Tuesday, March 02, 2010

What is Google Really Looking For? Pt3

I guess the question still remains:-

Is brand building the new link building?

Stickyeyes has been recording vast quantities (1000+ Gb) of data across a range of major SERPs, including link structures, on page factors and ranking correlations for all competitors across all the vertical markets which Stickyeyes™ operate in.

Utilising this data and publically available data (see below), Stickyeyes™ made two key comparisons based on averages; by comparing key factors of sites before and after the adjustment.

Analysis 1 - We compared the averages across hundreds of keywords ,measuring the key metrics for each top ten, before and after the update.

Analysis 2 – We compared the big winners against the big losers following the adjustment.

Results of the Analysis:-

Analysis 1: New Top 10s (averages)

• Alexa Ranking: 53% improvement
• Domain age: 6% increase
• Brand Search Volume: 36% increase
• Google News: 302% increase
• Total # backlinks: 44% decrease
• % brand links: 14% increase
• % targeted anchor text: 3% decrease

Analysis 2: Big Winners (averages)
• Alexa Ranking: 79% improvement
• Domain age: 78% increase
• Brand Search Volume: 6,574% increase
• Google News: 282% increase
• Total # backlinks: 63% increase
• % brand links: 63% increase
• % targeted anchor text: 25% decrease

This analysis demonstrates some strong patterns across a number of key areas. However some findings could be symptomatic of something else, rather than actual driving factors behind the statistics provided – Stickyeyes conducted isolated tests in order to gain more accurate findings.
These findings raised more questions of course, but some interesting answers.

Q: Is Google factoring in brand search volume?
A: Not in isolation - Instigated by the 6,547% increase in brand search volume in analysis 2, we tested brand search volume as a ranking factor in isolation. Stickyeyes can confirm that brand search volume is not a factor (at least not in isolation).

Conclusion: Smaller newcomers who offer value are still able to out-perform large established brands providing they deploy a balanced campaign addressing a sufficiently broad range of quality signals and the financial backing to see a long term campaign through to victory.

Q: Is Google moving away from a link based algorithm?
A: No - We know that Google is considering other factors to determine relevancy including user behaviour, and have a number of social signals, however Google is still fundamentally a link based algorithm. We’ve seen a significant decrease in total back links, which appears to be the result of Google discounting low quality link and rightly penalised the spammers.

Conclusion: Ensure your link building is deployed naturally, acquire links on quality sites preferably within a legitimate editorial context, quality is essential, as is a mix of news-worthy PR, high quality on-site content and communities. Communities and other social factors are particularly important in many verticals.

Q: Is Google up-weighting non-keyword anchor text (link text)
A: Not directly - while the evidence implies this, it’s more likely to be symptomatic of the up-weighting of the proximity text in or around the link, another relevancy factor, or the contextual theme of the link. If this assumption were correct, it may explain the 63% brand link increase as well as the 25% reduction in targeted anchor text in our Vince Winners vs. Losers analysis detailed above.

Conclusion: It’s now more important than ever to ensure your link building is deployed naturally and with on-topic, newsworthy content in the mix.

One Month Later...

Something happened to changed everything. Between 3:40am Monday 27th July and 11:40 Tuesday 28th July, something apparently impossible happened.... (coming soon....)

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