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Where’s The Google Algorithm Going?

Red Herrings, The Social Google, and a Directionless Algorithm

Where's Google Going?

Where's Google Going?

David Harry (a.k.a. The Gypsy), a fellow search geek and publisher of the Fire Horse Trail and the SEO Dojo, wrote a truly stunning piece yesterday on Google’s social search efforts. On top of it being invasive and creepy, it also got me thinking about how the algorithm is taking all this into account. A few things happened in the last week that have changed what we thought we knew about Google. Let’s Start with the red herrings and/or misinformation campaign.

Using the Truth as a Red Herring

It seems odd when you say it out loud. But, since SMX Advanced, when Mr. Cutts announced the “nofollow” attribute was not being adhered to, it appears that someone within the Plex has been given sodium pentathol. All sorts of things, we knew for the most part, are starting to leak from the mouthes of babes.  Two examples:


They’ve been worthless to the Google Algorithm for some time (years), but they’ve just finally confirmed this publicly. (Excluding the court case of 2008. Read the SEL post on it: Here) Why should this change anything, if most of us weren’t counting on them anyway?

Well, outside the legal implications of protecting themselves, they were hoping, in my opinion, to catch and bundle a whole bunch of websites wiping out meta-keywords. As with the “nofollow” incident, where swoons of webmasters suddenly began following again, perhaps they’re looking for evidence of “touched” sites.

Remember that Google isn’t the only search engine in town. Yahoo (formerly a search engine) and Bing (more of a decision engine by their own admission) are still looking at them. And, again, the point isn’t that it is an SEO advantage, but you should still have them there. If only 1 or 2.

H1 and H2

Adam Lasnik (via Andrew Goodman) unleashed one yesterday: H1 and H2 tags are not taken into account by the algorithm. Again, not really a surprise. Using these tags is a great practice for semantics and users, so I’m not sure why SEOs would rely on these to push SERP position.

What’s the point in mentioning these? I feel like it’s a misinformation campaign, just as with the nofollow attribute. I get the sense of entrapment on Google’s part; simply waiting in the bush waiting to pounce on the less-confident, less-knowledgeable, and yes, pure bullshit artists franticly racing to “fix’ client sites upon them divulging this information.

Ultimately, there’s something behind this information being told. Whether it’s to monitor site activity and pinpoint “touched” sites or monitor ripples through the net, I can’t be sure. One thing is for sure: information like this isn’t let loose for no benefit on some level.

The Social Google

Within the last few months, GOOG has had an explosion of social augmentation. It’s latest advent, Sidewiki, is really something that can be a) abused easily and b) could really play havoc with the SERPs should they be credited and taken into account on any level.

I’ve got the feeling that not even “man behind the curtain” knows what it should be looking at in order to provide the most relevant results. They want to be as “real-time” as possible (now including Trends as a one-box in SERPs, as reported by Danny), yet still maintaining the good content and resources the made it the number 1 search engine.  It’s a hard line to balance, especially with outside influences (read big brand and news lobbyists) pushing the play book around.

Google is all over the place now. They were always a hydra, to be sure, but now their tentacles are extending over more dangerous ground. So much so, that it’s going difficult to know where to place value and trust.

Directionless Algorithm

They are playing so much catch up on the “real-time” search, really trying to be “relevant” for it, that it will be hard to know which properties to trust. Of course, the simple answer is that Google will trust their own properties before other properties.

And, once you factor in the previous algorithm changes (i.e. Caffeine and Vince) with this surge of social media inclusion, who can really say what’s going to happen. Even with concurrent testing there’s no definite answer: what is true today, will most likely not be true three months from now.

And, afterall, perhaps this was the point. Another misdirection play by Google. Unleash all these interesting social tools, get the SEO/SEM crowd moving and gravitating toward it.  and while everyone is trying to figure it out, keep everything business as usual.

Personally, I think if you keep doing the core elements: building solid site structures, using onsite SEO intelligently and judiciously, building your offsite SEO quietly effectively, and getting in where you fit in on the social media side, nothing much will happen to you or your site.

If the object is quality, if really is to bring quality results, then everything mentioned above ensures that. If Google is going to leverage their power unfairly, for example pushing larger corporate entities, then there’s nothing you can do about it.  At some level this game (SEO) is always “reactionary” and not “proactive”. Adapt and overcome.


Give Out Your #SEMCrush

Give out Your #SEMCrush

Give out Your #SEMCrush

Earlier this week, Dana Lookadoo (Lookadoo), Shana Albert (NannyTweeting), and I came up with a new way to show your Twitter love. #SEMCrush. Don’t get me wrong, #FollowFriday is great. It’s just that with every new person that you want to follow you, you pick up 5 spam bots.

#FollowFriday was born in January 2009 with Micah Baldwin’s Tweet. (Read the entire history at Mashable’s Anatomy of a Twitter Trend) Essentially, what this story proves, is that it only takes a few to get a good thing started. And, unfortunately, it only takes a few to exploit it before it becomes worthless.

And, that’s where #followfriday is at today: nearly worthless and a total, complete SPAM tag. I’m not saying don’t use the tag, by all means use it. But, we wanted to celebrate the SEM industry with a hashtag that means something to community. Thus #SEMCrush was born.

It’s a way to show your honor and respect for folks in the search marketing industry. And, since “crushing” is all the rage these days (i.e. #girlcrush, #bromance, etc.) why not have one for the SEM people.

Spread Your #SEMCrush This Friday

So, with the last half of this Friday, spread your #SEMCrush, or #semcrush, to anyone whom you honor and respect in the SEM industry.


The SEO of Now

The Uninitiated Looking for “The SEO of Now”

I suppose it’s time to throw my two cents in on the “SEO is Underground” topic. The prerequisite reading for this post are as follows:

johnon_comSEO Goes Back Underground in 2009

seo_book_logoSome Popular SEO Experts Don’t Know Much About SEO

What SEO is on tap for today?

What SEO is on tap for today?

What’s today’s special?

That’s the mentality that breeds within the SEO community. Everyone is looking for shortcuts to search marketing success (i.e. what corners can I cut?).  I am asked ALL THE TIME, what’s the easiest thing I can do (implying there are “tricks” or otherwise “some magic potion” I can sprinkle on their website) to stimulate instant growth and success. With little to no work. The uninitiated are always looking for the SEO of now.

The SEO of Now is simply a reiteration of a ‘soup du jour’ concept: what’s hot today? I have to agree with both John and Aaron, that the majority of SEO professionals are underground.  Some of the things I read are simply laughable. Similarly, there is a mentality among those SEO publishers that we should “do as I say, not as I do”. The professionals doing the bone-grinding work; the solid-method-not-flashy-testing, are locked away in a room going blind sifting, analyzing data and seldom publishing those efforts. That said, there are professionals out there do, with best intentions in mind, stand in the limelight and provide great information. They are out there, but far and few between.


It’s the rockstar (the “me-me-I-I-meme”) socio-cultural tendency that leads to the SEO of Now. It’s the want/need to be center-stage that allows the Jell-O SEO out into the open. That’s the true savagery of the of community: this idea that you have to have stardom and face-time to be heard and taken seriously. It’s that thinking that propagates the SEO of Now horseshit. People talking to just talk and make a headline for themselves.

SEO Pixie Dust is the SEO of Now

SEO Pixie Dust is the SEO of Now

Why I Welcome the SEO of Now

It may sound strange, but I keep praying for the SEO of Now folks to keep pumping out their garbage. The truth of the matter is short-cuts and fluff are going to get you burned. And, yes, it’s going to burn those of not involved too, but the strong survive.

It’ll be those proclaiming expert, professional knowledge, and producing nothing but junk, that die off first. You can fool some people sometimes, but you can’t fool all the people all the time.


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