Blog covering a variety of Search Engine Optimization topics.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Grow Up Google

Where we sit, here in late 2006, I'd say we're all in a relationship with a search engine that is somewhere around the 3rd grade level in its development. Overall, I love Google and all the improvements and progressions that have taken place with its search algorithm over the past 5 years. But there are things that I read about everyday on all these SElebrity blogs and on the forums that I can easily see going on in my verticals that should change.

Domain age and its association with the "trust" Google has in a site is one. I understand the intentions behind wanting to limit the ranking capabilities of a brand new domain and all the good implications of trusting more established websites. What bothers me about the exectuion, though, is twofold. One, it has allowed some older, trusted domains that I compete with to get away with things that would make your mother blush - without repercussion. When a company can host the exact same website on 5 domain names and not see a penalty that is fucked up.

Second, a great number of the websites that are currently "trusted" by the almighty were created in 1997 and have yet to see a redesign. Sweet clip art logo buddy, have #2 in the SERPs. We've been asked to create a better user experience, a more accessible website, and Google apparently believes that a design some nerd created the night he saw Titanic in the theater for the 4th time is the answer. That's impossible. Every day of every year, web design is improving. Time to consider this big boy. I mean honestly, there have to be at most 8-10 well designed websites in any SERP, but you choose to spread them out over the top 100. I know you've got a bunch of kids hanging around in the Googleplex out there stocking the place with Nakeds and wiping down the roller rink - get those people in front of a SERP and have them look at some websites. If they look like they were made in Microsoft Paint and no one has touched them in 5 years, send them on down the results.

Text / link location has been cited a lot this year with respect to how it is done on page and also with external linking. Link location on a page has come to matter a great deal for me in my optimization efforts because of it. Links in sidebars, links pushed down towards the bottom of the page - these are no good anymore (well, supposedly). I don't know how much this is being put into practice by G's algorithm so I'm reluctant to commment, but I struggle to believe that the majority of site owners out there have any clue about where they should stick a link to ensure that it truly is seen as an editiorial vote. The only people that know about the importance of link location are SEO's. If they know what location to get links in, they will get them there. It's not solving anything by discounting links in certain locations. If someone has 100 links in a blogroll or similar, that is easily taken care of algorithmically (is that a word?). I just hope they aren't pulling the juice out of well-intentioned links because of a user's layout or choice of where to put them.

Now, text location with respect to how you yourself lay out your site is the other thing. If you look at any big, successful website you see a sleek look with a logo / name in the top left and then a graphical navi bar. If you are looking to optimize your site, however, it seems that placing relevant, keyword-laden text as far up in the page as possible is the way to go. It's also a good idea to make your main navigation from straight text so the bots can see it. Which begs the question, what would look like if they had 4 sentences above their logo and navigation about books and DVDs and free shipping? There are toolsheds in my industries that (along with their 1997 clip art logo mind you) have some keyword stuffing prose awkwardly sitting above what I guess you can call a website. Where must the line be drawn? You can't create a user-friendly, accessible website with a big block of text at the top. It looks terrible.

I could go on but we'll leave it with those complaints for now. Grow up Google . . . or on your next trip to the monkey bars you'll be met by an aluminum bat wielding Donkey complements of SEOThursday.

**Additional: If any of you readers out there are also into that voodoo called "PPC", check out my compatriot's new blog Life in the Blue. There aren't many PPC-oriented blogs out there and this kid knows what's up as much as anyone. Peep it.


  • At 2:15 PM, Anonymous said…

    Nice Blog, some interesting info and thoughts, a bit radical for me at times but thats ok.


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