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 seen a lot of SEO Experts and many SEO tools recommend that you should be using hyphens in URLs rather than underscores, one example was Ann Smarty over at SearchEngineJournal. For the disadvantages of the underscore in URLs she says:
Traditionally it isn’t seen by search engines as a word separator (this is slowly changing now)
Slowly changing? It was reported in 2007 that Google and other search engines treat underscores like hyphens. To say it’s slowly changing is like saying Facebook is finally catching on. Three years on the web is an eternity. She also says that there are no disadvantages to hyphens. Though I’m not so sure about that. . .
Think about multiple ways that hyphens are used. Hyphens are added in-between words and in people’s names. For example, Maurice Jones-Drew of the Jaugars has a name with a hyphen. Let me give you an example of a potential sentence that includes his name:
Now if we use underscores it would look like this:
Slightly different meaning in both of those URLs, wouldn’t you agree? It is also much easier to read with underscores. Therefore the BEST option is underscores because people rarely use them when it comes to typing names or phrases. There is no way they will get in the way.
I know what your saying, I’m preaching to use underscores when this blog uses hyphens. Wordpress uses them by default (though I’m not sure why and I never changed it) Though I have used underscores on other projects…. Check out Jones-Drew’s page at FantasySP.com.
I don’t mean to single out Ann because she certainly knows her SEO, but this issue just keeps popping up every now and then and it truly annoys me. It needs to be squashed once in for all.
UPDATE: In the comments below, Kieron Hughes provides a link to Matt Cutts suggesting to use hyphens. I guess I stand corrected.
Do you guys agree with me or am I being too nit picky?
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.