Posts tagged ‘page rank’

September 17, 2011

Google Plus impact on page rank

Controversy over the impact of Google Plus buttons on search engine page rank is the latest news story associated with Google’s recently introduced social network. Will it benefit large websites to the detriment of small or specialty sites, particularly blogs? Since Google page rank is part of the mysterious world of search engine optimization, speculation is plentiful.

I found this attractive rendering of a Google Plus button on the Flickr page of a Second Life resident.

Circle Me! on G+

The image was used as the illustration for a mysteriously de-listed Forbes article* about the effect of Google+ buttons on website page rank. The article URL was supposedly removed from Google search results. Based on the error returned when I checked just now, I think it is more likely that it was deleted by Forbes. Whether accidental or by intent wasn’t obvious to me.

Yet it is not easy for anyone, not even Google, to erase digital footprints. Alternative search engine Blekko has the article in cache. Publication date was 18 August 2011 (Forbes Online). I will amend this post with a cleaner URL for the web cached result from Blekko. The article didn’t seem objectionable to me, upon first glance. But I am not an SEO expert.

* Thanks and attribution given to a Google+ user discussion of 31 August 2011.

UPDATE

Here is the Blekko web cached URL: http://blekko-webcache.com/cache/http%3A%2F%2Fwww.forbes.com%2Fsites%2Fkashmirhill%2F2011%2F08%2F18%2Fstick-google-plus-buttons-on-your-pages-or-your-search-traffic-dies%2F

The author is Forbes staff writer Ms. Kashmir Hill. The article is time stamped 11:21 AM on August 18, 2011, Technology section. The title is Stick Google Plus Buttons On Your Pages, Or Your Search Traffic Dies. The content of the article is not as dire as the title. These are the salient points, and possibly cause for concern by any website involved in e-commerce, publisher or otherwise:

Though recommendations from contacts in your Google circles will be weighted more heavily, the number of “+1″s overall will now be a factor in search whether you’re part of Plus or not…. The Google guys explained how the new recommendation system will be a factor in search. “Universally, or just among Google Plus friends?” I asked. ‘Universal’ was the answer.

This was not surprising, but still unsavory:

Some traffic scammers are already onto this. Alexis Madrigal at The Atlantic reports that SEO shops are already offering bushels of +1 votes for $9.99 a pop.

Ms. Hill then suggested that the Google+ buttons will benefit users of online services and those active in social media:

There are going to be lots of benefits to this… I just gave a hotel I liked in TownN a +1. Should I miss a Facebook status update from a friend going to TownN in the future asking for recommendations, this is a built-in back-up, so that this hotel will rise up in the search results should they Google “TownN hotels.” That’s pretty cool… And I can do that even though TownN doesn’t have a +1 on its page, since these buttons are also available from the main Google search page.

Additional web analytics information will be available to sites that include the Google+ button. But similarly, sites that choose not to place the +1 button on their pages will likely fare worse in search results than competitors who have included the button.

Is this a problem?

Facebook “Like” buttons have a similar impact, though not through Google search engine results directly.

What is the downside?

The Google Plus button is free to use, just like other social media services. There will be some work for the web maintenance staff, decisions about optimal placement. Page load speed? Uncertain. Yet it would be very unwise for Google to penalize sites in search results due to incremental delay from using one its own products! Overall, Google+ does not seem to be a cause for concern– merely the addition of another social media button to the already ubiquitous Facebook and Twitter icons.

December 9, 2010

Source Meta Tags to Identify Original Publisher Content

In December 2009, the Official Google Webmaster Central Blog responded to publisher concerns about page rank penalties imposed by Google’s search algorithm due to legitimate cross-domain content duplication. Most websites would rarely (if ever) have valid reasons for displaying identical content on multiple and distinctly different domains.

Journalists of the past

Journalists in Radio-Canada newsroom, via Wikipedia

However, it is a common occurrence for news media sites with multiple syndication channels to legitimately publish duplicate cross-domain content.

Source Meta Tags

Google announced an extra feature for news publishers, to differentiate between the first version of a “breaking story” versus the re-distribution by others that follows. Such redistribution is legitimate, but publishers wanted to make sure that there was a way to give credit where credit was due to the most enterprising journalist for a given news story. Google responded with this suggestion:

News publishers and readers both benefit when journalists get proper credit for their work. That can be difficult, with news spreading so quickly and many websites syndicating articles to others. That’s why we’re experimenting with two new meta tags for Google News: syndication-source and original-source. Each of these meta tags addresses a different scenario, but for both the aim is to allow publishers to take credit for their work and give credit to other journalists.

original versus duplicate

Original versus Duplicate Website Content

Further details about Google’s introduction of “source” meta tags to help find original news was covered in the Google News Blog, and an even more in-depth description can be found in this excellent Search Engine Land article about meta tags including discussion of a recent algorithm patent granted to Google.

UPDATE

There is good reason for Google’s decision to implement these meta tags on a trial basis. Best practice, for both bloggers and publishers alike, requires attribution if using another source’s original work. Most reputable online content producers have credited their source with a link until now. However, there is some concern that they could stop doing that, and instead, merely use the meta tag. That would be a much worse outcome for the original writer, in terms of receiving much-deserved credit for their work.

The meta tags are useful to Google, as they give input to the page rank algorithm (which seeks to reward providers of original content). Yet I do believe that this is a good-faith effort by Google. It would be unfortunate if these new meta tags have the opposite effect from what Google intended.