2009 SEO updates

Updated: August 21, 2009

Due to the wide spread nature of internet and web 2.0 trend the online presence is becoming increasingly competitive. Search engines are continuously working towards improving their search results to give accurate and relevant information to the users. Search engine algorithm tends to change every now and then and one has to adapt the changes immediately to be in the top of the race.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a broad sense is the set of methods used to boost website traffic, increase ROI that the website receives from the search engines, and businesses are affected depending on their placement in search results. It is an iterative and ongoing process, which keeps on changing as per the search engine rules.

Some of the major updates for 2009 till now in the field of SEO are as follows.

1) January ‘09

Google improves flash indexing

Google has enhanced its search engine's capacity to index Adobe's Flash files, which are very popular on the Web but tricky for search engine spiders. Google and Adobe's created a new algorithm which now indexes text content in Flash. As a result Google Bots now indexes textual content in .SWF files of all kinds and extracts URL's embedded in Flash.

The Latest update on flash indexing made by Google on June 19th was that Google announces that when Google encounters SWF files on the web, we can:

  • Index textual content displayed as a user interacts with the file. We click buttons and enter input, just like a user would.
  • Discover links within Flash files.
  • Load external resources and associate the content with the parent file.
  • Support common JavaScript techniques for embedding Flash, such as SWFObject and SWFObject2.
  • Index sites scripted with AS1 and AS2, even if the ActionScript is obfuscated. Update on June 19, 2009: We index sites with AS3 as well. The ActionScript version isn't particularly relevant in our Indexing process, so we support older versions of AS in addition to the latest.

~Courtesy Google webmaster official Blog

2) February'09

Canonical Link Element

In short, the canonical element is a line of code that you add to pages that may be duplicates. The canonical link element rel="canonical" is added to a page within the header () of a page, typically by developers, as follows

In this code, you designate the "canonical," or "proper," URL. Engines, in turn, note this URL and apply link popularity and authority to the canonical version instead of applying them to duplicate URLs.

This provides a hint to a search engine about which is the most important or original page if pages are identical or similar in terms of content, but have a different URL.

Google and other search engines announced support for a canonical link element that can help site owners with duplicate content issues.

Apart from canonical link element Webmasters have noticed few updates in the toolbar PageRank from February 28, 2009. Which was been discussed widely in many discussion forums, medias, etc

3) March '09 and April ‘09

Two major updates were:

i) Regular PR and Backlink Updates

Usually a Google PageRank update occurs every three months. So everyone was expecting an Page rank update in the month of march. Lots of rumors and gossips were spread out among webmasters and finally the wait ended up in the first week of April. This time Google crawled for both Page rank and Backlink. But this year Google gave two more surprises as Google danced similarly in the month of June and July which made a great impact on all the working strategies of SEO.

ii) Search Refinements and Snippets

There were three changes on the Google search result pages which were visible to all the users.

  1. The snippet length for the search results has increased. Earlier the snippet was of two lines. Google now displays an extended snippet of 3 lines for queries that consist of three or more keywords. The idea behind this change is that these multi keyword queries are much targeted and complex and hence the short snippet might not contain enough information.
  2. Another change is that Google now shows more related searches at the bottom of the search results page. It is very important that you optimize the different pages of your website for different keywords.
  3. The third change is that Google now shows local results based on IP addresses. The local results are delivered based on the IP address of the searcher. That means that you will get different results than people in another city.

4) May ‘09

During the month of May two major updates happened in SEO world

i) Google Show Options

Google announced a new set of features called as Search/Show Options, which are a collection of tools that rearranges the result so that it can be viewed from different user's perspectives.

If someone is looking for a particular query show options helps you in providing information regarding videos, forums, reviews, etc. Just say For example you want recent updates of your query but in general organic search you don't get up-to-date information with the result, so these show options help you in getting recent information whether is 2 weeks earlier, 24 hrs or just latest one. There are other features which you can explore in your own time (like the nifty "wonder wheel").These tools help in elaborating your result as per your requirement.

ii) Microsoft New Search Engine BING Launched

On May 28th Microsoft publicly unveiled its soon-to-launch search engine Bing, which was publicly available on June 3. Bing is Microsoft's new decision engine. The home page features a rotation of stunning photography, for instance, which can be clicked on to produce related image search results. In search presentation, Bing wins. It uses technology from Powerset (a search technology company Microsoft acquired) to display refined versions of your query down the left side of the page. Bing gave a menu of "related searches," that included Walkthrough, News, and so on.

Bing brings a new way of thinking to using SERPs, which has shown to demonstrably improve the satisfaction of searchers in finding the answers to their questions.

5) June ‘09

No More Page Rank Sculpting

PageRank sculpting is an SEO tactic that involves adding the nofollow attribute to links for which PageRank flow is not necessary. Early in 2005, the main search engines introduced a ‘nofollow' attribute for the A HREF HTML command for coding hyperlinks.

Example:

Domain Name

Nofollow is also used extensively in social networks and in forums to limit any value comment spammers get from posting in the forums to their own sites for SEO benefits. PageRank Sculpting was one of the controversial issues among the webmaster. But the engines have evolved their thinking. They realize now that rel=nofollow is a much more versatile tool than when it was first conceived

pagerank sculpting used to be really effective around a year ago but Finally Matt Cutts announced in his blog that it's not the most effective way to utilize your page rank and its not recommended.

Increase in Social Media Importance

With the continuing evolution of the Internet, and increased adoption of web 2.0 functionality, social media activities and discussions are going to take on a more important role in the eyes of a search engine. Social media has provided its users with unlimited opportunity to decide the relevancy of content. The financial downturn will encourage more marketing executives to turn to organic social media initiatives to drive awareness and interest. All in all, 2009 looks to be a year of significant growth for social media.

Discussion forums have built the trust in the eyes of Google. It's really not a surprise now if forum threads are been displayed in Google's 1st page of SERP.

6) July ‘09

Webmaster "Summer Shine"

July 2009 Google webmaster team have named there new update as "summer shine". Webmaster added new feel to the webmaster. Among which some of the major updates are:

i) Site Selector Update:

Site selector lists all verified sites that you own, and allows you to search as you type. Only websites that are verified are been listed and available there.

ii) Site Links Updates:

You can now block non-homepage sitelinks. Before today if you owned example.com, you couldn't block sitelinks for example.com/email.

iii) URL Removal Request Update

You can now see URL removal requests submitted by other users for any sites you own, and revoke them if necessary. In the past, if another webmaster for your site mistakenly removed a URL on your site it was a difficult process to undo the request.

iv) Home Page Update

Google has modified its homepage to make it really easy to identify the site that have been verified and the ones that didn't!

~Courtesy Google webmaster official Blog

7) August ‘09

Next Generation Architecture for web Search - Google's Caffeine

On 10th August Google ask people to help and test there next generation infrastructure. This change was made to improve indexing capability, speed and accuracy of the search results.

Google has provided a preview of the new infrastructure at www2.sandbox.google.com and invited web developers to try searches there.

This is an experiment by Google and Matt Cutt said that the Caffeine update isn't about making some UI changes here or there. Currently, even users won't notice much of a difference at all. This update is primarily under the hood: Google is rewriting the foundation of some of their infrastructure. But some of the search results do change, so they wanted to open up a preview so that searchers and web developers could give them feedback. They only want feedback on the differences between Google's current Search results and there new system.

Here's How to give them feedback.

Do a search at http://www2.sandbox.google.com/ and look on the search results page for a link at the bottom of the page that says "Dissatisfied? Help us improve." Click on that link, type your feedback in the text box and then include the word caffeine somewhere in the text box.

SEO is a constantly evolving industry. It needs to adapt to the changes as search engines change their criteria and the web changes with new applications. These are some of the major changes in the field of SEO. Let's wait for the next update in the SEO world.

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