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Has Google altered its algorithm to favor its own properties in vertical search results?
Numerous publishers which now find themselves competing with the search engine they rely on for valuable traffic have accused Google of doing just that. Some in the industry have even petitioned antitrust regulators to look into the matter.
At a conference earlier this year, Hollywood big wig Ari Emanuel suggested that Google could do more to thwart digital piracy by helping to ensure that pirated content doesn't find its way into the world's largest and most popular search engine.
At the time, a Google executive called Emanuel's suggestion "very misinformed" and noted that identifying who owns content is not always an easy task.
But apparently behind the scenes, Google was far more amenable to the concept than it indicated publicly. In a post on Google's Inside Search blog on Friday, Google SVP Amit Singhal announced that the company has launched a new update that may ensure Google's top executives get invites to all of Hollywood's red carpet events.
This week, Econsultancy published an update to its PPC Bid Management Technology Buyer's Guide. The report estimates that the market for PPC bid management technology will grow by 17% in 2012, in line with the overall North American search sector, which is predicted to grow from a value of $22.9 billion, to $26.8 billion in 2013.
The report shows that many areas of digital are increasingly integrated, with the biggest opportunities for growth in this sector coming from mobile paid search, a focus on multichannel retailing and the continuing forward march of social media.
We know that Google uses hundreds of ranking factors to determine where it places web pages in its index. We also know that social media sites are becoming increasingly influential on search placements.
Charles Duncombe explored the topic on this blog a few days ago, focusing mainly on volume-based signals. I think there’s probably a bit more to it than that, or at least there should be.
This is a think-out-loud ‘Friday’ post, rather than a definitive guide to the things Googlebot is sniffing out (for I know not what it looks for). It considers the possibilities, to explore what Google might be able to make sense of. I invite you to share your own ideas in the comments section below.
So then, what kind of social signals might it take notice of on Twitter?
Yesterday, the SEO forums were buzzing with the news that some major link building networks had been effectively shut down by having sites de-indexed by Google.
These type of sites, that publish short posts across a network of blogs, had been seen as an easy and time-effective way of getting a large number of anchor-text rich links pointing back at a target site.
Despite trying to up their game in terms of relevance and content however, most of these sites suffered from having a large number of clients saturating the network.
This meant each site hosting these entries would be featuring a lot of different topic posts that did not correspond to an overall theme or subject of the site.
Just over a month ago, Google announced the global roll-out of an update to the AdWords algorithm, which increased the value of landing page relevancy and worth when determining Quality Score.
Google predicted that the changes would alter keyword Quality Scores and ad positions for some campaigns. However, the company claimed that most brands would not see a significant change in overall performance.
When it comes to the former, Google may be considering an interesting approach: penalize pages that it believes have too many ads.
Love them or hate them, content farms are a reality on today's web. Thanks to the strength of the search economy, savvy upstart publishers realized that there was money to be made mass-producing search engine-friendly content on the cheap.
But content farming's success may have been its downfall. As the SERPs filled up with articles of dubious value, search engines have fought back. Some went so far as to ban well-known content farms from their indexes.
Banning large, prominent sites is, for obvious reasons, a challenging proposition for Google. But it too has fought back hard against content farms using ts algorithm.
While the verdict is out as to whether it's changes are improving search quality on the world's largest search engine, it appears that some content farmers are adjusting their businesses.
2011 has been a busy year for Google. Faced with increasing criticism about the quality of its search results and the tactics publishers use in attempts to influence them, the world's most prominent and widely-used search engine has taken aggressive steps to crack down on paid links and content farms.
But Google's tweaks may go well beyond moves to reign in black and gray hat SEO tactics. In fact, it may be looking at core components of its algorithm altogether.
Note to unscrupulous merchants: all of that negative online buzz you've been creating to boost your sites ranking on Google won't do you much good anymore.
At least that's what Google is saying following the New York Times' high-profile story about Mr. B, who just might be the web's most unscrupulous merchant. His strategy: treat customers like crap, encourage them to complain about him online and watch his site's presence in the SERPs improve with every complaint.
John Straw is CEO of InfluenceFinder, which has launched a tool which enables search marketers to analyse backlink data and build a list of influential websites which are providing valuable links.
InfluenceFinder has been using Econsultancy as a test subject, and soft launched at SMX London recently.
We've been speaking to John about InfluenceFinder, recent changes to Google's algorithm, and why he thinks that SEO needs to become more like PR...
Get twenty different search marketers in a room and you’ll often get twenty different opinions on a subject; but there is a growing consensus that some tweaks were made to the Google Algorithim in the last few days of April to first few days of May.
This has become known as the Google May-Day Update.