Category Archives: Google
What sort of site does Google approve for Adsense?
The key is to have a unique and compelling site. Just because your posts are original does not mean they are unique and compelling. You site needs to offer something that no other site offers. Advertisers do not want to pay for adverts on lower quality sites.
Here is a good example: In my spare time I try to do some running and am aware of some of the issues in the running community and was recently searching for some info on one of those issues. I came across this site. Have a look at it. Look at the content. From my perspective, the content is compelling, readable, almost witty, but most important it is unique and the spin that the blogger takes can not be found anywhere else. I also recognize a couple of the names that appear in the comments section of some of the posts – they are well known and prominent people in the industry! What does that say about this blog? This is the sort of site that people would really want in their search results. If you were paying for Adwords in that niche, would you want your adverts to appear on that site via Adsense?
‘Panda’ is the name that has been given to a particular algorithm that is periodically run by Google to give what is considered to be something like a ‘quality score’ to a website. This score is then used by the main ranking algorithm. Obviously, in order to rank highly, a website is going to want to score as high as possible on this hypothetical ‘quality score’. How do you do that?
The best way to do this is to think like Google. When Google was developing the Panda algorithm, it literally asked 100’s of human testers to answer a group of questions about 1000’s of what they considered good and bad websites. They then took the answers to those questions and tried to program that into what became the Panda algorithm. This means in order to build a Panda friendly site, you have to consider the questions that Google asked their human testers or raters and how your site stacks up to those questions. In this blog post Google listed questions that would have been what they asked their testers or pretty similar to the ones they would have asked:
- Would you trust the information presented in this article?
- Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?
- Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?
- Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?
- Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?
- Are the topics driven by genuine interests of readers of the site, or does the site generate content by attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?
- Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
- Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
- How much quality control is done on content?
- Does the article describe both sides of a story?
- Is the site a recognized authority on its topic?
- Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?
- Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
- For a health related query, would you trust information from this site?
- Would you recognize this site as an authoritative source when mentioned by name?
- Does this article provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
- Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
- Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
- Does this article have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?
- Would you expect to see this article in a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?
- Are the articles short, unsubstantial, or otherwise lacking in helpful specifics?
- Are the pages produced with great care and attention to detail vs. less attention to detail?
- Would users complain when they see pages from this site?
You need to take a long hard look at your site and does it match up to the criteria. You need to be objective. There is no point in arguing that your site matches up (if you are affected by Panda, then your site is giving signals that its low quality; regardless if it is or not, its giving the low quality signals) and there is no point arguing that Google got it wrong for your site (this is done by an algorithm and they will not make an exception for your site; you need to change the signals that your site is giving for the algorithm to read).
While many want to argue that their website has been treated unfairly, its not going to get them anywhere. Others might want to debate the quality of the search results since Google implemented this, it does not matter. Google’s testing tells them that the results are better. They will trust their data over a few random examples of search results that are not so good. It is the overall global results that Google is interested in and their data will guide them. Rather than argue, look at the signals that your website is sending and improve them.
Those extra links you see under a website’s listing in the Google search results are called Sitelinks (see Google’s description).
There is nothing a website can do to get them, though having good website navigation can help Google provide them. The Sitelinks are given to a site by an algorithm which is why it is next to impossible to influence that. You can, however, remove Sitelinks that you do not want via your Google Webmaster Tools. In your Webmaster Tools you can see what Sitelinks Google have for your site. Even if your site ranks at number one, does not necessarily mean that the Sitelinks will be displayed in the search results.
The search algorithm displays them in the search results when it is confident that the searcher is using a search keyword(s) or phrase that means that they are probably looking for the website in question.
For example, if you search for ‘Apple Inc”, then its probably pretty obvious that you are looking for the Apple corporate website and you will get Sitelinks under the Apple Inc listing:
However, if you search for ‘Buy Apple computer’, then it is obvious to the search algorithm that you are not searching for any specific website, so there will generally be no Sitelinks in the search results.
Spam reports to Google serve the purpose of letting Google know what the current techniques of spam are and how sites are getting away with the spam. A spam report does not get a site demoted in the search results and only on very rare occasions does Google actually act on a spam report.
According to Google, the purpose of the spam report is:
Spam Reports are submitted directly to our engineers and are used to devise scalable solutions to fight spam.
This means that they use the reports to devise and refine the search algorithms to detect it and deal with it. They do not act manually on each and every spam report they get. Can you imagine how many staff would be needed to act on them all? That is assuming that all spam reports are legitimate and not just disgruntled webmasters complaining about competitors. Because of the sheer volume, that is why Google continues to work on refining scalable algorithmic solution to spam. That is why they need the spam reports.
Submit the reports here.
No you don’t need a DMOZ listing!
DMOZ or the Open Directory Project is web directory that has been around for a long time and is owned by AOL and run by volunteers as a hobby. They look for sites on the web and process sites that are submitted to categories to try and maintain a directory of the web. After submitting a site, it can take up to a few years before your site is reviewed and even then there is no guarantee of getting listed as they are very picky. The reason it takes so long is that there are more new website created every day than they can volunteers can process. It will only get worse.
There is a lot of misunderstand and misinformation about DMOZ. There is a lot of angst among webmasters about DMOZ, especially if they cannot get their site listed. There are lots of allegations of corruption at DMOZ and a lot of obsession about DMOZ at almost all webmaster forums. Most of it is unhealthy, non-productive and waste of time and energy.
The reason for that obsession is the mistaken belief that you cannot rank well in the search engines without a DMOZ listing. Plenty of sites rank well without a DMOZ listing. Having a listing in DMOZ is a nice link to have, but it is no more valuable that a similar link from any other site. It is not a search engine magic bullet.
DMOZ is what DMOZ is. Accept it. Submit your site once to the one best category and forget about it (there is plenty of good advice available). There is nothing more you or anyone can do. You either get listed or you don’t. Ignore the rhetoric and scuttlebutt. Spending time and energy on it is not worth it. Spend that time on energy on something worthwhile that actually makes a difference.
If you search for your site in Google and it is not listed, then go through this check list:
- Make sure it is actually not indexed. Do a Google search for site:http://www.yourdomain.com (for eg)
- If that shows there are no pages listed, then work through this:
- Make sure you are not using the noindex tag (common reason for WordPress sites)
- Check your robots.txt file to make sure you are not blocking the Google crawler.
- Check the logs to see if Google has crawled the site; if not check that there is nothing the web host is doing to block the Google crawler.
- If the site is new, give it up to several months; make sure you have submitted a Google sitemap and use the ‘fetch as Googlebot’ function in the Google Webmaster tools.
- Check in your Google Webmaster Tools account that there was not a request to remove the site.
- If it is a new site, then what was on the site before you owned it? Could it have been banned from Google for activities that are contrary to the Google Webmaster Guidelines?
- Google also tends not to index sites that have no backlinks to them from other sites, so make sure you have some links to the site (it is via the links that the Google crawler finds the site; and also probably makes an assumption that a site with no links is not that important).
- Is most of the content on the site copied from other sites? If so, then Google may not want to index your site as it offers no value to the web.
- Has a DMCA (copyright notice) been filed against the site to request Google remove it? (check at Chilling Effects)
If none of those reasons apply, then there is a high probably that Google has taken manual action against the site. After fixing up the site; complying with the Google guidelines; then submit a reconsideration request.