Nathan forwarded me this link from Mashable, with the subject line prefaced with the word “HUGE”.
From what I can tell, it looks like Microsoft is finally starting to put together the pieces of an overall web strategy: determine what Google would like to do and put roadblocks in their way. Hence the previous Yahoo deal.
Its obvious far to early to see if this helps them out. I’m fairly sure though that it means search engines will be displaying a lot more “current” or trending data pulled from profiles and micro-blogging posts.
We’ve been noticing a few odd things lately with Google:
New sites aren’t getting spidered – or not as quickly as earlier this year. Webmaster tools gives a generic message about the website not being listed in Google’s index, along with a link to a video that seems to mostly be about websites that get themselves banned for violating Google’s terms of service. Also existing websites that are growing aren’t always having the new content added as quickly as before – or rather it happens inconsistantly lately.
Google PageRank tools don’t seem to be working any more. I’ve tried a number of them lately.
While we’re on the topic of PageRank, it seems to be even less relevant than before. In one controlled scenario where we have many listings showing for a specific search term, a PR5 page is showing on the third page, while much lower PR websites are showing on the first page. Sorry, I can’t be more specific, but it is a fairly controlled scenario. All of the pages involved are similar in size with similar numbers of occurrences of this keyword.
Searches are often slow. As far as I can tell, this isn’t just my internet connection. Its been years since I’ve had the Google homepage time out on me.
Search listings sometimes change dramatically in short time periods.
All of the above seems to indicate that Google is gearing their entire system up for something big. Speculation among my staff says they’re going to try to make everything realtime (or close to it) in order to compete with Twitter. That means that they’re going to try and reorder all of their indexes very quickly (rather than weekly or possibly daily) in order to try and provide something closer to the immediate zeitgeist that one can obtain through Twitter.
Having some idea of the size of Google’s indices, and a vague notion that the number of servers in their demesne is in the low millions, the scale of this boggles my mind.
Over the past few months, we’ve averaged around one new blog setup per day.
Recently, Nathan (one of our SEO experts – see his article on Buddy Press) and I started putting together a list of the standard things that we do after we install a WordPress blog.
The following assumes some familiarity with WordPress. We’ve started playing around with the latest version (2.8), and I suggest that you use that unless there’s a pressing reason not to (i.e. incompatible plugins).
1. General Config
Make sure that you have configured clean URLs in Settings -> Permalinks.
Under Settings -> Writing, put in additional locations to ping whenever you update your blog. There is a decent list here.
We try to make small changes to all stock themes that we use. This means that search engines are less likely to group your site along with every other blog that is using the same theme.
Even better: use a premium theme, or make your own one.
Our objective with plugins is to automate the process of creating quality meta information for blog entries to the largest extent possible, and to make sure that our blogs talk nicely to search engines. We install the following set of plugins:
Make sure you configure all of the above. You may need to create some accounts in various places in order for some of the above to work.
If you’re running Firefox, we highly recommend installing the Zemanta plugin.
We used to put tag clouds into the sidebars of all new blogs, but if Sitemaps is working correctly that isn’t necessary (and it can take up a lot of important real estate).
4. SEO Stuff
Make sure you have accounts for Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools. Use them. Play around with them. Learn how to use them inside and out.
Make sure every new blog has one or two posts containing YouTube videos.
Getting the right number of tags per post is critical – we try to hit a sweet spot between 10 and 15 tags for each post. This may change depending on search engines.
Make sure that your blog is configured to use different page titles and meta tags for each page. Use HeadSpace if necessary to automate this process.
There’s probably a ton of important things I’m missing here (please let me know!), but this is a minimal list of things that you should be doing whenever you setup a new blog (if you want it to perform well).
A better subtitle for this blog could be: “Throw a bunch of spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks”
I keep an eye on the Google Analytics reports for this site. The past couple of months, there were an unusually large number of hits from people searching for info on Twitter. I just tried a couple of searches on Google.com and Google.ca this morning, and for “twitter purpose” (and a variety of other combinations), we’re showing up near the top of the first page. In the past, we’ve also had searches for people looking for info on Askme.com, DandyId and other specific topics that I’ve written about here.
I think the general principal, one that has relevance for SEO (search engine optimization), is that it’s just about impossible to determine in advance what the zeitgeist of the moment is going to be. As a result, place content on your site that covers a wide range of related topics, and there’s a good chance that something that you write will be relevant to somebody, somewhere, at some point in time.
This is otherwise known as the spaghetti principal – when you don’t know what precisely will work, try a bunch of different things, and record your results. This isn’t a new idea by any means. Bloggers, internet marketers and SEOs use this tactic all the time, in a variety of different ways.