good well balanced site with all the elements covered, and it will stand the test of time.

Does Google Trust you?

Trustrank explained

It is over two years since a paper was released the basis of TrustRank, yet even today, over two years later, hardly anyone outside of the core internet marketing world have clue what it is. The original concept was simple and in fact only a few lines.
Combating Web Spam with TrustRank. Technical Report, Stanford University, 2004

Web spam pages use various techniques to achieve higher-than-deserved rankings in a search engine’s results. While human experts can identify spam, it is too expensive to manually evaluate a large number of pages. Instead, we propose techniques to semi-automatically separate reputable, good pages from spam. We first select a small set of seed pages to be evaluated by an expert. Once we manually identify the reputable seed pages, we use the link structure of the web to discover other pages that are likely to be good. In this paper we discuss possible ways to implement the seed selection and the discovery of good pages. We present results of experiments run on the World Wide Web indexed by Alta Vista and evaluate the performance of our techniques. Our results show that we can effectively filter out spam from a significant fraction of the web, based on a good seed set of less than 200 sites.

Original document http://dbpubs.stanford.edu:8090/pub/2004-17

I will try to explain in layman’s terms what this is all about

First of all you will need to understand about hubs and authority sites in the eyes of Google. Sites and pages are clustered by Phrase and topic as part of the Google web mapping. Within these clusters Google will identify its current hubs and authorities. Hubs being sites that link out to many of the sites within that cluster, and authorities are the sites within that cluster that receive more links to it than the others.

Google will Have already manually have rated these sites with regard their content, the sites they link to and their trustworthiness.

A prime example would be the BBC. They have a strict set of guidelines that editors must adhere to with regard linking to sites on the web. They also have strict guidelines set in place and overseen by government appointed bodies. These seed sites will be given a trust factor which can then be carried (or voted) to other sites, (like page rank) through their links.

Most niche trusted sites will carry links to similar content, or links to links on similar content. E.G. Reuters might run a news line, which is picked up by the BBC who rewrite and cite the original Reuters report. CNN might cite the BBC version which is more developed. ALL these sites are interlinking, and all are trusted sites. They might all also link to a website that originally carried the white paper/ allegation/ content.

So let’s put it into practice

I release a niche altruistic website that is well received. The news gets picked up by the BBC who link to it. Various other news sites pick up on it and also point links to my niche site. In time other charity and educational sites link to me, as well as church sites etc. Many of these sites will be either seed trusted sites or linked to by seed sites. The closer the site which links to me is to the seed site, the more TrustRank my altruism site will get, the further away the less. By default, if my TrustRank hits a level (caused by numerous site that have inherited TrustRank from votes), I might well become a trusted hub myself, making links from my site very valuable (in terms of TrustRank not monetary, although this will also be the case, but no one will know the TrustRank to know the value)

If you want to see a crude version of trustrank in action then look at the voting system on a forum.

If someone with a red (negative) reputation votes for you (good or bad), it doesn’t affect your reputation, because in the eyes of the system they are not trusted because others who ARE trusted have said so. While a vote (good or bad) from someone with many squares of reputation can lift you up on high, or condemn you to the fiery furnace, while votes from those with one or two squares of reputation will count, but not for much. This is a simplified form of TrustRank.

It is my belief that TrustRank will compound so that the sum of the whole will be greater than the parts. so if a site got links from a seed site it would be worth x, but a site with links from two seed sites could be x +y + compounded trust value.

Below is a graphical representation of how it might work, but I have for simplicity not added the compounding value, and have used round numbers. Google Page Rank uses a whole number of 1 as a base for each page, and a ’voting value’ of .85 of the Page Rank value. (This being the result of the .15 dampening factor applied to all pages when determining the value of outbound links from a page).

That is my take on TrustRank. So the old adage of build quality content that people will want to link to, means more than ever now.

One last thing, in life there is balance, for every shard of light there is dark, for every white Stetson, there is a black one. If some sites ARE trusted, either by seed or approval of seed, then some will NOT be. It is therefore possible, that links from un-trusted (due to being TrustRank unknown) sites, might not get any link benefit to pass on? Just a theory.