Google and Search Quality Guidelines

November 21, 2015

You want your Web site to be found despite the shift to mobile devices. You want your mobile site to be found as more than half of the world ignores the old school approach to Web surfing. You want, no, you need traffic now.

The pathway to traffic heaven is explained in more than 150 pages of Google goodness. The Google Search Quality Guidelines may be downloaded for now at this link.

What will you learn:

  • How to conform to Google’s definition of “quality”
  • What to do to produce higher “quality” Web pages
  • What to do to signal Google that you are into mobile.

Does the document explain the thresholds and interlinkage of the “scores” generated by the layers of code wrapped around PageRank.


If you implement these actions, will you experience traffic like never before? Nah. Buy Adwords. The Google wants to shave time off its processes. The guidelines may have more to do with Google’s needs than webmasters?

I like the “proprietary and confidential” statement too.

Stephen E Arnold, November 21, 2015

An Early Computer-Assisted Concordance

November 17, 2015

An interesting post at Mashable, “1955: The Univac Bible,” takes us back in time to examine an innovative indexing project. Writer Chris Wild tells us about the preacher who realized that these newfangled “computers” might be able to help with a classically tedious and time-consuming task: compiling a book’s concordance, or alphabetical list of key words, their locations in the text, and the context in which each is used. Specifically, Rev. John Ellison and his team wanted to create the concordance for the recently completed Revised Standard Version of the Bible (also newfangled.) Wild tells us how it was done:

“Five women spent five months transcribing the Bible’s approximately 800,000 words into binary code on magnetic tape. A second set of tapes was produced separately to weed out typing mistakes. It took Univac five hours to compare the two sets and ensure the accuracy of the transcription. The computer then spat out a list of all words, then a narrower list of key words. The biggest challenge was how to teach Univac to gather the right amount of context with each word. Bosgang spent 13 weeks composing the 1,800 instructions necessary to make it work. Once that was done, the concordance was alphabetized, and converted from binary code to readable type, producing a final 2,000-page book. All told, the computer shaved an estimated 23 years off the whole process.”

The article is worth checking out, both for more details on the project and for the historic photos. How much time would that job take now? It is good to remind ourselves that tagging and indexing data has only recently become a task that can be taken for granted.

Cynthia Murrell, November 17, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


Predictive Search Tries to Work with Videos

October 14, 2015

Predictive search is a common feature in search engines such as Google.  It is more well-known as auto-complete, where based on spelling and keyword content the search engine predicts what a user is searching for.  Predictive search speeds up the act of searching, but ever since YouTube became the second biggest search engine after Google one has to wonder if “Does Video Enhance Predictive Search?” asks Search Engine Watch.

Search engine and publisher of travel deals Travelzoo created a video series called “#zootips” that was designed to answer travel questions people might search for on Google.  The idea behind the video series was that the videos would act as a type of predictive feature anticipating a traveler’s needs.

“‘There’s always push and pull with information,’ says Justin Soffer, vice president of marketing at Travelzoo. ‘A lot of what search is, is people pulling – meaning they’re looking for something specific. What videos are doing is more of a push, telling people what to look for and showing them things.’ ”

Along with Travelzoo, representatives from SEO-PR and Imagination Publishing also agree that video will enhance video search.  Travelzoo says that video makes Web content more personal, because an actual person is delivering it.  SEO-PR recommends researching keywords with Google Trends and creating videos centered on those words.  Imagination Publishing believes that video content will increase a Web site’s Google ranking as it ranks media rich pages higher and there is an increase in voice search and demand for how-to videos.

It is predicted that YouTube’s demand as a search engine will increase more content will be created for video.  If you understand how video and predictive analytics work, you will have an edge in future Google rankings.

Whitney Grace, October 14, 2015
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Woof: Mobile Search Is the Big Dog

October 12, 2015

Tiny screen. Lots of eye balls. Many opportunities. What happens to the old school business model of the Alphabet Google thing? One wizard read some posts and did some Googling to provide some insight into this potentially annoying shift into the way pesky humans do information.

Navigate to “Worldwide, More Than Half Of Google’s Searches Happen On Mobile: Google Also Says It Has Indexed 100 Billion Links within Apps.” Okay, big numbers. Maybe rounded a bit, but let’s look at the beef, not the ersatz crunch in the search taco:

It’s important to note that this doesn’t mean that desktop searches have diminished. Stats on desktop search from comScore routinely show the overall amount has risen from month to month. Rather, it’s that mobile searches have been a growing new segment that have caught up and now overtaken desktop search. On the whole, desktop search has grown. As a percentage, it has dropped. That’s because we’re living in what I’ve called an “always-on search world,” where we’re always able to search.

Yep, I like that always on angle. Very 24×7.

Several thoughts:

  1. The Google remains dependent on online advertising and that seems unlikely to change.
  2. The mobile environment seems to be Google’s new Comstock lode
  3. The management shifts at the Google may be more about revenue than they appear
  4. Alphabet Google continues to chug along. No flashing yellow lights for the Google fans.

Here in Harrod’s Creek I sense some Google fatigue particularly by mobile users who don’t know where online information comes from. Just a few short years ago, the answer was Google. Now, there might be a different perception of search brand power. SEO professionals, start your engines.

Stephen E Arnold, October 12, 2015

Search Engine Optimization: Get Out Your Checkbook

October 5, 2015

No traffic? Low traffic? No mobile traffic? Can’t find your site on Bing or Google?

If these questions poke your marketing nerve, you may consider hiring an “expert” to help you out. Most of the traffic and “find you in Google” specialists are doing business as SEO experts. Personally I would skip the SEO baloney and just buy traffic love via Google Adwords.

Search engine optimization is a catch all to address expensive Web sites which no one visits. Yikes. Considering that most traffic on the Web flows to five percent of the billion plus Web sites, traffic to a personal or small business Web site is terrible.

What’s the fix?

The SEO crowd wants you to spend money with them, not Adwords. Google’s approach is different. The company wants to sell you traffic. The two ideas are intertwined, but you would not know this by reading “How Much Does Good SEO Cost?”

The write up summarizes a number of ball park costs; for example:

  • Hire a full time employee: Maybe $50,000 to $100,000. How’s that fit your budget, gentle reader.
  • Hire an agency: No cost given. Use your imagination.
  • Hire a dedicated SEO firm: No cost given. Use your imagination again.

But the way to go is to set aside money for an expert consultant / practitioner. At each stair step, the customer gets more SEO goodness. Exactly what the payoff is, is not clear to me. But here are the suggested price levels spelled out in the write up:

  • Put folks on a monthly retainer. Less than $500 per month. Cheaper than a daily Starbuck’s coffee
  • A retainer for $1,000 to $5,000 per month: This is SEO hog heaven for an outfit with 10 clients, the SEO wizard may generate more free cash than your business
  • $5,000 to $10,000 per month: “Ambitious goals”. You bet
  • $10,000 to $20,000 per month: The owners will retire early if their customers pay their bills.

The canny business owner in search of SEO love can sign a contract. This is interesting. Here are the price points from the article which I assume are based on thorough research in fees charged by a statistically valid sample of SEO firms. (Somehow I question the rigor of the information gathering process.) Let’s look at the benchmarked fees:

  • Link profile audits: $2,500 to $7,500
  • SEO / Web site audits: $2,500 to $7,500 or higher, gentle reader
  • Link building: $250 to $2,000 per link. Wowza
  • Per page optimization and implementation: $100 to $250. (Fascinating since some content management systems make per page operations pretty darned exciting for a skilled programmer. For dabblers, think about downtime, gentle reader.)
  • Copywriting: $0.75 to $1.00 per word.

If you are on a budget, you can hire a consultant for an hour; for example, a $100 to $300 fee seems to be normal. Keep in mind that there are roughly 2,000 billable hours per year, so this fee range is designed to compensate an expert in SEO at a minimum of  $200,000 per year. Ready to abandon your day job, gentle reader?

Now these costs spark several thoughts in this addled goose’s mind.

First, exactly what is the payoff from SEO versus spending the money for Google Adwords?

Second, what specific changes the SEO expert makes results in “more” traffic, likes, or whatever? How is an SEO action tied to a payoff?

Third, what happens to the client’s Web site if the SEO activity gets the site down checked, blackballed, or less traffic?

Dear old Google wants folks to make Web sites so it takes Google as little computing time as possible to index the site, extract data, and do all the Googley things which makes me love the company so darned much.

My experience is that making a change to a site or putting up a new site leads to a bit of Google love. After a couple of indexing cycles, the traffic declines. Desperate site owners embrace SEO. After that doesn’t work, the road leads back to buying traffic via Adwords.

Thus, the Google likes anything that does not work as well as buying traffic.

Perhaps the SEO crowd should just sell Adwords? But that may not be as lucrative or create opportunities for the client to engage in the “Why isn’t your work producing traffic meetings?” I bet those are fun and inevitable too.

Stephen E Arnold, October 5, 2015

Google and SEO: Fudging Relevance Okay. Robocalling Out of Bounds

September 17, 2015

I read “Google Sues SEO Company over Harassing Calls Selling  Front Page Domination.” I like the notion of front page domination. I like it even more when irrelevant results are generated because of search engine optimization.

The Alphabet Google thing wants to sell ads. Free visibility is just not job one. The write up points out:

Google says that Tustin, California-based Local Lighthouse has bombarded consumers with “incessant, unsolicited automated telephone calls” since mid-2014, making “false guarantees of first-page placement in Google search results.”

The surge in ad blockers is another issue. The fact that I am bombarded with ads when running a Google query is just not as annoying as robocalls.

I agree.

Google should be able to bombard me. Local Lighthouse should not be allowed to bombard anyone.

To make matters worse, Lighthouse allegedly says that it has some relationship with the Google. That spells trouble.

Google is not happy with misrepresentations.

So if I pay Google for storage or some other Google product and service, I do not have a relationship with Google? Guess not.

Anyway, irrelevant search results and nips and tucks at the very specious search engine optimization sector will not change the reality of online information access.

Robocalls, unwanted digital ads—what’s the difference? Perhaps I could receive a robocall on my mobile as I browsed ad choked results? Seems about par for the relevant results game.

Stephen E Arnold, September 17, 2015

The Four Vs Arrive for Semantic Search

September 1, 2015

When I first encountered the four Vs, I thought someone was recycling the mnemonic trick I was taught when I was a wee pre-retirement person.

I associate the four Vs with IBM and Vivisimo. The hook up is probably a consequence of my flawed thought processes. I have a slide in my files showing an illustration of Volume, Velocity, Variety, and Veracity artfully presented as a cartoon.

One of the goslings showed me this image, but I am not sure it is the diagram of which I speak. Here it is, and you can figure out how the four balls, the plugs, and the tough to read cyan type explain Big Data.

These have migrated to semantic search. Now that’s as good a home for these buzzwords as any of the suburban developments in Jargonville.


As applied to semantic search, the four Vs appear to guide the would be enemies of relevance to write a lot, make lots of changes, post content in many forms, and provide “accurate” information.

Good advice.

I assume that somewhat revenue thirst search engine optimization experts will be raking in the dollars and euros explaining these concepts to their clients.

I am still baffled about the connection between IBM, Vivisimo, and Big Data. I will leave semantic search to the SEO mavens and the mid tier consultants whom I associate with hard to read azure colors. I much prefer the hard edge tones of the blue chip folks.

Stephen E Arnold, September 1, 2015

Jargon Overload: MoSCoW

August 28, 2015

Vladimir Putin is probably confused. My hunch is that when he hears “Moscow” uttered, he thinks about a lovely city, its courteous drivers, its delightful social groupings with idiosyncratic tattoos, and outstanding Moskva stile borshch.

Gentle reader, Mr. Putin would be off base.

MoSCoW, according to “Bats, Dolphins, and Semantic Search,” means Must, Should, Could, and Would. The application of these parental verb structures is to search engine optimization.


Please, take out the garbage and straighten your room, kiddies. MoSCoW now.

No, I don’t understand this, but you may want to check out the presentation. You may need to register for LinkedIn/Slideshare. I am never sure what I do to access the knowledge jewelry on this site. Here’s the link to try.

I am not into the parental thing. Click if you want. If not, no biggie.

Stephen E Arnold, August 28, 2015

Wikipedia: The PR Revolution

August 17, 2015

i read “The Covert World of People Trying to Edit Wikipedia—for Pay.” I am an old fashioned backwoodsperson. I look up stuff. I try to figure out which source is semi reliable. I read and do some (not much, of course) thinking.

Other folks just whack 2.7 words into the Alphabet—oops, I mean, the Google—click on the first link which is often a pointer to Wikipedia and take the “information” displayed. Easy. Quick. Just right for those who have no time, like social media, and use handheld devices.

The write up points out what seems to me to be an obvious “evolutionary” leap:

How can a site run by volunteers inoculate itself against well-funded PR efforts? And how can those volunteers distinguish between information that’s trustworthy and information that’s suspect?

The write up explores one example of public relations folks cranking out objective articles for Wikipedia.

Why worry? Getting accurate information involves more than relying on Alphabet – oh, there I go again, I mean the Google – and its all time fave number one Wikipedia.

Dialog Information Services pioneered this default top hit. When I logged on, the default database was Education Index or something like that. The clueless would run their query for diamond deposition in that database, thus having an upside for Dialog. Too bad about the system user.

The burden, gentle reader, falls not on Wikipedia, which is fighting a losing battle against the forces of Lucifer – I am sorry, I mean public relations.

The burden falls on the person doing the search to figure out what information is correct. Bummer. That’s real work. Who has time for that anyway?

Stephen E Arnold, August 17, 2016

Semantic Search Word Play: Nail and Hospital Edition

August 15, 2015

I find the semantic search hoo-hah fascinating. Not long ago, I reported that Yebol, which some semantic wizard was promoting, bit the dust in 2010. No matter. The semantic search boomlet continues to echo. I don’t hear it in my neck of the woods, but apparently some folks are tuned to this semantic razzle dazzle.

The write up which caught my attention this morning is “Semantic Search: Is It Time for a Think Building Campaign?”

My answer is, “No.”

Let’s look at the argument because I am often wrong, off base, and addled. What do you expect from a goose living in rural Kentucky where 300 baud is a speedy network connection.

The write up points out a traffic hungry person could sign up for directories. Anyone remember those? Yahoo was one, but the Xoogler has anchored Yahoo’s revisionist history is “search.” I don’t expect much in the history department. Sorry.

The article leaps to this point:

The biggest reason to re-evaluate the power of moderated local directories, and related resources, has to do with Google’s shift towards semantic search. If you aren’t aware of this transition, the premise is simple: instead of simply matching keywords to pages that exist in the search engine’s databases, Google’s engineers are trying to get better about understanding the context of the search, and the intent of the searcher.

Sounds great, right. The problem is that Google engineers (not the Alphabet crowd) are trying to find ways to pump up the advertising revenue. I am not sure “semantics” is going to help as much as other types of content processing activities.

Nevertheless, the write up then makes this interesting statement:

This sounds technical but it’s conceptually straightforward. Imagine for a moment that I pick up my iPhone and tell Google’s app that I’ve “driven a nail through my leg”. Matching that exact search phrase isn’t important to me in interpreting results – what matters is that I want “hospital” instead of a “hardware store.” That’s the essence of semantic search.

Now, hold one’s mules, please. The person who pounds a nail through one’s leg may not need a hospital. If the nail misses the femur and threads around (not through) the popliteal, posterior tibial, anterior tibial, peroneal, planar, and dorsalis pedis arteries—one might pull out the nail.

Here in Kentucky, the person who performs this act of self mutilation or willful or unintentional abuse might want a link to this health care facility:


Disagree? That’s what makes horse races.

The write up points out that one can purchase “reputation.” The article points to WhiteSpark and MOZ Local.

The conclusion to the write up certainly is upbeat:

Taking advantage of citations and directories can still help you improve your findability – on search engines and elsewhere in the real world – but only if you’re focused on providing valuable information for potential customers, instead of trying to beat those ever-changing algorithms. In many ways semantic search takes us back to the golden days of the Web, when in terms of working online anything was possible as long as you had passion, belief in yourself, and energy to work at it.

Yep, the golden days. The issue I have with the write up is that semantic search as a way to distort Google’s already flakey relevance algorithms is an example of SEO adaptation. The carnival has arrived. The SEO snake oil sales person will cure your site’s pancreatic cancer and maybe help a a customer avoid pounding nails into one’s body parts.

Stephen E Arnold, August 15, 2015

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