Struggling in the search-engines placement

Wired has a story on how search results are "clogged" by blogs. The title itself induces that blogs do harm to the search placement race that is so important for companies.

Commercial websites believe scoring high placements in search-engine results is so crucial for generating traffic that many are willing to pay top dollar to sponsor keywords or hire "positioning" consultants to secure a good ranking.

Then there are bloggers. With no deliberate effort, many dedicated weblog publishers are finding their blogs rank high on search results for topics that, oftentimes, they claim to know practically nothing about.

Bloggers attribute prominent placement to the frequency with which they publish new material and the fact that other sites often link to their blogs. These are two factors most search engines take into account when determining rankings.

I find this story delightfully ironic. Rephrased, it simply means that search engines are doing their job, i.e. finding out content that:

  • is fresh (Google looks at the rate a page is modified and seems to module the rate at which it indexes a site accordingly)
  • is reachable (stable URLs are important)
  • gets attention (gets linked to)

and giving it prominence so that their users find content relevant to their queries.

Let's add that search engines would logically favor pages that written to the XHTML/CSS web standards, where the ratio semantic content/code is far higher than HTML pages designed with tables. Webloggers have another advantage over companies here, as the prominent weblogging software offer XHTML/CSS templates while the vast majority of companies are still using bloated web pages.

If you needed proof that your money is better spent on your website content rather than on search engine ranking services, here you are. But good content is like common sense, it's a valuable resource that you cannot just buy.

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Search Results Clogged by Commercial Websites

Bloggers believe scoring high placements in search-engine results is so crucial for generating traffic that many are willing to link to A-list bloggers that they don't even know or email "new media" consultants to secure a good ranking.

Then there are commercial websites. With no deliberate effort, many dedicated commercial publishers are finding their stories rank high on search results for topics that, oftentimes, they claim to know practically nothing about.

Commercial publishers attribute prominent placement to the frequency with which they publish new material and the fact that other sites often link to their news stories. These are two factors most search engines take into account when determining rankings.

"More and more, I'm running into myself on Google," said Jayson, who until recently wrote for a prestigious newspaper from his Brooklyn home.

"I haven't searched for something completely random and found my own stories, but I have searched for specifics on police investigations that I've expressed opinions on a few weeks earlier and had to click through my own postings on numerous occasions," Jayson said in an e-mail.

Other Web surfers are also being directed to Jayson's stories. In a 24-hour period this week, Jayson said he got more than 150,000 click-throughs from Google users, including searches on such keywords as "Kim Possible" (a Disney cartoon), "DC Sniper," "Anthrax Attacks" and "Jeffrey Archer"

"I do remember mentioning that I liked Kim Possible, but the rest don't make much sense," he said.


Still, Jayson is far from the only blogger who's seeing even his most cursory references to a place, idea or technology result in search engine-generated traffic.

Larry McNanny, of Lansing, Michigan, had a similar experience after making a brief reference in his Michican Chronicle to an incident at a local mall. Much later, when he looked up the mall online hoping to find a listing of stores, McNanny's first search result linked to the Michigan Chronicle.

Another time, McNanny said, he and fellow journalists on the editorial team posted a question online about how to correctly use apostrophes. The query generated a high enough search-engine ranking that many other professional writers e-mailed the journalists with questions.

Peter Paddy, who publishes the Miami Daily, says it's common for search-engine queries on topics he's commented briefly about to point users to his site. He believes the trick to achieving prominent search rankings is fairly straightforward: "update frequently and provide good content."

Still, easy as it may be for certain commercial sites to generate high traffic from search-engine users, many bloggers struggle to rank high in online searches related to their interests.

Freddy Mansoni, of Cincinatti, provides a blog that keeps people up to date with daily photos of his pets, says that bloggers often don't realize that they're competing for placement not only with other bloggers but with any business who posts online.

"The Web is absolutely the great equalizer," he said. "Good content rises to the top on the Internet. It doesn't matter if the medium is a blog or a corporate Web page."

Mansoni said many bloggers do not generate as much traffic from search-engine queries as they could because they put hundreds of links to other bloggers on their front page. This prevents search-engine crawlers from indexing those pages and including them in query results.

Many commercial websites, on the other hand, put only a small amount of information on the front page, pointing to a large number of internally linked pages, making it easier for crawlers to access them.

That said, efforts by bloggers to improve positioning appear to be working for random keywords. Random searches of a dozen obscure and incorrectly spelled nouns produced blogs in the top five results.

However, searches that included the word "money" along with a generic noun or company name were highly likely to generate a commercial website among the top results. In searches containing the keywords "money Microsoft," "money Britney Spears," and "money liverwurst," for example, commercial sites showed up prominently in the results.

Mansoni says high rankings of commercial websites in "money"-related searches is probably because commercial websites use more business, formal language on their pages than bloggers sites do.

Moreover, he said, "I don't know that money has a big blogging application."

I find internet marketing the same as marketing a product in the real world. In real marketing one really has to go through different means to promote a brand and product. Same tasks are applied in internet marketing but this can also be done at the comfort of one’s bedroom.

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