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Old 03-23-2005   #1
Relevancy
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SE Relevancy vs. SE Optimization - Round 1

Optimization:
The practice of editing code for keyword visibility. Adjusting content to include keywords. Link building to achieve link popularity.

Relevancy:
Building relevant content for specific keyword topics. Creating useful resources for visitors. Clearly identifying pages for what they are about.

Round 1: Winner SE Relevancy
Why: Because users and search engines both like the methodology.

The SE's are getting better and better at identifying SEO tactics. Why not be safe and just be Relevant?

People might say SER and SEO are similar but they are not. SER is so white hat that it cant be considered wizardry at all. Since there are no tricks involved.

Last edited by Relevancy : 03-23-2005 at 04:10 PM.
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Old 03-23-2005   #2
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I would tend to disagree. I think optimizing pages for irrelevant search terms is bad SEO...misleading people into viewing info they are not interested in.

It's also not practical to do so: if I am selling widgets and I optimize my page for doodads.....the people who find my page looking for doodads are not going to buy a widget, theyre going to hit back and find a page with doodads.

I think relevancy is a key to real search engine optimization. Optimization without relevancy is generally a waste of time, and probably part of the definition of spam.

Last edited by DarkMatter : 03-23-2005 at 05:57 PM.
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Old 03-23-2005   #3
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I don't see why these need to be mutually exclusive. I optimize my relevant pages all the time.

It really comes down to this, plain and simple. In order for our sites to convert (be it to sales or signups or whatever the objective may be) we need to present things in a way that our audience can understand it and, hopefully, be compelled to take action. Search engines, essentially, are nothing more than an extension of our target audience. Your content, navigation, structure, and everything not only needs to make sense to the user, but it needs to make sense to the spiders.

In many ways, treating the Search Engines as if they were but another user of your site can really simplify things. Search engines are rather like having Rain Man visit your site (if you're old like me, you'll remember that movie). They have a lot of trouble grasping simple concepts, so you've got to be slow and precise. They can, however, see the big picture and perform amazing mathmatical and relational calculations in a split second.

So, I build a relevant site and that's fine and dandy. But I need to optimize it for my users - so the humans can get to my shipping policy with a single click from any place they might want to access it; so that humans and machines alike can identify elements on my page - "Oooh - that's a price, he must be selling something!"; so that another element - somehow visually (i.e. tagged) differently from everything else identifies what that product is, exactly; so my visitors can find other things on the site that are somehow related to the stuff they are currently looking at - and so that they can know, before they even click, what that next page is going to be about.

All of those things (and oh so very much more) all a part of optimization.

And while we're at it - this whole "relevancy" term. I'm not sure most people understand what it means. Everyone says, "Make your site relevant." Relevant to what? The search term? I can't possibly do that because no one has searched for anything, yet. Relevant to my product? Well, yes, I'd surely hope I did that. Relevant to what?

Rather than building a relevant site, how about trying this: Make sure your SEO Efforts are Relevant to Your Site and It's Mission. From there, everything will just sort of fall into place (and you won't create any gramatical paradoxes that threaten the very fabric of our existence).

G.
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Old 03-23-2005   #4
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You are right about the lingo gone mad. I am more talking about relevancy instead of optimization when it comes to keywords and what is the right way to get them to rank. Stuffing keywords is only going to hurt you and your visitors.

SEO can be relevant, but most of the time it is about tricking the engines to think you are a resource when actually you are just a site with keyword engineered content and code. So there is a difference in philosophies between SER and SEO and not just a different way to say it.

Don't get me wrong I am not one of those purists who think you cant do anything to a site or you will be evil. I am just saying you can adjust a site for usability while increasing rankings.
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Old 03-23-2005   #5
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I was gonna start with your last post, but there's a major flaw in the first one that I need to address before I can talk about the next batch of things...

Quote:
Relevancy:
Building relevant content for specific keyword topics.
Did the chicken come first? Or was it the egg?

Keywords need to be relevant to your content, not the other way around. If you're building content around keywords, then your content is a load of hogwash - it's just stuff that's made up to go along with your keywords.

A site has something it wants to communicate or achieve, plain and simple. It's content needs to serve THAT purpose, or the site fails.

Okay, now we can look at the next post...

Quote:
I am more talking about relevancy instead of optimization when it comes to keywords and what is the right way to get them to rank.
Keywords don't rank. They are but the keystones that will serve to get your content to rank. If your keywords are relevant to your content and those keywords are things that people are searching for, then you've got the first part of SEO down.

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Stuffing keywords is only going to hurt you and your visitors.
True. Which is why you need to start with content and determine your keywords for that rather than deciding what your keywords are going to be and then trying to build a page around them. It's hard to come up with compelling and interesting content based upon a two or three word phrase. It's really hard to string together coherent sentences and concepts amidst a spread of keywords.

But, it's fairly easy to take some good content, look at it for a while, decide what words are best going to describe that content and be words that people will type into a search box and then make sure those words are sprinkled on the page, located in the key page elements, and so on.

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SEO can be relevant, but most of the time it is about tricking the engines to think you are a resource
Maybe in the circles you hang out in. For me, SEO is about taking a site that contains something that I'm passionate about and that I've put my heart and soul into and then optimizing it in a way so that others with the same passions and interests can find it.

In the same way that Microsoft wouldn't be where it is today if Bill Gates and his team weren't passionate about their products, building a good web site and subsequently marketing and promoting it (yes, by using SEO, among other things) requires passion. There are plenty of site out there though that truly do lack passion and it's those sites that need to resort to trickery in order to rank in the search engines.

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I am just saying you can adjust a site for usability while increasing rankings.
Yup. You can. I guess it's just that you're using the word "Relevancy" wrong. Somehow, you've got most of it backwards - though I guess it's not really a surprise based upon all the disinformation around the web. In the end, Relevancy is a part of SEO. It's not a part of site building - no matter what you do, a site is ALWAYS going to be relevant to itself. Granted, it may have no relevance to the rest of the world, but I don't think we're talking about social relevance here, either.

G.
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Old 03-23-2005   #6
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Ok clarification time.

What I am trying and clawing to get at is:
When someone comes to you as a client, do you optimize or work with usability and relevance?

No matter what it looks like I am trying to say, my point is when someone comes to me about achieving rankings I help their site become relevant and informative, by providing helpful content ideas, tips on writing naturally while using keywords (yes writing naturally and keywords can go together), making sure pages are clearly representing its subject matter to the engines and users, etc.

I have worked for a big SEO firm before and while it was well respected as an "ethical" firm it was still about tweaking pages to make cows fly rather then turning the cow into an eagle. I don't think you should turn anything into anything - rather build naturally from point A.

SEO at its heart is still about doing whatever you can (without spamming - and only because SEO's are afraid of the repercussions of spamming not because it is wrong to do) to make you rank.

To me you sound more like a SER who just likes the SEO name and who is afraid of change.

We are debating the same ideas with one difference - I don’t want to be associated with the bad part of SEO so I am joining/creating my own title. While you are trying to prove to me that I am SEO and not all SEO is bad. We agree on the same ideas. Lets be good together shall we?

Last edited by Relevancy : 03-23-2005 at 06:10 PM.
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Old 03-23-2005   #7
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I'm not an SEO per se - so when a client comes to me, they don't come to me looking for SEO. That said, what I do do is a full blown analysis of a site to help it convert, meet accessibility and usability standards, that it's spiderable, that it's got "page elements" that can be picked up by Froogle and Google News, that it has a cohesive and logical navigation structure. And so on. And so on. Basically, I go in and maximize a site's potential.

A lot of these things do help with SEO. And, I have been known to perform SEO services. But I never make their site "relevant" - I might make it consistent. And I might come up with relevant things to do that will help the site, but the site itself is already relevant. You've still lost me on that part of your statements.

But yes, I do see a trend toward this. As the search engines get better at what they do, they become more and more like the people that all other areas of web design and development are catering to. In order to be a successful SEO in the future, you're going to have to understand the whole process.

So, I guess we are sort of on the same page, here. But in the end, there will always be a place for SEO. It'll change (note that all the bigwigs are calling themselves SEM's nowadays). It'll evolve (usability experts and crawlability experts will probably be the same person one day, for example).

But, in this day and age, be careful of the words you use. Semantics are big (especially with Google, this week).

G.
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Old 03-23-2005   #8
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I thought:

"SEO" = "SER"

well generally anyway. Also, I agree there are lots of very big words being thrown about! Best be careful.
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Old 03-23-2005   #9
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It sounds like you are right to choose a different title for yourself, Relevancy. But there already is one for what you described - SEF (Search Engine Friendlyizer). SEM is different, so it doesn't really apply here. One of the best known people in seo stated that seo is about making websites search engine friendly. I disagree. Sef is about making websites search engine friendly. That person is an sef, imo, and not an seo, because "Optimization" isn't even aimed at.

Usability isn't part of seo, sef or sem. It belongs in the realms of website consultancy and/or website design, which is not about search engines. It's good to advise clients about it, and a charge can even be made for making a website more usable for people, but it isn't seo, or any of the other search engine related things.

Making the most of what a website/webpage is relevant for is where you and Grumpus come together, I think. It's a cut-down sort of seo, if you like, and it works for most sites and pages, because most sites and pages don't target competitive searchterms, but it doesn't work when there is real competition - when enough people are vigorously competing. That's when real seo needs to be used.
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Old 03-23-2005   #10
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SEF? That one is new to me. I have heard of being SE freindly but didnt know there was a term for it.

How about SEB (Search Engine Beggers) This one we all just send emails to the engines and beg for rankings? JK PhilC

I understand your thought completely.

I will stick with SER because I believe in the term "relevancy" over friendly. Friendly still sounds like you are tweaking the site for the engines.. oh and because my site is searchenginerelevancy.com
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Old 03-23-2005   #11
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The only spot where I disagree with ya Phil is that Usability isn't a part of SEO. Well, I guess I agree with you that it's not a part of it today. But seriously, wait a week and it will be.

The cornerstone behind the "Semantics" stuff going on right now is how documents relate to each other through linking and element commonality in the vicinity of the links. It's a huge step toward the engines being much closer to looking at a page as a human would. This type of thing, currently, is right up the alley of your usability experts and most SEO's (I've read your work over the years, so I know you're up on the latest things more than many) just aren't equipped to comprehend it - yet. In time, a good "structural usability" analysis will also do wonders for your SEO efforts, as well. That's all I'm saying.

There's also another area where usability and marketing are starting to blend in with SEO. That's "page elements". These are sections of a page that provide specific information. By having a consistent layout (that will be determined by your usability or marketing department - or both) you're giving yourself a huge step up in the SEO arena nowadays. If a search engine, before they even crawl a page, know where they are going to find the price or product name or article title or author name or related reading links or any of the other on-page elements that you can think of, then it's much easier to determine what the page is about.

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Old 03-23-2005   #12
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Originally Posted by Relevancy
.. oh and because my site is searchenginerelevancy.com
I guess that's the clincher - SER it is
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Old 03-23-2005   #13
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But seriously, wait a week and it will be.
Ok. We'll meet here this time next week and check it out

Yes, semantics is the future. I think everyone accepts that. Semantics-based search engines are a lot further ahead than most people realise, and small, niche, semantics-based engines have been running for a while, but implementing it on a large-scale engine is nowhere near as as easy, and it's likely to creep in bit by bit. IMO, usability is something for users today, and not for engines - at least not that I'm aware of. I don't suggest that it's something that SEOs mustn't be involved with - just that it isn't seo today.

Quote:
There's also another area where usability and marketing are starting to blend in with SEO. That's "page elements". These are sections of a page that provide specific information. By having a consistent layout (that will be determined by your usability or marketing department - or both) you're giving yourself a huge step up in the SEO arena nowadays. If a search engine, before they even crawl a page, know where they are going to find the price or product name or article title or author name or related reading links or any of the other on-page elements that you can think of, then it's much easier to determine what the page is about.
That's a new one on me. For users, yes, but for search engines? Even for tomorrow's engines? I think if anything like that came about, it's likely to be be a long way down the line - and I'll be retired by then
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Old 03-23-2005   #14
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That's a new one on me. For users, yes, but for search engines?
Sure. It's happening now. You can see it happening quite clearly if you look at Froogle and have a look at the product listings that are crawled and not fed into it. Sure, it's not always 100% accurate, but it's pretty close. Quite often, you're getting sent to a page with multiple products listed on there and it's got the right product matched up with the right price and the right picture in the Froogle results. And, I know it happens on spidered items and not just fed items because my Amazon store software usually ends up in Froogle for a few months until it realizes that it's just affiliate data).

You can also see the capabilities when you look at Google News. It crawls pages and isolates various elements from there, as well, though it's somewhat less impressive. It does find a nice synopsis paragraph and it makes a nice title (note that even if the page title has the source name in it, the article title at Google news doesn't).

Since the beginning of time (SE-wise, anyway) they've been making use of picking out things in H tags and such. They have the capability now to find very specific elements within a page and they can not only just compare raw content against search terms, but also give different identified elements various weights to assist in ranking a page.

It's there - it's happening now. Has been for about a year or so, I think...

G.
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Old 03-24-2005   #15
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We all know about H tags, etc. and weightings, but those sort of things aren't a part of what you described. In fact, I don't think that they are anything to do with what you described.

What you described are the screen locations of various parts of a page - prices, product names, etc., although some screen locations usually have a pattern in a site's pages (code) that could be identified. I understood you to mean screen locations, because you referred to it as an aspect of usabilty, and users don't see the code.

I know nothing about Froogle, so I'll need to ask you about it in relation to this discussion...

You're saying that, with Froogle, Google picks out elements on a page according to its location in the code, and not according to what the text actually is? So if a page is fed to it that would normally have, say, a list of product names and prices in a particular table, and the table always follows some other particular chunk of code that is normally the same in every page, Froogle will get those product names and prices simply because they are in that particular place in the code? And if on one particular page, a new row is inserted into the table that isn't a product/price pair, then Froogle will still read it as product/price pair because it is in the place where a product/price pair would normally be?

Or do you mean that Froogle recognises product/price pairs by some other clue in the code, and not the location in the code or on the screen?

Whatever Froogle does or doesn't do, we are discussing the normal websearch, which uses a large-scale index, and I am not aware that patterns in each website's pages (which is what you are describing), are being identified and stored so that they can be used to help in producing relevant serps. If Google does anything like that with Froogle (and I still need you to explain what you mean), then it must be because, with Froogle, people are searching for products, and Google doesn't need to produce relevant serps in the way that they normally do. They only need to produce known product pages that are relevant.

Last edited by PhilC : 03-24-2005 at 01:40 AM.
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Old 03-24-2005   #16
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No.

Well, I suppose "where it comes in the code" is a part of it. But it's by no means all of it. It's definitely a matter of "elements" within the code. It's hard to explain (especially before coffee, as I'm trying to do now). A price might be identified, for example, by the fact that it's always inside a CSS tag called "price" and what's inside the tag always has a dollarsign. The primary navigation element may be identified by the fact that it's inside a table with a "mainNav" css tag, the contents of that element are virtually identical across the site, almost all the text inside the element is inside an anchor, and whatever other commonalities it may have across a site (or even a section of a site).

There, I've had a few sips of coffee, let's look at this very page to answer each of your questions and reiterate in a way that's hopefully more clear.

Quote:
I understood you to mean screen locations, because you referred to it as an aspect of usabilty, and users don't see the code.
Yeah, but if you have consistent screen locations, you'll have consistent code as a natural byproduct of it. Screen locations are a part of it, but Google doesn't actually know the screen locations - I can put stuff wherever I want using CSS.

Bear in mind as I go on, here, that the whole Usability Will Become A Part of SEO Theory means that the two will "overlap" - one surely won't replace each other. All I'm saying is that you, as an SEO will have to grasp some usability concepts and a Usability Expert will have to grasp some SEO concepts in order to excel (or just plain be efficient with their schedule and budget).

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You're saying that, with Froogle, Google picks out elements on a page according to its location in the code, and not according to what the text actually is?
No, see above. It's a combination of things. Looking at this page, one "element" on this page is the "byline". At the top of each reply, there's a user name, and some relevant information pertaining to the person who made the post. Doesn't matter what the text is. What matters is that there is a pattern - there's a name (or something) that has a hyperlink to a bio page of some sort. There's a date (that the search engine will hopefully be able to determine is a date that relates to the user and not confuse it with the post date in the element directly before this one). And there's a location of some sort. Various CSS tags (I didn't look at the code) help to identify it, the patterns of alignment, and so on - it's all a part of identifying elements.

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...Froogle will get those product names and prices simply because they are in that particular place in the code?
No, this thread, for example, has X number of replies right now. When you respond to this, it'll have one more. It comes deeper in the code, but it follows the same pattern, so it'll see your "poster" element (along with the others that it deems important) not because of "where" it appears in the code, but "how" it appears in the code.

Quote:
And if on one particular page, a new row is inserted into the table that isn't a product/price pair, then Froogle will still read it as product/price pair because it is in the place where a product/price pair would normally be?
I'd like to say no - Google doesn't make mistakes like that. But the fact is, it still does. The science is far from perfect. In some cases, it will mistakenly identify things (though it wouldn't be a price, because a price always has a $ or pound sign or whatever). It COULD mismatch a price with a different product if you aren't consistent, though.

But, this is exactly why I'm talking about blending your usability and marketing efforts with your SEO efforts. Consistency is critical to the success of your site. If a user gets a surprise (there's a whole extra section that they need to figure out what it is) it's going to hurt sales/conversions. If a search engine gets a surprise and can't figure out the elements on your page (whether it's just one page, or if it simply can't work out anything at all for your site) it's not going to help your rankings. (Note, I didn't say it'll hurt you - it just won't help you).

If Google (and Yahoo seems to do it to an extent, too - but their generic search seems to only do it for product type things whereas Google does it for all sorts of things) can't determine any elements on your site, it just won't. No biggie. You won't get penalized, there just won't be any boost. (For really spammy sites that don't have anything of substance, it's probably best if it doesn't find elements, actually).

Quote:
we are discussing the normal websearch, which uses a large-scale index, and I am not aware that patterns in each website's pages (which is what you are describing), are being identified and stored so that they can be used to help in producing relevant serps.
Nope. You're not aware of it. Even after I told you they were doing it.

Really, you don't need to believe me. Invariably, over the years, I get people telling me I'm mad when I explain something like this that isn't yet a part of the standard way of looking at things. Some things became the norm more quickly than others (e.g. Everflux - they only called me a freak for a few weeks on that one). Others took longer, and several are still just becoming accepted. I'm fairly excited to read all of the stuff that's going on this week with this new Google update, though - several more of the things in the "That Grumpus Guy Is An Idiot" category are starting to cross over to the mainstream.

I don't care about credit. I don't care if you believe me. I just like to talk about things that I've figured out because it makes me feel smart, despite the fact that I'm not particularly so. I don't really want to debate this, but if you want to know more about the concepts regarding this "elements" thing (at least to the point that I understand them - which is by no means complete), I'll be happy to share. You are free to use this knowledge, or ignore it as you please - after all, it's just another "That Grumpus is an Idiot" Theory, right?

G.
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Old 03-24-2005   #17
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Originally Posted by PhilC
Or do you mean that Froogle recognises product/price pairs by some other clue in the code, and not the location in the code or on the screen?
I think that question covers most of your reply, Grumpus - you described clues in the code such as classes and element names.

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Originally Posted by Grumpus
You're not aware of it. Even after I told you they were doing it.
You said that Google was doing it for Froogle and, to some extent, for their News search, but you hadn't said that they are doing it with their websearch - until your last post.

I'm sure you'll understand that, with seo, one person's word isn't suitable for us to accept that something is true. If you have the opinion that Google identifies and uses site-specific page parts for their websearch results, then I'd like to see some evidence or at least some reasoning that led you to that conclusion. I'd also like to know why they would do it with websearch. It's very understandable with things like Froogle and News searches, but I don't immediately see any reason for it with websearch.
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Old 03-24-2005   #18
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Sure. It's happening now. You can see it happening quite clearly if you look at Froogle and have a look at
I guess I should have started a new paragraph or something... I dunno. I said it's happening now. And I said you could see it clearly in a few other areas. It's not as obvious in the main results because there is so much else going on.

As to "why" they would want to use it - why wouldn't they? Is the page about a certain thing? Is just a part of it about a certain thing? Is it pointing to another page that's about a certain thing? Can we lessen the weight of keywords in the primary navigation elements and increase it in the content element so we actually have the most relevant page? Is this a product or is it information (because if we're not sure if the searcher is looking for products or information, it's good to give a nice mix of the two up near the top so they can choose the one they like)? Is this a movie synopsis or a movie review? Is this a timely article that we need to boost up because of its current "buzz factor"? and so on.

For proof, all I have is the fact that I've been aware of this for a year or more, now, and that I can get a real nice headstart and get pages ranking really well by building a site in such a way. As I said, if you don't feel like it's worth considering, then don't. No worries.

G.
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Old 03-24-2005   #19
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If you've been aware of it for a year or more, you must have seen things that indicate it. Can you share those with us? One person's awareness isn't enough.

The site-specific page parts idea that we are discussing is only one of a number of ways to do the things you just described (giving different weights to different links, etc.)

Incidentally, I'm not being argumentative. In fact, I'm not arguing at all - I'm questioning. If there's any truth in it, I want to know.

Through a few posts, you've said that Google actually recognises, stores, and uses site-specific page parts for ranking purposes in their websearch, and that page parts are identified by things like classes, element names, and perhaps even the location of them in the code. Those are my words, but it's what you said. We all know that there are a great many theories and imaginations going round that many people actually believe, simply because they get mentioned enough times. So, to avoid anything like that, we need evidence, or at least some sound reasoning, for your belief in this matter. Without it, all we can do is put it down to just another unsubstantiated theory that may do the rounds and get believed by some people because it gets mentioned enough times.

I'm not trying to be harsh, Grumpus, I am being realistic.
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Old 03-24-2005   #20
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Honestly, it's been so long since I really researched this that I've lost track of most of the places I've been able to demonstrate it happening in (and I really don't have time right now to do it again - maybe next week?) There are posts around at various forums that I post in where I've talked about this and shown some examples, but I don't have them bookmarked (I'm terrible about taking notes on things).

Maybe next week I'll get a few hours and be able to get in there and find some good examples for you. It can be tough to prove, even then, that it's actually what's happening (just as any other one thing is tough to prove by itself) - everything is dependent upon other criteria for it to all fall into place. But, I'll try to see what I can do.

G.
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