|The SEO benefits of Google's similar site feature|
I'd like to hear opinions about Google's 'similar sites' function and if you feel that any actionable SEO data is being given by it. If you've never heard of this function it's a link beside the urls in some search results. For many sites the little green dropdown arrow in serps only has a link to 'cache' but in many there is also a link, or only a link, to a 'similar' option. Clicking on the similar sites function shows you a new set of serps with pages Google feels are similar.
- Do 'similar' results indicate that perhaps your page is not as unique as it could be? Should you improve/modify it?
- Are 'similar' urls indicative of pages that would yield ideal backlinks for that page?
- What other suggestions can we infer from the presence of a similar link next to any given page?
It has always seemed to me that it's random, although within industry/category. I personally see no value in it at all.
Similar sites can also be listed by performing the following search on Google:
|For many sites the little green dropdown arrow in serps only has a link to 'cache' but in many there is also a link, or only a link, to a 'similar' option. |
|It has always seemed to me that it's random, although within industry/category |
It is random to a degree. I think it shows how Google "understands" what the site is about. The SEO benefits could be:
1) Looking at the "similar sites", it can help you understand how Google sees/categorises your site. If a similar sites are way out or too broad to what you think it should be, perhaps the site is not focused/IA developed in a way that Google understands it the way you would want Google to understand it
2) If the "similar sites" shows bad neighbourhood, this *may* indicate a hack or perhaps a negative SEO and should certainly be investigated
3)A site may not have "similar" link (or "related:" search may not return any results). This may mean that Google is not able to categorise the site narrowly enough to show what it understand the similar sites are
For example, the search related:webmasterworld.com shows not only other SEO and Webmaster forums, but also searchenginewatch as well as googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com, indicating that Google sees WebmasterWorld as a webmaster forum, but also as a site with SEO topic as well as a site that discusses Google.
Way, way, way back when, the similar sites function simply worked off links, Google assuming that sites linked to similar or related content. Not sure if this has changed, or if it has, don't know when.
I haven't checked this in quite a while, but a related:example.com/pagefile search used to return domains/pages that shared an inbound link source with the url being checked.
As the web has grown, it appears that Google is looking at the results in ways that go beyond a simple shared link source. It's probably now a statistical view of what, on a smaller web, was a simple list. Google maxes out on related: searches at about 190 results, at least on those I tried.
Thinking out loud, related: returns mostly domains, probably to be expected... but perhaps a way of merging a group of pages.
Interesting to see that the data includes "no-follow" links". Not sure if that was always the case.
|Interesting to see that the data includes "no-follow" links". |
Could you be more detailed about this particular, Whitey... what you mean by "the data" and where you're seeing it?
I think it's an interesting point.
|Could you be more detailed about this particular |
A site, I looked at, referred to under related:widget.com , had some links shown in the results, with "no-follow" in the code of the referring site. Google seems to have ignored the do follow, in attributing a relationship to the originating site. Hope that makes sense.
I don't know how extensive it is, but folks might want to check it out. Especially as Google is coy about showing off everything that it thinks or knows about your site. It's probably not an issue in terms of false positives elsewhere, but who knows. I guess this might be a question mark in terms of +/- or just neutral influence. Who knows.
|A site, I looked at, referred to under related:widget.com , had some links shown in the results, with "no-follow" in the code of the referring site. Google seems to have ignored the do follow, in attributing a relationship to the originating site. Hope that makes sense. |
Interesting. As I mentioned in another thread Matt Cutts himself asked if webmasters would be ok with Google helping us out by being selective towards the nofollow attribute. At the time my understanding was that some websites shoot themselves in the foot with nofollow, it's a relic from the internal pagerank sculpting days, and that Google could ignore it when it benefits the site(s). Thinking that question through one could only come to the conclusion that Google would ignore nofollow when Google trusts the site being linked to already, and here the question is raised again under 'similar' links.
More on topic: Has anyone used the 'similar' site/page results as a template for contacting sites to see if a backlink might make sense? Google is telling you the sites/pages are similar so it's hard to ignore that these would/should likely share many connections.
As far as I can see the pages are rarely linked together but my broken link scanner might not be the best tool to get a definitive answer on that. I do know that none of the first 50 similar sites link to mine according to GWT. If the similar sites feature is essentially our roadmap for where links might belong I'd like to know but documentation is hard to find.
|I do know that none of the first 50 similar sites link to mine according to GWT |
The similarity isn't necessarily because they link to your site, but that they share a similar backlink profile. For years, I used this tool to try to find other websites that were chasing my backlinks. I deliberately wanted to have a different backlink profile, because I felt that, like unique content, the backlink profile should be unique. Backlink chasing was such an obvious form of link acquisition. When I look at the related sites in my niche, the top results seem to be the ones that have been most heavily penalized over the past couple of years. As I surf down through the results, I see more of the pages that routinely appear in the search results on various queries.