"Search Engines"

Google tweaks search to punish 'low-quality' sites →

eHow.com … you’re officially on notice.

It’s as Simple as Being Indexed by Google and Yahoo

By Gary Cope

What a difference being indexed makes! I’m speaking, of course, about a Web site being indexed by Google, Yahoo, Ask and MSN, the big four search engines. I manage several Web sites, but the biggest one in terms of traffic was not indexed and was actually blocking search engine robots from indexing the site via the robots.txt.

I’m not entirely sure why someone would do that, but my theory is that they developed the site on a live server and set up the robots.txt file (the file that tells the robots what they can and cannot look at on the site) to block the search engines because the site wasn’t ready. Then, when the site was ready to launch, they copied the site to another folder and forgot to ammend the robots.txt file.

Anyhow, since I “unlocked” the site and allowed the robots to crawl and index the site, (I also submitted an xml sitemap to Google) search engine traffic has increased nearly 500 percent! While that sounds really good (and it is relatively speaking), you have to put it in perspective. The site was only getting less than 2 percent of its traffic from search engines prior to my modifications and that’s because only the home page was visible to the search engines. Now the site is getting about 12 percent of its traffic from search engines and my goal is to have it reach 30 percent by the fall.

Screen shot of Google Analytics showing increase in search engine traffic.

Fingers crossed and I’ll keep you posted!

Google Including Ads at the Top of News Result Pages

By Gary Cope

I’ve been using Google News for quite some time and earlier this year, Google - the dominant search engine - began including ads on the right column of its news search results pages. But today, I noticed something new … at least it was new to me.

My girlfriend will be the first (of many) to tell you that I am not exactly the most observant person in the world when it comes to certain things. So, perhaps I simply overlooked the fact that Google is now including paid ads, or “sponsored links,” at the top of its news search results pages. Check out the screen capture below:

A screen capture of a Google news search result page with a paid ad at the top.

I’m not sure how I feel about this. My initial reaction is that it dilutes the credibility of the results being returned. Having worked in news (TV, radio and print) for more than 10 years, I cannot help but compare the new revenue strategy to a TV station leading a newscast with a story that was “sponsored” and produced by an advertiser.

Yes, TV is saturated with commercials, but the advertisers do not mandate, much less produce the content. They pay for ads based on the ratings of the newscast, but assuming the news director and station manager are standup news people, they won’t bend to the pressure from advertisers.

News is meant to be unbiased and while I can accept the unobtrusive ads in the right column, I think Google has crossed the line by adding ads to the top of the news search results pages. If I’m looking for news, I’m looking for trusted sources, not sources that paid to get their content at the top. If your news is relevant to my search parameters, it should show up in the results and if it isn’t, then call me and I’ll give you a quote for my SEO consulting services.