Elliott C. Back: Internet & Technology

Google Supplemental Link Units

Posted in Google,Optimization,Search by Elliott Back on March 11th, 2008.

Oh yeah, I’m a I’m a baller! You know you’ve made it when you get your own supplemental link unit section from Google! I’ve been waiting a long time for these, and now I’ve finally got them, even if they are a little bit incorrect. I think I’ve got some 301 redirects that need to be changed…


Ask’s Search Suggest is Hilarious

Posted in Humour,Search,Web 2.0 by Elliott Back on November 2nd, 2007.

If you go to Ask.com and start typing, it will try to help you find what you’re looking for by displaying a list of suggestions it thinks are relevant to your query (and give the arrogance of Ask’s marketing department, probably your life as well).

But not every suggestion is a hit; most are ok, reasonable extensions, but in nearly every phrase I type in there is something hilarious. Take, for example, “learn to speak” which has the usual suspects Spanish, English, Italian, German, and the most unusual Gibberish:

If you ask me, it’s the most expressive language in the world

While most people want to learn to play a guitar, freestyle, or draw, little Johnny is learning to levitate objects:

With his mind, what else?

Americans love to sue you. They’ll do it for wrongful imprisonment, slander, or just about any kind of distress they can of, including tubal ligation failure:

I’d rather check her phone logs…

Ask’ers don’t know much about themselves, so naturally they don’t know if they are pregnant or not, as seen in this query for “how can i:”

Also, your dog is expecting!

A typo on “how do i find” led me to this gem of feng shui confusion:

Since when is this a verb?

I saved the best for last, which is the auto-complete results for “is it legal to,” a horrifying look into modern culture:

The answer is a categorical NO!

There’s an indication that this data is filtered–try starting lesbian, for example–so I’m not sure if I believe these results. My operating assumption is that this is a marketing gimmick to try and get some churn on the blogosphere and free PR. It wouldn’t be hard to drop in a single unlikely phrase to spice things up, now would it?

p.s., don’t type “how should I” or “can I sell my” or “ask me about” because they’re sophomoric. I bet Google’s users are equally idiotic, but they certainly don’t go out of their way to show that to us!

Google Pagerank Falls on Paid Links, Blogs

Posted in Google,Search,SEO by Elliott Back on October 25th, 2007.

The blogosphere today is in collective shock after Google downgraded the pagerank of many leading blogs and news sources. The response tends to fall into several categories: we knew it was coming, pagerank doesn’t matter, and we deserved it. Techcrunch does a pretty good job of examining the evidence behind the update:

The only clear change appears to be among large scale blog networks and similar link farms, where each site in the network provides hundreds of outgoing links on each page of the blog to other blogs in the network, in some cases creating tens, even hundred of thousands of cross links. Previously such behavior has been rewarded by Google with high page rank, although it would now appear that this loop hole may now be shut.

Here’s a table of pagerank changes organized by the percent difference:

Pagerank -4 Pagerank -3 Pagerank -2
Statcounter SEO Rountable
Search Engine Journal
Quickonline Tips
SF Gate
The Washington Post
The Blog Herald
The Unofficial Apple Weblog

An interesting tidbit comes from Syntagma who note that “the majority of these decreases happened after a human review.” So, it might not be easy for you to fix your linking strategy and regain Pagerank automatically.

Ironically, this coincides with GOOG hitting $666 today. And, Silicon Valley is calling us “Pagerankled.” For you people out there running blogs, an immediate solution is the following:

  • Make sure you nofollow any links that you don’t directly control
  • Avoid using static link-farms like directories, like linking to every blog in your network from every page
  • Don’t let your commenters add links to their sites

Here’s an example of the link distribution of my site after I’ve properly annotated some links with nofollow:


The green areas (header, footer, content, and some meta data) represent regular links, the red areas (advertising, sidebar links, tags, and related stories) are nofollow links, and the blue areas are dynamic links (javascript widgets) which don’t need updating. I am not sure if I want to nofollow anything else–what do you think?

Update: Forbes weighs in, “it could also be Google simply taking into account the growth of the Internet.”

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