Tuesday, March 02, 2010

What is Google Really Looking For? Pt2

Following on the the previous part covering the impact of Vince in the Poker market..

So.... Why wouldn’t Matt Cutts want to call this an update...?

Looking at “Betting” on Google.co.uk

Strangely, the impact on the “Betting” SERP occurs 2 days later.

Betting SERP - Vince Update

  • Betfred.com is displaced by media goliath Skybet.com sometime in the early hours of Sunday morning.
  • Betfair.com is given a boost to third place, be it fleeting.
  • High street bookmaker Williamhill.com displaces both Skybet.com and Betfair.com on Sunday morning 28th June.
  • On Monday 29th June Williamhill.com and Skybet.com are both displaced by Ladbrokes.com
  • Bet365.com also joins the party “above the fold” on Monday 29th June settling in fourth place behind the two major UK high street brands and a global media giant.
Summary of Betting Observations

While the impact occurs slightly later than the “poker” example, we see a similar pattern of displacement, apparently by brand weight, leaving William Hill and Ladbrokes to battle for dominance. Note: by contrast, the “Online Betting” SERP remained unchanged.

Why would this “change” only affect a relatively small number of queries? Why would “Poker” and “Betting” be affected and not “Online Poker” or “Online Betting”.

Some working in SEO at this point, who didn’t have the right strategy, are likely to feel like calling it a day and booking a holiday... which leads me seamlessly onto another vertical to compare and contrast....

“Holidays” on Google.co.uk
It was reassuring to see a similar pattern mirrored across other verticals. The travel sector saw, once again, only major terms impacted, see “Holidays” SERPs

Holidays SERP Vince Update

  • Otbeach.com kicks things off on the 26th, on the same day as two of the previous examples.
  • Later that day, UK travel giant Firstchoice.co.uk is pushed up into first position.
  • Thomson.co.uk displaces Firstchoice.co.uk the following day.
  • Thomascook.com appears sometime before 3:34 Monday 29th June, displacing otbeach.com, travelsupermarket.com and teletextholidays.co.uk
Further changes continued to occur for almost 2 months across all the “big” single generic keywords, confirming the official Google party line.

What is clear here is that broadly, known brands to benefited, clearly many deserved to be there, but how was Google able to determine who should rank where?

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