Google VS. Hakia

Over the past few years we have been hearing more and more regarding Semantic search. As more and more companies try to break this barrier we will undoubtedly see a lot of new beta testing site pop up. For example one of the most recent ones I have heard of, and tried out, is http://www.hakia.com/.

Hakia has released their beta version of “Meaning Based” search engine that is based upon proprietary semantic software. “Meaning based” search, an interesting concept and one that needed checking out so I went over to their site and performed some gambling industry related searches like sportsbook, sports betting and casino. What I received didn’t exactly thrill me.

The things I noticed right off of the bat were the results tended to be based upon having the search queries within the domain name and within the page titles. Also, I noticed a lot of low quality affiliate sites pop up which in my opinion is a step backwards in search.

Using single search phrases or queries was giving fairly standard results so I thought I would type my query in the form of a question so I asked, minus the quotation marks of course, “Which is the best sportsbook?” and again, the results were less than stellar. I received a whole host of sportsbook directory listings and gambling portal sportsbook pages. Seems to me that offering me a bunch of portal site’s opinions on what they think are the best sportsbooks falls a little short of offering me any kind of meaning. Granted, the same search on Google gives me similar results but at least I could find the occasional actual sportsbook within their results.

Bottom line here is that semantic search has a long way to go before it will threaten Google’s share of the search market. I am a firm believer in that the next evolution of search will be in the form of Semantic Search and that when this type of search is perfected it will be closely followed by a break through in true artificial intelligence.

Google + DoubleClick X Performics = Evil

When Google’s purchase of DoubleClick is finalized will Google do the right thing and close down or sell off the DoubleClick division of Performics? Myself I highly doubt it.

Will Google pass on insider information to their newly acquired SEO firm and give their client base an unfair advantage? Perhaps but I doubt it simply because it would be too easy for the new employees to distribute those secrets.

Does becoming a part of the Google family of services mean that Performics will be getting more opportunities with the larger SEO contracts? Probably… from a salesman’s perspective I would think this would be a great selling feature.

So does the purchase of an SEO company by a search engine constitute evil? Does anybody else smell brimstone?

Online News VS. Search Engines

Billionaire investor Sam Zell recently bought Tribune Corp. for 8.2 billion. Sorry – let’s give that number the respect it deserves – 8.2 Billion dollars. Seems like a lot of money to be spending on a medium that seems to allegedly lose money with every edition. Mr. Zell claims that the newspaper business is hemorrhaging money, in part, due to the bad deals newspapers negotiated with search engines.

At a speech at Stanford Law School Mr. Zell suggested that if Google wasn’t allowed to “steal” the newspaper’s content for nothing, Google wouldn’t be nearly as profitable. Now I can’t say anything about how much money Google makes off of freely distributed news content but from my perspective, I don’t go to Google to find my news and I suspect that might be the case for others too.

Google does offer a News Alert service that emails snippets of stories to people and those snippets contain links to the full stories. Most webmasters I know go out of their way to get included in the Google Alert system as it can be profitable in terms of traffic. Does this mean that Mr. Sam Zell wants to remove their websites from the Google Alert system? If he does then I can’t see how that would be helpful to the newspaper’s website’s bottom line. Further to that point I guess it is true… you can’t teach an old dog new tricks Mr. Zell and I hope that the 8.2 Billion you dropped on this venture wasn’t your last 8.2 Billion!

Article Syndication – Duplicate Content or Valuable Marketing

Do the links contained within article syndication carry the same weight as they once did? That is a tough one to answer due to the changing value of article syndication and who you are asking. For site owners who are looking for content to post on their sites so that their readers might get a chance to read some new content, then article syndication remains valuable. For search engines, article syndication is little more than duplicated content that quickly gets regulated to the Supplemental Results indexes.

From the perspective of the writer who syndicated their content the value is two fold.

  1. They get to brand their product or site by putting information on similarly themed sites and in front of readers who are keenly interested in the topic.
  2. The links are still crawled by the search engines regardless of which index they are listed and besides, with duplicated content, it is generally the site with the higher PR that gets credit for the content which means you are getting credited for those links from the higher value site.

The only real question on value here is how much link popularity is derived from links within the Supplemental Results index pages in Google, versus links from their regular indexes. The short answer is “Who Cares!” Seeing as your message is getting posted on other sites and regardless of whether or not Google wants to remain relevant, readers can still click through to your site if they like your message. Syndicate away!

What is SEO?

SEO stands for search engine optimization (or optimisation depending upon which side of the pond you are on) and when done properly, is nothing more than accurately communicating to the search engines what any given page is about. Granted there are ways to artificially increase the “illusion” of what a page is about but that would go against the notion of “accuracy”.

Think about what each page is about and try to find the best keyword to describe the topic of each page and use those keywords in the TITLE tag.

Again, keeping in mind what the topic of the pages are about, write an accurate description for each page, keeping all hype slogans out, save that for the “on page” copy as search engines don’t care if you think your page is the “best”, “fastest”, “newest” or “cheapest”.

While most of the search engines no longer give a rat’s ass about KEYWORDS, some still do use them so for the ones that still do make sure that you only use words that are actually on your page within the KEYWORD tag.
There are some other things you can do to help convey to the search engines what your site and pages are about such as FORMATTING and LINKING but, if you start with the above mentioned you will be well on your way to accurately communicating with the search engines.

Yahoo to support ‘NOYDIR’ Meta Tags

For those of you who do not know that the ODP or the Open Directory Project, can sometimes override the descriptions on your site in the organic search listings.

The reason that this could be bad for your site is that the editors at the ODP don’t take your SEO efforts in to account when they write their descriptions. While a link from the ODP can be good in terms of helping your ranking in the search engines this benefit can also hamper your conversion due to some less than flattering description of your site.

Myself, I have always tried to write decent descriptions that accurately describe what any given page is about so as to help searchers make an informed decision on whether or not to visit my site. To have those efforts thrown out because some search engine decided take a short cut and allow someone who doesn’t represent my site or products write about them has always been a bit of a sore spot within the SEO community.

It only took a few years for some of the search engines to catch on to this complaint and address it, Google being the first with Yahoo was soon following suit. With that little problem addressed it seemed that a similar situation might be happening with old Yahoo Directory listings as well.

Back in late February 2007 the Yahoo search blog posted this information regarding the their own directory Titles and abstracts…

We’re adding support for the Meta tag called ‘NOYDIR’ that will complement the ‘NOODP’ Meta tag, which we already support. If you’re unfamiliar, the ‘NOODP’ Meta tag is basically a way for webmasters to indicate that Open Directory Project (ODP) titles and abstracts will not be used in search results for their pages. While we continue to pull from various sources to provide the best title and abstract for a given page in search results, we realize that webmasters may still want the ability to exclude titles and abstracts from the Yahoo! Directory. So, as promised, we’re providing support for ‘NOYDIR’ which will recognize the following Meta tags on your pages:

META NAME=”ROBOTS” CONTENT=”NOYDIR”

or (don’t forget to add the “<" and ">” to the meta tags)

META NAME=”Slurp” CONTENT=”NOYDIR”

For pages with this tag, we will not use Yahoo! Directory titles or abstracts for your URL in web search results. This will grant webmasters the ability to participate in the Yahoo! Directory Submit program and benefit from inclusion in the Yahoo! Directory, while maintaining control over URL titles and abstracts in search. This will not have any effect on the Yahoo! Directory Search experience, which will continue to use the Yahoo! Directory and title abstract information.

We are re-indexing content on the web to launch this change, and you should immediately begin to see the changes on Yahoo! US, Yahoo! Japan and Yahoo! Korea. (Other regions will roll-out in the future.) This will be accompanied by the usual ranking changes and page shuffling that is typical of weather updates.

If you have any questions, please refer to our webmaster resources page or visit the Site Explorer Suggestion Board.

Thanks!
Priyank GargProduct Manager, Yahoo! Search

Thanks Privank and here is to hoping that this little tag may help fix some issues that I have heard complaints about over the years!