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Internet Marketing Authors: Carmen Gonzalez, Neil McNulty, Elizabeth White, Melih Oztalay, Nishant Kadian

Related Topics: eCommerce Journal, Internet Marketing, SEO Journal, Marketing and Sales, Web Analytics, Google

Blog Post

Major SEO Updates For 2009

Search engines are continuously working towards improving their search results to give accurate and relevant information

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.

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

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 (<head>) of a page, typically by developers, as follows

<link href=”http://www.example.com/product.php?id=neat-product” rel=”canonical”>

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

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.

May ‘09
During the month of May two major updates occured 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.

show options

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.

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:

<a href=”http://www.mydoamin.com” rel=”nofollow”>Domain Name</a>

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.

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.

More Stories By Chronis Tsempelis

Chronis is the founder and CEO of SEOExplode Inc, a SEO Company providing customized software development and Internet solutions to businesses in the United States. The Company’s wide range of services include customized software development, professional website design, website optimization, SEO services, product promotion, e-commerce solutions, Internet marketing, web application development, database design, professional web design, expert software development, and more.