Monday, 25 February 2008

No follow tag on Blog comments- Throwing the baby out with the bath water?

I guess a lot of people have probably noticed that most of the major bogging platforms are now adding the no follow tag automatically to all links in the comment sections of blogs. The Theory is that this will prevent comment spamming as gaining a link in the comment section will have no SEO benefit. Seems like a good plan on the face of it but did anyone stop to think about all the good quality comments which do actually link to other relevant blogs? Is this not how search engines discover and rank these new blogs? In my opinion by not allowing comment links to be indexed a lot of great blogs will never be discovered. Also on a side note Yahoo still seems to follow and index these links even if it doesn’t transfer any web rank.

I guess the most sensible way of dealing with the spam would have been to force people to moderate their comments. Ah well talk about using a sledge hammer to crack an egg!

Saturday, 9 February 2008

Google Algorithm Update – Don’t Panic!

It looks like over the past week a large Google algorithm update has been rolled out across the Google Empire, sending SEOs and business owners into a frenzied panic about search engine results. This post aims to put a little perspective on the whole thing.

First things first: don’t panic. Now this is really important as if you act in haste you will almost surely repent at leisure. Making hasty changes to a site which was previously performing well is not a good idea, the reason for this is that frequently the Googlies (people who work at Google) will roll out an update notice: it doesn’t work very well and tweak it or roll it back. Also, update seems to take time to settle down and this one clearly hasn’t yet I have had results moving from position five to thirty in a matter of hours and then moving back again.

Once things have settled down then you may decide to make some tweaks to your site. Unless you are doing something seriously black hat tweaks are likely to be all you need to make.
How should you change to adapt to the new Google algorithm? Honestly I don’t know yet. We need to let it settle down and pick through the results. Early indications seem to point to a shift away from the tradition Page Rank system towards a system based more on social media votes and up-to-date content, but we shall see as time goes by.

Why have Google changed the algorithm?

Probably a combination of two things; firstly the Google index is months behind Yahoo in displaying up to date results as Google has in the past made it very hard for new sites and content to display high up the rankings quickly and secondly because they have lord knows how many people with PHDs working there and they need something to do. A third possible reason is that Google wants to once and for all put an end to link spamming by using social media as more of an indication, which would be a foolish move in my opinion as social media can be easily manipulated, as it just requires manpower. If this is the case expect to see social media sites flooded with fake people and a ton of companies setting up in countries with low labour costs to provide the manpower to do this. Well done Google you may have just wrecked social media.

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Google Adwords goes demographic!

Google has announced that it will be carrying out a Beta test on demographic targeting for Adwords. This will allow advertisers to target people by basic demographics such as age and sex. The test is only taking place on the content network to begin with. I am guessing Google will use sites that make people login and provide demographic information to begin with, Facebook would be an obvious starting point.

Could this test lead to demographic targeting in search results?

Although some doubt it, I firmly believe that demographic targeting will soon be available for search network ads. Google could collect demographic data through services such as G-mail and as the user stays logged in when searching. The search results and the Adwords adverts down the left hand side would then be affected by the data gathered on that person’s login. The I Google service is a further indication of Google eventual intention to do this.

Although this kind of targeting is great from a commercial point of view on a personal level it is quite scary. Although in theory the search results will be better suited to you. Does anyone really like the idea of a company being able to gather that kind of information on you?