Archive for October, 2012

Title: Google Is Experimenting With Ways To Make Reconsideration Requests Better

Search Engine News, Search Engine Optimization

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Google has been experimenting with how to make the reconsideration request process better for webmasters who have been dealt a manual action penalty by Google.

Google’s head of webspam, Matt Cutts, put out a new Webmaster Help video discussing reconsideration requests and whether or not they’re actually read by humans. The video was a response to the following user-submitted question:

Right now, when a webmaster sends a reconsideration request, how many chances does it have to be read by a real human? Do you plan to make it possible for webmasters to answer when they get a result back from Google?

“Whenever you do a reconsideration request, if you don’t have any manual action by the webspam team, so there’s no way we could do anything, in essence, because it’s algorithmically determining where you’re ranking, those are automatically closed out,” says Cutts. “Those aren’t looked at by a human being, but 100% of all the other reconsideration requests are looked at by a real person.”

“We don’t have the time to individually reply with a ton of detail, and so we do think about ways to be more scalable, and so I understand it might not be as satisfying to get, ‘Yeah, we think you’re okay,’ or ‘No, you still have issues,’ but that is a real human that is looking at that and generating the response that you read back,” he says.

He goes on to say that if Google still thinks you have issues with your site, you should take the time to investigate and figure out some things you can do before submitting another request. If you just submit it again without doing anything, Google will likely consider you to be “hard headed” and find it “unproductive to continue that conversation.”

“We’ve actually been trying a very experimental program where when we see someone who’s done a reconsideration request more than once, we’ll sample a small number of those and send those to other people to sort of say, ‘Okay, let’s do a deeper dig here.’ You know, maybe we need to send a little bit more info or investigate in a little bit more detail,” continues Cutts. “It’s just one of the ways we’ve been experimenting. We’ve actually been doing it for quite a while to try to figure out, ‘Okay, are there other ways that we can improve our process? Other ways that we can communicate more?’ So it’s the kind of thing where we don’t guarantee that if you appeal a couple times that you’ll get any sort of more detailed of an answer, but there are people reading all those reconsideration requests.”

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Title: Technology News Briefs — Oct. 22, 2012

Search Engine News, Search Engine Optimization

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Apple to Price iPad Mini Aggressively: Analyst

The iPad mini, which, roughly, costs Apple between $195 and $254 to build depending on the model, will likely be marked up less than usual, according to an analyst.

Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities told investors Apple would garner 35 to 58 percent profit on the tablets, much lower than its other devices, Apple Insider reported.

Kuo is speculating, an “aggressive pricing structure” is likely in a bid to undermine competitors’ attempts to impinge on what traditionally has been Apple’s territory.

Apple is expected to unveil its iPad mini at a special press conference Oct. 23. It is suspected the firm will also debut a 13-inch MacBook Pro 13 with Retina display.

New iPad 4?

Apple may have another product up its sleeve for the Oct. 23 media event.

It is the worst kept secret that the company will unveil is iPad mini and the 13-inch MacBook Pro 13 with Retina display. Photos leaked online Oct. 21 suggest the company will also present a new iPad 4.

The photos show what, ostensibly, is the lightning dock connector for an iPad 4, contrasting it with the dock for the iPad Mini, according to Boy Genius Report. The images can be seen on BGR’s site.

 4K Becomes Ultra High Definition

Goodbye 4K, hello Ultra High Definition.

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) announced in California today the change in display format name.

The CEA said it chose Ultra HD to replace the 4K moniker because it has a higher resolution than the existing 1,920 by 1,080 pixels of full high definition.

To qualify as Ultra HD, a display needs to have a resolution of at least 3,840 pixels horizontally and at least 2,160 pixels vertically, the CEA said. The product also needs at least one 4K-capable digital input and display 4K content natively without upconverting.

Ultra HD technology is expected to take center stage at next year’s CES, slated for Jan. 8-11, 2013, in Las Vegas.

Apple Building $68M Data Centre

Apple has begun work on its $68-million data centre project in Oregon.

The company is in its first phase — clearing and flattening land — to construct the first of two, 338,000-square-foot buildings in Prineville.

According to the Oregonian, each structure will be more than twice the size of a typical Costco store.

The $68-million price tag covers the cost of one building and two “data halls” inside. A second building will be added at a later date and, eventually, 14 more data halls.

Once complete, the entire project is likely to be in the hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars once it’s equipped with the necessary servers to run Apple’s iCloud service.

 

 

Post from: SiteProNews: Webmaster News & Resources

Technology News Briefs — Oct. 22, 2012

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Title: Google EMD Update: What Is Its Real Impact?

Search Engine News, Search Engine Optimization

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As you may have noticed, Google has been announcing a lot of algorithm changes lately. This big round of “weather reports” kicked off a couple weeks ago, when Matt Cutts announced the EMD update. He described it as a “minor” weather report, indicating that that it was a “small” change designed to reduce low-quality exact-match domains in search results. He said it would affect 0.6% of English-US queries to a noticeable degree, noting that it was unrelated to Panda/Penguin.

Do you consider any of Google’s recent updates to be minor? Let us know in the comments.

The update may have been small as far as Cutts was concerned, but the flood of complaints from webmasters claiming to have been hit suggested otherwise. However, Cutts later revealed that a Panda update had also launched around the same time, and even since then, he has announced a Penguin data refresh and a new update to the Page Layout algorithm. There is plenty going on in Google land that webmasters are finding they need to pay attention to (not to mention those 65 changes Google announced last week that took place in August and September).

So in light of all of this, how big was the EMD update really? Well, if your site was hit and you do not operate any exact-match domains, it’s probably safe to assume that you were not hit by that update. For the many who do operate EMDs, however, it’s not so simple. Remember, the update is not necessarily going after sites with EMDs. It’s going after low quality sites with EMDs. Much like Panda, it’s really about quality.

We had a discussion with Todd Malicoat (aka: Stuntdubl), SEO Faculty at MarketMotive.com, who has a fair amount of experience with EMDs and even wrote The Exact Match Domain Playbook: A Guide and Best Practices For EMDs for SEOmoz after the update hit.

“It’s important to remember that Google does at least a couple changes per day on average,” he says. “A lot of times, they will save up several updates, and release them simultaneously. Exact match domains have been on Matt and his team’s radar for well over 2 years. I think it’s a very difficult thing to ‘draw the line’ of which domains are okay and which aren’t. Google continues to find relevant sites based on page quality, offsite value, domain authority, and keyword relevance. The EMD update is just one in a lot of changes Google has done in the last few weeks, but it is obviously significant.”

As Malicoat pointed out in his playbook, Cutts actually hinted at this update early last year in one of his Webmaster Help videos. “We have looked at the rankings and weights that we give to keyword domains and some people have complained that we’re giving a little too much weight for keywords in domains,” Cutts said at the time. “And so we have been thinking about adjusting that mix a little bit and sort of turning the knob down within the algorithm so that given two different domains, it wouldn’t necessarily help you as much to have a domain with a bunch of keywords in it.”

“Anytime an ‘update’ is named it will be a filter or factor that plays a role in how the algo works,” continues Malicoat. “How wide of an impact is not quite as important in trying to determine what changed. Unfortunately, I think even the best of SEO folks are still struggling with exactly what happend in the ‘animal updates’. I try not to make too many assumptions about an update before there’s some time to really experience how it changes a handful of sites and the search results experience. I think as a consultant you can only react to best practices after you understand what they are.”

“People have been using EMD’s and anchor text for the last few years as a best practice, and I believe it was,” he says. “Those practices have definitely changed, and I think those who move quickly are trying to figure out just HOW MUCH these things have changed. It’s very difficult to tell with a very limited release where only a small percentage of queries are originally effected. Sometimes even seemingly small changes have lasting effects. The bigger issue at play is how significant the changes to keyword anchor text will be.”

Google has reportedly confirmed that it will launch refreshes for the EMD update periodically, much like it does for Panda and Penguin.

All of these updates are designed to increase the quality of Google’s search results. Beyond the EMD update, Google has recently made other changes to how it handles domains in different cases. Before the EMD update, Google announced the Domain Diversity update, for example. In its recently announced list of 65 changes from the past two months, Google revealed another domain-related tweak related to freshness to help users find the latest content from a given site when two or more documents from the same domain are relevant for a given query. Is Google getting better at delivering relevant results thanks to such changes?

“I don’t think anyone can argue that Google results are becoming LESS relevant in most verticals – Google’s results have always shown consistent improvements overall,” says Malicoat. “Relevance is rather subjective depending on who you ask though. Unfortunately, there’s always issues for someone. There’s only so many results, and organic search has become an important part of the marketing mix. It’s hard to support a business without Google sending at least some relevant users to your website.”

“I don’t always agree with relevance changes, but I come at it from a much different perspective than most,” he notes. “It’s important to embrace the changes and be able to change your strategy with them if you’re going to be an SEO practitioner.”

When asked if he believes Google’s results have improved in general, in light of recent updates, he says, “I really don’t think I’m the ‘average user’ to ask that sort of question unfortunately. I would come to the conclusion of what makes ‘relevant’ search results with a much different bias than most after being a search user for well over a decade. I’m also the co-owner of Marauder Sport Fishing which uses MiamiFishing.com as our domain, so my opinion is certainly biased.”

“In my opinion, there are plenty of conflicting interests under the G umbrella these days,” he adds. “That means relevance alone can’t really ALWAYS be the main priority. The one thing they are not lacking is data. They have data and intelligence to make relevance decisions like no other company or entity on earth.”

“Panda and penguin are both upgrades that raised the bar on the quality a website needs to demonstrate to receive organic search traffic,” he says. “That can be good or bad depending on perspective. It means more authoritative sites are ranking, and websites that don’t display all the quality signals necessary will not attract the traffic. The barrier to entry for new sites is higher, but the occurrence of spam is lower. There’s always some tradeoff in those two things I think.”

And really, regardless of all of these updates and their various functions and names, they tend to have one main thing in common. They’re designed to improve search results’ quality. Panda is flat out about quality content. Penguin is about getting rid of spam (which makes for a low quality experience). The EMD update goes after EMDs with low quality content. Google’s main message is that you should just produce quality content, and you’ll be fine. Still, quality is subjective, and there are plenty of webmasters getting hit by algorithm updates who would argue that it’s not that simple – webmasters who really believe they do provide quality content.

“Google is forcing sites to EARN traffic rather than just get it,” says Malicoat. “I think we’ve seen this before, and we’ll see it again. As an optimizer, I don’t look at many of the changes as good or bad – only a change that requires a change in strategy to keep relevant traffic flowing to a website.”

Businesses and sites need to decide how important Google traffic is. For instance, do Google referrals outweigh the benefits of other potential benefits that could be received by not going the “please Google” route? Since the Penguin update, we’ve seen a lot of sites frantically asking for other sites to stop linking to them. In some cases, the sites asking for the removals admit that they would like to have these links out there, but are having them removed for fear of Google not liking them (even when there is no direct evidence that these links in particular are hurting their Google rankings). In other words, they have become so desperate to combat the negative Penguin experience that they’re overreacting and removing genuine, natural links.

As Malicoat points out, there are benefits to having EMDs.

“EMD’s definitely have lots of benefits – though you have to take my opinion with some bias – I own more than a few of them,” he tells us. “In the current Google climate, EMD’s are the symptom of a problem, and therefore an easy target. Link anchor text was a very large part of the Google algo, and is being slowly dialed down. EMD’s were where anchor text problems were MOST apparent. Most competitors were amazed how easily EMD’s ranked in the last few years, and complaints started.”

“There’s still lots of benefits in EMD’s,” he reiterates. “They are great for: attracting keyword anchor text, attracting social mentions with targeted keywords, better for dominating a small niche, saying what you do in a geo vertical (DenverLawyers.com, DuluthDentists.net, etc.), targeting long tail variations in a small keyword set, and making brand mentions and keyword mentions the same.”

Not to beat a dead horse, but the key seems to be making sure the quality of your site and its content are as good as they can be. You can have a domain like DenverLawyers.com. Just don’t treat it like a useless piece of crap, and perhaps Google will not either.

If you want to review the things Google is thinking about when it comes to quality, I’d suggest running through these bullet points Google put out after the Panda update last year.

Out of Google’s recently announced updates, which do you believe has had the greatest impact on webmasters? On search results? Which has had the greatest impact on you? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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