Google Hilltop Algorithm

Why Page Theme is Usually More Important than PageRank:
In the Hilltop white paper they talk about how they can use expert documents to help compute relevancy. An expert document is a non affiliated page which links to many related resources. If page A is related to page B and page B is related to page C then a connection between A & C are assumed.

Additionally Hilltop states that it strongly considers page title and page headings in relevancy scores (in fact these elements can be considered more important than link text).

The benefit of Hilltop over raw PageRank (Google) is that it is topic sensitive - and is thus generally harder to manipulate than buying some random high power off topic link would be. The benefits of Hilltop over topic distillation (Teoma) are that Hilltop is quicker & cheaper to calculate, and that it tends to have more broad coverage.

When Hilltop does not have enough expert sites the feature can be turned off. It is believed that Google is using Hilltop to help sort the relevancy for some of their search results today.

MSN Search Launch Rumors, Blog Comment Spam, Google Duplicate Content Penalties, Random Google News

Jan 13th

MSN Search to Launch:
Feb 1 according to rumors AusieWebmaster. He has been right on with some of his past rumors.

Blog Comment Spam:
It's a mean & nasty world out there!

I swapped over to the newer version of MovableType and had no MT Blacklist for about a day...and really it only took 1 day for me to get pissed enough to install it.

For the record, Soma Online is a complete POS. So is pacific poker.

I wonder if anyone ever uses these bots for socially constructive ideas.

Google Duplicate Content Penalty:
A dup penalty timespan is based on your offense.
1st Offense: 30 days
2nd Offense: 60 days
3rd Offense: 90 days
found on SEW Forums

update: Danny Sullivan asked Matt Cutts and he stated that those times were given as "for example" time periods.

Google:

Fractal Spam, Overture Direct Traffic Center Rant, SEM Cares (or do they?), Google Subdomain Chatter

Eating Your Own Crap:
Fractal Spam - search engines may be known to like their own search results...at least for a while.

Overture Direct Traffic Center:
Some big advertisers are not too impressed with the reporting delays and clunky interface.

SEM Cares? SEMPO Cares? or is it Nobody Cares?
SEM Cares perhaps too little, too late for Barbara and others to put out the good word? The domain name sounds a bit Orewellian, which almost makse it sound like maybe nobody cares.

Free Culture Stuff:
A few good links from ThreadWatch's thread about big blue Open Sourcing 500 patents.

Patented European webshop
Software patents – Obstacles to software development by Richard Stallman

Chatter:
There is also chatter that Google may be dropping some spammed out subdomains from some competitive keywords in some of their data centers.

Google Site Flavored Search

Jan 10th

ChrisG mentions that Google's site flavored search automatically suggests categories for websites, and that generally it has spot on results.

I am sure it is only a small sample of what Google's technologies do, but it is interesting nonetheless, and it may tell you what Google thinks of your site as well as help you think of related categorical sites to get links from. Maybe it would also be a good way for a small new directory owner to grab a unique category structure for their site?

On a side note, apparently Google has no idea what Black Hat SEO is...

Jon Kleinberg, Title Attribute Test, Making Friends

Home Page of the Day:
Jon Kleinberg - he worked on lots of the underlying theory that created the hubs and authority ranking system which eventually led to Teoma.

He has all kinds of cool PDFs on his site such as Maximizing the Spread of Influence through a Social Network - cool stuff. If I were better at math and network theory stuff his home page would be a virtual candy store.

Interesting & Awaiting Results:
fathom is conducting a link title attribute test

Undersold ad space
Anna Kournikova on advertising...er, advertising on Anna Kournikova

Illigitimate ad space:
Bush Administration Invents 'News' and Pays Journalist

Hosed Ad Space:
Kraft WHITE American Cheese - AdWords ad targeting problems :(

Really, I am not a Slimeball Ads:
Ken Lay starts advertising on AdWords. Interesting what the other AdWords ads say about him too.

Meta "ingnore this part of the page" tag:
I can't really see it coming anytime soon, but some want to push the idea.

MSN Beta to ramp up testing:
MSN Beta to ramp up testing

Developing a Directory?
The Don'ts of Directory Development offers tips to help you get your directory off the ground.

ESearch Online E Search Online ApexSearch Apex Search (look out):
another SEO firm out of Vegas that is allegedly cold calling people.

I did not find any legitimate backlinks into the apexesearch site. The only one I found in Google was from a forum solicitation by a guy by the name of Sincity

Sincity would like to offer you...

In that forum post it states:

real results refferences provided in business since 1996 no cusomer complaints EVER!!!!

and yet its registration details state

Registered through: GoDaddy.com (http://www.godaddy.com)
Domain Name: APEXESEARCH.COM
Created on: 20-Apr-04

Domain Name: E-SEARCHONLINE.COM
Created on: 22-Dec-04

I did not see any meaningful company information on their company information page either http://www.apexesearch.com/info.htm. Some people are wondering if this firm has anything to do with Traffic Power. If any SEO calls you up out of the blue trying to tell you that you MUST buy something TODAY then odds are they are NOT worth buying from. Cold calls = crap. Traffic

How Not to Make Friends:
Promote your services in others forums while trashing their business model in your own forum.

How can a person wanting to set up an automated link network say that people should not be able to buy links by PageRank?

How Not to Make Friends...Part 2:
For a while the name of the SEO firm that wanted RustyBrick to link to them was posted in this rant thread.

One time some guy with a big mouth emailed me about how great his firm was and felt that for that reason he felt he deserved a link from my site. I also had a hunch that when another well known firm told me to add them to my SEO forums page that they were spamming me. Not too long ago I got an email from an express link building firm which used "stuff" as the the email title. I wonder how many people use these same shoddy techniques to "promote" (or otherwise destroy the brand of) their clients sites?

Google AdWords Affiliate Ad Policy Change

Google sent out an email stating that they will now only display 1 advertisement per URL per keyword. Additionally people no longer need to signify their ads are affiliate ads since there is only one ad per URL.

They multiply CTR * max bid to determine the effective ad rank, and the top ad rank for any URL will be the ad that is displayed.

Lots of dynamic keyword insertion noise (such as eBay affiliates) have been ruining the relevancy of their ads so this one step they are taking to try to keep them relevant.

This change will have no effect of white label affiliate sites since they are on their own separate URLs. Some people will probably also find ways to bounce their affiliate ads to get around this change.

The email they sent out is in the extended entry. Google AdWords™ Announcement:
Affiliate Policy Change Google

Hello from the Google AdWords Team:

In January 2005, Google will incorporate a new affiliate advertising policy that is designed to provide a better user and advertiser experience.

What is changing:

With this new affiliate policy, we'll only display one ad per search query for affiliates and parent companies sharing the same URL. This way, users will have a more diverse sampling of advertisements to choose from. As always, your ad will be displayed based on its Ad Rank for given searches, which is determined by a combination of your ad's maximum cost-per-click (price) and clickthrough rate (performance).

For instance, if a user searches for books on Google.com or anywhere on the Google search and content networks, Google will take an inventory of ads running for the keyword books. If we find that two or more ads compete under the same URL, we'll display the ad with the highest Ad Rank.

How this will affect you:

If you're an affiliate, this means that you no longer need to identify yourself as an affiliate in your ad text. However, your current ad text will continue to display your affiliate status until you change it.

Affiliates or advertisers using unique URLs in their ads will not be affected by this change. Please note that your Display URL must match the URL of your landing page, and you may not simply frame another site.

What you should do:

We recommend that you continue to monitor your ads' performance and optimize your ads as needed to ensure they're bringing you the best results. Please visit our Optimization Tips page for more information.

By improving our ad relevancy, we believe that users will have a better search experience, which will help you reach more potential clients in the future. We'll continue to make improvements to AdWords over time to further improve the user experience and help increase the performance of your ads.

We look forward to continue providing you with the most effective advertising available.

Sincerely,
The Google AdWords Team

Disclaimer: As a business Google must make decisions regarding the advertising we accept. As stated in our Terms and Conditions, we reserve the right to exercise editorial discretion when reviewing AdWords ads created within the program. This only concerns our advertising and in no way affects the search results we deliver. Google offers broad access to content across the web without censoring results.

Contact us: If you have any questions, please contact your Google representative or email us at https://adwords.google.com/support/bin/request.py.

Email preferences: You have received this mandatory email service announcement to update you about important new AdWords features.

-------------

>Google offers broad access to content across the web without censoring results.

Does anyone buy that Google is not forced to censor some stuff? I don't...

Google on 60 Minutes, Patrick Gavin Interview, & Interesting Links

60 Minutes:
Google on 60 Minutes

Search Google Ads:
Widget Ads - you can search Google for ads only.

What is Google Smoking?
Bongs in the search results - I randomly searched for Chong at Google. On my good old handy dandy FireFox some Google searches are showing images.

Why would a company so textually driven want to place those images prominently above search results? They are probably going to be easy to spam, increase page load time, and IMHO detract from Google a huge amount. I suppose they know a bit more than me about that sort of stuff, but so far I do not like it.

Search Marketing Association:
North American brother of the EU and UK to launch

Renting Links:
I met Patrick Gavin of Text Link Ads in Las Vegas and have been working a bit with him. I recently interviewed Patrick about link buying, how he got into the web, and where he would start if he started on the web today.

Blog Happenings:
Six Apart is the company that created the blogging software that runs this site. They are going to purchase LiveJournal, which will drastically expand their userbase, though most LiveJournal customers are not paying customers. A ton of consolidation in this space will likely occur throughout the year between some of the platforms, tracking, and search sites. (found on ThreadWatch)

The Future of Journalism:
Dan Gillmore starts his blog.

Free Answer Engine:
GuruNet becomes Answers.com and drops subscription fee.

PPC Keyword Research Software:
TheDowser is a new (to me at least) keyword research tool which combines some of the features from the Overture search term suggestion tool and the Google Keyword Sandbox tool (as well as having some other features). I did not use it a ton, but downloaded the trial and played with it a bit. If you run a bunch of PPC campaigns it only needs to help you save a little time or find a few new keywords to pay for itself.

Interesting:

Google PageRank Update, Please Help...

I was in and out around the end of the year and just finally got back home in a somewhat stable state today. It looks as though Google has finally updated toolbar PageRank again, and I have been reading bits about the horrible tsunami.

To try my best to help out, for the month of January I am going to send all my SEO Book sales income to help out with relief from the storm. I think Paypal eats about $2 out of each order, but other than that the remainder will go to help out Sarvodaya.

If you want to help out you can donate directly to any of the tsunami relief funds.

Google Theming, Gigablast Custom Topic Search, Death of SEO?

My Way or the Highway...
Dave Hawley (who is on my ignore list) recently created a thread to prove that signature links do not count. Given limited sets of data and a desired goal one can, after all, prove just about anything.

DaveN cites the thread stating that he thinks all links will help some, but that he is seeing more theming at play in Google today.

Questionable:
When you know people manipulate information systems and you need to research you should become a Skeptical Business Searcher

New Library:
Internet Archive's Text Archive project will challenge the recently launched Google library.

Search a Bunch of Sites:
GigaBlast allows you to create a custom topic search engine which searches up to two hundred of your favorite domains.

Taking Bets:
Sebastian reviews 2004, and bets that SEO firms will drop like flies in 2005. I have grown to know a good number of SEOs over the past year or so (and chat with many daily). Many come from bright business backgrounds, but it also seems to me that many of us also had exceptionally low points in our lives and looked to the web for something to do when other things did not make sense (I am definentally part of that second group).

I would not bet against the resiliency of internet marketers, especially with how fast and cheaply the web provides feedback. No matter how much search advances people will still make money off SEO services. Some SEOs will always be able to manipulate most any search results, while others will move on to other business roles.

I think niche SEO services (knowing everything about an industry or link building or directory registration or keyword research), more sophisticated SEO services (those who can instantly rank anything or know how to get around any technical problem), and more personalized SEO services (working exceptionally closely with just a few clients) will spread.

General broad SEO services for some random set fee to tons of clients will be a business model that provides less and less value as time passes and search advances.

More clients means more data, but understanding social networks and finding the key things that various web based businesses need to do to succeed longterm is not something that can scale out to work well with thousands and thousands of clients. Most base level salary workers can not do the deep analytical stuff and there is only so much that you can automate or mass produce before it loses value.

Some of the best SEOs work for a limited number of clients and share profit with companies that they help make successful. In the long run it is much more valuable to forge a few strong relationships than to spread too thin. From my experiences usually those who demand the cheapest rates also are the most likely to be bad customers in many many many other areas.

If customer SEO fees and service structure are not customly designed around what their sites need then they are:

  • paying for a package they may or may not need; &

  • probably are not getting the individual attention their business needs to succeed longterm.

Even selling things like directory registration or consulting I have fees listed on my website, but in my mind the numbers are arbitrary guidelines to qualify prospects...really nothing more. In my opinion no legit service price can be given for full quality SEO services without first extensively chatting and feeling each other out.

SEO in and of itself will not go away anytime soon, though many of the people doing it may create interesting new business models and ideas or have job positions that go by some other official name.

Then again I could be wrong ;-)

Do you think SEO is going away anytime soon? How will it evolve? Will customers learn to pay in jars of peanut butter?

Content SEO:
When I moved my other site the DNS propigated through amazingly fast (before I even had the site up - oops). My site was not up when Google crawled it and it still ranked at #6 for search engine marketing. Also here is the cache copy of the page. For competitive terms the actual page copy does not usually matter that much IMHO.

Google Beats Geico in Court, Google Spam Filters, MSN Desktop, Google Library

Google vs Geico:
Huge news for many marketers, Google won.

U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema ruled that there was not enough evidence of trademark violation to bar Google from displaying rival insurers when computer users search the word "GEICO."

Search Engine Filiters:
Three was a good thread on SEW forums about search engine filters. A couple people defaced the original thread with useless garbage, but ThreadWatch's coverage is a great read.

Search Engine Strategies:
I was going to attend, but decided not to at the last minute...anyhow, if you want coverage RustyBrick is posting about many of the sessions here...he may not be blogging the event though ;)

Funny:
GoogleGuy reviews a non-profit site: (really funny)

I'd recommend that he remove all links to these aggressive sites, and then send an email to us requesting reinclusion.

(found on ThreadWatch)

Google Suggest:
DaveN has opened up his scraper for public use.

MSN Desktop Search:
launched, & integrated into the MSN toolbar.

Search Stats:
ClickZ writes about a recent ComScore search survey

Of those consumers who converted on a trademark keyword, 91 percent did so after starting with a different term type. A full 80 percent started with a generic search term. Trademark searches, meanwhile, accounted for 20 percent of all online searches.

As for conversions, an estimated 92 percent of all computing and consumer electronics purchases occur offline. Meanwhile, 7 percent of conversions occur in the form of latent conversions. Only 1 percent of conversions occur in the same session online.

Google Library:
Google to digitize lots and lots of books...

Late to the Party:
Ask Jeeves desktop search

Brits Behind the Curve on Spam?
Nearly a quarter of all online UK consumers (23%) have purchased some form of goods or services from a spam email, according to new research. I wonder if thats why many of the UK SEOs are so good at what they do ;)

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