I am just beginning with Productive Edge after working on SEO for many years with Insurance.com. I never posted to a blog before, so by way of introduction I thought I would answer some SEO questions posted over at YOUmoz last Wednesday.
Interestingly, I found the exact same questions posted and answered in a blog here. It seems Micah Fisher-Kirshner handles SEO at Become.com and these must be some of their interview questions. Before I begin I will admit I read around to see what other people had to say and that these questions are likely to be asked in a setting where someone can’t browse Google to augment their responses. But I thought they were intriguing enough to talk about.
- If “Content is King”, why does Adobe rank in position one for the phrase “click here” when the phrase appears nowhere on the page and other results have the exact phrase “click here” in the domain, title tag, and body copy?
Probably the most obvious on the list, link text is a factor in the way Google understands the content of what a link is pointing to. If a lot of people have websites offering links to download Adobe (188,000 results for this exact phrase!), or more specifically if there is a standard widget or template that adobe has people drop on their websites, you can see how powerful the link becomes in terms of helping Google decide what the link destination is about. Note that the ConAgra Fair Fund link points to “http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep.html”, which then does a 301 permanent redirect to “http://get.adobe.com/reader/”, which is the webpage that ranks for “click here“.
- Google claims it has minimized (some say defused) Google Bombs, so why does Nikolas R. Schiller still rank number one for “Redacted Name”?
Natan Gesher in his blog post answering these questions makes a good point that “redacted name” is not going to be a heavily searched for term. This is definitely part of it. But the fact that the Wikipedia article on Google Bomb mentions the event, and that the Washington Post article is still available describing the event, is probably also a reason why it still ranks. Google may adjust against the signals of a bomb, but some bombs in the past also left different kinds of online signals in online media that still influence Google’s ranking algorithm. Another example of this is the famous Rick Santorum Google bomb, which is also still “working”. The legend of it has pushed it into urbandictionary and political blogs, making a more permanent mark on the Internet than your typical bomb might have.
- Why does a page rank in position one on Google for a specific keyword when the page does not have the phrase anywhere on the page and there is no data to show a Google Bomb or link building campaign?
I also like Natan’s point about latent semantic indexing. If Google’s algo cannot comprehend words that are related, it is not going to be able to index websites for a wide audience who use different languages, slang, or semantics.
If you are referring to a specific phrase, such as “auto insurance quotes comparison”, it may be that you might have a site that hasn’t optimized for that exact phrase, but Google thinks that what the site is generally offering. The site may be using the word “car” instead of “auto”, and “compare quotes” instead of “quotes comparison”.
Also, the composed meaning of a phrase may not always be the exact sum of its parts. Sometimes people search by combinations of single keywords, not intact phrases that make sense to put together on website.
- Why would a site that duplicates its Title Tags and Meta Descriptions across the entire site still rank number one for its top keywords on Google while having less backlinks (relevant and numerically) than the number two result?
The most obvious example of this would seem to be brand. Some websites put their brand name in the title tags rather than optimize those tags for keywords. Brand of course, is more than just a recognizable product name like Tissue, but something likely to be used in language surrounding the company’s top keywords. But another possibility is template businesses that offer packaged websites (but no title customization). Any site that uses any kind of templating is a likely candidate. This webcomic ranks #1 for “morning breakfast“, but each and every comic installation has the exact same title tag, the name of the comic.
- Why does a commercial site that 302 redirects its entire domain to a single nondescript page (with no strong direct backlinks to it) still rank in position one for its top keywords on Google even after a week has passed?
This is a strange question and it’s hard to comment on without seeing an example. There is some suggestion here that the nature of Google’s algorithm does not automatically drop down websites that redirect users to other content. In the case of a 301, the website is explicitly telling the browser they intend to move the site. Since the 302 is temporary, Google must be giving them the benefit of the doubt that they need a temporary home. It could be the site is undergoing maintenance or a redesign. How long would Google allow this to go on may change over time. But the assumption here is that it could not go on for much longer.