Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Google's new Sitelinks and your web site

Google recently started to include a set of links below some results to pages within the site. These new additional links are called Sitelinks.
It seems that Google displays Sitelinks if a web site is an authority site for the search term.

What are Google Sitelinks?
Google explains the new links on its webmaster pages:

How do you compile the list of links shown below some search results?
The links shown below some sites in our search results, called Sitelinks, are meant to help users navigate your site. Our systems analyze the link structure of your site to find shortcuts that will save users time and allow them to quickly find the information they're looking for.

We only show Sitelinks for results when we think they'll be useful to the user. If the structure of your site doesn't allow our algorithms to find good Sitelinks, or we don't think that the Sitelinks for your site are relevant for the user's query, we won't show them.

At the moment, Sitelinks are completely automated. We're always working to improve our Sitelinks algorithms, and we may incorporate webmaster input in the future.

How does Google calculate Sitelinks?

Google claims that the Sitelinks are created automatically. If Google uses an algorithm to calculate Sitelinks, there must be a way to influence that algorithm.

There are several theories on how Sitelinks are calculated:

1. Google might track the number of clicks for different results. If a web site gets a lot of traffic for a special keyword then the web site will get Sitelinks on Google's result page.For example, if you use a special trademark term on your web pages that cannot be found on other web sites then many people will click on your web site in Google's results when they search for that search term. It's likely that your web site will get Sitelinks for such a search term.

2. The link architecture of a web site might help. Links at the top of the HTML source of a web site seem to have a better chance to be included as Sitelinks.

3. Google might use the Google toolbar to determine Sitelinks. The more often a page is bookmarked the more likely it is that these pages will be used as Sitelinks. Google's toolbar can collect a lot of information about a web site.

At the moment, it's hard to tell how Google calculates the new Sitelinks. It's probably a combination of click data, toolbar data and other factors. If you see Sitelinks for your web site, then Google has probably classified your web site as an authority site for the search term.

How does this affect your web site?

It seems that Sitelinks are only used for trademark searches or searches that are similar to trademark queries.

Most search engine result pages on Google don't show these additional links.

That means that it's better to invest some time in getting listed in Google's regular result pages than trying to get listed with additional Sitelinks.

Monday, September 11, 2006

The Orion Algorithm And Your SEO Efforts

By: Mark Nenadic

Every so often there is a new development that is so enormous that it changes the way the entire SEO-using world works with their websites for optimization and proper promotional structuring.

Most recently was the purchasing of the rights to the Orion Algorithm by Google. Equally important is that Yahoo! and MSN have both taken an interest in the Orion Algorithm and vied for its ownership.

The Orion Algorithm " for those of you who arent working for a search engine " is something that has actually been kept quite secret. Its specifics are not known, but what is understood is that it is a new technology for the performance of search engines. It allows search results to be immediately displayed as expanded text extracts so that users will know the relevant information without having to actually check the site to make sure that it is what they are looking for. The option to visit the website is, however, still quite available if the user chooses to opt for it.

To web designers, search engine optimizers, and other website owners, it means that there will likely be another shift in the way that websites are ranked and indexed. Furthermore, the traffic to the website will be much more specific to that sites target market, as fewer people will land there only to find that it is not what they are looking for.

For users in general, this will mean that the results that are displayed using Google searches will be much more similar to those found at Ask.com. It will allow users to judge the sites content compared to what theyre looking for without having to click the link. It will make searching much simpler and more practical for users who will be able to review everything all in one place. Then, when they come upon the site or sites that interest them, they may still click the link and find out what the site is all about in more depth.

This means that the Orion Algorithm is essentially an entirely new way of evaluating websites with regards to the search terms that are used for them. Instead of ranking the website based on the search phrase being used by the user, the Orion Algorithm may also dig a bit deeper into the phrase, searching also for related phrases. This concept, while not entirely new for directories, is the first of its kind for the standard search engines that are typically used on the internet. This will mean that search engine optimizers will need to change their overall strategy so that they will now appeal to search engines in different ways.

Among the techniques that may be utilized in searching with other relevant terms with the Orion Algorithm are the following. Their relevancy and weight has not been determined, as the Orion Algorithm is being held in the deepest secrecy. However, knowing what we do about Orion, it is logical to believe the following:

1 - Directories are the least likely to be considered using relevant phrases. Though they may be utilized for supplementary keyword sources, they will not likely be considered as results in themselves. The drawback presented by this approach is that there will therefore not be as many cross-referenced popular keywords as there are currently due to the results brought up by directories with a search engine query.

2 - Thesaurus are relatively unlikely to be used for discovering related phrases since the technique rarely works for related keyword phrases that are used with searches. It may be possible for single word searches, but as soon as multiple words are used, or even when acronyms are employed, it is much more difficult to find proper terms using thesauruses.

3 - Search behavior is also unlikely to be used in order to document relevancy for future searches. The concept is sound, as it would allow search behavior patterns to be collected and then predicted. However, this would not allow for decent results until the search engines have had enough time to compile adequate results and then assess the behaviors that have been recorded.

We may never know precisely what goes into the Orion Algorithm, but search engine optimizers " as always " will continue testing new results for creating sites that are most likely to achieve superior search engine ranking results.

Also see:
Google and the Orion Algorithm

Google Inc. has acquired "Orion" search engine technology from an Australian university that last year described the product as potentially revolutionary.