Archive for the ‘Search Engines’ Category

SearchMe gets an “A” for innovation, even if that innovation was obvious

Thursday, April 3rd, 2008 |

SearchMe.com, the new visual search engine backed by Sequoia, has taken what seems like an obvious concept and built a search engine around it. Words take on totally different meanings depending on the context. If you type the keyword “comic” into a search engine, you could be intending to search for a comic book or a stand-up comic. So why doesn’t Yahoo or Google ask the end user for context clues? Seems like an obvious prompt, doesn’t it? SearchMe thought so. And now we have a search engine based on the idea.

Do a search for “comic” on SearchMe, and you’ll be able to pick amongst a slew of categories to narrow your search. As SearchMe increases in popularity and expands, so will its categories. The end goal is to have such a comprehensive list of categories that the user will be able to pigeonhole any conceivably confusing search term into the right category. This can certainly save the user heaps of time. The problem is that if the algorithm is worse than Google’s, the user won’t care.

But I’ve been fiddling around with SearchMe, and the algorithm seems pretty solid. I’ve not yet come across any search results that I felt were way off. Their algorithm appears to do a good job of categorizing sites properly. When you tell it to only show sites relating to comic books, instead of comics in general, the results are relevant. Must be a lot of latent semantic indexing at play.

Ironically, the worst feature of SearchMe is its visualization element. The website preview screen is too large and distracting. If they wanted to give the user a glimpse of what a site in the SERPS looks like, they should have just copied ASK’s binocular feature. Hovering over a result to see what a site looks like is more pleasing than a bulky window. If you could actually read the content of the website inside that bulky preview window, then SearchMe would have a hit a goldmine in terms of innovation, but you can’t because the text is too small. Frankly, it’s probably better that you can’t because publishers who sell ads on their site wouldn’t be particularly ecstatic about that feature.

SearchMe is relying on user feedback to improve their search results. This seems wise since a single person has the ability to catch mistakes that could affect millions of search queries down the line. I noticed a few flaws with certain keywords. A search for the keyword “bug” brings up ten appropriate categories, including insects, web development, and computer programming. But it doesn’t bring up a car company category, so people searching for the Volkswagen Bug are left out to dry. A search for the keyword “rover” correctly brings up the car company category, which will please Range Rover fans, but it doesn’t bring up the aeronautics category. If you were hoping to dig deeper into information about the Mars Rover, you’d have to do it without the special category tool.

These mistakes speak volumes about the impact of human intervention since it’s unlikely that SearchMe’s own algorithm would have ever caught them. If SearchMe’s popularity ever explodes, they can thank the beta testers. Making the feedback feature so prominent was a smart maneuver.

When to Use a 301 vs. 302 Redirect – SEO Tip Week 35

Sunday, September 2nd, 2007 |

SEO TipsThere are two types of redirects you can use, a 301 and a 302. These numbers refer to the HTTP Status Code returned by the server for a given URL. A 301 redirect tells the search engine that the page has moved permanently to the new URL. A 302 redirect tells the search engine that the move is only temporary, and you may decide to show content at the original location in the future without a redirect.

301 Redirects
All three major search engines handle 301 redirects the same, that is to say they ignore the original URL and instead index the destination URL. For example, www.beekerfurniture.com uses a 301 redirect to www.hendersonsfurniture.com and Google, MSN and Yahoo all return the result www.hendersonsfurniture.com when searching for “beeker furniture”. The word beeker doesn’t appear anywhere on the hendersonsfurniture.com site, and a site search in Google shows that only the home page has any relevance for the word. Clicking on the Cached link in the site search results further shows that the word only exists in links pointing to the site, “These terms only appear in links pointing to this page: beeker.” Those links Google is referring to are actually pointing to www.beekerfurniture.com and the 301 redirect is passing along the relevance of the word beeker to hendersonsfurniture.com.

301 redirects can be very powerful when you redesign your site and the URLs change, move to a different domain, acquire a new domain, or implement a URL rewrite. In most cases, this is the type of redirect you want to use because you know exactly how the search engines will respond.

302 Redirects
The three major engines handle 302 redirects very differently, and because of this 302s are typically not recommended.

Google treats 302 redirects differently depending if they are on-domain or off-domain. An example of an on-domain redirect is athletics.mlb.com which uses a 302 redirect to http://oakland.athletics.mlb.com/index.jsp?c_id=oak. If you search for “oakland a’s” in Google you will see that athletics.mlb.com is displayed in the results because links point to that URL, which in turn uses a 302 redirect to the destination page. This is a great example where 302 redirects can be used effectively, since the shorter URL looks much more enticing in the results pages.

Off-domain 302 redirects would be ripe for hijacking situations if treated the same way. Because of this, in most cases, Google will treat off-domain 302 redirects like 301s, where they will ignore the original URL and instead index the destination URL. I say most cases because Google will sometimes determine that the 302 is legitimate & index the original URL instead. An example of an off-domain redirect is pets.roanoke.com which uses a 302 redirect to a third-party site http://www.gadzoo.com/roanoke/pets.aspx. In this case, Google determined that this was a legitimate use of a 302 redirect and displays pets.roanoke.com when searching for “pets roanoke”.

Pets Roanoke Google Search

MSN treats 302 redirects exactly how it treats 301 redirects, it will always ignore the original URL and instead index the destination URL. A search for “oakland a’s” in MSN shows the URL oakland.athletics.mlb.com/index.jsp?c_id=oak in its results. And a search for “pets roanoke” shows www.gadzoo.com/roanoke/pets.aspx in its results.

Yahoo takes the same stance that MSN takes, except that they reserve the right to make exceptions in handling redirects. A search for “oakland a’s” in Yahoo shows the URL www.oaklandathletics.com in its results. (www.oaklandathletics.com also uses a 302 redirect to http://oakland.athletics.mlb.com/index.jsp?c_id=oak) But a search for “pets roanoke” shows www.gadzoo.com/roanoke/pets.aspx in its results.

Pets Roanoke Yahoo Search

There are very few times where you actually want a 302 redirect, although they are used more often than 301s merely because most people don’t know the difference. 302 redirects are often the default redirect in website control panels, and JavaScript or Meta redirects will produce a 302 status as well. In certain situations however, 302 redirects work wonders.

As with all our tips, please use them responsibly. When in doubt, use a 301 redirct.

Hakia Search Engine

Tuesday, August 7th, 2007 |

New search engine alert.

I discovered a new search engine that shows promise, at least from its marketing rhetoric. Read below to find out more about Hadkia and its more cognitive approach to search. I love Google, but seeing a search engine do something better is a good feeling.

Hakia is building the Web’s new “meaning-based” (semantic) search engine with the sole purpose of improving search relevancy and interactivity, pushing the current boundaries of Web search. The benefits to the end user are search efficiency, richness of information, and time savings.

The basic promise is to bring search results by meaning match – similar to the human brain’s cognitive skills – rather than by the mere occurrence (or popularity) of search terms. hakia’s new technology is a radical departure from the conventional indexing approach, because indexing has severe limitations to handle full-scale semantic search.

hakia’s capabilities will appeal to all Web searchers – especially those engaged in research on knowledge intensive subjects, such as medicine, law, finance, science, and literature.

Try Hakia and let us know what you think. Keep in mind it is still in beta (8/8/07).

Google’s Other Search Engine – SearchMash.com

Thursday, July 26th, 2007 |

I feel like the guy who wants to talk about a movie he just saw, but came out over a year ago. Sometimes SEO research can put blinders on you and you miss the little or not so little things. I have just used a search engine created by Google called SearchMash. It launched October 2006 and I’m just finding out about it. But, better late than never as it has some nice features and looks to show the same results as Google, but with some nice tricks. It’s AJAX-based and has web page, image, blog and wikipedia search results as options.

They show images, videos, blog and wikipedia results to the right of web page results and they are in expandable menus. When you click on “more web pages” or or more of any search results it will expand the list on the same page, giving you a longer scrollable page instead of a new page. Videos will also play in the same page so you don’t need to leave your results to view it.

SearchMash.com is certainly worth checking out. Who knows, Google may find its best competition is from its own sibling search engine.

Google’s Supplemental Results – SEO Tip Week 29

Friday, July 20th, 2007 |

52 SEO TipsGoogle is indexing more pages now then ever before, but that’s not always a good thing. Sometimes these pages get sent to the supplemental index instead of the main index. It’s perfectly normal for most sites to have some pages in the supplemental index, but if your main pages (and especially your home page) get sent to the supplemental index you’ll likely not see much traffic from Google any more.

My site’s listed in the supplemental results, what does that mean?
As Google states, “Supplemental sites are part of Google’s auxiliary index.” Google will always show results from their main index before showing results from the supplemental index. This means that supplemental pages will almost never show up for searches, and will only show up for super specialized searches if few or no results come from the main index. With so many blogs and tag pages out there, even crazy many-word searches will bring back at least a few non-supplemental results.

How did my site get in the supplemental index?
One way pages end up in the supplemental index instead of the main index is a lack of PageRank (PR). This could be because you orphaned the page (no links pointing to it), the page lies too many clicks away from your home page, or your home page itself has a very low PR. If this is the case, you should work on your link building to those important pages of your site and build up their PageRank.

The other way your pages end up in the supplemental index is by having duplicate content on your page. This could be because you used the same manufacturer written product description that dozens of other sites use, you copied content from another website, or your pages have very little content and too much template which is duplicated on all pages. If this is the case, try writing unique content or changing your template so it doesn’t have the same elements on every page.

I changed my pages, what’s next?
Now that you’ve fixed your pages, it can be a long and hard process for getting them out of the supplemental index because the supplemental spider doesn’t come along very often. You should create or edit your Google sitemap XML file and hope that will be enough. If that doesn’t work, try changing the name (URL) of those pages and delete the old file.

Feel free to add your own observations about supplemental results here, we’d love to hear your stories.

Google: Hot Trends

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007 |

Google releases a “new toy” with Hot Trends. While keeping up with what is hot with Google search terms is not really part of SEO, it is fun to see what the collective search world is focusing on.

And today we’re introducing a new toy we are calling Hot Trends. It’s a new feature of Google Trends for sharing the the hottest current searches with you in very close to real time. What’s on our collective mind as we search for information? What’s interesting to people right now? Hot Trends will tell you. At a glance, you’ll see the huge variety of topics capturing our attention, from current events to daily crossword puzzle clues to the latest celebrity gossip. Hot Trends is updated throughout the day, so check back often.

For each Hot Trend, you will see results from Google News, Google Blog Search and web search, which help explain why the search is hot. For example, the #7 item on Thursday, May 17th was the cryptic phrase [creed thoughts]. The associated news stories and blog results show that this odd term is the name of a fake website mentioned on the season finale of The Office. Mystery solved. Of course, some searches are not as easily explained. Visit the Hot Trends group to read the explanations of others and offer your own.

Also stated by Google: With the release of Hot Trends, we’re retiring the weekly Zeitgeist list, but we will still compile monthly lists for each country, and will continue our annual year-end roll-ups too.

Too bad for Zeitgeist but at least it is continuing forward, just not on a weekly basis.

Being a big fan of The Office I was tickled to see that on May 17th Creed’s Thoughts was hot.

You can read the full blog post: What’s Hot Today

Google Universal Search

Thursday, May 17th, 2007 |

Wow, Google is already the known leader in the search engine market and they are now moving ahead of the competition even further with Universal Search. Can anything stop them? You may have noticed some search results showing a lot more than just text results, well that is universal search kicking in. You can see the search for Darth Vader as an example of the new look.

Reading this snipped bit of text from the blog post on the Googleblog certainly seems exciting.

Although it’s just a beginning, this first pass of universal search focuses on video, news, local and books. Now you’ll be able to get more information Google knows about directly from within the search results. You won’t have to know about specialized areas of content. If you’re looking for the [atkins southwestern pork fajitas] recipe, we can now link you right to that page in the book. Or if, like me, you’ve been busy these past few days and have not caught up with your Tivo, don’t type [sopranos] into Google, because our news result will be a giant spoiler. The search for [rachmaninoff concerto 3] includes a video of Vladimir Horowitz performing this piece (scroll down to see it), and [Animator vs. Animation 2] is pretty cool as well. (And as Johanna notes: I was delighted to see that when querying for my son’s name a video showed up too.)

How this bodes for the search engine optimization industry remains to be seen, but helping site that deserve to be found in the search results will always be a good thing. I feel this can only help the better sites rise to the top and everyone should be in favor of that.

You can read the entire post about Google’s Universal Search. You can also find more when reading Universal search: The best answer is still the best answer.

Get to Know Google Services – SEO Tip Week 11

Friday, March 16th, 2007 |

52 SEO TipsGet to know Google. What would an SEO Consultant’s life be like without Google? An interesting question but one we are likely never to have to answer. Google is the new Microsoft and will affect our lives forever more in ways we don’t even realize yet. Don’t believe me? Do you think Google just does web search? Think again.

I’ve listed many services that Google offers and I’m sure you may be a bit surprised at how many different pies the search giant’s thumb is actuall in. The list is growing so please contribute if you know of any I may have missed. I have bolded the Google services I view important for SEO purposes. (more…)

PageBull – Search Engine Displays Full Web Page Results

Thursday, January 25th, 2007 |

The home page description says it all about the search engine, so let me quote:

Your visual Internet search engine.

Recommended: broadband, large monitor, mouse with mousewheel.

If you have a large monitor to see the search results in their full glory take a shot. But beware, you need a least a 19inch monitor to appreciate it and fast connection to the Internet.

This may change the way we search forever…or at least for a few minutes. They even have a feedback link for you to make suggestions.

Without further ado, please visit PageBull and try a few test searches. It appears to by powered by Yahoo! so we will assume the results are similar to Yahoo! results.

Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) And SEO

Thursday, December 28th, 2006 |

Indexing has always been considered a highly targeted science. Enter a search query into Google search and the pages that are displayed are generally optimized towards that exact word or term. However, in their continual battle to server the most relevant but most natural pages with genuinely useful information Google has injected latent semantic indexing (LSI) into its algorithms.

What is LSI?

LSI is a unique indexing method that potentially takes Google search one step closer to becoming human in its way of thinking. If we were to manually search through web pages to find information related to a given search term we would be likely to generate our own results based on the theme of the site, rather than whether a word exists or doesn’t exist on the page.

Why Search Engines Might Adopt Latent Semantic Indexing

The extremely rigid form of “keyword indexing” also meant that black hat SEO techniques were easier to implement. Search engines could be manipulated into ranking a site highly by using set formula. Originally, cramming a page with a particular keyword or set of keywords meant a site would rank highly for that search term. The proceeding set of algorithms ensured that your link profile played more of an important part than your keyword density. Reciprocal linking soon followed once again making it possible to manipulate the search engine spiders by exchanging links with tens, hundreds, or thousands of websites. (more…)

Google Supplemental Results

Friday, November 10th, 2006 |

Nice article about the misunderstood supplemental results Google supplies. Also good advice on how to help your pages escape supplemental hades and find the Google promiseland. Better yet you can also read how to avoid being placed in the supplemental results altogether.

According to Google’s FAQ page, supplemental results are part of Google’s auxiliary index (main results are drawn from the main index) and pages, which appear on the supplemental listing, have "fewer restrictions" than those that appear on the main results page. They further say that the inclusion of sites on the main or supplemental index is purely automated and does not affect page rank at all.

In truth however, pages that appear on the main index will almost always show up first in a search. Supplemental search results will only show up if there are very few or no results at all in the main index. Plenty of older web sites also tend to populate the supplemental results page. Needless to say the supplemental results page is not where you want your site to end up. Ironically several people have emailed Google asking that their sites be included in the supplemental index!

So how does a site end up in the supplemental results page? And more importantly how does one get out or even avoid inclusion in the first place?

Several factors may affect your inclusion in supplemental results but keep in mind it is best to avoid these factors at the outset, as it is easier to stay out of supplemental results than to get out.

One of the most crucial factors to consider is the text content of your web page; whether it is in the title tag, description tag or actual web page content. (more…)

Big Oak SEO Blog

This SEO blog is provided by Big Oak SEO, a SEO Company. Most blog posts are related to search engine optimization, short reviews, SEO tips and increasing site conversions. Email us at contact@bigoakinc.com or give us a call 804-741-6776 to see how we can help your company. More

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