I have been checking the last “shakedown” labeled Google Penguin Update. And there are guys that reflect what I believe has to be done and explain the concepts better than me:

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http://searchengineland.com/did-googles-search-results-get-better-or-worse-119469

http://www.seoquake.com/blog/?p=1036

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My take — Google’s updates are periodic actions done ALSO to determine or find out which websites are trying to game their system and having success doing so. Yet, as big as Google may be, they are not really able to catch what every website has been doing. And so, one of the things they are trying to do is to evaluate the “suspected websites” to know if the link-strategy employed changes or not, after they issue new guidelines or apply the algorithm updates. If the link-strategy we use is stopped abruptly or totally, this becomes the way that Google confirms that this particular website is gaming their prized system.

In the first place, you have to be aware of the system you are implementing, especially for Offpage SEO — do not rely on one source of backlinks, and inject a good mix of “socially-shareable” properties like blogs and wikis. It looks like Google is doing some things which are hurting their intention of providing more relevant and quality search results. Still, I believe that we should not put a stop to what we have been doing, especially if we have been generating good results and for quite a long period of time already,  for this will just let Google “know” or confirm that our websites are those with “negative” or “spammy” promotions system.

So in essence, what has been working for us, even if our rankings got hurt, should still be implemented. If we need to change something, we need to do it in a gradual manner.

What else needs to be done?

Everything must return to the basics — and that is Keyword Research the proper way. The formula is — (a) check which websites rank for the keyword(s) you want to target, your first-page competitors; (b) reverse-engineer by checking which keywords your competitors are ranked, and (c) use these keywords in your optimization efforts.

If you are looking for reliable tools, I strongly believe and use the following personally:

-SEMRush
-Rankerizer
-SEOQuake

And it may also interest you to build mini-sites or websites with a few pages to act as “content-only” and dominantly static websites, to benefit a money-making website you want to promote.

Having a solid strategy and keeping an eye for possible improvements will help us all in battling the coldness this virtual winter has conjured.

 

Jayson Guevarra is a freelance consultant for web-based marketing who offers free and paid products heavily inclined to being an online freelancer providing SEO-related services and how to attract the right clients. Visit his SEO Expert Training Blog here for more details.

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Can you provide more details on how Google uses ‘human raters’ as part of their algorithm? AJ Kohn, SF, CA

 

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Search quality highlights: 50 changes for March

by Jake Hubert on April 3, 2012

Here’s our latest installment of search quality highlights, with another 50 changes to report for March. We’re starting to get into a groove with these posts, so we’re getting more and more comprehensive as the months go by. New for this month, we’ve published uncut video from our search quality meeting, which gives a great flavor for how these decisions get made.

Here’s the list for March:

  • Autocomplete with math symbols. [launch codename "Blackboard", project codename "Suggest"] When we process queries to return predictions in autocomplete, we generally normalize them to match more relevant predictions in our database. This change incorporates several characters that were previously normalized: “+”, “-”, “*”, “/”, “^”, “(“, “)”, and “=”. This should make it easier to search for popular equations, for example [e = mc2] or [y = mx+b].
  • Improvements to handling of symbols for indexing. [launch codename "Deep Maroon"] We generally ignore punctuation symbols in queries. Based on analysis of our query stream, we’ve now started to index the following heavily used symbols: “%”, “$”, “\”, “.”, “@”, “#”, and “+”. We’ll continue to index more symbols as usage warrants.
  • Better scoring of news groupings. [launch codename "avenger_2"] News results on Google are organized into groups that are about the same story. We have scoring systems to determine the ordering of these groups for a given query. This subtle change slightly improves our scoring system, leading to better ranking of news clusters.
  • Sitelinks data refresh. [launch codename "Saralee-76"] Sitelinks (the links that appear beneath some search results and link deeper into the respective site) are generated in part by an offline process that analyzes site structure and other data to determine the most relevant links to show users. We’ve recently updated the data through our offline process. These updates happen frequently (on the order of weeks).
  • Improvements to autocomplete backends, coverage. [launch codename "sovereign", project codename "Suggest"] We’ve consolidated systems and reduced the number of backend calls required to prepare autocomplete predictions for your query. The result is more efficient CPU usage and more comprehensive predictions.
  • Better handling of password changes. Our general approach is that when you change passwords, you’ll be signed out from your account on all machines. This change ensures that changing your password more consistently signs your account out of Search, everywhere.
  • Better indexing of profile pages. [launch codename "Prof-2"] This change improves the comprehensiveness of public profile pages in our index from more than two-hundred social sites.
  • UI refresh for News Universal. [launch codename "Cosmos Newsy", project codename "Cosmos"] We’ve refreshed the design of News Universal results by providing more results from the top cluster, unifying the UI treatment of clusters of different sizes, adding a larger font for the top article, adding larger images (from licensed sources), and adding author information.
  • Improvements to results for navigational queries. [launch codename "IceMan5"] A “navigational query” is a search where it looks like the user is looking to navigate to a particular website, such as [New York Times] or [wikipedia.org]. While these searches may seem straightforward, there are still challenges to serving the best results. For example, what if the user doesn’t actually know the right URL? What if the URL they’re searching for seems to be a parked domain (with no content)? This change improves results for this kind of search.
  • High-quality sites algorithm data update and freshness improvements. [launch codename “mm”, project codename "Panda"] Like many of the changes we make, aspects of our high-quality sites algorithm depend on processing that’s done offline and pushed on a periodic cycle. In the past month, we’ve pushed updated data for “Panda,” as we mentioned in a recent tweet. We’ve also made improvements to keep our database fresher overall.
  • Live results for UEFA Champions League and KHL. We’ve added live-updating snippets in our search results for the KHL (Russian Hockey League) and UEFA Champions League, including scores and schedules. Now you can find live results from a variety of sports leagues, including the NFL, NBA, NHL and others.
  • Tennis search feature. [launch codename "DoubleFault"] We’ve introduced a new search feature to provide realtime tennis scores at the top of the search results page. Try [maria sharapova] or [sony ericsson open].
  • More relevant image search results. [launch codename "Lice"] This change tunes signals we use related to landing page quality for images. This makes it more likely that you’ll find highly relevant images, even if those images are on pages that are lower quality.
  • Fresher image predictions in all languages. [launch codename "imagine2", project codename "Suggest"] We recently rolled out a change to surface more relevant image search predictions in autocomplete in English. This improvement extends the update to all languages.
  • SafeSearch algorithm tuning. [launch codenames "Fiorentini", “SuperDyn”; project codename "SafeSearch"] This month we rolled out a couple of changes to our SafeSearch algorithm. We’ve updated our classifier to make it smarter and more precise, and we’ve found new ways to make adult content less likely to appear when a user isn't looking for it
  • Tweaks to handling of anchor text. [launch codename "PC"] This month we turned off a classifier related to anchor text (the visible text appearing in links). Our experimental data suggested that other methods of anchor processing had greater success, so turning off this component made our scoring cleaner and more robust.
  • Simplification to Images Universal codebase. [launch codename "Galactic Center"] We’ve made some improvements to simplify our codebase for Images Universal and to better utilize improvements in our general web ranking to also provide better image results.
  • Better application ranking and UI on mobile. When you search for apps on your phone, you’ll now see richer results with app icons, star ratings, prices, and download buttons arranged to fit well on smaller screens. You’ll also see more relevant ranking of mobile applications based on your device platform, for example Android or iOS.
  • Improvements to freshness in Video Universal. [launch codename "graphite", project codename "Freshness"] We’ve improved the freshness of video results to better detect stale videos and return fresh content.
  • Fewer undesired synonyms. [project codename "Synonyms"] When you search on Google, we often identify other search terms that might have the same meaning as what you entered in the box (synonyms) and surface results for those terms as well when it might be helpful. This month we tweaked a classifier to prevent unhelpful synonyms from being introduced as content in the results set.
  • Better handling of queries with both navigational and local intent. [launch codename "ShieldsUp"] Some queries have both local intent and are very navigational (directed towards a particular website). This change improves the balance of results we show, and helps ensure you’ll find highly relevant navigational results or local results towards the top of the page as appropriate for your query.
  • Improvements to freshness. [launch codename "Abacus", project codename "Freshness"] We launched an improvement to freshness late last year that was very helpful, but it cost significant machine resources. At the time we decided to roll out the change only for news-related traffic. This month we rolled it out for all queries.
  • Improvements to processing for detection of site quality. [launch codename "Curlup"] We’ve made some improvements to a longstanding system we have to detect site quality. This improvement allows us to get greater confidence in our classifications.
  • Better interpretation and use of anchor text. We’ve improved systems we use to interpret and use anchor text, and determine how relevant a given anchor might be for a given query and website.
  • Better local results and sources in Google News. [launch codename "barefoot", project codename "news search"] We’re deprecating a signal we had to help people find content from their local country, and we’re building similar logic into other signals we use. The result is more locally relevant Google News results and higher quality sources.
  • Deprecating signal related to ranking in a news cluster. [launch codename "decaffeination", project codename "news search”] We’re deprecating a signal that’s no longer improving relevance in Google News. The signal was originally developed to help people find higher quality articles on Google News. (Note: Despite the launch codename, this project has nothing to do with Caffeine, our update to indexing in 2010).
  • Fewer “sibling” synonyms. [launch codename "Gemini", project codename "Synonyms"] One of the main signals we look at to identify synonyms is context. For example, if the word “cat” often appears next to the term “pet” and “furry,” and so does the word “kitten”, our algorithms may guess that “cat” and “kitten” have similar meanings. The problem is that sometimes this method will introduce “synonyms” that actually are different entities in the same category. To continue the example, dogs are also “furry pets” -- so sometimes “dog” may be incorrectly introduced as a synonym for “cat”. We’ve been working for some time to appropriately ferret out these “sibling” synonyms, and our latest system is more maintainable, updatable, debuggable, and extensible to other systems.
  • Better synonym accuracy and performance. [project codename "Synonyms"] We’ve made further improvements to our synonyms system by eliminating duplicate logic. We’ve also found ways to more accurately identify appropriate synonyms in cases where there are multiple synonym candidates with different contexts.
  • Retrieval system tuning. [launch codename "emonga", project codename "Optionalization"] We’ve improved systems that identify terms in a query which are not necessarily required to retrieve relevant documents. This will make results more faithful to the original query.
  • Less aggressive synonyms. [launch codename "zilong", project codename "Synonyms"] We’ve heard feedback from users that sometimes our algorithms are too aggressive at incorporating search results for other terms. The underlying cause is often our synonym system, which will include results for other terms in many cases. This change makes our synonym system less aggressive in the way it incorporates results for other query terms, putting greater weight on the original user query.
  • Update to systems relying on geographic data. [launch codename "Maestro, Maitre"] We have a number of signals that rely on geographic data (similar to the data we surface in Google Earth and Maps). This change updates some of the geographic data we’re using.
  • Improvements to name detection. [launch codename "edge", project codename "NameDetector"] We’ve improved a system for detecting names, particularly for celebrity names.
  • Updates to personalization signals. [project codename "PSearch"] This change updates signals used to personalize search results.
  • Improvements to Image Search relevance. [launch codename "sib"] We’ve updated signals to better promote reasonably sized images on high-quality landing pages.
  • Remove deprecated signal from site relevance signals. [launch codename "Freedom"] We’ve removed a deprecated product-focused signal from a site-understanding algorithm.
  • More precise detection of old pages. [launch codename "oldn23", project codename “Freshness"] This change improves detection of stale pages in our index by relying on more relevant signals. As a result, fewer stale pages are shown to users.
  • Tweaks to language detection in autocomplete. [launch codename “Dejavu”, project codename "Suggest"] In general, autocomplete relies on the display language to determine what language predictions to show. For most languages, we also try to detect the user query language by analyzing the script, and this change extends that behavior to Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Japanese and Korean. The net effect is that when users forget to turn off their IMEs, they’ll still get English predictions if they start typing English terms.
  • Improvements in date detection for blog/forum pages. [launch codename "fibyen", project codename "Dates"] This change improves the algorithm that determines dates for blog and forum pages.
  • More predictions in autocomplete by live rewriting of query prefixes. [launch codename "Lombart", project codename "Suggest”] In this change we’re rewriting partial queries on the fly to retrieve more potential matching predictions for the user query. We use synonyms and other features to get the best overall match. Rewritten prefixes can include term re-orderings, term additions, term removals and more.
  • Expanded sitelinks on mobile. We’ve launched our expanded sitelinks feature for mobile browsers, providing better organization and presentation of sitelinks in search results.
  • More accurate short answers. [project codename “Porky Pig”] We’ve updated the sources behind our short answers feature to rely on data from Freebase. This improves accuracy and makes it easier to fix bugs.
  • Migration of video advanced search backends. We’ve migrated some backends used in video advanced search to our main search infrastructure.
  • +1 button in search for more countries and domains. This month we’ve internationalized the +1 button on the search results page to additional languages and domains. The +1 button in search makes it easy to share recommendations with the world right from your search results. As we said in our initial blog post, the beauty of +1’s is their relevance—you get the right recommendations (because they come from people who matter to you), at the right time (when you are actually looking for information about that topic) and in the right format (your search results).
  • Local result UI refresh on tablet. We’ve updated the user interface of local results on tablets to make them more compact and easier to scan.

And here are a few other changes we’ve blogged about since last time:


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Graphing on Google.com – Now in 3D

by Inside Search on March 30, 2012

A few months ago we launched a graphing functionality right in search to help students and math lovers plot functions in an easy, simple way. In addition to calculating something simple like dividing up a restaurant bill or graphing more difficult math functions using the search box, people have also been plotting some really unique and interesting functions. You’ll be able to do even more with the graphing calculator, which now supports 3D plotting as well.

Just type any real two variable function into Google to see a dynamic, interactive, three dimensional plot. Click anywhere in the graph to rotate it to check out different angles, or scale the view by zooming in or out, or by editing the range in your equation or in the lower-right legend box. For example, if you’re a student studying advanced calculus, the ability to see a three dimensional graph will help you get a better visualization for real two variable functions.





This feature is enabled by a technology called WebGL, which we’re using for the first time in Google Search. WebGL is a new web technology that brings hardware-accelerated 3D graphics to the browser without the need to install additional software. This technology is currently supported on modern web browsers such as Chrome and Firefox.

This feature is available globally, so now millions of students can explore and interact with compound math functions right in their search results. We can’t wait to see what kind of interesting functions you’ll plot!

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Learning independence with Google Search features

by Inside Search on March 29, 2012

Cross-posted from the Official Google Blog.

Searches can become stories. Some are inspiring, some change the way we see the world and some just put a smile on our face. This is a story of how people can use Google to do something extraordinary. If you have a story, share it. - Ed.

We all have memories of the great teachers who shaped our childhood. They found ways to make the lightbulb go off in our heads, instilled in us a passion for learning and helped us realize our potential. The very best teachers were creative with the tools at their disposal, whether it was teaching the fundamentals of addition with Cheerios or the properties of carbon dioxide with baking soda and vinegar. As the Internet has developed, so too have the resources available for teachers to educate their students.

One teacher who has taken advantage of the web as an educational tool is Cheryl Oakes, a resource room teacher in Wells, Maine. She’s also been able to tailor the vast resources available on the web to each student’s ability. This approach has proven invaluable for Cheryl’s students, in particular 16-year-old Morgan, whose learning disability makes it daunting to sort through search results to find those webpages that she can comfortably read. Cheryl taught Morgan how to use the Search by Reading Level feature on Google Search, which enables Morgan to focus only on those results that are most understandable to her. To address the difficulty Morgan faces with typing, Cheryl introduced her to Voice Search, so Morgan can speak her queries into the computer. Morgan is succeeding in high school, and just registered to take her first college course this summer.



There’s a practically limitless amount of information available on the web, and with search features, you can find the content that is most meaningful for you. For more information, visit google.com/insidesearch/features.html.

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Has Google changed the relevancy it awards to social media?

March 24, 2012

On February 26, 2009, Google software engineer Matt Cutts collected questions on Google Moderator and answered many of them on video.

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Will Google penalize sites which only link using the nofollow attribute?

March 24, 2012

As many webmasters are linking only in nofollow killing the natural way of links do you think Google will penalize people who only link out with nofollow attribute in the future?  

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Google Panda 3.3 Update, March 23, 2012

March 23, 2012

Google Panda 3.3 Update confirmed today, This launch refreshes data in the Panda system, making it more accurate and more sensitive to recent changes on the web.   As per Google’s announcement,  the Panda data update took place on February 27th and it included the discontinuation of a link evaluation signal. Here are the full [...]

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Find flights to destinations worldwide

March 15, 2012

(Cross-posted on the ITA Software by Google blog)

If you’re in the U.S. and thinking of hitting the slopes in the Swiss Alps or heading to Sydney for a getaway, you can now use Flight Search to find and book a flight quickly and easily.

Since we l…

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Video! The search quality meeting, uncut (annotated)

March 12, 2012

It took eight video cameras and 16 microphones, but we’ve done something new and special to give you another inside look at how search works. Today we’ve published, for the first time, a video with the uncut discussion of a proposed algorithm chang…

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