A prefect's musings on digital and social media

Tag Archives: Google

My catchphrase is ‘they have an algorithm!’ How does Twitter work out its top tweets? – an algorithm. How does Google know what results to show? – an algorithm.

I thought we should take a look at the history of this elusive tech formulae.

Sometime circa 1990 early search engines began cataloging the web. To register, all web people had to do was submit their URL address to the engine which would release a ‘search spider’, like something out the Matrix, to extract links to other pages and return the information to be indexed.

SEO Spiders

A large part of the search formulae relied on meta tags, labelling your webpages with keywords, and your site would slowly work its way up the listings. But this lead to keyword dumping or to a ‘high key word density’ and pages that read like this:

 “We have a variety of inflatable palm trees in stock and these inflatable palm trees are for sale at $14.99. Be sure to pick up your inflatable palm tree today before all the inflatable palm trees are gone. Our inflatable palm trees are flying out the door”

Annoying. And Google thought so to.

It also meant search rank listings were easily manipulated, causing search terms to throw up completely irrelevant pages. Key word dumpling is a technique belonging to ‘black hat’ SEO. (Tactics search engines disapprove of, as opposed to ‘white hat’ methods, like web design, which will cause higher rankings long term.)

So the search engine giant evolved its elusive algorithm to include a trust and credibility measure – that is how many third party sites linked back to content on your webpage.  In the ever-waging battle between SEO manipulators and Google, ‘link farms’, which manufactured backlinks, littered the web to boost rankings.

Now this is where it gets clever, in April 2012, Google released Penguin (named after the black and white hat SEO techniques). The latest algorithm, which not only includes meta tags, backlinks but now social influence. Essentially how many social networking sites you’re linked to, how many people engage and organically spread your content.

Inflatable Palm Trees

Google’s algorithm is now so well-tuned it can provide you with personalised search results which means if we were to both Google ‘Inflatable palm trees’ I can guarantee our top 10 would be different.  Google computes your location, what browser you use, age, other sites you visit to help you find the information you need. Knowledge is now more accessible than ever before.

Is SEO Dead?

SEO Graphics by SEO Book

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The world of social media has got very exciting indeed this month with big players Google and Microsoft both flexing their muscles in the social networking arena.

Google launched Buzz for Gmail on 9th February – allowing users to integrate social networking with their email management.  There have been various teething problems and criticisms including privacy issues and the fact that you may not want to have personal updates from some of your email contacts whom you have only emailed once.  However, the figures speak for themselves with Google reporting over 160, 000 Google Buzz posts and comments per hour.

Google Buzz has failed to capture my imagination though for one simple reason: I am not a Gmail user.  In my capacity as Digital prefect I have of course read up extensively on the development and I am almost intrigued enough to set up an account just to have a go.  Almost.  But not quite.

Then enter Microsoft into the ring with new social networking partners Facebook and MySpace.  The announcement comes hot on the heels of the LinkedIn partnership formed back in November.  This news leaves me hardly able to contain my excitement.  Many are already complaining that Facebook and MySpace are not the appropriate sites to integrate into Outlook, which is largely a business tool, and I quite agree – I use my Facebook account purely for personal reasons (as well as a little social media based research….), the LinkedIn partnership on the other hand is perfectly positioned.

However, these critics seems to be somewhat missing the point, what is exciting is that a key player is forming relationships with existing social networking sites that we know and love.  I don’t have to wander into the unfamiliar land of Gmail and GoogleBuzz if I can embrace the warm and cuddly, familiar territory of Facebook with my existing email client.  I hope that this integration spreads across other email clients, managing my LinkedIn through outlook and my Facebook through Hotmail would be a dream come true indeed…



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