Feature Article Menu | Work at Home (Go Back)
User Popularity - The Latest Innovation in Search Engine Algorithms
by Robin Nobles  Copyright

For years, the search engines have continued to introduce new
factors into their algorithms to make their search results more
relevant and to keep savvy search engine marketers from "cracking
the system."

We've seen many ranking factors come and go in importance. For
example, years ago, META tags were the key to success, or so we
thought. Stick in META tags that were loaded with your keyword
phrases, and you were sure to achieve top rankings.

Then, we had keyword weight as a ranking factor. We struggled 
to determine the keyword weight of our competitors' pages, then
duplicate that weight in all of the various areas of our pages.

Along came link popularity, and with it, the massive link farms
and link exchange programs. Web site owners joined as many as
they could in an effort to boost the sheer number of incoming
links pointing to their sites.

In the midst of these evolving ranking factors came changes
to page components like the title tag. Put your keyword at the 
beginning of the tag for maximum ranking potential. Oops. Things 
have changed. Put your keyword as the 3rd and 4th words in the 
title tag. Wait - let's try the 2nd and 3rd words.

These are just a few of the ranking factors that have come into
play over the last several years.

Can you see the potential for problems here?

After all, including keywords in your META tags doesn't mean 
that the page is more relevant for those keywords. Just because 
you have 12,792 worthless links pointing to your site doesn't 
mean your site is relevant for your keyword phrase.

Now, we're in the middle of another "link popularity" or "link
reputation" surge. But the rules have changed. Now, we want 
sites that are related in content to our site, or authoritative,
popular sites in our focus area.

Okay! Now we're beginning to get on the right track! After all,
if an important, authoritative site in a particular topic area
links to your site, it must mean that your site is important and
popular for that subject too. Or, if other sites in your subject
area link to you, it must mean that your site is truly about 
that subject as well.

Equally important, or even more so, comes the "link reputation"
factor. If enough popular sites in your topic area use your
important keyword phrase when linking to you, it's telling the
search engines that your site is relevant for that keyword
phrase. After all, the Web community has deemed to describe your
site using that keyword phrase, which is a vote of confidence to
the search engines.

Makes sense, except for one small problem. I can have a site
that's devoted to wireless Internet connections, and you can 
have a site that's devoted to kitchen utilities. I can link 
to your site from mine and use the keyword phrase "kitchen 
utilities" in the link text. Some of the engines appear to use 
the link text as the determining factor when deciding link 
reputation, not the contents of the page pointing to the site. 
So, two sites that aren't related in content whatsoever could 
potentially help boost the link reputation of each other's 
sites. We may see the engines consider other factors in the 
near future, such as the contents of the title tag on the page 
containing the link, which will help solve this potential 
problem to some degree.

However, when looking at all of the factors listed here so far,
do any of them truly prove that the page is relevant to a
particular keyword phrase?

With relevancy comes a much more stable, trustworthy search
engine. When you search for a particular topic, you're assured 
of getting search results that contain pages with good, solid
content related to that keyword phrase.

After all, most people venture onto the Internet looking for
information. If we can provide that information in content-rich,
valuable pages, we've done the search engines, the users, and
ourselves a big favor.

With all of these various ranking factors, what is the one area
that is sorely missing?

How about a site ranking algorithm based on a combination of
content relevancy and user popularity data?

"Content" relevancy and "user popularity" aren't as easy to
manipulate as link popularity, link reputation, or even keyword
placement, so the search engine results should certainly be more
relevant. After all, anyone who is concerned about relevancy in
search engine rankings should want the most relevant pages and
sites to rise to the top of the rankings. If our pages aren't 
the most relevant, we have some work to do!

Introducing an Innovative Search Engine Ranking Algorithm

I just learned of a new search engine that actually uses 
a combination of content relevancy and user popularity to 
determine rankings. It's called ExactSeek.com 

How does ExactSeek measure user popularity? The engine has 
teamed up with Alexa, which offers a toolbar that measures 
activity on the Web. By measuring the surfing activity of 
millions of Alexa users, ExactSeek is able to determine the 
user popularity and relevancy of Web sites in its index. User 
popularity is a far more reliable indicator of where Web sites 
should rank and gives users some input on the search results 
they see.

Mel Strocen, CEO of Jayde Online, which is the parent company 
of ExactSeek, says,

"Alexa traffic data will be a strong factor in the ExactSeek
ranking algorithm but not the dominant factor, that being page
content. Essentially, we've opted to emphasize user popularity
over link popularity."

In fact, in an effort to make the results even more relevant,
ExactSeek.com will be in flux for the next week or two as they
work to determine how much weight to give Alexa traffic data in
ranking search results.

The beauty of ExactSeek.com is that the harder you work toward
increasing traffic to your Web site by adding new, relevant
content, paying for SEO, advertising in various publications,
investing in a PPC campaign, etc., the better your rankings will
be in ExactSeek.com.

Can User Popularity be Manipulated?

I think a better question would be, what search engine results
can't be manipulated? The key is to consider relevancy and
valuable content, which is something that ExactSeek.com has
wisely chosen to focus on.

It's true that not everyone uses the Alexa toolbar. However, it
does provide results based on an excellent sampling of users on
the Web. Plus, user popularity will be more difficult to
manipulate than other factors, because it is certainly more
difficult to manipulate the surfing public than it is to
manipulate the search engines.

Give ExactSeek.com a Try!

ExactSeek.com is innovative in more ways than the way it
determines rankings. For example, you can check your site's
rankings in the ExactSeek database from a link on the main page
of the engine. How convenient!

In Conclusion . . .

As the search engine industry evolves, we'll begin to see more
and more innovations geared toward arriving at relevant search
results that aren't as easily manipulated as some of the ranking
methods in the past. One of those innovations is being put into
place now at ExactSeek.com: user popularity combined with content

Robin Nobles with Search Engine Workshops teaches SEO strategies
the "stress free" way through hands-on, search engine marketing
workshops (http://www.searchengineworkshops.com) in locations
across the globe and online search engine marketing courses
(http://www.onlinewebtraining.com). Visit the World Resource
Center, a new networking community for search engine marketers.

Copyright Robin Nobles. All rights reserved.

Copyright © Jayde Online, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

SiteProNews is a registered service mark of Jayde Online, Inc.

      Articles Menu | Business Database | Home | Resources | Site Map