Showing posts with label seoupdates. Show all posts
Showing posts with label seoupdates. Show all posts

Friday, March 7, 2014

Google: Keep URL Length Shorter Than 2,000 Characters

SEOs obsess about the smallest things, even how long is too long for a URL.
Google Webmaster Help thread has SEOs and webmasters asking how long can they go for a URL. Google actually answered the question.
John Mueller of Google said, while there is "no theoretical length limit" and they can go forever, Google does recommend you keep it under 2,000 characters. Google's John Mueller wrote:
As far as I know, there's no theoretical length limit, but we recommend keeping URLs shorter than 2000 characters to keep things manageable.
It is interesting cause DoubleClick, a Google company, maxes out on 2,000 characters in a URL. It seems the GET method maxes out on 2,000 characters for a URL and that Internet Explorer can't go beyond 2,000.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Matt Cutts Video: How Google Determines What’s A Paid Link

Google head of search spam Matt Cutts released a pretty detailed video discussing the Google webspam team’s criteria for determining whether a link is considered a paid link or not.
There are five basic criteria Google uses in this determination. The first is the most obvious, is the link an explicit link for sale; then, the others are less obvious. The others include: how close is the value to money, is it a gift or a loan, what is the intent of the audience and is it a surprise or not.

Explicit Link Sales

Links that are explicitly sold for money are the most obvious. A webmaster sells a link to another webmaster in exchange for a certain dollar payment. That is clearly a paid link, and Matt Cutts said that is the most common paid link example, by far.

Close To The Value Of Money

The next determination Google uses is to see how close is the value to money. For example, a gift card is pretty close to money in that it can be often exchanged for a dollar value. But if you give someone a free pen that is valued at $1, the chances are that the value of that $1 pen won’t influence the user. However, a free beer or free trial to software is less value to users than a $600 gift card.

Gift Vs. Loan

If you give someone a laptop versus loaning them a laptop or gift someone a car versus loaning them a car, those are huge distinctions. Often, companies will loan a tech reviewer a device or car or something in order for them to properly review the item. But if you give them the item forever and not ask them to return it, that is closer to a paid link then a loan.

A new Googlebot user-agent for crawling smartphone content

Webmaster level: Advanced
Over the years, Google has used different crawlers to crawl and index content for feature phones and smartphones. These mobile-specific crawlers have all been referred to as Googlebot-Mobile. However, feature phones and smartphones have considerably different device capabilities, and we've seen cases where a webmaster inadvertently blocked smartphone crawling or indexing when they really meant to block just feature phone crawling or indexing. This ambiguity made it impossible for Google to index smartphone content of some sites, or for Google to recognize that these sites are smartphone-optimized.

A new Googlebot for smartphones

To clarify the situation and to give webmasters greater control, we'll be retiring "Googlebot-Mobile" for smartphones as a user agent starting in 3-4 weeks' time. From then on, the user-agent for smartphones will identify itself simply as "Googlebot" but will still list "mobile" elsewhere in the user-agent string. Here are the new and old user-agents:
The new Googlebot for smartphones user-agent:
Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 6_0 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/536.26 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/6.0 Mobile/10A5376e Safari/8536.25 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +
The Googlebot-Mobile for smartphones user-agent we will be retiring soon:
Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 6_0 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/536.26 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/6.0 Mobile/10A5376e Safari/8536.25 (compatible; Googlebot-Mobile/2.1; +
This change affects only Googlebot-Mobile for smartphones. The user-agent of the regular Googlebot does not change, and the remaining two Googlebot-Mobile crawlers will continue to refer to feature phone devices in their user-agent strings; for reference, these are:
Regular Googlebot user-agent:
Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +
The two Googlebot-Mobile user-agents for feature phones:
  • SAMSUNG-SGH-E250/1.0 Profile/MIDP-2.0 Configuration/CLDC-1.1 UP.Browser/ (GUI) MMP/2.0 (compatible; Googlebot-Mobile/2.1; +
  • DoCoMo/2.0 N905i(c100;TB;W24H16) (compatible; Googlebot-Mobile/2.1; +

Faceted navigation best (and 5 of the worst) practices

Faceted navigation, such as filtering by color or price range, can be helpful for your visitors, but it’s often not search-friendly since it creates many combinations of URLs with duplicative content. With duplicative URLs, search engines may not crawl new or updated unique content as quickly, and/or they may not index a page accurately because indexing signals are diluted between the duplicate versions. To reduce these issues and help faceted navigation sites become as search-friendly as possible, we’d like to:

Selecting filters with faceted navigation can cause many URL combinations, such as


In an ideal state, unique content -- whether an individual product/article or a category of products/articles --  would have only one accessible URL. This URL would have a clear click path, or route to the content from within the site, accessible by clicking from the homepage or a category page.

Infinite scroll search-friendly recommendations

Your site’s news feed or pinboard might use infinite scroll—much to your users’ delight! When it comes to delighting Googlebot, however, that can be another story. With infinite scroll, crawlers cannot always emulate manual user behavior--like scrolling or clicking a button to load more items--so they don't always access all individual items in the feed or gallery. If crawlers can’t access your content, it’s unlikely to surface in search results. 

To make sure that search engines can crawl individual items linked from an infinite scroll page, make sure that you or your content management system produces a paginated series (component pages) to go along with your infinite scroll. 

Infinite scroll page is made “search-friendly” when converted to a paginated series -- each component page has a similar <title> with rel=next/prev values declared in the <head>.

You can see this type of behavior in action in the infinite scroll with pagination demo created by Webmaster Trends Analyst, John Mueller. The demo illustrates some key search-engine friendly points:
  • Coverage: All individual items are accessible. With traditional infinite scroll, individual items displayed after the initial page load aren’t discoverable to crawlers.
  • No overlap: Each item is listed only once in the paginated series (i.e., no duplication of items).

3 tips to find hacking on your site, and ways to prevent and fix it

Google shows this message in search results for sites that we believe may have been compromised.You might not think your site is a target for hackers, but it's surprisingly common. Hackers target large numbers of sites all over the web in order to exploit the sites' users or reputation.

One common way hackers take advantage of vulnerable sites is by adding spammy pages. These spammy pages are then used for various purposes, such as redirecting users to undesired or harmful destinations. For example, we’ve recently seen an increase in hacked sites redirecting users to fake online shopping sites.

Once you recognize that your website may have been hacked, it’s important to diagnose and fix the problem as soon as possible. We want webmasters to keep their sites secure in order to protect users from spammy or harmful content.

3 tips to help you find hacked content on your site

  1. Check your site for suspicious URLs or directories
    Keep an eye out for any suspicious activity on your site by performing a “site:” search of your site in Google, such as []. Are there any suspicious URLs or directories that you do not recognize?

Saturday, March 1, 2014

You Can Fake Your Google +1 Counts With Redirects

Enrico Altavilla discovered a bug with how Google+ shows +1s for a page, which has already been patched by Google. It is pretty amazing and reminds me of how webmasters faked their PageRank back in 2005.
In short, by using a simple redirect on the page, a page was able to pretend it was another page and use the +1s from the page they are redirecting to as the their own +1s.
So when a site had a weird JavaScript redirect to YouTube, it thought the site was indeed YouTube and that page inherited the +1s YouTube had.
Google +1s hijack
Again, this no longer works but I figured I share the story so if it happens again, a different way, we have something to look back at.

Google's Matt Cutts: Content Clarity Over Technical Content

There is an excellent video from Google's Matt Cutts on the question Should I focus on clarity or jargon when writing content?
The short answer is focus on clarity over jargon.
Matt explains that in most cases, having content that most people understand is way more important that having all the scientific and technical jargon about the topic you are covering. If you can't explain the topic to a novice, then the reader likely won't be able to understand your content.
Best case, start off explaining it in simple terms and get more technical as you go. But if you had to pick, it seems Matt is saying content clarity is more important over detailed technical and scientific content, in most cases.
Here is the video:

Google's Matt Cutts Wants You To Send Him Examples Scraper Sites

Matt Cutts, Google's head spam guy, posted on Twitterthat he wants you to submit reports and examples of scraper sites or URLs that are outranking the original source.
He made a Google Doc form where you can submit the report over here. The form asks you the source URL, i.e. the original source of the content, the URL of the page stealing the content, the search results page where it is being outranked, and just an agree link.
You should keep in mind, in January 2011, Google came out with an algorithm specifically designed to prevent scrapers from ranking well, i.e. the scraper algorithm.
The best example thus far was posted by +JonDunn with a tip from Dan Barker:
google scraper example
Anyway, I assume this means Google is going to use this data to improve or create a new algorithm in the future.
Forum discussion at TwitterWebmasterWorld & Google+.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Bing Updates Webmaster Guidelines: Keyword Stuffing Now Off Limits

Last night, Bing has updated their webmaster guidelines adding a section about "keyword stuffing." Surprised it wasn't there from the onset? Yea, me too but truthfully, there are a ton of things they can/should add there that are not currently there.
What is new? The section on keyword stuffing, which reads:
When creating content, make sure to create your content for real users and readers, not to entice search engines to rank your content better. Stuffing your content with specific keywords with the sole intent of artificially inflating the probability of ranking for specific search terms is in violation of our guidelines and can lead to demotion or even the delisting of your website from our search results.
I verified using various caching services that the paragraph was indeed not there a day or two ago.
That being said, the language is pretty strong. If you do use keyword stuffing techniques on your site, Bing may give your site a "demotion" or even worse "delist" your site from the Bing search results.
Hat tip to +GauravGupta2014 for informing me about this.

Google's Matt Cutts: We Tested Dropping Backlinks From Algorithm, It Was Much Worse

Google's Matt Cutts latest video has Google admitting they did and do indeed test their search results by turning off linkage data as part of their algorithm. Matt Cutts said the results would be "much much worse" if they did indeed do that in real life.
That does indeed make sense since Google's core algorithm was mostly based on links and PageRank and all these years they spent improving on it and such. They invested so much time and resources in using links to rank sites that dropping it now would make for a mess.
It is funny, because a couple weeks ago, we asked you what you would do if Google dropped backlinks from the algorithm. We so far have over 300 responses and 34% said they would be very excited, 32% said they'd be curious and 17% said they'd be very concerned.
Here is Matt's video on the topic:

Business Names Google Places Quality Guidelines Updated

Google has updated their Google Places quality guidelines once again this time to clarify how you can name your business within Google Places/Google Local/Google Maps.
Jade Wang from Google pulled out the changes and posted them in the Google Places Help forums. The changes include:
  • Your title should reflect your business's real-world title.
  • In addition to your business's real-world title, you may include a single descriptor that helps customers locate your business or understand what your business offers.
  • Marketing taglines, phone numbers, store codes, or URLs are not valid descriptors.
  • Examples of acceptable titles with descriptors (in italics for demonstration purposes) are "Starbucks Downtown" or "Joe's Pizza Delivery". Examples that would not be accepted would be "#1 Seattle Plumbing", "Joe's Pizza Best Delivery", or "Joe's Pizza Restaurant Dallas".
Hopefully that clarifies things a bit better, because these guidelines are updated relatively frequently.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Google's Advice On Infinite Crawl Pages & SEO

Google's John Mueller, Maile Ohye, and Joachim Kupke co-authored a technical blog post on the Google Webmaster Blog on how to make infinite scroll pages more search engine friendly.
The issue, as you can understand, is that GoogleBot and crawlers can't scroll down a page and thus can't load more content with that action. In Google;s blog post, they announced the definitive guide on how to make infinite scroll pages more search-friendly.
In short, Google is recommending that you convert the infinite scroll page to paginated series by using the HTML5 History API. John even made a demo page of infinite scroll that is search engine friendly.
click for full size

Google Drops New Webmaster Guideline On Not Blocking Google Ads

Yesterday we broke the news that Google added that you should not block Google ads within the technical requirements within Google's Webmaster Guidelines.
It seems Google has pulled the new line completely from their guidelines. It is unclear why but I suspect after I emailed them they reviewed it and found it to be confusing as well.
The new guideline that was added for about 24 hours read:
Make efforts to ensure that a robots.txt file does not block a destination URL for a Google Ad product. Adding such a block can disable or disadvantage the Ad.
As I explained, it was confusing because Google asks you specifically to block other ads from being crawled. But here, Google wants you to allow Google to crawl those ads. You and I understand why, because Google uses landing page quality score as part of AdWords ranking but still, it is confusing how they worded it.
Now, the language and the bullet point, is completely gone. The guidelines are back to how they were the day before.
Google has not responded to my request for clarification as of yet.

Google: GoogleBot Follows Up To Five Redirects At The Same Time

Google's John Muller said in a webmaster hangout on Friday that GoogleBot will follow up to five redirects at the same time, past that, you are probably out of luck.
I don't believe we had a number, a solid number, on how many redirects Google will follow. This may, and I may be wrong, be the first time Google gave a number on the number of redirects they follow at one time.
We had Matt Cutts talk about PageRank dilution through redirects in the past.
Google's John Mueller said this 46 minutes and 3 seconds into the hangout embedded below:
Of course, this is useful information for SEOs when doing audits.

Google Says Switching To HTTPS Won't Change Your Page Rankings

Google Webmaster Help thread has someone complaining that his site's rankings dropped and the one thing he noticed was that his home page and 56 other pages are indexed in Google with the https version.
To which John Mueller of Google responded:
Before you get too focused on technical issues, I'd just like to add that going from https to http, or the other way around, generally won't noticeably change your pages' ranking.
So he is implying that there may be something else here to blame for his ranking drop and not the HTTPS issue he is citing.
But is it true that switching from HTTPS to HTTP or the other way around "generally won't noticeably change your pages' ranking?"
Six months ago or so, we covered that making the switch is doable but you need to do it right. Matt Cutts also posted a video on the topic in 2011, of course, things change quickly in search, so I am not sure if he would be as reserved if he made the video today:

Monday, February 3, 2014

Google Places Adds A Slew Of Business Categories

Google is working on improving and expanding the business categories for Google Places For Business for countries around the world. In fact, they’re adding over 1,000 new categories in the Places dashboard.
Google Business community manager Jade Wang posted an announcement in the Google Product Forums (via Search Engine Roundtable), saying that the move comes based on feedback from merchants. She writes:

Google Warns German Webmasters That Paid Links Violate Google’s Guidelines

Google head of search spam Matt Cutts postedon Twitter this morning another stern warning to German webmasters about a link penalty looming for them.
Matt Cutts tweeted:
A reminder (in German) that paid links that pass PageRank violate our guidelines:

The blog post is written in German on the German Webmaster blog, which basically says Google reserves the right to issue penalties for unnatural links. It then goes through the process of explaining the types of unnatural links and how to submit a reconsideration request if you were hit.

Google Is Not Broken

In spite of what many think, Google is not broken. But wait, naysayers will say, Look at this search result, it stinks! This spammer is succeeding in ranking high, they emerged from nowhere and are now in the top three results!google logo - basic 570x270
It’s true — there are many such examples that you can point to. Making sense of this landscape can be quite confusing, but that’s what I will attempt to do in today’s post.
Firstly, there are two basic reasons why Google can be quite slow to address some of the problems you might find.

1. They Can Afford To Be Thoughtful And Patient

Why, you ask? They have dominant market share. Here is the December 2013 market share data from comScore:
comScore Search Market Share
comScore notes that “‘Explicit Core Search’ excludes contextually driven searches that do not reflect specific user intent to interact with the search results.” In my experience, the practical impact of adjusting for this is that the Google search market share is a bit higher. Most sites I look at show a larger percentage of their organic search coming from Google than 67%.

Can You Rank In Google Without Content?

WebmasterWorld thread has a webmaster who has a site that doesn't have any real content. It is basically statistical downloads and specifications downloadable as PDFs or Zip files.
Can you rank web pages with no content at all in Google?
A good example of a page that ranks without having the exact words on it is the Adobe Reader page which ranks for [click here].
But what about a page with almost no content? It is possible to rank on anchor text alone?
Yes, but it has to be very obscure and non-competitive words.