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1st place ranking showing 4 sites as small links - definitions

     
12:03 pm on Jul 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I just googled the word "tenacious" and the 1st place position showed 4 websites listed. A bit like site links.

I tried it with other words, but this is the only one that has shown this.

Is this new ?
4:04 pm on July 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Mods note: I've added "definitions" to the title of this thread.

Never seen it before either. It appears that Google is testing a new vertical channel... by further refining definitions.

These all seem to be dictionary sites, and the listing is clearly a definition, so I tried it for some other words.... first taking a cue from "tenacious" and trying "persistent", which also returns a definition, also in a small font, along with the same four websites, displayed as you say like mini-sitelinks, all on one line.

The dictionary sites Google is currently using appear to be...

Dictionary.com - Answers.com - Merriam-Webster - The Free Dictionary


Google has gotten pretty good at spotting queries for definitions, and these grouped definitions seem to be returned for those queries in particular which don't have many commonly-searched associations.

To test out some words, I googled [free dictionary], went to its Thesaurus section, was presented with a list of 40 random words, and tried some of them out in Google search. In very brief testing, some words I've found that return the definition with grouped suggestions are...

"persistent", "vicinity", "concerted", "vicissitudes"

When you try (multisyllabic) words that don't return the grouped definitions, you can generally figure out why. Eg, "metropolitan" and "frequently" have other associations... Metropolitan Museum of Art, Frequently Asked Questions, etc.

One more ongoing Google serps refinement. Will be interesting to see if this one sticks.

A key question to ask as Google continues to use site content in serps... is this a trade-off for these sites, where featuring them might offer them more traffic, or does presenting the definition on the serps page cost these sites traffic? If the latter, does Google pay a use fee of some sort?
5:04 pm on July 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I have a new site in progress here that I have been incorporating a few new things into that I haven't done on previous client sites.

Specifically I am putting together a glossary page and named it aptly so in addition to applying the html tags of DL, DT, DD that I wasn't aware of. Besides that each term is given a bookmark on the glossary page. Then throughout the site, where ever it is in context, I link to words that are considered keywords but may need to be defined for the visitor (medical terms). So a link would look like this...

<a href="example.html#Dweeb" title"see definition of Dweeb on glossary page">Dweeb</a>

And the linked definition like this (term borrowed from W3C) :p ...

<dl>
<dt id="Dweeb">Dweeb</dt>
<dd>young excitable person who may mature into a nerd or geek</dd>
</dl>

What I have noticed is that keywords throughout a site that link to meaningful related pages within a site are loved by Google.

As far as traffic is concerned, for a regionally focused site it isn't always a bad thing to not receive the visitor if they are from the international community at large and just looking for a definition of a term -- it will save the bandwidth. But there is going to be SEO benefits received locally or regionally. I've noticed this on another client's site even though it isn't as fine tuned as what I am applying now. Live and learn!
5:31 pm on July 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Sounds like you're doing a lot things right, SevenCubed. The SEO benefit you see is most likely to come on searches that include the word "define" - you would really be hitting the big time if you get one of those 4 links for a single word query, all on its own.
6:36 pm on July 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

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What's also really working out well for me is that I am also producing all the copywritten material for the whole site so I remember well where I've mentioned inter-related terms throughout the site and am able to inter-weave them "a la Wikipedia" style.

Ehhhhhhh, benefit for me? I'm learning a whole bunch about alternative medicine during my research to write about various topics and being paid to write about it :) ...no scraping going on here. Plus my VPS is now doing quite well at keeping major content scrapers out so her site will have a fighting chance as getting recognition as the original source before some inevitable scrapers get it.
6:58 pm on July 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Plus my VPS is now doing quite well at keeping major content scrapers out so her site...


Two questions...

1) What's a VPS?

2) What is she doing to successfully keep scrapers at bay?

Thanks in advance.
7:06 pm on July 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

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VPS = Virtual Private Server - it's a hybrid hosting solution halfway between shared hosting and dedicated hosting.

She isn't doing anything to keep scrapers at bay, she is a doctor. I've been monitoring server log files for many months and have built up an effective firewall profile to keep out nasties from well known "couldn't care less" host services while taking care not to firewall ISP for individual users. Nothing that I know of is perfect but it is keeping the main ones away.
7:13 pm on July 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the explanations :)
7:39 pm on July 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

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im not sure what google gets out of this new thing, because the definitions don't appear to have been taken from the 4 sites listed.

if you click on the 'more >>' link underneath, google seems to have its own definition at the top, which credits no one. presumably they have the rights to their own dictionary.

seeing as its the same 4 sites listed no matter which word you search for, maybe they're having to pay for the privilege.
3:07 am on July 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Google's blog "This Week in Search" featured information about a change in how and when definitions are triggered. Nothing about the four small links, but they do mention some new functionality that they call "implicit triggereing":

We added implicit triggering, which means you can simply search for [flummox] and find the definition, you don't have to search for [define flummox] or [what is flummox]. We've also improved the definition result snippet to show more details such as parts of speech and pronunciation.

[googleblog.blogspot.com...]
5:30 pm on July 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Defintions show in query suggest.

Some words that trigger definition
feisty
heightening
escalate
louche

Many more that don't
travellers
effortless
Celebes
prisages
thyrotoxicosis
stones (got love the stones)
negligences
gummite
fetlock
domesticities
ollamh
winged
zymoticer
trekking
Pterodactylidae
sugarbirds
psychologised
benes
megapod
screechy
compellingly
intubate
wordlessly
gametoecia
shorelines
centring
Makaira
paranyms
suicidologies
multifoil
farcically
chemic
wolframs (hey wolfram)
Pliofilms
callidity
crookery
disclamation
ultrafiltrates
Utopia
remissnesses
shmaltzy
gyres
Palinuridae
deflorated
willfully
fluffinesses
comforts

Conclusions
The feature is triggered rarely (10% or words, maybe much more in terms of searches)

Not great for hard, unknown words. I'd much rather google tell me that Palinuridae is a spiny lobster than define heightening or fiesty.

Definately need to add common yiddish words--such as shmaltzy--to the trigger list.
8:21 pm on July 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

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The definitions (and maybe word selection) seem to be from "The Oxford Dictionary of Difficult Words" By Archie Hobson (2004).

I assume the content has been licensed.
10:33 pm on July 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

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Google is clearly experimenting with this.

I just did a search on "vicissitudes", which earlier had returned a definition, and this time it returned the definition in the suggestion window when I'd typed "vicissitude", without the final "s"... but when I added the "s" and clicked through, I was
a translate suggestion...

Translation for vicissitudes: French English

What's interesting here, if you play around with it, is that you'll eventually bring up a translation form window enabling you to select languages, but they've selected the most likely language based on its roots for you.

Re...
Conclusions
The feature is triggered rarely (10% or words, maybe much more in terms of searches)

Not great for hard, unknown words....

It's likely to be way too early for conclusions.

Google is most likely beginning to test this definition feature on only the most common definition-type queries... and they're apparently playing around with other language features as well.

But it's clear that single word lookup for language and spelling has been identified by Google as a vertical. Hard to say how far they'll take it.

im not sure what google gets out of this new thing, because the definitions don't appear to have been taken from the 4 sites listed.

Google is trying to minimize server resources while maximizing usefulness of its site as a destination, and most probably trying to maintain some sort of a symbiosis with content providers so it doesn't put them out of business.

Most definitions I've checked for source (which you can do by searching a sentence in the definition in quotes) seem to come from encyclopedia.com, but I haven't checked this out carefully. Chances are there is a deal of some kind.
5:31 pm on July 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

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<a href="example.html#Dweeb" title"see definition of Dweeb on glossary page">Dweeb</a>

Why not do a separate page for each term? Wouldn't you rank better with a dedicated page? You could have a glossary page with short definitions, and then a link to a more extensive definition on its own page. More work but I bet it'd be worth it.
6:02 pm on July 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

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It would be a consideration if the target marketing for the audience was very competitive but in this case it's a locally focused site appealing to a population of about 5+ million with front page SERP across all major search engines pretty much wide open for the taking. So, I'm able to relax the intensity level of SEO.
8:43 pm on July 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

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That makes sense. I was just wondering, because I'm considering implementing a similar setup and thought that I would do a page for each term, and I wanted to know if there was some specific reason you would recommend against doing it that way.
2:16 am on July 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

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I wonder how much this will affect the SERPS.
If you were looking for a definition, in most cases you probably won't need to click on a link.

Loss of visitors and revenue.