The average blog post is fairly easy to index and crawl for Google. However, what happens when a single page has several hundred comments? How does Google decide what’s important to include in a search query and what to ignore? Heck, in some cases the comments on a Reddit post are more important than the actual summary of the article submission itself.
A lot of websites have been adding a voting aspect to comments for some time now. However, no search engine (as far as I know), looked into taking these votes into account when crawling. I propose a new type of “rich snippet” syntax for Google, Comment Syntax.
What if websites included the syntax so Google could not only clearly identify comments, but quickly pick the most popular/useful comments to showcase in certain search queries. This could be applied to sites such as Digg, Reddit, Yahoo Answers, Stackoverflow, and just about any WordPress blog.
Google has announced that they have implemented Soft 404’s as a way to indicate pages that appear to be 404 (page not found) but come up as 200 (Good Response). My initial reaction was that’s great news and should help me out when I forgot to include a 404 header response. So then I went to webmaster tools to have a look.
One example of a Soft 404, according to Google, is this news page about A.J. Burnett of the Yankees. This is interesting for two reasons, 1) This page is 683 days old, 2) It is definitely NOT a 404 page and has relevant content. I have about 50 or so of these pages that I think are incorrectly identified as Soft 404’s.
Though, perhaps I didn’t have enough content on the page about Burnett and need a bit more information for Google. How about a page that shows all the news collected for Joseph Addai in September 2009? This too is an example of a Soft 404.
Does Google not like the fact that I show/hide content and only list the first few items by default? Even if they didn’t like how it’s displayed, why would it be listed as a Soft 404?
I am sure many of you have similar situations popping up on your sites as well. At first glance Soft 404’s sounded great, but in actuality they need a LOT of work in the accuracy department.
Finally an advanced Google keyword ranking checker that is free. The site is aptly named KeywordRankings and is geared towards SEO people looking to save a history of where their keywords rank in Google.
Entire Service is free
Add unlimited domains
Add unlimited keywords
Each keyword ranking is checked once per day
Each domain is checked for index’d pages in Google once per day.
Graphs are created for each keyword’s history and domain’s index’d history.
A public secure and sharable link is provided for each keyword to show clients.
Available for google.com, google.co.uk, google.ca, google.dk, google.es, google.it.
Keyword Queue Ranking decides in what order your keywords get updated.
The site is coded in PHP with a jQuery front-end and is extremely fast. Anyone involved in Search Engine Optimization should be happy with it. At the moment it is in invite only mode so I can squash all of the bugs.
There have been questions as to how the site determines each users “Keyword Queue Ranking”. There are a multitude of factors, such as how long you’ve been a member. I cannot give out all the details, but I can say that it is an ongoing process and will be continuously tweaked.
Of course if you’d prefer to not deal with the Keyword Queue Ranking, then the option to donate to the site is available to get priority keyword checking. The site has not recevied any donations yet, so for just $1, you will be at the top of the list. Over time, if everyone donates $1, then you would need to donate another dollar to be first again.
Essentially the price for 1st in keyword priority is determined by you guys, not me. The site will show you where you rank in the keyword queue.
I am allowing 5 new signups. (1 SIGNUP LEFT) Enter code: fantasysp.com
If you have any questions or comments, respond below.
I’ve encountered a simple, yet annoying problem when it comes to Google’s Gmail Notifier. It turns out that if you select the option to always use HTTPS, then the notifier will not work. The fix can be seen on the Notifier page, which is a registry edit.
Surely Google can do a better job of notifying us of the problem without having to search for it. How about a message saying if you use HTTPS, remember to download the fix?
Users thinking about switching to Chrome from Firefox NEED to have a reliable ad blocker. The two best ad hidders are AdThwart and AdBlock. I call them ad hidders because currently Chrome is unable to block ads the way we are accustomed to seeing with Firefox. Until Chrome developers add this functionality, these two extensions are forced to simply edit the CSS on the fly. They both support EasyList, but that doesn’t mean they are both equally effective and user friendly. I decided to compare a vareity of categories that I look for in an ad blocker.
Have a look at my chart below which goes into detail about each extension
The winner is AdThwart!
Both produce similar speed results, both are maintained and updated on a near daily basis, both have a wide user base, both hide most ads, both have friendly and bright developers working on them.
AdBlock has issues with it’s icon to show if a site is blocked or not. The icon is actually a separate extension, so if you disable AdBlock, the icon remains. That is a glaring issue for ease of use. I also have no idea how to edit the custom filters I applied, what happens if I end up blocking all images by accident? Those of you who care about open source, AdBlock is not entirely clear on the subject, whereas AdThwart is open source.
The issue of speed I want to touch on in more detail. At first glance, the speed tests seem to be inconsistent when it comes to speed of a page with no extensions applied. TechCrunch takes a lot longer to load when advertisements are present, but MSN is much quicker when ads are present. How can this be you ask? Well, it depends on the type of advertisements on the site. MSN has ads that don’t require the browser to render them as much as TechCrunch, therefore when we add the added time it takes for the extensions to hide the ads. . . it actually takes longer to load. However, I am pleased to see in testing that for the majority of websites, hiding ads does make load times faster. The fact that AdThwart is a tiny bit faster may not mean much because it is probably not even noticeable.
So where does this test leave us? AdBlock needs to go back to the drawing board for the icon implementation, provide more details on if the extension is open source or not, and revamp custom filters. The majority of users should be more pleased with AdThwart’s ease of use and custom filter implementation.
Google Chrome, Developer version 4.0.302.2 includes a new way to easily search a website. When typing a URL into the address bar, an option comes up to “Press Tab to search”. Have a look below:
The feature looks great to me. My only question is how Chrome decides which sites are available to search and which ones to omit. I have yet to see another site come up with this option other than Tomshardware. Now let’s take a look at what happens when you press tab:
Chrome maintains a smooth transition to the new search option and it is clearly visible within the url bar. Now let’s try to search Tom’s Hardware for the Radeon 5770 card. I search “5770”:
It appears that those results coming in from the dropdown list are things that I have already visited. It appears Google is searching my browser history, rather than Google search results. While this is still useful, I’d look forward to an option to see live search results right from the dropdown box.
Today Google announced another new feature of Rich Snippets called Events. Of course it is a great idea to provide more markup to better track events of concerts, sporting events, movies, etc. However, what if Rich Snippets could be used for a slightly different reason? News updates on events or people. Let me show you what I mean with a real world example. . .
As I’ve mentioned tons of times before, I run a site called FantasySP which is a news aggregator for fantasy player news. What if for each player page, I add event data for each update? That way, when someone Google’s “Tim Lincecum”, they can at a glance quickly see his 3 latest updates right within the Google search page! I know this isn’t how Google intended it to be, but the results speak for themselves. Have a look:
Appearing right in the Google SERPS would be the 3 latest updates, including when they came in, giving the searcher a clear indication how fresh the content is. I would love to hear everyone’s thoughts and comments on utilizing Rich Event Snippets in this manner.
As you may have heard a while ago, Google decided to incorporate load time into where sites rank in terms of search results. The faster the load time, the more of a bonus they should get in SERPs. One of the things that slows down page loads more than anything are site advertisements. In this blog post we are going to look at what advertisements can do to load time, according to Google’s “Site Performance” chart in Webmaster tools.
For this analysis, we are going to look at FantasySP. FantasySP is a fantasy sports news aggregator that makes managing a fantasy team and tracking player’s much easier. I will show site performance when it had several ad networks compared to when it has just one ad network (Google Adsense).
Below you will see a chart of the performance of the site with about 3 to 4 different ad networks. The more ad networks should result in worse performance. The site load-time PRIOR to January of 2010 shows load-time with several ad networks. After January, just one ad network is used: Google Adsense.
Google says: On average, pages in your site take 3.9 seconds to load (updated on Jan 10, 2010). This is slower than 63% of sites. These estimates are of medium accuracy (between 100 and 1000 data points)
Quite a dramatic improvement isn’t it? The more ad networks, the worse your load time is, no surprise there. But let’s take this a step further. . .should we disable ads for Googlebot to artificially inflate load times in your favor? With no ads shown, FantasySP should load a lot faster. But we’ll get back to this in a bit.
Google says: “On average, pages in your site take 0.4 seconds to load (updated on Dec 7, 2009). This is faster than 97% of sites. These estimates are of low accuracy (less than 100 data points).”
The moral of the story is obvious, watch what ad networks you use for your website because it is killing your site’s load time. Not only for Googlebot’s site performance numbers, but your actual real life visitors as well. Why not offer a membership option for users to browse your site advertisement free, which is what FantasySP does.
As of 1/19/2010 I realized that the Site performance numbers are based on Google toolbar users load times. This means that while removing banner ads and unnecessary code snippets for Googlebot may be good because it can crawl faster, it won’t benefit you in any way when it comes to Site Performance numbers. Total bummer.