Dan Petrovi? from Dejan SEO recently ran some interesting experiments, “hijacking” search results in Google with pages he copied from original sources (with the consent of the original sources). Last week, he posted an article about his findings, and shared four case studies, which included examples from MarketBizz, Dumb SEO Questions, ShopSafe and SEOmoz CEO Rand Fishkin’s blog.
If you haven’t read it yet, it would make sense to do so before reading this. He goes through all the methodology for each experiment. Interestingly enough, the subject has already come up again today at Search Engine Land. Petrovi? just got back to us with some additional discussion about his findings.
“Google is giving exactly the right amount of weight to PageRank,” Petrovi? tells WebProNews. “I feel they have a well-balanced algorithm with plenty of signals to utilise where appropriate. Naturally like with anything Google tries to be sparing of computing time and resources as well as storage so we sometimes see limitations. I assure you, they are not due to lack of ingenuity within Google’s research and engineering team. It’s more to do with resource management and implementation – practical issues.”
The Dumb SEO Questions example was interesting, particularly in light of recent domain-related algorithm changes Google has made public. In his findings, Petrovi? had noted that a search for the exact match brand “Dumb SEO Questions” brought the correct results and not the newly created subdomain. He noted that this “potentially reveals domain/query match layer of Google’s algorithm in action.”
Petrovi? believes there is still significant value to having an exact match domain. “Exact match domains were always a good idea when it comes to brands, it’s still a strong signal when it it’s a natural situation, and is now more valuable than ever since Google has sweeped up much of the EMD spam,” he says.
Here’s what industry analyst Todd Malicoat had to say on the subject in a recent interview.
On the Fishkin example, Petrovi? was able to rank over Fishkin for his name and for one of his articles.
He tells us, “Google’s perception of celebrity status or authority are just a layer in the algorithm cake. This means that if there is a strong enough reason Google will present an alternative version of a page to its users. There goes an idea that Wikipedia is hardcorded and shows for everything.”
When asked if freshness played a role in his experiments, he says, “Yes. Freshness was a useful element in my experiments, but not the key factor in the ‘overtake’ – it’s still the links or should I say ‘PageRank’. I know this surprised a lot of people who were downplaying PageRank for years and making it lame to talk about it in public.”
“This article was me saying ‘stop being ignorant,’” he says. “PageRank was and is a signal, why would you as an SEO professional ignore anything Google gives you for free? The funniest thing is that people abandon PageRank as a ridiculous metric and then go use MozRank or ACRank as an alternative, not realising that the two do pretty much the same thing, yet [are] inferior in comparison.”
“To be fair, both are catching up with real PageRank, especially with Majestic’s ‘Flow Metrics’ and the growing size of SEOMoz’s index,” he adds.
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