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In the case mentioned by Greg the top site could be returned by an algo in which link pop scores well, with the remaining sites given by a themes algorithm.
Has anyone seen any evidence of this sort of thing happening ?
A novel way of testing a new algo could be to use the new algo to return the even numbered search results, with the old algo returning the odd numbered results. Click throughs could then be monitored to determine which is the most relevant.
I keep getting drawn back to the related pages feature at AV.
I have a domain targeted at a competitive [ish] two word phrase which in the last week has seen good improvement in ranking. The improvement has been seen across a wide range of less competitive stems as well as the targeted phrase.
What has changed:
A couple of months ago the text hyperlinks, used to navigate the site, were changed to include more keywords. The site moved from the 50's to the 20's.
Overall link pop has slightly improved over the last few weeks but nothing really striking and stands at 23 links.
The pages returned by like:www.thedomain.com have shown the most dramatic change.
To cut a long story short the previous pages returned as "like" were almost exclusively from two identical pages containing links to local companies, which included the domain in question. AV grabbed the sites slightly above and slightly below the domain's listing and showed these as related pages. Interestingly AV also showed sites as "like" from the same page, which although much further down the page, are related to the targeted keywords.
The change now is that AV has included more pages within the "like" results returned which are related to the sites targeted key words. It seems that AV has had a "sudden" realisation of what the site is about and is now showing this through the "like" results returned. If this is true I expect more results to be added to the "like" results and that these will be on theme.
A small experiment, no cheating ;)
The links below will run a "like" search at AV, see if you can guess what the site ranks well for. [Try not to look at the search box or address bar, pretend it's a banner ad ;)]
If they're using a agent based cloaking sytem (which most people don't use), You can use a program like web bug that will allow you to fake different user agents.
Yep, compare this title and description to what you see in the source code, if they don't match don't emulate that page. (remember that some search engines don't use meta descriptions)
"What about pages I try to view source and there is little data for keywords, description, etc... yet they seem to rank high"
It's still possible to rank high without even using meta keywords or descriptions. If they're not using a description check to see if the search engine is pulling body text to use as a description.
"Alta Vista I am told likes short doorway pages, yet I have not really run across those for the higher placing pages."
I wouldn't pigeon hole AV as just liking short pages. Most of my high ranking pages have a good amount of body text.