It's good to see this document. If nothing else it confirms that some of the SEO recommendations I make to clients are also things Google recommends... to itself.
Please forgive me for being incredibly cynical, but is there any possibility that this is a very ingenious way to get a laundry list of all the prevailing SEO techniques being practiced on today's web? I know, one would think that they'd have figured out most of that, but if that's the case, why the need for them to ask?
When it comes to Google, it's very trendy today to be cynical - even The Onion [theonion.com] is in the mood.
In this case, I don't think there's any such sideways motivation. No SEO is going to share a trade secret with Google, and the rest of it you can learn about at any of the public SEO conferences. What I'd say is it is an ingenious way of spreading the word about SEO basics to a world that is far from understanding them at this point.
I looked at the SEO "Report Card" and saw something interesting.
There was some talk last year on the forums about how the heading tags have been devalued by Google in its ranking algorithm.
If you look at the SEO "Report Card" it says that an H1 tag is very important.
Do you think the value of heading tags has increased over the past couple of months or do you think it may in the future based on what it says in the report card?
|I looked at the SEO "Report Card" and saw something interesting. |
I've noticed several things that many had said were no longer used however my experience and usage with Google told me different:-)
|Do you think the value of heading tags has increased over the past couple of months or do you think it may in the future based on what it says in the report card? |
The H tags have a very roller coaster history with Google - and the other search engine too. There were times where a keyword in the H tag was a very big deal, almost the way keyowrd-in-title tag is. Then webmasters got wind of it, starting abusing it by wrapping all kinds of things in an H1 tag - even the whole page sometimes!
So the H tags lost power - they were no longer a signal that search engines could use to determine relevance. And since then it's been up and down. The main point is that it DOES go up and down, and that Google continues to gather statistics on what factors are strong, or let's say "less noisy" signals for deciding relevance. So at any time the help an H1 or H2 gives your page could get stronger, or it could vanish to nothing beyond a <p> tag.
Bottom line for me is that an H1 tag structure is a well structured document. It's the way HTML was originally conceived, it all begins with having a document and then adding mark-up to it. So from a practical point of view, I'd never stop using them appropriately, or start doing something different just because the amount of "pop" they give seems to be going up again.
It's great they can grade themselves objectively and present their findings to the world. The only problem is, Google doesn't get penalized/filtered, and have to sit around for months waiting for their reconsideration request to get read. LOL. They have immunity in their own search engine. They have no need to "optimize". It's kind of a slap in the face to sit up in there and say "haha look what we forgot to do on our site...our SEO fails".
Ok, cynicism aside, it's good information and I am glad I have spent the past two months cleaning up my site/code, and implementing 301's to resolve many canonical problems. Some of my title tags were duplicates and I didn't know it until I signed up for WMT. For me, it has been a daunting task and this document gives me some reassurance that I did it the right way.
I've known that Google has less than stellar SEO on their own sites for some time but always assumed that was intentional so as not to be copied in a "if google does this I should too" kind of way.
edit: on page 4 of the report it says "Google uses
over 200 signals" in determining what a page is about, does anyone have a quick checklist of those 200 factors to make sure I didn't miss any? :-)
edit #2: The wording in the file is related to google products, is this an affiliate marketing training package for future Google affiliate pages ?
[edited by: JS_Harris at 5:31 pm (utc) on Mar 4, 2010]
What I find interesting (and annoying) is they failed on "title form" when the title is short. They point to the "Google Awords" title as an example. What more is there to say about Adwords? It is what it is. Having a short title makes it much easier to scan a set of links. There is no need to expand that title to anything longer, just to utilize up to 60 characters. The description beneath the title is where they can explain what Adwords is, to anyone who doesn't already know. I am just a big fan of short, precise titles and I think forcing longer ones is silly.
|The only problem is, Google doesn't get penalized/filtered |
The algorithm does work against Google's own pages automatically, too. And sometimes they have even handed out a manual penalty against some content that a Google team created somewhere - most recently, Google Japan [webmasterworld.com]
|There is no need to expand that title to anything longer, just to utilize up to 60 characters. |
Google AdWords - The #1 Online Ad Network
...or some such...at a minimum it can help with branding
From theonion.com "Schmidt's apology appeared suddenly at 9 a.m. Monday on Google's homepage, Chrome browser, and YouTube, as well as on every single Android-enabled cell phone, and sought to reassure Americans...."
This is joke, now I have read it, but it is a glimpse of the future
It doesn't say who prepared the Report Card and what the process was.
So it says that H1s are important. But is that because they put together a team of people, employing widely-known SEO practices and implemented?
Or is it because they put together a team of people who ran a list of widely-known SEO practices by the the search engineers and then implemented that vetted list?
In other words, there's no evidence whatsoever that the people who conducted the analysis had any insider knowledge of the algorithm.
So it may define "Best Practice as Seen by Google" but I'm not at all convinced it defines "The Current State of the Google Algorithm(s)".
That said, it's a great checklist with lots of helpful basic advice
|Webmasters can't choose when sitelinks are shown; however, they can optimize their site's |
organization and internal linking to improve their chances. The following can help:
• use a hierarchical site structure
• use descriptive anchor text for links pointing to internal pages
• avoid deep nesting of content behind many subdirectories
These optimizations assist both search engines and visitors as they navigate your site.
Okay, a little poking around and I found
Brandon Falls, Search Quality Analyst III at Google since June, 2005. Previously site admin for online gaming site (LinkedIn)
Adi Goradi "I'm Adi, a recent addition to the Webmaster Help Group as well as a member of the Search Quality team here at Google." (http://www.google.com/profiles/112453511231314768900)
Charlene Perez is also a member of the Search Quality team (http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2010/01/test-your-webmaster-know-how.html)
So basically, their on the Matt Cutts side of things. So they probably know many of the ins and outs of spam detection, what flags sites as low quality, but if I understand the way Google is structured, perhaps not that much about the actual ranking algos. Would that be correct?
|If nothing else it confirms that some of the SEO recommendations I make to clients are also things Google recommends... to itself. |
tedster, it is kind of nice and helpful to hear that even you have your own doubts from time to time and need sometime reassurance to keep you going.
I did not have time to read whole report but I found this on the first page:
|"Search engine optimization affects only organic search results, not paid or "sponsored" results, such as Google AdWords." |
Personally, I disagree totally with above statement. From my experience, nothing is farther from truth because you cannot have the optimal MONEY wise results from AdWords without good SEO, which can improve the quality score of your pages and CTR, and conversions.
Why does this thread feel like a PR piece for Gorg?!
Ah yes, thank Brett for adding much needed REALITY to the original puff piece.
|When it comes to Google, it's very trendy today to be cynical - even The Onion [theonion.com] is in the mood. |
It's called satire. [en.wikipedia.org]
(In satire, human or individual vices, follies, abuses, or shortcomings are held up to censure by means of ridicule, derision, burlesque, irony, or other methods, ideally with the intent to bring about improvement- emphasis mine.)
And its usually reserved for EDUCATING the masses or subject matter when they are SO blinded by propaganda,
ie political views/politicians, they are unable to see the truth without bias.
Odd that you think it's a "trend", yes?
I tend to be "cynical" about any person/org/country that continually "spins" the truth to suit their own agenda, aren't you?!
**One might scroll down to the definition of "Juvenalian Satire [en.wikipedia.org]" to understand 2/3 of my posts. ;)
I think its important to bear in mind that very few people, working at Google will know any more than you or I about the algo. I imagine there must be quite a bit of competition where different employees are trying to outrank each other, even competition between different departments.
|Why does this thread feel like a PR piece for Gorg?! |
No way whitenight!
We all know that they are spinning. They know that their algorithm forced SEOs to create billions of useless, unnecessary pages and links just to satisfy G so G is going back a little bit to keywords and all the way to basic HTML protocol requirements to sort through the mess.
The decaying element in the G algo is not helping eider because relevant pages are only staying relevant through ongoing never ending SEO what puts strain on the economy small and medium size businesses.
|...the lowest being "title tag format and length." |
And that is well spotted and deserves to be criticized. I have been doing tabbed browsing ever since Opera created the idea and Google's "information" and "help" pages often have titles that are nearly inscrutable - especially on a tab.
With titles being so important both for ranking and for click-through I find it amazing how awful Google's own page titles can be. Other companies too, especially the larger ones, but Google really does need to get their act together here.
I think this was a great document and I wonder how long it might be before Google could set up a validator in WMT to check , report and better guide webmasters.
It would likely go a long way to improving the quality of the index.
>> Google could set up a validator in WMT to check , report and better guide webmasters.
MS actually has exactly that, but it runs server side and it's only for IIS
Re h1 headings... I've assumed for years that enclosing arbitrary text in <h1> tags won't in any way boost the page for that text.
I still hold on to the thought, though, that in the context of well-structured, well-linked page, the presence of a relevant text heading will help the rankings of that page. It may not be necessary in this scenario that the heading needs to be tagged as an <h1>. Google might have something akin to a "quirks mode" (but for search rather than for browser rendition) which figures out what your headings are, based on other markup or context.
Some tests discussed at PubCon suggested that there was no evidence that the <h1> tag helped, but I don't know how well-structured the pages in those tests were.
I continue to use the traditional <h1>, <h2> etc HTML structure, to give Google (and the other engines) every clue I can about the meaning of a page, and to give myself a format in which to work. I think that Google's algo in many ways tries to reflect human perception, and HTML heading structure and accompanying page organization roughly parallel how people perceive a page of text visually and cognitively.
So this is Google Corporation, whose primary business is running a search engine, telling Google employees how to optimize pages that will likley be found through google.com.
The pages will also likely live on Google.com.
I think they'd be ok without the <H1> tags.
You're right - those pages WERE doing OK without H tags. Many pages from many websites hold on to a tight #1 position without any H tags at all. It's still not the best practice.
Not only that, but people do use other search engines to look for pages on google.com - it happens all the time. The major search engines have all been at least somewhat attentive to their own in-house SEO for years. So this Google initiative did not really surprise me all that much.