How Google May Boost Search Rankings for Your Relevant Pages Using Keywords in the Same Category as Your Website

Imagine that Google assigns categories to every webpage or website that it visits. You can see categories like those for sites in Google’s local search. Now imagine that Google has looked through how frequently certain keywords appear on the pages of those websites, how often those pages rank for certain query terms in search results, and user data associated with those pages.

One of my local supermarkets has a sushi bar, and they may even note that on their website, but the keyword phrase [sushi bar] is more often found upon and associated with documents associated with a category of “Japanese Restaurants” based upon how often that phrase tends to show up on Japanese Restaurant sites, and how frequently Japanese restaurant sites tend to show up in search results for that phrase.

Since Google can make a strong statistical association between the query [sushi bar] and documents that would fall into a category of “Japanese restaurants,” it’s possible that the search engine might boost pages that have been categorized as “Japanese restaurants” in search results on a search for [sushi bar]. My supermarket [sushi bar] page might not get the same boost.

That’s something that a Google patent granted earlier this week tells us.

The patent presents this idea of creating categories for sites and associating keywords with those categories to boost sites in rankings when they are both relevant for those query term and fall within those categories within the content of local search. But the patent tells us that it can use this process in other searches as well.

Keywords associated with document categories
Invented by Tomoyuki Nanno, Michael Riley, and Gaku Ueda
Assigned to Google
US Patent 7,996,393
Granted August 9, 2011
Filed: September 28, 2007

Abstract

A system extracts a pair that includes a keyword candidate and information associated with a document from multiple documents, and calculates a frequency that the keyword candidate appears in search queries and a frequency that the pair appears in the multiple documents. The system also determines whether the keyword candidate is a keyword for a category based on the calculated frequencies, and associates the keyword with the document if the keyword candidate is the keyword for the category.

If you have access to Google’s Webmaster Tools for a website, the section on “Keywords” shows you the “most common keywords Google found when crawling your site,” along with a warning that those should “reflect the subject matter of your site.” Another section of Webmaster Tools shows the queries that your site receives visitors for, how many impressions and clickthroughs from search results that your pages receive, and an average ranking for your pages in those results. An additional section of the Google tools shows the anchor text most often used to link to your site.

If you were to take all of that information that Google provides for your site, and try to guess at a category or categories that Google might assign for your site, could you? It’s possible that Google is using that kind of information, and more to determine how your site should be categorized. Of course, Google would also be looking at other sites as well for information such as the frequency of keywords used on their pages and queries they are found for to create those categories as well, and to see how well your site might fall into one or more of them.

Of course, if you verify your business in Google Maps, you can enter categories for your business, but Google may suggest and include other categories as well. For instance, Google insists on including “Website Designer” as a category for my site even though that’s not a category that I’ve ever submitted to them.

And it while this patent discusses how it might be applied to local search, it could just as easily be applied to Web search as well, and the patent provides a long list of different types of categories that it might apply to websites that expand well beyond business types.

Conclusion

I’ve written a number of times in the past that one of the benefits of reading through patents are sometimes the questions that they raise more than anything. Here are a few that I’ve come up with after reading this patent:

Can you get an idea of what categories Google might place your site within after looking at information available in places like Google’s Webmaster Tools?

What category or categories might Google think the pages of your website might belong to?

If those aren’t the right categories, what steps can you take to change Google’s classification of your website?

Are you getting a boost in search results for queries that Google might think are associated with those categories?

If you’re doing keyword research, should you try to understand when Google might be associating certain queries with certain categories?

Added August 16, 2011 – 10:29am (edt)

This patent is somewhat quiet on how Google might assign categories to pages, but I’ve written at least a couple of posts before about how Google might classify pages that I think are worth looking at:

Share

60 thoughts on “How Google May Boost Search Rankings for Your Relevant Pages Using Keywords in the Same Category as Your Website”

  1. Hi Bill, have a look at LDA about documents, queries, topic..and u will fine some interesting things related to your post..A keys correlation is strong in Google; creating a Topic, categories, sub-categories is a strategy that has to get involved early on

    cheers

  2. Hi Bill,

    Interesting post, but does this really change anything about your approach when optimizing a website or writing content for a website? This seems to be more relevant to those websites pretending to be in a ‘category’ that they don’t belong.

    Anyway, thanks for the continued insight. Keep it coming…

  3. Impressive article. I love how you spark the reader’s interest by involving questions at the end of your post.

    Excuse me, I have to run and go do some testing…

  4. Hi Bill,

    I always enjoy the insights you pull from patents. In this article you raise the question of whether this sort of categorization occurs in web search, but what I wonder about is if this is applied not in defining verticals, but in separating websites into “quality” categories that are then integrated into the Panda updates? Maybe I’m reaching, but it seems to align with the idea that trusted sites share traits, and this technology might be able to be adjusted to categorize based on those traits.

  5. SEO By The Sea:

    I must concur with one of your readers. Patents provide so much information about search engine algorithms. I love it! But where do you find them? I have searched on Google Scholar and have not really found much about Google patents. Interesting to know where you get your sources (…if you dare to divulge…lol).

    Thanks,

    Daniel.
    Victoria, BC

  6. For the bulk of SEOs, this is just business as usual — drop as many keywords short of making it look spammy. Most still populate the keywords meta tag “just in case”. There has always been speculation that Google “does note” the keywords meta data. The patent only refers to “meta information” but is not clear whether it is referenced.

  7. not to forget google places that has for nearlt all popular industries (especially trades) another indicator for the “category”. A listing in yahoo directory is also another way to make sure Google “knows” where you belong

  8. Very interesting — I wonder how this pertains to the common idea that Google considers a certain set of sites to the the “most authoritative” ones in a given category. Take news, it is a given the websites like The New York Times and Fox News are likely hubs for “news” than, say, a random blog on current events. And as such, a blog on news will get more “link juice” from a link from an authoritative news-site than from a site on, say, baseball. At least, that’s the theory as far as I understand it. And no one knows for sure what those “most authoritative” sites are on a given topic, but items like PageRank and other data can give people an idea.

    The whole ideas can get very interesting when I am working on websites for clients. Say that a client has a business that provides Brazilian television on satellite networks to Brazilians in the United States. In what “category” would the website for the firm be classified? Television, Brazil, or perhaps even Brazilian television specifically?

    The whole idea of website categorization is utterly fascinating — thanks for telling us some more information to ponder!

  9. I was starting to see Google move toward this. I wouldn’t doubt if it has already happened in search, and Google is just covering their bases by issuing the patent. I think I’m noticing this having an effect on my review site, which is a review site across multiple categories of product. I’m starting to think I should have started 5 review sites instead of one, because they are reviews of products in 5 separate categories, which probably isn’t that good for SEO the way Google is moving. They are still all in the “review” category, but I’d still think it would have been better if I made 5 separate sites from the start.

  10. Personally, and I think this goes for most SEO’s, but I don’t need a patent to tell me that I should look at the most prominent keywords and relevance, anchors, visitor search queries and links to get and idea how Google sees my clients sites…

    This patent doesn’t bring anything new in the mix with that, these are all standard practices…

  11. I’ve have thought for quite a while that Google (or at least should) categorize sites. I’ve been preaching thematic on-site content creation for some time. I don’t think this would have a major effect on the good work of good SEOs, however, this could effect those SEO’s that rely heavily on links. In my opinion that would give more power to sites with high quality content.

  12. Hi Franco,

    Thanks for the suggestion. The patent doesn’t focus upon or mention any one specific programming approach to implement the process that they describe. While LDA might potentially be one that they could use, I think there are others that they might explore as well.

  13. Hi Sam,

    I think this could potentially change around the way that someone creates content for a page, or for a site. For example, if you have a supermarket website with a sushi bar, being aware that Japanese restaurants in your area might gain a boost in search results for that phrase may influence your choice of keyword phrases to optimize for.

    In that example, the supermarket absolutely does have a sushi bar (and I can think of two supermarkets within 10 miles of me that do), and they aren’t “pretending” to be in a Japanese restaurant category, but focusing upon that term as one to optimize for might be more challenging than it might potentially seem on the surface.

  14. Hi Joe,

    Thanks. I suspect that the document classification process involved in the Panda updates does include some element of categorizing web pages and web sites. The criteria of quality that might be measured for a forum on Apple computers or one on Web Design might be different in a number of ways from a blog that focuses upon health care, for example.

  15. Hi Daniel,

    I usually do research on patents on the USPTO website or the WIPO website, rather than relying upon Google’s patent search or Google Scholar. Neither Google Scholar or Google’s patent search are updated quickly enough for them to be useful when it comes to researching newly granted patents and newly published patent applications.

  16. Hi Mary Lou,

    I’m sure that there are some other questions that we could ask too, but those were some that came to mind after spending a few hours with the patent that I wrote about. Part of the fun of looking at patents like this is in the questions that they raise.

  17. Hi Ash,

    The patent does mention “meta” information a couple of times as examples of some of the content that might be found on a page, but it doesn’t really seem to be a focus of the process described in the patent.

    The idea that a page might be boosted in search results for a particular keyword if Google associates that keyword with a specific category, and also associates the site it appears upon with that category isn’t really something that I would consider most SEOs are thinking of when they are choosing keywords to optimize for, at least on a conscious level. I haven’t seen anything before from any of the search engines that would suggest that might be happening.

  18. Hi Ron,

    Google Places will suggest a category or categories for sites, and it’s interesting to see what they might suggest. For instance, they’ve pointed to my site and assigned it a “web designer” category, which they don’t give me the chance to remove, even though I don’t offer web design services.

    Google could look to directories like the Yahoo Directory or DMOZ or BOTW, which do provide categories for sites, as well as telecom directories and many other sites that include profiles of businesses and the sites for those businesses. The patent tells us that they may be using sources like that to associate keywords with particular businesses when a process like this is used for local search:

    Keyword candidate extractor 600 may extract keyword candidates (e.g., keyword candidates 520) from documents in repository 400 based on search queries 500 and associated information 510. For example, in one implementation, a keyword candidate may include a word or phrase used in a local search query (e.g., stored in repository 400), and found in one or more documents associated with a particular business listing (e.g., the name, address, and/or telephone number of the business in a document).

    Keep in mind that the process described in this patent may be used for more than just local search, but a number of the examples they provide focus upon how it could be used in local search.

  19. Hi Samuel,

    Good questions. It is fascinating how Google might categorize pages.

    I’ve written a couple of posts on patents that Google published that describe how they might determine the authoritativeness of sites for different queries or for local search:

    Google Determining Search Authority Pages and Propagating Authority to Related Pages

    Authority Documents for Google’s Local Search

    The patent I wrote about in the first post was recently refiled and published by Google, and the claims within it are much broader, focusing upon any web pages instead of local search:

    Propagating Information Among Web Pages

  20. Hi David,

    It’s quite possible that Google is using something like this process described in the patent now.

    I think it’s also quite possible that if you have a clear hierarchy to your site, that Google might be able to distinquish between the diffent types of reviews and apply appropriate categories to the pages within them.

  21. Hi Zarko,

    Thanks. I would definitely appreciate it if you could show me something anywhere that suggests that Google might boost pages in search results for specific keywords that might be associated by the search engine with specific categories, if those pages are relevant and also associated by the search engine with those categories. :)

    I did look around to see if I could find something like that somewhere, but wasn’t able to find anything. I don’t recall seeing that in any patents or whitepapers from any of the search engines, in Google’s starter guide to SEO, in the SEOmoz ranking factors list, or in any other public listing of search ranking factors.

    I would say that it seems somewhat intuitive that Google would be doing that in its local search results, but not quite as obvious that they might be doing it for Web search.

    Personally, and I think this goes for most SEO’s, but I don’t need a patent to tell me that I should look at the most prominent keywords and relevance, anchors, visitor search queries and links to get and idea how Google sees my clients sites…

    One of the reasons that I suggest that people sign up for Google’s webmaster tools is that regardless of what assumptions we might have and what intuitions we might possess, and however insightful those might be, we can get an idea of the assumptions that Google might be making about our sites from those tools, whether right or wrong.

    For example, Google Places insists on assigning the category of “Web Designer” to my business, and I consider that a failure on Google’s part, even after looking at prominent keywords and anchors and queries and links.

  22. Hi Donnie Lee,

    I’m think it’s important to be careful about making too many assumptions about how this might be used.

    I’ve seen people suggest in the past, for instance, that links from pages with the same “theme” might carry more weight than links from pages that are on different themes, and this patent really doesn’t say that or even imply it.

    But I do agree with you that it’s important to think about how Google might be categorizing your pages based upon the content that you present upon it.

  23. Bill

    What do think is meant by “the pairs”.

    Why would your supermarket not rank for Japanese Restaurants, if it has one in it?

    WOuld the pair be “sushi bar” “japanese restaurant”, as opposed to “sushi bar” “Walmart Supermarket” with rank determinded in the usual way of signals associated and pointing the candidate site?

    I’m reading the actual patents and trying to get to grips with the language they use….(double dutch most of the time!)

    JC

  24. HI Bill,

    This kind of reminds me of an affiliate marketing conference that I went to in Munich last year.

    Normally these conferences are a good opportunity to meet with key advertisers, attend some seminars and deliver a pretty killer presentation on something that you’ve learnt. There is always an SEO presentation covering differing colours of hats and a uniquely European perspective on morals – the last one that I managed to attend covered off some really simple tips – like joining the adwords programme – not to advertise, but just to understand what Keywords Google thinks that you’re site should rank for – it’s a little easier than incorporating the Google Analytics tags and apparently the data comes through a little quicker.

    On a side note – with the keyword analysis piece for a supermarket wouldn’t the keywords be broken down by category anyway? I mean – as a client I would expect someone to walk through the aisles and look at the products and their groupings and then associate keywords to them based on their observations and keyword research. So for instance the Pet Food Aisle could include Cat food, dog food, parrot food, as well as the permutations and long tail analysis (e.g. canned Cat Food, Kitten Food, etc.) The process could then be repeated for the tinned goods aisles, frozen food etc. The Japanese restaurant would be a result of this – so things like Sushi & Sashimi could be resultant terms?

    Failing that – maybe a separate website for the Japanese Restaurant for the supermarket?

    Finally – you’ve got a local supermarket with a Sushi Bar!!! The only one in the UK that I know of is Waitrose in Canary Wharf and frankly it’s not much fun eating Sushi in a supermarket!

    Tom

  25. What you are referring to here is essentially what Schema is designed to do. A universal markup language built collaboratively between Bing Yahoo and Google to enable webmasters to specifically tag / mark up their content with descriptive tags. Search engines will be able to understand and index the direct structure that Schema facilitates. Could be great for SEO’s but how quickly will people look to abuse the system. Hopefully since this has been something developed between the major search engines that they have thought about the spam implications already. (here’s hoping!)

  26. Hi JC,

    Good to see that you’re actually digging into the patents themselves. They do become easier to read, and to understand what parts to ignore, and what parts to pay more attention to after going through a number of them.

    By pairs, the patent is referring to how they might pick one particular keyword and explore how it might fit within a particular document category, treating that combination as a “pair” to be explored. So for instance, if the phrase “sushi bar” is seen on a site that’s been categorized as a “Japanese Restaurant,” this process might take that pair, or combination of keyword phrase and document category, and explore how frequently the phrase is used on other sites that are categorized as “japanese restaurant” sites. If if seems like a phrase that can be associated with sites in that category, then whenever someone searches for “sushi bar,” sites in the japanese restaurant category might be boosted somewhat in rankings for that search.

    Walmart might be categorized as a “supermarket” site, and since the phrase ‘sushi bar” doesn’t have as strong an association with the document category of “supermarket,” the Walmart website might not be boosted in search results for a query of [sushi bar].

  27. Hi Bill,

    Great article but based on your sushi example wouldn’t the same problem exist for example if Japanese restaurant is still likely to be a more relevant result than a local sushi bar then i would imagine it would be better for that to rank higher for keyword sushi bar.

  28. Hi Tom,

    Some of the marketing issues that we face in the world of brick and motar are also played out as well online when it comes to the decisions that we have to make when we attempt to create a brand and acceptance of that brand.

    One of the supermarkets near me that has a sushi bar in a food court type area known as the “Market Cafe” really hasn’t gone through much effort to optimize for that term – their page on their site describing it has no main content:

    http://www.wegmans.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/CategoryDisplay?categoryId=283187&storeId=10052&langId=-1&catalogId=10002

    It’s a missed opportunity, though their prepared food area is filled with lots of different types of food, and it’s all fairly high quality. They probably should have a separate website for their Market Cafe, but I’m not sure that their business culture could be changed enough to allow them to separate the cafe from the supermarket.

    The idea of looking at Adwords to learn more about what Google might think about your website is a good one, and possibly something that should be done in addition to using Google Analytics and Google’s Webmaster Tools rather than in place of those.

    You can use Google’s external keyword suggestion tool as well to get an idea of the keyword phrases that they suggest for a specific URL. For the supermarket that I list above, many of the keyword phrases focus upon cooking, and cooking schools. I’ve never heard of their cooking schools, and it looks like they have 2 locations out of their entire chain of stores that host cooking lessons and competitions and camps for juveniles. Those are described on their website, and it’s interesting that Google seems to focus so much upon that aspect of what they do.

    Considering the lack of content on their Market Cafe pages (the sushi bar page isn’t the only one with no content there), it seems like they might be doing something wrong with the focus of their website, and the perception of what their business is about as seen by Google.

  29. Hi Rob,

    I think schema is useful in helping to add machine readable information to a site to help search engines retrieve structured information from unstructured documents, but I don’t think that Google is relying upon schema quite in the same way that this query classification and document classification approach are.

    Much like the automated schema approach described in Google’s papers on their Webtables project (pdf), and their paper on Uncovering the Relational Web (pdf), Google is relying more upon their own data analysis and fact extraction approaches to build associations between queries and documents, without relying upon (or without relying much) upon the use of metadata like that found at schema.org.

    Look for the sections in those papers on Google’s Attribute Coocurrence Statistics Database

  30. Hi Natalie,

    Thanks. The sushi bar example is one from the patent itself, but having a couple of local supermarkets with sushi bars near me as well as a few local Japanese Restaurants nearby, it gave me the chance to explore local search results, so I thought it was worth using.

    If the supermarkets and the japanese restaurants each had a page specifically about their sushi bars, and those pages were optimized for the term sushi bar, the best optimized page (considering things like on page and off page factors) should show up higher in search results. Imagine also having a restaurant supply store in the area that sold sushi bars to restaurants, and they optimized a page for the term “sushi bar.”

    So, we potentially have results from websites classified as Japanese Restaurants, Supermarkets, and Restaurant Supplies that could show up in search results.

    Would the best results for most searchers be to show results from the restaurants higher than from the supermarkets or the equipment supply store, if possible? What if the equipment supply store sushi bar page was more “relevant” for the term based upon how the phrase is used on the page and the quality and quantity of links to the page? The Japanese Restaurant results might be more “relevant” from the perspective of meeting the intent of searchers, based upon both how frequently the term tends to show up on Japanese Restaurant sites (much more frequently than on supermarket sites or restaurant equipment sites) and user data associated with the query term and how frequently people go to, and stay on Japanese restaurant sites after performing a search for that query.

    In that example, the equipment store may be more relevant from a keyword and link analysis ranking approach, but the restaurants may be more relevant from a searcher intent approach. The classification method described in the patent tries to adjust rankings based upon categories that queries may tend to be associated more with.

  31. Hi – An interesting point, covered here in another blog I read that goes some way to explain why google might do this, and also how some insight could be gained as to how by using google adplanner. See http://www.blindfiveyearold.com/what-does-google-think-your-site-is-about to see the methodology.

    Keyword frequency/density on page has been a subject of discussion at great length over the years in the SEO community, and would appear to have been pretty much dismissed, however, given that google is now taking into account things like CTR, time on page, social dispertion etc on a a larger scale, frequency combined with (successful/valid)query rate does somewhat bring the whole thing back into play.

  32. Thanks for this, nice explanation. To be honest as Ash has said (near the top of the comments) that with Google you neve really know. They say they ignore no follow completely, research / testing shows otherwise, thye say meta’s make no difference etc but people still do them. Most of it must just be to keep people guessing.

  33. Interesting, I hope I don’t get put into the pr0n category with my dating website, haha.

    I need to utilize google’s webmaster tools… like right now. Ttyl

  34. Hi Bill,
    I have your site since “ever” in my feed reader and I can’t speak/write english good enough to discuss here with others, but I understand english very well ;)

    First I would say “thanks” for all your information I’ve read in the past and will read in the future ;)

    and second: your conclusion above is one of the best I’ve read about “Panda” and Googles future and I read many “seo’s”.

    have a nice day

    Monika

  35. Bill: Thank you again for referencing me to this article. I’ve read and reread your article several times (oi…I have a tough time w/ patents) :D I also started going through the patent and am part way through it. (those documents are even tougher–>> HA HA)

    Yet as I’ve learned through time the patents are invaluable to the way Google thinks (as you’ve mentioned many times in the past) (not just google but all the engines). Similarly, with some testing we might find if google actually seems to be implementing the concepts within the patent or not.

    As we discussed and researched this appears to be being applied by Google. I’ve seen its application with a variety (several) very different categories. I’ve seen its application so far on the local basis and in different markets. I’ve also experienced the upside to its application. Of interest, as I’ve partially worked my way through the language of the patent, some of your very specific suggestions and comments from weeks ago seem directly to apply. Ha Ha. Good show, Mr. Slawski.

    As with several other patents about which you have written over the years (I’m referencing the ones I read and pay attention to), once again you have uncovered a patent whose usage has very real and very powerful potential impact with regard to how search works.

    BRAVO, Bill. Once again you have struck gold!!!!

    (now getting back to working my way through that murderous patent language!!!! ha ha

    Your friend,

    Dave

  36. Agree 100% with this post, it pays to look into what Google actually gets from reading your pages content, If if is not relevant to your keywords, your missing the biggest issue when it comes to SEO, smashing the targeted keyword all through the content isn’t usually going to fix it either. There is more to SEO than meets the eye!

  37. Hi Jim,

    Thanks. I saw the post from AJ, and he links to this post about categorization of queries.

    Adplanner is another tool that you can look at to get some idea of how Google might perceive your site, and the categories that it might fit into. Oddly, Adplanner seems to think that SEO by the Sea is somehow associated with South East Asia. Google got that wrong in a big way, and I’m trying to figure out why they’ve made that association.

    Keyword frequency is likely something that search engines have been looking at over the years, but keyword density definitely isn’t. Just wanted to make that clear because there are too many snakeoil salesmen and SEO tool makers who emphasize the use of keyword density, and provide perfect page type tools that will tell you what other sites in top results at Google have as keyword densities for a page as a whole, or within different elements on a page, and then tell you that you should match those, while ignoring things like off page factors such as PageRank and anchor text point to a page, as well as a large number of filters, such as the Panda update.

    Keyword frequency on a page when compared to keyword frequency over the corpus of documents on the Web is likely something that search engines have never stopped looking at, though there are many other signals as well. It’s hard to tell what role the user information data plays at this point in rankings, but a lot of it is pretty noisy data taken in isolation, and not always useful when comparing one page to another (for example, chances are that someone will spend more time on a page that is longer than on a page that is shorter – is that really helpful as a ranking signal?)

  38. Hi big_gilbert,

    Thanks. I’m not sure that I’ve seen any meaningful and reliable proof from anywhere that shows that Google ignores nofollow in a link when it comes to passing PageRank or anchor text relevance. I don’t think that meta keywords really matter when it comes to Google either, and would actually be bothered if Google used them since they are so prone to abuse and misuse (whether intentional or through misunderstanding of how they should be used).

    It is interesting seeing how Google might be incorporating user behavior information into rankings, though it’s hard to tell exactly how they might be using it.

  39. Hi Brian,

    Google makes some assumptions that are a little hard to fathom sometimes.

    For instance, they seem to think that SEO by the Sea offers web design services according to a category they’ve assigned the site that shows up in Google Places. They also seem to think that the site is located in South East Asia, according to the Adwords Ad Planner. So, they might be making some interesting assumptions about your site as well.

  40. Hi Ross,

    Good points. The assumptions that we might make about our websites aren’t necessarily the assumptions that Google is making as well.

    Google insists on including “web design and development” as a category for me in Google Places. I do have a “Design and Development” category on my blog. I’m curious about whether moving the posts in that category elsewhere and removing the category might change that, ir if I need to take other steps.

  41. Hi Monika,

    Thank you for very much for your kind words.

    Panda likely goes beyond this classification of queries and documents into categories in a number of ways, but there’s a good chance that this kind of categorization plays a role in Panda’s document classification.

  42. Hi Dave,

    Good to hear that you’re working your way through the patent – they can be rough going. I usually paste them into a text document and edit out the legalese and other stuff that doesn’t seem to add anything, to make it easier to get past those parts. It slows down reading through the patents, but I end up getting a lot more out of them.

    It is really nice to run across something like this patent that confirms a lot of ideas about how the search engine may be doing something. I’ve been observing the kinds of behaviors mentioned within it, as you noted from our conversations a few weeks ago, so it was nice when I ran into it at the patent office.

    Thanks.

  43. Hi Liz,

    There are only a couple of things that seem like constants with the search engines. The first is their focus upon delivering the best information that they can to searchers (even though there are times when they don’t always succeed with that well), and the second is that they are constantly changing.

    You’re welcome.

  44. It is so important to keep up with SEO changes, they come so quickly. Thank you for this informative article.

  45. Hi Bill,
    So what is the deal with websites that are clearly in multiple categories? We run a retail website but I also have information relating to other retail sectors other than my own. Does this mean that I could be incorrectly categorised by Google due to this? Will my site be categorised in multiple categories or will I get penalised for this?
    Looks to explore and hopefully Google will give us a bit of functionality through Webmaster Tools so that we can participate as users.

  46. Hi Felicity,

    It’s possible that Google might capture all of the categories, but sometimes the owner of a retail website might want to consider if the products they are carrying make sense to sell together. For instance, a web store selling car accessories and clothing accessories might be hard to promote and confusing to visitors.

    If you have a site that sells real estate in a certain area, and you provide information on your site about local schools, attractions in the area, nightlife and resorts, that might not be bad. Chances are that the real estate site is going to have to work really hard to outrank schools on school related topics, but including that kind of information on the site could be a really good idea, not so much to draw rankings as to draw visitors.

    You should look at things like your analytics, webmaster tools, the AdWords Ad Planner categories listed for your site, your Google Places categories that Google may have assigned if you have one of those, and more to see if you can tell what Google might think of your site.

  47. Hi Denise,

    I’m not sure that it’s possible to “break” Google’s code. But I do think that it’s worth trying to understand as much as I can.

  48. I wonder how this would work with a more broad topic websites. Looking at those tools can be helpful, but doesn’t it sometimes feel like we are slaves to Google?

  49. Hi Julie,

    Definitely a good question worth exploring in more detail. How much of what Google indexes these days relies upon information found upon individual pages versus what’s found on a sitewide basis? When you have a site that covers a very wide range of topics, does it help to organize the site into useful categories that group together those pages in meaningful ways? I think it might.

    As for being slaves to Google, I don’t think so. Google is just one of many ways that you get help people find their way to your website. The type of categories that I mention above may help when it comes to being indexed by Google, but it also can be extremely useful to people who visit your website as well.

  50. Great post, Bill.

    As you wrote, Google Places giving you its own category even though you never chose it. This sixth category is given based on your 5 other chosen categories. From experiment we’ve made, we are definitely sure that you can get this ‘given’ category from other sources too like reviews & even Custom Attributes.

    Actually, that’s the secrete souse for locksmiths to get a Locksmith category as the word ‘locksmith’ itself generates a bad reaction- manually reviewed by Maps guides & usually getting band..

    my 1.5 cents.

  51. Hi Yam,

    Thank you. The sixth category that Google gave me is inappropriate and not a good match. I an not a graphic artist and do not offer Web Design services. I have seen other places assign that category to me, and I think that Google has taken it from those. I suspect that you are right about locksmiths being able to use that approach as well.

  52. Yam’s comment is very insightful and interesting. A tricky way to work around within google maps and get desired results. G Places/Maps is very subject to spam/manipulation.

  53. Hi Dave,

    I agree, and while it’s working against me personally at this time, I do see its potential value for those who aren’t being categorized the way they hope to be by Google.

Comments are closed.