Google and Bing Changes You Need to Know About

    September 15, 2011
    Chris Crum

There have been a whole lot of announcements from the major search engines this week, that all webmasters should be aware of – especially from Google, because while its market share may have slipped slightly (while Bing-powered search has grown a bit), it’s still by far the most used search engine.

Are the search engines headed in the right direction? Tell us what you think in the comments.

Cutts on Why Your PageRank Would Drop

While not exactly an announcement, Google’s head of web spam Matt Cutts did post a video discussing reasons why Google Toolbar PageRank would drop. We talked about this a little bit more here, but you can hear exactly what he had to say in this video:

There is a part in there where he mentions that if you were caught selling links, but have stopped and want to earn Google’s trust back, you should submit a reconsideration request. On that note, Google announced that it is getting “more transparent” with its reconsideration requests.

Better Communication

“Now, if your site is affected by a manual spam action, we may let you know if we were able to revoke that manual action based on your reconsideration request,” explain Tiffany Oberoi and Michael Wyszomierski of Google’s Search Quality team in a joint blog post. “Or, we could tell you if your site is still in violation of our guidelines. This might be a discouraging thing to hear, but once you know that there is still a problem, it will help you diagnose the issue.”

“If your site is not actually affected by any manual action (this is the most common scenario), we may let you know that as well,” they add. “Perhaps your site isn’t being ranked highly by our algorithms, in which case our systems will respond to improvements on the site as changes are made, without your needing to submit a reconsideration request. Or maybe your site has access issues that are preventing Googlebot from crawling and indexing it.”

Google says it’s not able to reply to individual requests with specific feedback, but that now webmasters will be able to find out if their site has been affected by a manual action and will know the outcome of the reconsideration review.

Google Using Blocked Site Data in Algorithm

Earlier this year, Google announced some new domain blocking features, which included a browser extension, and a link next to search results, which allow users to block sites that they don’t like. This was part of Google’s big quality clean up initiative, which also includes the Panda update and the +1 button. Initially, the sites blocked were on a personalized basis, but that is no longer completely the case. Google search quality engineer Johannes Henkel is quoted as saying, “We’ve also started incorporating data about sites people have blocked into our general search ranking algorithms to help users find more high quality sites.”

Pagination and View-All in Search Results

Google is “making a larger effort” to return single-page versions of content in search results, when the content is broken up among multiple pages. Think multiple page articles and content slideshows. Google says users tend to prefer single page versions of content, but sometimes these can load slowly, so there are also times when the multiple pages work better.

“So while a view-all page is commonly desired, as a webmaster it’s important to balance this preference with the page’s load time and overall user experience,” Google indexing team software engineers Benjia Li & Joachim Kupke say in a joint blog post on the Webmaster Central blog.

You can read more about the technical specs here. They summarize it all nicely: “Because users generally prefer the view-all option in search results, we’re making more of an effort to properly detect and serve this version to searchers. If you have a series of content, there’s nothing more you need to do.”

To better optimize your view-all page, you can use rel=”canonical” from component pages to the single-page version; otherwise, if a view-all page doesn’t provide a good user experience for your site, you can use the rel=”next” and rel=”prev” attributes as a strong hint for Google to identify the series of pages and still surface a component page in results.

They talk even more about the specs of using rel=”next” and rel=”rev” in this post.

Rich Snippets for Apps

Google is also showing rich snippets for apps in search results now. They’re getting info for these from various places including: Android Market, Apple iTunes and CNET.

Application rich snippets

“Before you install a software application, you may want to check out what others think about it and how much it costs,” says product manager Alejandro Goyen. “Starting today, you’ll be able to get information about the applications, including review and price information, right in your search results.”

That’s something to consider if your business has an app. It’s a reputation factor.

Editing in YouTube

This isn’t exactly a search feature, but when you consider how big a role video can play in search marketing and that YouTube is the second largest search engine, it’s certainly worth your attention. YouTube has launched new editing tools that allow you to easy edit videos right from YouTube itself.

This should help you improve your videos, which are not only searchable on the second largest search engine and embeddable across the web, but often appear right in the results of regular Google searches. This new editing functionality will make it easier to try new things with less successful videos and potentially make them more viral.

Bing Adaptive Search

Ok, getting away from Google, Bing has launched adaptive search, which is essentially its version of personalized search. The company says it “helps decipher the intent and context of each search you conduct based on your search history.”

“The concept of personalized search is not a new idea, but Bing continues to focus on it and drive progress as the search space evolves,” a representative for Bing tells WebProNews. “In fact, Bing views personalized search as less of a ‘feature’ and more of what to expect from search.”
“Ultimately, the goal is to reduce ambiguity and help people find what they’re looking for more quickly,” he adds. “The personalization can be pretty subtle to the naked eye, but the more Bing learns about your intent the more personal it will become. And Bing also wants to be sure a diverse set of results still show up so people aren’t locked in a ‘filter bubble’. We think this provides a good balance.”

You’ve been dealing with this kind of thing with Google for quite some time, but it does throw in another SEO factor to consider for Bing, which as previously mentioned continues to gain market share.

WebProNews is interviewing Bing’s Stefan Weitz as I write this, so check back at WebProNews for more on this soon.

New Analytics Tool from Blekko

Finally, alternative search engine Blekko has released an interesting search analytics tool, which some of you might find useful. It’s called “Web Grepper”.

“The Web Grepper searches for unique data information and trends that are embedded in code and cannot be found on any other search engine,” a spokesperson for the company tells WebProNews. “For example, you could search to see how many pages request your user information when you visit, the types of  targeting information the site collecting, or how many sites have ‘Like’ vs ‘+1′ buttons, etc.”

Users can submit questions to the tool and the Blekko community votes on a daily basis on which questions will be analyzed.

These aren’t the only things going on in search this week, but these are some of the more noteworthy things that are likely to have a bigger impact on most site owners, than say things like Flight Search and Baseball scores.

Do any of these items concern you? Make your life easier? Let us know in the comments.


Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.