The Fresh Egg blog
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This month, there was an interesting case of Chinese whispers following a comment by Matt Cutts at the keynote speech at SES San Francisco, which has re-ignited some discussions around what sort of content is going to be “Penguin-proof”. And let’s not forget Bing, who are starting to openly challenge Google for users.
Mutt Cutts, head of Web Spam, Google [source], on the forthcoming release of Penguin 2.0:
"You don’t want the next Penguin update"
Speaking at SES San Francisco, this was fervently reported and rabidly hyped up to be the next duelling-glove-slap-in-the-face challenge from Google’s appointed Sheriff of the Web. However, what Cutts appears to have meant was that the next version of the Penguin update will simply have a jarring effect, as there haven’t been monthly updates and iterations as has happened with the Panda update.
Like Panda, which saw significant effects on sites between the first major roll-outs, the overall impact of Penguin is likely to be noticeable for a percentage of sites that still have factors Google deems to be “designed to game SEO”, typically in backlinks. Like Panda also, this is likely to have a regular roll-out schedule over the next few months, which should not have such a dramatic impact as engineers fine-tune the signals and results.
And then, of course, we’ll be on to the next animal-themed update. So does Google’s recommendations on “providing great content” still ring true?
Michael Martinez from SEO Theory [source], exposes the myth about content naysayers:
"They are disappointed because their content is not great, not because great content doesn’t work. Great content has always worked, and now it works even better than before. But it’s not that Google loves content these days — it’s just that Google stepped up its game at picking out bad links."
Often the claim that a page “cannot be improved” simply falls down on the will to do so. Even with the dullest, most un-glamorous of subjects, there’s nearly always at least three good ideas that can be implemented to improve content and provide value for visitors. And if your visitors see extra value in the content, it’s likely Google will too.
So what kind of content might add value to a site?
Jeff McRitchie on SEOmoz [source], gives voice to an increasingly observed phenomenon:
"Have you noticed that more and more video results are showing up in Google search results?"
They sure are. In fact I’ve personally seen a page of blended video thumbnail results appear for a search term. After Matt Cutts recently speaking out against infographics, it’s noticeable that more people are starting to make animated versions which (a) are a good way to use data gathered to produce video and (b) generally do a better job at conveying the relevant statistics. With YouTube still the second-most popular search engine, the popularity of video is not showing any signs of slowing down, so it’s only natural that more of this content will be emerging in search results.
In the words of film and documentary-maker Werner Herzog, with video cameras available in mobile phones these days, there’s no excuse for not producing video if you want to. (Herzog made his first commercial films with a movie camera he was awarded as a prize... which he then had to steal from the organisers when it wasn’t forthcoming.)
However, make sure this is your own content, and not someone else’s.
Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land [source], on Google’s action against video copyright violations, and where YouTube stands in all of this:
"Without clarification from Google, we can only make assumptions on how this will work. My guess is that Google will be looking at factors to somehow determine if a site seems legitimate. Does it have many reputable links to it? Can Google detect if there’s a lot of sharing of content from those sites? Are there factors that already give the site a good “reputation” in Google’s algorithms for other types of searches?"
This follows Google’s announcements that ranking penalties will follow against sites that have outstanding copyright infringement notices filed against them. With the trigger point originally cited to be a raw number of infringement notices, this has been revised in light of the fact that YouTube probably has an exponentially larger amount of claims against it than any other site (even taking into account the backflips Google performed after acquiring YouTube to appease media and broadcast companies who were complaining about unlicensed content).
This certainly falls into line with wider industry regulations regarding piracy and copyright – in order for YouTube to remain viable it simply has to be as clean as whistle, although how this rolls out to other sites is still open to speculation.
Stefan Weitz, Director of Search at Microsoft [source], on more social integration happening with Bing:
"... The guys and gals who are on this are on the Agile Development Method, so they’re shipping new updates monthly, and they’re shipping some things even faster than that. It’s just a matter of time."
This was from an interview when Stefan Weitz was discussing the integration of Quora and LinkedIn on Bing, following their developments using FourSquare. With Google now implementing Knowledge Graph in results, Bing alloying search results with more social media factors, both the big search engines are making big moves away from the traditional perception of search results for a given query.
So how are Bing’s results quantified?
Matt McGee, at Search Engine Land [source], casts some light on the Bing quality rating guidelines for human reviewers:
Not really a quotation to be had here, but an interesting post on something that Matt notes.
“... Very little, if anything, has been written about Microsoft’s HRS project.”
Although Bing has previously declined to discuss the rating methods they use, the document at the link has been confirmed to be the current set of guidelines.
For those who have seen the allegedly-leaked Google review guidelines, there’s a lot of similarities between the two, which reinforces the content message about writing for web users, rather than robots: at some point a human set of eyes will be reading your site content, so make sure they think it is excellent.