10 more sites that stupidly try to ban you from linking to them
July 15, 2012 – 6:44 pm | One Comment

Even more sites that try to bank you from linking to them in the terms. Make it stop.

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Google autocomplete now fixes spelling problems
January 18, 2010 – 7:00 am | 3 Comments
Google autocomplete now fixes spelling problems

More evidence that Google has changed how it handles spelling errors. It is now fixing spelling in autocomplete (the list of suggestions it offers as you start to type in the web-based search form).

Unlike yesterday's example, where Google was just deciding for itself which version of alternative, correct spellings you meant, I approve of this - partly because it's helpful, and partly because the user retains control (so they can search for wrong spellings if they want to).

Search engine optimisation, optimization and SEO
January 17, 2010 – 7:00 am | 3 Comments

We've all been running round worrying about Google forcing us to search for search engine optimization when we want to search for search engine optimisation.

I think we can relax, as it turns out hardly anyone searches for either ...

Google: We spell it colouring here
January 17, 2010 – 12:16 am | One Comment
Google: We spell it colouring here

Not content with its various other spelling problems, Google is now trying to make us spell colour the US way.

Google’s spelling problems are worse than we thought
January 15, 2010 – 11:02 am | 18 Comments
Google’s spelling problems are worse than we thought

There have been various posts about how Google is returning results with the American spelling (search engine optimization) when people search for search engine optimisation.

But it's got much bigger problems with spelling than just -ise vs ize.

Worst UK Serps yet?
January 5, 2010 – 1:55 pm | 9 Comments

If buying a used car, I wonder what checks you should do on the documentation? Don't bother asking Google.

Replace suspension cost: more rubbish UK search results
January 4, 2010 – 6:00 am | 6 Comments
Replace suspension cost: more rubbish UK search results

I needed to know how much it typically cost to replace the suspension on a car (not mine, fortunately). The results are another good example of why the UK search results are often rubbish.

Cross-domain rel=canonical now supported by Google
December 16, 2009 – 12:22 am | 4 Comments
Cross-domain rel=canonical now supported by Google

rel=canonical is a way to tell Google which the primary version of a URL is. It's handy if you have substantially the same content on several URLs - perhaps because you have a shopping site and allow users to sort a list of products by price or name, and this is reflected in the URL.

Adding this meta tag used to work only on the same domain.

But Google has announced today that it will support rel=canonical across domains - ie if you have the same content on more than one website, you can tell Google which is the main version you'd like it to index.

Google will give Murdoch what he wants if he renames the Sun as the Wapping News Journal
December 15, 2009 – 6:00 am | 3 Comments
Google will give Murdoch what he wants if he renames the Sun as the Wapping News Journal

If Murdoch wants to put the Sunday Times or the Sun behind a paywall but still wanted Google to index his content, he would have to join first-click free.

If he decides the Sun is really the Wapping News Journal and joins Google Scholar, then the rules would be different. He could have his content indexed without having to let anyone see it unless they paid a subscription. On top of which, Google would give his content priority if was the original source of a story.

Pre Budget Report: Business Link wastes money on Google adverts
December 9, 2009 – 2:17 pm | 2 Comments
Pre Budget Report: Business Link wastes money on Google adverts

It's the pre-budget report today. Business Link, the government's advice service for businesses, is bidding on the term "pre budget report" in google's adverts.

Maybe we could repair the budget deficit by wasting less money driving traffic to a site that doesn't have any information on?

BBC hoodwinks bloggers with promises of links
December 8, 2009 – 6:00 am | 10 Comments
BBC hoodwinks bloggers with promises of links

Shownar is a BBC site that tracks the online buzz around the broadcaster's shows. Despite being paid for out of the licence fee, it's pulling the wool over bloggers' eyes by making out that, if you link to it, it will link back - but it's nofollowing the links.
The BBC should either make them normal links - or be much more transparent about its "you link to us and we'll link to you" statement.

Personalised search: SEO just changed forever
December 5, 2009 – 7:57 pm | 4 Comments

Google's rolling out personalised search to everyone, even if you're not signed in. It means that: The results you see aren't what everyone else sees, making SEO analysis that much harder.

And If you do a rubbish job of selling your site (either through the title in the results, or in terms of what they see when they click through) to people who commonly perform the same search, your site is going to drop out of their results. Gulp.

Google Local SEO: new layout makes it a million times more important
November 28, 2009 – 5:59 pm | 32 Comments
Google Local SEO: new layout makes it a million times more important

Google's new layout (only on google.com, not .co.uk, so far) has increased the importance of local SEO about a million times. Check out these two screenshots of a search for "St Albans offices" - one on google.com and one on google.co.uk.

New Google sprite for new layout
November 27, 2009 – 3:53 pm | No Comment
New Google sprite for new layout

Google's got a new layout on its way (not yet visible in the UK) which means a new google sprite (the one image it uses to render all its icons). Here's the new one and the old one.

New Media Age experiments with first click free
November 16, 2009 – 11:46 pm | No Comment
New Media Age experiments with first click free

New Media Age is experimenting with first click free - which always raises a troubling question for me. How do you persuade your users that you're "confident this content ... is worth paying for" - when it transpires you give it away for free to every tom, dick or harry who arrives via Google? Just what are we paying for?

I’m a Celebrity 2009: ITV neglects its SEO
November 15, 2009 – 11:35 am | 5 Comments
I’m a Celebrity 2009: ITV neglects its SEO

Search Google for I'm a Celebrity, which starts today, and ITV's site is top - as it should be. Search Google for I'm a Celebrity 2009, however, and the ITV site is only fourth - behind Digital Spy, the Metro and Free Betting Online.

I'm a Celebrity 2009 results
I'm a Celebrity 2009 results

Even worse, the Free Betting site is an affiliate site with a massively optimised page designed to get I'm a Celebrity traffic - that links out to free sports (not TV-related) betting sites.

Does Google edit swear words from the results of popular searches – or is it doing Jan Moir a favour?
November 10, 2009 – 11:41 am | No Comment
Does Google edit swear words from the results of popular searches – or is it doing Jan Moir a favour?

While idly checking Google's results for a Jan Moir search, I noticed that a top-10 result for the Angry Mob's site - a post from September called Jan Moir: I'm thinking she's a piece of sh*t - has been toned down in Google's results.

So does Google edit out swear words for popular searches? Or has it done a manual hack on this one post to spare Jan's blushes? The evidence is leaning towards the latter ...

Ad sitelinks: Google adds extra links to Adwords adverts
November 8, 2009 – 11:51 pm | One Comment
Ad sitelinks: Google adds extra links to Adwords adverts

Google is allowing advertisers to include extra links in their Adwords adverts (the paid results that appear on the Google results page).

Is Google using signals from Twitter for its rankings?
October 21, 2009 – 8:39 pm | 12 Comments
Is Google using signals from Twitter for its rankings?

Is Google using signals from Twitteras part of its ranking decisions. You could see why it want to - seeing which pages people are passing around on Twitter would help it work out which pages are relevant for 'newsy' search terms (those where there is a big surge in searches for particular keywords).
The evidence

Testing such a thing would be a nightmare - how could you set up 2 different, but similar, pages and get loads of people to tweet one and not the other? I managed to set up this test by accident - here are the results.

Sidestepping Google Sidewiki: changing URLs won’t help
October 16, 2009 – 9:04 pm | One Comment
Sidestepping Google Sidewiki: changing URLs won’t help

As part of the fuss over Jan Moir, the Daily Mail ended up changing the headline and the URL of its story and 301 redirecting the old URL to the new one. I wondered what would happen to the Sidewikis written on the original URL. The answer: the Sidewikis remain with a message saying they were originally about a previous URL.

Google Sidewiki, Carter Ruck and the Trafigura injunction
October 13, 2009 – 11:43 pm | One Comment

I wrote a sidewiki about Trafigura. Then i chickened out and deleted it straightaway.