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High Rankings Advisor: Google's Patent Implications - Issue No. 142

June 22, 2005
~~~IN TODAY'S ADVISOR~~~

*Search Engine Marketing:
---->   Google's Patent Implications

*This Week's Sponsors:
---->   SEM Kit for Search Engine Marketers
---->   SEO Copywriting Combo

*Guest Article:
---->   Switching to a New Domain Without Losing Your Google Rankings

*High Rankings Forum Threads of the Week:
---->   Advertising Outside of Search Engines
---->   Benefits Of A Totally Css Driven Site

*Advisor Wrap-up:
---->   How Many Boo-boos Did You Find?
________________________________________________________

~~~Introductory Comments~~~

Hey everyone!  I've got a couple of great articles for you today,
which just so happen to fit together nicely.  The first is some
information I've put together regarding Google's recent patent
application, which was made public a few months ago.  The second
article is from our friend Scottie, who explains the necessary steps
you'll need to take to avoid Google's aging delay when switching the
domain name of an existing site.

We hope you'll find this information useful! - Jill


~~~Search Engine Marketing Issues~~~

++Google's Patent Implications++

You may have already heard or read about Google's latest patent
application regarding "information retrieval based on historical data"
(see: <http://tinyurl.com/4o9vj>), but if you're like me, you probably
didn't bother to read it all.  Patents are not easy to read, that's
for sure!  I had skimmed it and glanced at a few forum posts and
articles that discussed it, but until today, I hadn't actually read it
completely.

I wasn't surprised about the stuff in the patent that corresponded
with Google's aging delay and its "sandbox" as I had already seen a
lot of discussion on this.  For those who aren't familiar with the
aging delay and the sandbox, you'll want to note that there is a lot
of disagreement over what causes a site to be thrown in the sandbox.
However, based on my own observations and the experiences of some
trusted SEO friends, it's my belief that the sandbox is basically a
purgatory database where Google places certain URLs based on a variety
of predetermined criteria.  (Much of this is spelled out in the first
part of the patent application.)

The aging delay, on the other hand, is actually a subset of the
sandbox.  In other words, the aging delay is just *one* reason why a
URL might get placed in the sandbox.

Basically, if you have a brand new domain/website, it will
automatically land in the sandbox regardless of anything that you do
with it.  Your new website will be stuck there for an unspecified
period of time (averaging around 9 months these days) and it will not
rank highly in Google for any keyword phrases that might bring it any
decent traffic.  Yes, it can sometimes rank highly for the company
name, or the names of the people who run the company.  It may also
show up in Google for a few additional phrases that other sites are
not focusing on within their content.  But new domains will not show
up in Google's natural results for even slightly competitive keyword
phrases until they are removed from the sandbox.

Other reasons why a site might be placed in the sandbox go beyond the
aging delay.  Google's major algorithm upheavals such as the recent
one dubbed "Bourbon" by the folks at WebmasterWorld, show all too
clearly that old domains can also be placed in the sandbox, under the
right (or in this case wrong) circumstances.  Nobody can really say
for sure what the criteria is, but Google's patent does give us some
insight into what some of them might be.

For instance, did you know that Google might use traffic data from
sites when determining how to rank them? The patent application
specifically states in part "...information relating to traffic
associated with a document over time may be used to generate (or
alter) a score associated with the document."  Since the application
was filed in 2003, it would be a pretty safe bet to say that they are
in fact using that information in today's ranking algorithm.

You might be wondering how they get information about your site's
traffic since you're not providing them with your log files or traffic
reports.  Well, Google has some nifty big brother spyware installed on
tons and tons of people's browsers in the form of the "Google
Toolbar."  In order to use certain functions of the toolbar, users
have to agree to allow data to be transferred back to Google, which
includes which sites they've visited, and how long they were there.
Now, this isn't any cause for alarm if you're a Google toolbar user,
as they're not actually identifying you personally (as far as I know).
They are simply taking the aggregate data that they receive and then
using it for whatever purposes they see fit.  It actually makes
perfect sense that they'd use this data to perfect their ranking
algorithm.  Highly trafficked sites are popular sites, and Google
would want to ensure that their searchers easily find popular sites.

Another factor used in Google's ranking algorithm is clickthroughs
from the search results pages.  In Google's patent they say, "[Google]
may monitor the number of times that a document is selected from a set
of search results and/or the amount of time one or more users spend
accessing the document. [Google] may then score the document based, at
least in part, on this information."  Google has had tracking URLs on
most of the links appearing in their search results for quite some
time.  With these in place, they can study which pages are getting
clicked for which queries.  They can also figure out whether people
are satisfied with the page they clicked on by making note of whether
the user came back to the results page and clicked on additional
results.

There's lots more in the patent regarding links and anchor text,
including the length of time it takes for links to show up, and
whether they fit the profile for being artificial or natural.  Suffice
it to say that as long as you're not attempting to artificially
inflate your link popularity, then you have nothing to worry about.

I cannot stress enough that the ideas in this patent have been put
forth as spam fighting measures.  Unfortunately, as soon as the search
engines start giving things like links any kind of prominence in their
ranking algorithm, they get abused by those whose only goal is to
"game" the engines.  There will always be people who set out to obtain
high rankings through exploiting weaknesses in the algorithms.  They
create numerous websites based on the algorithm of the day, and make
as much money as they can until their sites are caught.  Then they
simply figure out the next loophole and start the process all over
again.  It's an interesting and exciting business model, but certainly
not one that a company in business for the long haul should be
interested in.

If you have a real company that is looking to establish a real brand
and a long-term customer base, then you'll want to stick with the
basic SEO techniques which have been proven to work time and again.
In other words, the stuff I've been teaching and doing for years.
Yes, it can be time consuming and a huge amount of hard work and/or
money to do things the right way, but the reward is long-term search
engine success.

It is true that even for those who do practice what I preach, there
have been occasions when some search engines mistakenly throw the baby
out with the bathwater.  That is, you may do everything by the book,
but something somewhere trips a spam filter and your site may
mistakenly get sandboxed, penalized or banned.  This is certainly
rare, but not as rare as it used to be.  Each new search engine update
brings new cries of "Where's my site?!" from people who didn't do
anything to deceive the engines.  One can only hope that the engines
work quickly to allow these sites to get back into the rankings as
quickly as possible.

At any rate, you should never count on your natural search results as
your sole method of bringing you business.  Be sure to use traditional
advertising, word of mouth, public relations and whatever forms of
marketing suit your business objectives.

Here's hoping that the search engines keep getting better, and they
finally figure out a way to separate the wheat from the chaff once and
for all!

Jill


(P.S. If you'd like to republish the above Q&A article, please email
me your request and where it will reside, and I'll send you a short
bio you can use with it for your site.)


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__________________________________________________


~~~Guest Article~~~

++Switching to a New Domain Without Losing Your Google Rankings++

Today's article by Scottie Claiborne is a nice follow up to my Google
patent article because Scottie explains how to change your domain name
without getting creamed by Google's aging delay.  If you have been
afraid to start using your new domain name with your old site, this
article is a must read! - Jill


Switching to a New Domain Without Losing Your Google Rankings
By Scottie Claiborne

You've got a site that needs a new domain.  Maybe it's a rebranding
issue, or maybe it's a folder or subdomain that has outgrown the
current site.  There may be dozens of reasons why your currently
indexed and well-ranked site needs a new domain name.

Unfortunately, Google doesn't seem to recognize that you've simply
changed the URL of an existing site, and ends up subjecting the new
domain to the aging delay
</issue126.htm#guest> as if it were a brand
new out-of-the-box site. It doesn't seem fair when you've struggled to
earn the rankings you have now! You really can't afford to lose the
traffic you already have, but there is a real business need for the
change.  What should you do?

Permanent Redirect Not Always the Best Choice

Conventional wisdom will tell you to redirect the old domain to the
new domain using a 301 "permanently moved" response.  This tells the
engines that the old URL is no longer going to be used and the new one
is the correct one, so that they can update their index with the
appropriate URL.

However, if you follow this usually accurate advice, you'll find the
new pages do not automatically assume the positions of the old ones in
Google...they will remain off the chart. Even though you are telling
Google that this site is exactly the same as the old one, the aging
filter will still apply. This doesn't seem like the best strategy, as
your site will remain in oblivion until it ages properly.

Temporary Redirect is the Way to Go

By using a 302 "temporarily moved" response instead of a 301, the
original URL will remain in Google's index, and maintain its position
as if the page were still there.  However, visitors who click on the
link will be brought to your new URL, exactly where you want them to
be. It's the best of both worlds -- you retain your rankings during
that interim aging period, but visitors are redirected to the updated
and correct domain.

Once the 302-redirect is in place, it's imperative to start a linking
campaign for the new site. You'll need links pointing to it in order
for it to be ready to rank highly when it's released from the aging
filter.  When you notice the new domain starting to show up in the
rankings (anywhere from 6-12 months, typically) then it's time to
contact your previous linking partners to update their links from the
old domain to the new one.

The Final Move

Once the new domain has properly aged, go back and change the
302-temporary redirect to a 301-permanent redirect.  This will
transfer the link popularity from the original site and finalize the
move to the new domain.  It's a good idea to retain those original
pages at the old domain until you are reasonably sure all the links
around the 'Net have been updated with your new URL.

Moving a site can be a real pain, but by following this strategy you
won't have to sacrifice your hard-earned Google rankings while waiting
for the clock to tick.

Scottie Claiborne
Successful Sites
http://www.successful-sites.com/


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At the same time, keeping your keywords featured prominently is
a bit of a juggling act.

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</combo.htm>
__________________________________________________


~~~High Rankings Forum Threads of the Week~~~

++Advertising Outside of Search Engines++

Forum member Fuzzie Bear asks, "Do you advertise solely on the web
through search engines, or do you advertise elsewhere, e.g.
newspapers, flyers etc.?"

A great debate ensues as to whether it's a good idea to spend 100% of
your advertising budget on PPC if it's providing you with a positive
return on your investment.

Read more and post your thoughts here:
</forum/index.php?showtopic=15084>.


++Benefits Of A Totally CSS Driven Site++

I was recently showing our lead designer the CSS Zen Garden site
<http://www.csszengarden.com/> so she could see what was possible with
an all CSS design. She found it interesting, and was going to look at
it further, but she couldn't help but wonder what the benefits of that
type of design were.

Take a look at the benefits our forum members came up with, as well as
some alternate points of view here:
</forum/index.php?showtopic=15075>.


~~~Advisor Wrap-up~~~

That's all for today!  I hope there weren't too many boo-boos in
today's newsletter.  My proofreader has moved on to bigger and better
things, so I'm flying solo today.  I'm sure it won't be perfect for
any English majors out there, but here's hoping that it's good enough
for the rest of you! ;-)  I purposely avoided using the words "affect"
or "effect" because I will never remember their correct usage!  (Don't
bother to tell me, as it just goes in one ear and out the other.)  I'm
sure I got some of the hyphenating wrong as well, as that's my other
weak point.  I also sometimes use apostrophes incorrectly, but not
because I don't know how to use them, just because I sometimes type
too quickly and then don't catch the mistakes on my own.  Oh well!

Catch you in two weeks! - Jill

 
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