Tag Archives: SEO

Google Search Results Filling Up with Spam

Continued from first page How Content Mills Beat Google.

The most well-known Google ranking signal is the number of incoming web links pointing at a webpage.  A webpage with 500 incoming links is considered “better” than one with 20 incoming links.  While those other ranking signals may have some impact where pages have link counts within a few hundred of each other, the fact is that a webpage with 5,000 links will rank higher than one with 50 links regardless of how many of the other ranking signals suggest the lesser linked site should rank higher.

The only other question to be answered is what each webpage should rank for.  That question is answered for Google by a webpage’s title tag.

junk search resultsGoogle’s search algorithm does a basic pattern text matching against the title tag of each webpage in the index.  The closest matches are put through the ranking algorithm and scored to determine the top results. The next closest matches are then ranked against each other and so on.

Unfortunately, the pattern matching that Google does is pretty rudimentary.  When a user enters a search query like quiet hamster wheels Google’s ranking algorithm starts by finding the exact matches, then looks for those that match some of the words in order, then ones that match all of the words (not in order), then ones that match some of the words and so on. The more exacting the match, the higher the relevancy of the page. There is some overlap, especially when there are not enough very close matches to rank, but for the most part, the closer a webpage matches the query exactly, the higher it will rank.

The content mills churn out not one article on quiet hamster wheels, like any legitimate pet information website would do, but rather they publish numerous articles with variations on the title.  When a user searches in a way that closely matches the title tag of the high quality article it likely will rank higher thanks to legitimate diversified links from other websites.  However, when a user searches using slightly different phrasing, the high-value article from the pet information website is up against a webpage with a more similar name.  Google considers that lower quality page to be more “relevant” and therefore ranks it higher even though it has nothing but the supposedly lower-worth backlinks from the same website.

Make Money Writing Online Using Content Mill Tactics

If you want to make money writing online with your own websites, then you need to learn from the content mills tactics, if for no other reason than to keep them from beating you.

Always link your own content. Those links might not be as valuable as offsite links, but they do count for something.  Link your highest value webpages a lot. Link everything else at least a little.

Always pay attention to your title tags.  If your analytics start showing that people are finding your webpage by searching for a keyword or key phrase that differs more than a little from your title tag, change the title tag to fit better before someone beats you to it.  Even better, write another webpage with an exact fit title tag with useful (if re-phrased) information from the original and then link to both. If things go your way, you can rank highly for both variations, just like the content mills do.

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How Content Mills Beat Google

There has been a lot of news lately about how spam-filled Google’s search results pages have become over the last few years.  One of the oft blamed culprits are the so-called content mills.  A content mill is essentially a website that cranks out high volumes of webpages in order to always have something ranking highly for any search a user might perform.  They are also masters at search engine optimization, or SEO.

If you believe in the Google myth that content is king and that high-quality content will eventually become highly ranked, this should be confusing.

  • How can it be that a website cranking out thousands of webpages a day gets high-quality backlinks from authoritative website linked to all of that new content?
  • How can anyone generate that much quality content so quickly?

content mills vs googleThe answers to both questions are, they don’t.

How To Really Rank High In Google Search Results

Most of the content published by content mills has no links pointing to it whatsoever from external websites. However, every page links to multiple other pages within the same website.  Based on size alone that ensures that a website like eHow has a 1,000 incoming links to each of its articles.  These links are produced automatically by the system regardless of quality, but each one counts as a link to the Google spiders who gobble them up like ravenous rats.

Part of Google’s mythology is that it distinguishes incoming links and that good links are more valuable than bad links.  However, live search results prove that whatever downgrading or upgrading Google hands out based upon the quality of any webpage’s incoming links is easily overwhelmed by sheer volume.

Imagine that Google makes an incoming link from the same domain count for only 1/10th of what an external link would count for.  That means it only takes ten same-site incoming links to score the same as one incoming link from off-site.  Each content mill webpage has hundreds or thousands of same-site income links thanks to its volume of published pages.  Couple these low-value links with the content mills’ other trick and you have a recipe to rank high in Google search results for anything.

Of course, the content mills don’t put all their eggs in one basket.  Most of them run several websites all with thousands of webpages to use to boost linking whatever content they want.

Google’s Algorithm Overvalues Title Tags

Google claims that there are hundreds of factors that go into each ranking.  In practice, there are two or three factors that make up the vast majority of a webpage’s search ranking position and the rest are small factors that rarely influence anything but the thinnest of searches.

Next Page:  Google search results filling up with spam

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Real Secret to SEO

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is a big concern for many writers and website developers. The concept of SEO runs counter to pretty much everything a good writer learns. SEO suggests that a webpage can rank higher in search engine results pages, or SERPs, based on how well it conforms to certain search engine friendly concepts rather than based on how good the content of the page is. Even worse, many of the main SEO rules are the opposite of what makes good writing in the non-search engine world.

It’s Not What You Know, It’s What They Know

There are a lot of SEO resources out there that will teach you the tricks of the trade for SEO. SEO tactics like getting the right title tags, using header tags properly, and most importantly of all, building backlinks can help your webpages and your online writing rank higher on Google and everywhere else. However, there is one factor of search engine rankings that is often overlooked. It is overlooked, because it actually has nothing to do with SEO, targeting keywords, or ranking highly for a desired phrase.

For a good writer, the most important factor in determining whether or not you can make money writing online is not how well you can rank for the keywords you want to rank highly for, it’s how well you can rank for the keywords THEY ARE LOOKING FOR.

A good freelance writer can write an informative and useful article about almost anything given enough research. Therein lies the rub. The Google search that most people are making is the research that they are doing. Unless your article title and its associated title tags match what they are looking for, another article that does match will rank higher for the search they are performing, regardless of its quality. That means you not only need to write quality content, but that you must do it in such a way as to match what someone less informed might be searching for.

For example, after doing some research, you might know that someone upgrading the memory in a netbook would need 200-pin DDR2 RAM. However, if your article jumps right into referencing RAM, and DDR2, and 200-pins and so on, it won’t ever be seen by someone looking for information about how to upgrade netbook memory, because they will type into Google, “netbook memory upgrade” or maybe even, “put more memory in netbook.” Notice how the words RAM, DDR2 and pins are all missing. Eventually, they might know some of those words, but that will be a smaller search segment.

When writing about topics that you don’t know or that you need to do significant research about, write your title and introductory paragraphs before doing the research. That way, you’ll be coming from the same place as your reader and be much more likely to hit them on their searches. Be sure to include lots of synonyms or other ways of saying the same thing to catch all the possibilities. From our example above, the intro paragraph should incorporate the words netbook, laptop, computer, memory, RAM, upgrade, and so on. Otherwise, you are just leaving money on the table for someone else.

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Google Wonder-Wheel Missing

What happened to WonderWheel on Google search?

For those of you webmasters and bloggers who like using Google’s WonderWheel tool, there was an unexpected surprise that came with the new Google Instant search rollout. It seems that Google thinks that the functionality of Wonder Wheel is handled by the ever changing search results and suggestions that appear on Google.com when you search using Google Instant search functionality. Unfortunately, that is hardly the case.

google-wonder-wheel-missing The Google WonderWheel tool was a great way to not only find useful and relevant information on the web, but also for web developers and professional writers looking for ways to make money writing online to figure out how OTHER PEOPLE might search for the information being written. For example, if I were writing an article about how to make homemade snowshoes, I might search for something like “homemade snowshoes,” but maybe that is not how most people would search for the same topic. Maybe most people would actually search for something like “handmade snowshoes” or “make your own snowshoes” or maybe even “building snowshoes.” Any of those searches could be made by someone looking for the same information.

Unfortunately, despite all of its success and acclaim, the Google search engine is really nothing more than a text pattern matcher combined with a link counter. If your text does not match what is being searched for, your article will not show up in those searches, no matter how great your content might be.

Again, using the example above, if I titled my article Homemade Snowshoes Made Simple with my H1 tag and used a title tag of Snowshoes Homemade, the article would never show up in any Google searches for “handmade snowshoes,” unless there were virtually no other webpages on the entire Internet about making your own snowshoes.

In other words, as a writer looking to earn money writing online, it is critical that your articles contain the phrases used by searches in order to generate high-ranking web content that drives search engine traffic to your webpages. In fact, it is so important, that as a professional writer, I frequently use misspellings, incorrect grammar, or redundant phrases, deliberately in order to be sure that what others type into Google will match something in my well-written web content. Then, I try elsewhere to apologize and point out that it was done intentionally so that potential freelance writing clients who are trying to judge my work know that it is not just sloppy writing, but rather that Google makes you write poorly in order to succeed.

The Google WonderWheel tool helped with this problem by allowing a web searcher to type in a search, and then by clicking on Wonder Wheel in the sidebar under More Tools, see a graphical tree of other related search queries. The new Google Instant search feature does that part just fine. What is missing is that with Google Wonder Wheel you could click on the bubble with the related search term and get a new Wonder-Wheel that showed a tree of search queries related to the clicked keywords. In this way, I could have entered “homemade snowshoes,” saw that “handmade snowshoes” was a possible related search keyphrase and then clicked on it to see what search phrases might be related to handmade snowshoes as well.

(Did you see that? I used three different ways of writing wonderwheel so that people who search with a space or hyphen can still find this article online by searching.”)

Turn Google WonderWheel Back On

Fortunately, it is possible to turn Google WonderWheel back on. To re-enable Wonder Wheel, you have to go into Google search settings and turn off Instant Search. Doing that takes you back to the old search interface, which includes the Wonder-Wheel tool.

Unfortunately, since Instant Search looks like the future of Google Search, there is no telling how long this functionality might be left on. Hopefully, Google decides that there is certainly no harm in keeping the WonderWheel tool in the sidebar even if Instant Search is enabled. After all, users who find that the new Instant search feature meets their needs will simply not click on WonderWheel, while those of us who depend on the tool to help correct some of Google Search’s inadequacies can continue to use it.

I wonder if there is an online petition somewhere?

Do you use Google WonderWheel? How have you reacted to WonderWheel being removed from Google due to Instant Search?

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