What SEOs Love Most About Google's "How Search Works"

Mar 4, 2013 • 8:13 am | comments (11) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Google: How Search WorksOn Friday afternoon, Google announced a neat new interactive infographic named How Search Works.

It is an excellent way for a newbie to learn the basics on how Google crawls, indexes, ranks and shows their search results. But how is this useful for an SEO junky like yourself? I'll outline the parts I find useful to more savvy SEOs and webmasters.

See Examples Of Spam Pages Removed From Google:

My favorite part is that Google is showing me real examples of spam pages pulled from their index within the past couple hours. You can see those examples on this page and Google told us that these are recent examples of pages that "appear to use aggressive spam techniques such as automatically generated gibberish, cloaking and scraping content from other websites." Before clicking and looking at them, you should be warned (by Google) "these screenshots are generated automatically and are not manually filtered. While uncommon, you may see offensive, sexually explicit, or violent content."

In fact, I should have a page shortly that archives all of these examples for you to look back at historically. I'll share that page when it is done.

Here is my favorite sample spam page I've seen recently:

cat in the hat spam - click for full size

Brian White, a spam fighter at Google, put it nicely:

Charts Of Manual Actions By Category, Reconsideration Requests & Notifications

Google has told us plenty of times the percentages and numbers of manual actions, reconsideration requests and webmaster notifications they have sent out. But they never plotted that data for us, that is until now. I'll selfishly take credit for it (kidding) but I did ask Matt Cutts a few years ago if they could build these graphs out. I am not sure if I was the first to ask...

So what did Google tell us with these charts?

Manual Actions By Category: This graph shows the number of domains that have been affected by a manual action over time and is broken down by the different spam types. Google says only 0.22% of domains had been manually marked for removal.

Google Manual Actions By Category - click for full size

The types of spam documented here include pure spam, legacy, hacked site, unnatural links from your site, automatically generated content, and infinite spaces, cloaking and/or sneaky redirects, thin content with little or no, added value, unnatural links to your site, parked domains, user-generated spam, hidden text and/or keyword, stuffing, spammy free hosts and dynamic, and DNS providers. You can learn more about these over here.

Reconsideration Requests: This chart shows the weekly volume of reconsideration requests since 2006.

Google Reconsideration Requests Chart - click for full size

Webmaster Notifications: This graph shows the number of spam notifications sent to site owners through Webmaster Tools since 2010.

Google Webmaster Webmaster Notifications - click for full size

Now plot these charts against penalties you may have received to make yourself feel better and maybe to figure out how to fix an issue?

Published Google Quality Rater Guidelines:

Finally, Google themselves decided to publish the PDF document of the quality raters guidelines. This document has been leaked so many times, I guess it just made sense for Google to publish it.

What changed? Matt McGee covered that over here.

So those are the three things I would pull out as being most interesting for SEOs and webmasters to look at.

Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help, Google+, Google Web Search Help and WebmasterWorld.

Previous story: Daily Search Forum Recap: March 1, 2013


Tad Chef

03/04/2013 02:22 pm

It seems you can't copy and paste on your page. I try it manually then, the "only 0.22%" of 30 trillion "individual pages" must still be a lot IMHO.

Praveen Sharma

03/04/2013 02:26 pm

I am a Google fan. Sometimes don't like their bizarre algorithm updates which hurts genuine webmasters. But this thing is really cool. It takes you from where you have started understanding search engines in the beginning of your career to all the way new things like latest spam links removed, penalties history and other important details. Liked it.

Andy Drinkwater - iNET SEO

03/04/2013 02:29 pm

Thanks Barry - I hadn't had time to look over that myself, but certainly the fact you can see real-time examples of spam pages is a great thing to show. I can see me browsing this with a morning coffee each day! Actually, what a great way to tout for business lol...

Kevin Gerding

03/04/2013 04:18 pm

Nice post Barry. I really like the fact that Google is getting a little more transparent. Hopefully all this info will encourage webmasters to focus on improved quality going forward.

Trevor Stolber

03/04/2013 05:51 pm

Nice post, thanks Barry. What do you think the drops outs are in the reconsideration requests? At first I thought they were Christmas but they seem to be differing frequencies.


03/04/2013 06:27 pm

A technical error(s)?


03/05/2013 07:35 am

it would be better if Google disclose a list of those websites which has been removed from the search result as result spam.


03/05/2013 09:21 am

Nice post Barry. Google should declare a list of the websites which have been spamed or removed from search results


03/05/2013 03:38 pm

Well I guess that this puts nail in coffin of how to write a nice search crawler friendly URL? http://www.google.com/insidesearch/howsearchworks/thestory/ Shouldn't that be: http://www.google.com/inside-search/how-search-works/the-story/ ?????? Okay guess that's another theory blown up....


03/05/2013 03:43 pm

Guess that's yet another SEO theory blown up: ***ww.google.com/insidesearch/howsearchworks/thestory/ Shouldn't that read: ***ww.google.com/inside-search/how-search-works/the-story/ ???????

Chris Faron

03/06/2013 12:23 am

The real time spam examples are great for showing clients what not to do, just in case they don't believe the SEO consultant

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