Google Answers Your Burning Questions

Lately The Lady Programmer has posted a series of articles about SEO. Many comments from fellow bloggers interested in SEO were made on these articles. I read all the comments and it became obvious to me that many bloggers do not really know how to optimize their blogs so that Google will easily see them. I also found out through the comments that many bloggers are aware about how important it is to do SEO but they have no idea how to do it. Despite the many books I've read about SEO, it still remains as some sort of mystery to me, I know some things about it but there are many things that are cloaked with mystery. I know that it is also the same case with other bloggers and webmasters. I see many blogs posing as SEO expert's blogs but these blogs do not even have PR and when I do some tests on them they do not make it to the first page of Google search, so how could I take their advice on SEO when they could not even apply SEO on their own blogs? The reason why SEO is a mystery is because Google moves in mysterious ways. If we know exactly how Google thinks and moves then SEO would be very easy. Lately Google answered many of the burning questions in bloggers' and webmasters' minds about PR and SEO and stuff like that. In a live chat Q&A, Google's Matt Cutts and Maile Ohye with other Google engineers, answered straight many of the questions webmasters around the world had been begging to be answered straight. The Google people, according to Jason Lee Miller of WebProNews, "put to rest some fears and myths, and confirmed some speculations".

Here are some of the questions answered by Google:

Do 301 redirects carry over PageRank?

Where appropriate, ranking signals will be transferred across 301 redirects (if the same page has moved from one URL to another). This may take some time, so you should probably leave the redirect in place as long as you have control over the URL.

Do backlinks from bad sites negatively affect my PageRank?

Those links might be positively affecting your PageRank (PageRank does not go down from "bad" links like those from adult sites). In general, you don't have to worry about bad links like that which point to your site that aren't under your control.

I have reported sites that clearly have paid links (e.g. the backlink page says "Advertising" above the link), but Google does not seem to take action. Why would that be the case? These are .orgs who are clearly selling their .org juice.

While paid links and spam reports are being taken very seriously by Google, the results may not be seen immediately for users or even not at all. This does not mean no action is being taken on the offending sites. Also, the TLD of the sites should not be a factor being taken into account. For this reason reporting both, web spam and PageRank passing link selling makes sense and contributes in an important way to the quality of Google's index.

Is it true that the fewer the links FROM your website, the more influence they have on the sites receiving those links?

PageRank is split up over the links from a page, but I would recommend not concentrating on this (as you won't be able to "measure" and act upon it anyway) and instead making your site as usable as possible for your visitors.

Does getting a lot of comments in a blog help in being well indexed/ranked by Google?

Having a lot of enthusiastic users commenting on your posts and doing so generating content on your site, certainly does not harm your rankings :-) Furthermore, a large fan base gives the webmaster a bit of independence from search engine traffic, which is the reason why generating original and compelling content in order to nurture a group of committed users is something I would highly recommend to any blogger.

How often does your search algorithm change?

We change the algorithms all the time - last year we had over 450 changes.

Does Google have a problem with rank-checking software?

Rank-checking software is against Google’s Terms of Service and could result in blocking your IP address, and it doesn’t really help, especially when it comes to personalized or geotargeted results.

Is there PageRank boost from .edu or .gov links?

Google’s Answer: You don't get any PageRank boost from having an .edu link or .gov link automatically. If you get an .edu link and no one is linking to that .edu page, you're not going to get any PageRank at all because that .edu page doesn't have any PageRank.

Does a page load time play a crucial role in Google Page Ranking? If yes how important is it?

I think the more important issue here is user experience. If your site loads fast, your users will be happy; if it loads slow, users will be less happy. Make your users happy, right?

Does the age of a website/domain affect its ranking?

Ohye answered this way: a site's reputation can be a indicator to search engines, but of course, it's not everything. Having a site for a long period of time can establish credibility with users, and as a search engine we also want to reflect this type of credibility. Of course, newer domains can also gain users and credibility. It seems like running a good site is a bit like running a reputable business. So yes, if your domain has been credible for years it can help. If you buy an old domain and put all your content on it in hopes of getting instant rankings, that's not the best idea.

But, when the question was rephrased from another webmaster, Cutts answered: In the majority of cases, it actually doesn't matter--we want to return the best information, not just the oldest information. Especially if you're a mom/pop site, we try to find ways to rank your site even if your site is newer or doesn't have many links. I think it is fair for Google to use that as a signal in some circumstances, and I try never to rule a signal out completely, but I wouldn't obsess about it.

For more of the Questions and answers from the third online Webmaster Chat from October 22, 2008 Click Here.

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