Posts Tagged ‘google


Google’s Advanced Search Operators for SEO

Now what was I looking for?

We’ve been doing this stuff for so long now that sometimes we forget that not everybody knows all the tricks we normally take for granted. Google Advanced Search Operators, for instance.

In fact, we’re sometimes surprised to learn that there are even some SEO professionals who don’t use these little search operator tricks—even though we find ourselves using many of them pretty much daily.

So we put together a list of our favorites, in no particular order.

Also note that the usual useful search operators and filters work in cooperation with some of these: “quotes” around a string mean exact match, + (plus sign) means must include, – (minus sign) means exclude.

Useful Google Search Operators

site: All indexed pages under the search string domain


link: List of significant indexed links pointing to the search string domain


allintitle: All words in title
Search for documents with all the words in the search string  in their title. Can’t be combined with other operators

example: allintitle: quest solution

intitle: Word in title
Search for documents with the first word after the intitle operator somewhere in their title.

allintext: All words in text
Search for documents with all search string words the in their text. Can’t be combined with other operators

example: allintext:firefly tv character jayne

intext: Word in Text
Search for documents with the first word after the intext operator in their text.

allinurl: All words in URL
Search for documents with all the words in their url. Returns results with all words in any part of URL, in any order. Can’t be combined with other operators

example: allinurl:eugene west storage

inurl: Word in URL
Search for documents with the first word after the inurl operator in their url.

allinanchor: All words in anchor
Search for documents with all the words in an anchor. Returns pages with all of the words in the search string used in at least one hyperlink. Can’t be combined with other operators

example: allinanchor:most experienced seo

inanchor: Word in anchor
Search for documents with the first word after the operator in an anchor.



Dear Google,

You’ve been, for many years, the search engine of my dreams. I’ve loved you, worked with you, used you and let you use me. We’ve shared many things. We’ve gone many places. We have lived and learned and grown together during our time together, and I have never really strayed. Oh, sure, I’ve occasionally glanced at another engine. Even flirted a little from time to time. But I have never, ever considered leaving you for another.

I mean, really. None of the other engines compare to you. Yahoo? A pale shadow. Bing? A pretentious imitation. Wolfram-Alpha? Egotistical, single-minded, and smarter than I need it to be.

Google, you are my search engine.

And through all this, I have never asked anything of you except honest answers to my questions. If I wanted to know about Genghis Khan, you knew where to look. If I wanted to find a new tattoo design, you pointed me in the right direction. If I wanted to buy shoes, you were there for me. You even began to show me where I could find things in my own town. Pizza? It’s right over there! Movie times? Gotcha covered!

Which is all good. Every innovation has tried to make the information I receive just what I was looking for. All good.

Except that now Google, you have finally gone just a little too far. Lately, when I have searched for information on anything—seriously, just about anything—you treat it as if I existed on an island, with no cares for anything but my immediate surroundings. You have localized virtually every search I make. If I want to find the best internet deal on blue jeans, you send me to my local Sears. If I want to learn who my biggest SEO competitors are, you only show me those within a 10 mile radius.

If I type something with an unconventional spelling, you think you know what I meant—and deliver what you think I wanted, not what I searched for. Spell check is all well and good, but maybe I wanted to search for “flikr” not “flicker.” Possible, maybe?

If I search for Cowboy Boots on Wednesday, but on Thursday I want to find the Cowboy Junkies, DON’T SHOW ME BOOTS!

You believe you can read my mind. That you can tell just what I was thinking when I typed that search query.


Not kidding. This could seriously ruin our relationship. End it forever, even. If I want to see local search results I’ll tell you that’s what I want. Stop reading my IP and deciding for me what you think I should see. If I want to search for something that’s spelled weird, LET ME.  And don’t think you know what I want today just because you saw what I wanted yesterday. JUST STOP IT.

At the very least, give me an option! Let me choose a version of your engine that just gives me the best answer, not necessarily the one you decide is the best answer for me.

No, really.

Formerly yours, and still yours but beginning to have second thoughts,



Google Algorithm Panda Update [like/unlike]

So it’s official! The Google update known as Panda, aka the “High Quality Sites Update,” has adopted user feedback as one of its ranking elements. User feedback is nothing new to Google, of course. For years, they’ve routinely used click-through rates and bounce rates to score AdWord campaigns, and they’ve also been thought to include a page’s overall traffic history when deciding where it should rank for a given keyword. The difference is, now the Almighty Goog has introduced two new features that operate through proprietary interfaces to collect specific data on how users feel about websites. Information they will then use in the calculation of search results rank.

Users of Google Chrome have at their disposal a new feature, domain block and those folks who have signed up for a Google profile can lay down a +1.

Essentially, domain block lets users unhappy that a particular domain shows up for specific searches can apply a filter that removes the offending domain from all future similar searches. (Just for searches done on that same installation of Chrome, of course. Wouldn’t it be cool if you could block every instance of a domain from showing up for anybody? Which just a click? Awesome!)

Google Profile’s new +1, on the other hand, is sort of a clone of Facebook’s “like” button. If you are signed into your Profile account—and it’s set to “public”—you have the option of tagging a search result as one you are particularly fond of. All of your +1s are stored in a separate tab in your account, where you can share or hoard them to your heart’s content.  Which is all seems like a weird attempt to turn search into social. You’ll get little messages in your Gmail saying “Your GPal Betty +1’d the Hamburglar Fan Page! Do you +1 too?” and you will then feel compelled to dash over there and register your opinion which will then be broadcast to all your friends who will feel compelled….

Ah, but  of course there is another shoe. What is Google really after? One very likely point to this exercise involves the collection of data. Every domain block casts a black mark, every +1 gives you a gold star. Which, when added into the algo, provides a clear, voluntary user-provided vote on the quality of a site. (Which will go into the algo mix along with the other 200 or so elements, but I’m sure it will improve search results in some mysterious fashion.)

I like Google. I’ve been +1ing them since the day they sifted their first result. But this Panda/social/user-contributed stuff really falls flat. First, you’d think they were the first to try it, based on all the hoopla. You’d be wrong. A company named Alexa has been providing search results and data sets based on user feedback for many years.

Second, Google’s strategy severely limits participation. Problem with Alexa is, nobody gives a damn. Alexa results come from a toolbar that some folks get installed into their browser. It’s really a kind of sucky toolbar, and a fair percentage of the people who have it got it installed deceptively by some other program they downloaded and just aren’t clever enough to remove it. This limits their data to people who really aren’t very aware of their surroundings. Google limits participation to 1. people who use Chrome, and 2. people who use Profiles. As of now, that’s a pretty small slice of internet demographics.

The new Google domain block schema improves the Alexa model in that half of the Google user votes come from people who’ve installed the Chrome browser—and use it. Which, because Chrome is actually a pretty sweet browser, makes the user base a lot stronger and thus their opinions  more valuable. The vote cast is also completely voluntary. The +1 feature, however, has much less going for it. Because Facebook already rules that space, and because nobody wants to have their “favorites,” “likes,” “iHearts,” and “+1s” scattered all over the freakin’ web.

And last but definitely not least, this model is just as open to manipulation as all the others. As your SEO, I will now include a guaranteed 250 +1s with every contract. And if you sign today, I’ll throw in 200 competitor domain blocks, absolutely free!

Google Chrome

Google Profiles



Before You SEO, Know

Okay, I know you’ve heard about all the things you need to do to optimize your site for search. You’ve probably read list after list after list (including, perhaps, a couple of mine) about what to do when and in what order.  Keywords, meta tags, headlines, titles, content, links, blah, blah, blah.

All of those things are important.

But there is one thing that’s more important than any of them. And it’s not on many lists of SEO techniques. That’s because it has to happen before you SEO.

Call it “intelligence gathering capability.” If you are serious about getting all that juicy free search engine traffic, you have got to have your eyes open. You have got to be listening to the wind, ear to the ground, alert to every sign of danger, hope, or chance.

What if you spend a hundred hours doing SEO stuff, and suddenly see your orders double. Cool, huh. But it would be even cooler, don’t you think, if you knew just what had happened to improve your fortunes—so that you could do it again, do it some more, and make it happen on demand.

Yes, it would be lots cooler.

The way that happens is by applied tracking and analytics. Which is the Very First Thing You Have to Do Before You Start Optimizing. There are a large number of web analytic tracking solutions, ranging from the way-to0-simple visit counters to the way-too-complex enterprise data collection and reporting suites. Although many eCommerce Giants are willing to spend a thousand dollars a month for data mining software that requires a staff of statistical engineers to manage and interpret, you don’t have to.

All you need to know in order to understand your web traffic, your customer demographics, your conversion patterns, and your keyword performance can be had for free. Yup, free like in “free beer.”

There are several free data collection and interpretation packages to choose from, but none are better than the one used by webmeisters everywhere, the first of its kind, the king of traffic analysis, the Goog.

Google Analytics. Since its limited release in 2006, GA has been adopted by roughly half of the top million websites. It works for sites large and small. It works without complex setup or steep learning curve. It provides all sorts of interesting data in simple tables, graphs, and charts. You can easily discover how many  visits came to each page, how many of them were repeat visitors, where they live (country, region, city), what browser they use, what search engine they used to find you, and even the keyword they typed into it. And way, way more.

I’m not saying that Google Analytics is the only way to observe, track, and understand your website’s visit profile. It may or may not be the best for you. But it’s free, easy to use, and pretty damn functional. I’ve used it from the beginning on dozens of websites of my own and recommended it to hundreds of clients. None have every asked me to turn it off.

All you need to do to get started with Google Analytics is open an account, then let GA generate your unique user-id and tracking code, then attach the code to into the <head> of any and pages you’d like to collect information on. The minute you publish those pages, they start sending data. Log into your account after a day or so, and you’ll see all the statistics your little heart could possibly desire.

Believe me, once you get started down the path of search marketing, Google Analytics will become your very best friend.

Website Statistics Packages

Google Analytics Highly Recommended!
Free Stats

Site Tracker
eXtreme Tracker


Google Puts Content Farms Out to Pasture

Google has pulled the trigger on a major algorithm update and busted a cap in an entire industry, the Content Farm. In case you don’t know, a content farm usually refers to a domain that exists solely to generate high-ranking pages for high-search keywords by cranking out minimally useful (if useful in any sense at all) content. Sometimes this content is scraped (stolen) from other sites, sometimes it’s written by freelance “buck-a-page” hacks, and sometimes is near-gibberish generated by computers stringing random words together. The reason these sites flourish is that their pages have tended to rank very very high for a very very high percentage of searches.

Here’s one of the most profligate: eHow. In pursuit of total web dominion, eHow has built a megalith site of over 20 million pages.  What? TWENTY MILLION FREAKING PAGES? About everything. They do web research to mine high-search keywords, and then build very minimally useful content pages around the terms. But the site is so huge and so interconnected and so competent at SEO that they rank first page for an unbelievable percentage of the keywords they pursue.

It’s not really spam, really. I mean, there is some sort of content there, right? Problem is, they (and all the other content farmers like them) have made searching the internet just that much harder for everyone. Want to know how to unclog a drain? Search for “unclog a drain” and you’ll find the first page of results a virtual sink-full of virtual content-farmed pseudo-content that you will have to stick your arm into all the way to the elbow in order to fish out one useful bit of knowledge.

Well, Google’s not happy about that. So Google made a little change. The Farmer Update.

This update—said to affect as much as 12% of all searches worldwide—will definitely make an impact on searching the internet, particularly for the content farmers cash crop, How-To information.

This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites—sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites—sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.  —the Official Google Blog

But there’s a potential boll weevil in all this: Google claims to be devaluing “low-quality” content. Which, in cases like eHow, is pretty easy to spot and pretty hard to argue with. The bug is what (and who) actually gets to define “quality”? Does Wikipedia, with almost 70 million pages of diverse content, make the cut? Or get the axe? Do blog sites like WordPress, with 300,000,000 pages of stuff ranging from the sublime to crap (like the blog you’re reading right now) get penalized across the domain just because 80% or so of what’s there is “low-quality”?

Time will tell, and webmasters will yell, and SEOs will prosper. And as for the content farms, those who get rich dealing manure can’t really complain when they find themselves upwind.

More on the Google “Content Farm” Update

Official Google Blog: Finding High Quality Sites in Search
Google Breaks Up Content Farms
Google Tightens the Screws on Content Farmers
Google Goes After Content Farms with Update
Google Forecloses on Content Farmers
Legit Sites Could Get Caught in Google’s Content Farm Crosshairs
Seeking to Weed Out Drivel, Google Adjusts Search Engine


Friday’s SEO Site of the Week

Our SEO Site of the Week goes to Matt Cutts’s Blog.

Who the heck is Matt Cutts, you ask? Good question. Let me explain.

Suppose you were interested in successfully ranking your favorite keywords in Google. Suppose further that you wanted to gather all the information possible about what to do, what not to do, and what not to EVER EVER do?

Then ask yourself: “What would it be worth to have a guy inside Google who is willing to share official and semi-official Google thinking on the subject of SEO?” Admit it, whether your hat is black, gray or white, that sort of inside scoop would be golden.

Matt’s that guy.  He’s been with Google since 2000. He’s the head of the Google Spam Team. And while his blog is definitely not an official Mouth of Google, it is pretty much the Company Line. Which is good. Because we know all sorts of places to get the speculation, innuendo, rumor, sky-is-falling, fear-mongering, and fabrications about Google, their plans and strategies and policies, but Matt is one of the few places to go for a reasonably intelligent discussion from inside the walls.

I follow the blog and subscribe to his twitter feed. You could definitely learn something here.

Three mouse clicks, two hats, and a bat named Gary