Category Archives: Search

Google Image Labeler Included In Google Webmasters Tools

In September 2006, Google released a new utility in the form of a game named Google Image Labeler.

The game aspect of the Google Image Labeler involves a pair of people. The contestants are chosen at random to play against one another based on who is online at any point in time. Each game lasts for 90 seconds and the contestants are shown the same series of images which they have to tag or describe with words or phrases. The contestants gain points when they match words or phrases with their opponent.

By gaining points when you match words with your opponent, Google are assuming both contestants consider the image to reflect the same object. At some point, Google will end up using this information in Google Images to provide a better quality of service to their customers.

The service aspect of the Google Image Labeler is of course about providing a higher quality of service to the Google user base. At the moment, Google rely on webmasters providing context around any images that they use on their web sites. As a simple example, a webmaster might:

  • provide a meaningful name for the image
  • provide a useful alt attribute, which describes the image in text format
  • provide captions for the image, which might be a more in depth text description of the image
  • talk about the image in the main content on the web page

Whilst this mechanism is very useful and in most cases accurate, it can also be inaccurate or abused. By relying on random Google users to categorise the images, the chances of an image being misrepresented are vastly reduced.

Having humans categorise the images also lends itself to Google producing software that learns how to recognise images. Google could attempt to identify what the images are on their own and use the tags or labels provided by the Google user base to essentially compare or validate the results.

When logged into the Google Webmasters console, you are now able to select whether or not you want the images on your site to be visible to the Google Image Labeler service. At this stage, I’m not quite sure why you would opt out of it – however Google are giving webmasters the option should they choose to.

If Google do end up walking the learning machine path, it could be interesting times ahead for the image searching service.

Google Webmaster Link Explorer

The development group behind the Google Webmaster Central are in over drive, they’ve just pushed out another update.

The latest addition to the Google Webmaster Central is within the tools section and it appears under the Link tab at the top. What you’ll see is an enhanced version of the link: query you could have performed through the normal Google search engine. You’re probably thinking that isn’t all that impressive and you’d be dead wrong. The newly updated Google Webmaster tools provides you with a far more comprehensive view of the links that are involved with your domain.

At the moment, the Google Webmaster link explorer is broken into two sections:

An internal link is defined as any link which links to another resource within your domain from within any other page within your domain. It is important to note that Google are defining your domain as your base domain name; so for this site it would be As such, if this site used subdomains; all links from all subdomains to another resource within the domain would be considered an internal link.
As you can imagine, an external link is essentially the direct opposite of an internal link. Any link originating from a web page not within your domain is considered an external link.

Using the webmasters link utility, you can now explore how your site is being linked around the internet. As an example, you can drill down into your site and select a particular page. Once you’ve done that, you’ll be able to see all of the other web pages around the internet which are linking to that page. Likewise, if you are viewing the internal links for your site; you’ll only see the links for that page which originated from within your domain.

Keeping in step with all of the existing Google Webmaster tools, you are also able to download the tables of information for analysis outside of the webmaster utilities. You can download any particular table of information, such as a list of 30 links starting at the 90th link or you could also download all linking data available to you.

After clicking around within the new Google link utility, one thing that became apparent is how important it is to have a link strategy for your site. As an example, permanent links in the main navigation and the footer are benefiting the most within this site with approximately 200 links into each of them. However, as soon as you move away from the major sections – you see a rapid drop off with the next most highly internally linked page sitting at approximately 120 and most normal pages within a 10-60 link range.

Now that we have a utility which provides webmasters with such an accurate view of their sites; it seems like a really good time to start evaluating and formulating new strategies for internal and external linking.

Google Duplicate Content Clarified

Apparently there are a lot of people that don’t understand what duplicate content is when publishing content online and/or when applied to search engine optimisation. The fine folk over at the Google Webmasters Blog have clarified some points but I’ll recap if you can’t be bothered in the jump.

Google define duplicate content as blocks of text replicated across multiple pages, either within the same domain or across multiple domains. The content does not need to be a direct copy, a similar but slightly different copy would also be considered duplicate content.

Google report that most duplicate content they encounter is served unintentionally. The most common culprits for duplicate content are alternate versions of the same page such as for printing or a mobile device. The other example they cited is an online store, listing the same item more than once on distinct URLs which are actually linked.

Fortunately, Google also advised what isn’t duplicate content. If you were to translate your page using the Google Translate service, then that wouldn’t be considered duplicate content. That does beg the question though, what if I personally translate an article into German, French and Spanish but it doesn’t match what Google translate produced; would that still be considered duplicate content?

What will Google do if they find duplicate content? In the vast majority of cases their preference is towards filtering the content, however they can/do also adjust their algorithms from time to time as well. If you’ve got two copies (normal, printer) available on your site and you aren’t blocking either one; Google will decided which one they think should be listed and not include the others. This is sub-optimal because you could find that Google chooses your printer version over your normal version, eck!

The Google Webmasters have also provided some helpful hints too:

  • Blocking is the most effective mechanism for a webmaster. If you know you’ve got duplicate content and you don’t want to have the wrong versions listed, then block certain copies using a robots.txt file or a noindex meta tag.
  • 301 redirects should be used if you’re restructuring your site. This item isn’t all that pertinent if you’re was a traditional static HTML site, where you would physically move files around on the server. It is however a good point if you’re using a content management system of some sort, where restructuring your site might actually leave the content on the old URL.
  • Link consistently, don’t link to /mypage, /mypage/ and /mypage/index.html – pick one method and stick to it.
  • Use top level domains to indicate regional content if you can. Google will have a better chance of knowing that .de represents a German version of your site over a de subdomain or /de/ in the URL. I wonder how Google handle it if you specifiy using meta tags that the page content is in German?
  • Syndicate carefully by making sure that the syndicated content provides a link back to your original content.
  • Don’t repeat yourself on common things like copyright or legal fluff, just provide a link to a page describing it in depth.
  • Preferred domain feature in Google Webmaster Tools is useful.
  • Don’t publish stubs such as pages on topic X with no actual content on them.
  • Understand your content management product, so you’re aware of what/how it does what it does.

I’d like to know a little more about using Google Translate and translating your content in general. I also think there has to be a nicer way to handle regional sites than simply getting the regional domain as well; for a lot of people that simply isn’t possible.

Google Adsense & Images Clarified

The Google Adsense team have clarified the use of images near Google Adsense advertising.

For those that can’t be bothered clicking through and want a quick run down:

Can you display little images beside the Google Adsense ad units?
No, you cannot display little images beside the Google Adsense ad units. Doing so implies a relationship between the images and the advertising, which there isn’t.
Can you display images beside the Google Adsense advertising?
Yes, you can display images beside the Google Adsense ad units, so long as it is clear that there is no association between the image(s) and the advertising.
Can I display images on the same page as Google Adsense advertising?
Yes, of course you can but you must take the above two points into consideration first.
Can you add in some white space or a separating bar between the images and the advertising?
No, adding in white space or a separator would still appear as though there was a relationship between the images and the advertising.

I first noticed people placing images beside the Google Adsense advertising a couple of months ago. As soon as I noticed it, I knew that it wouldn’t be within the acceptable usage policy for Google Adsense. Unfortunately, at the time the policy didn’t explicitly disallow doing such a thing. So, while it wasn’t expressly forbidden, publishers took advantage of the loop hole and I’m sure enjoyed far higher click through rates than they would have otherwise seen.

Yahoo! Search Marketing Launches Sponsored Results

Yahoo! have been in the search engine and search marketing game for a long time. Recently, Yahoo! Search Marketing increased their offering to match those of Google by allowing sponsored search results.

Using Yahoo! Search Marketing, you’re now able to have your advertisements listed along side the normal Yahoo! search results. In a similar fashion to that of Google, you have two general positions where your advertisements can be placed:

  • Directly above to search results in a wide banner style
  • On the right hand side of the search results, stacked in a tall skyscraper shape

Yahoo! have also included one more advertising position:

  • Directly below the search results in a wide banner style

Its interesting that Yahoo! have included the advertising space below the main results. Typically, the lower section of a web site is under developed. There is significant amounts of research which describes the benefits you can receive by optimising the lower section of your web site. If the price of that advertising space is right, I think it might turn out to be a fantastic value proposition for advertisers.

Without signing up for Yahoo! Search Marketing, it seems reasonable that you’ll be paying more for the advertising space directly above the search results; as they are more visually prominent and look similar to natural search listings. Second will probably be the sponsored search results on the right and the cheapest will probably be the advertising at the bottom.

There are a couple of things I don’t like about Yahoo! search results:

  • There sponsored advertising isn’t always clearly marked. As an example, the right hand side advertising is quite clearly marked, however the above and below is not.
  • Yahoo! seem to always present a lot of other stuff in search results. For example, you are likely to see alternative search suggestions, the top advertising block, some Yahoo! shortcut links and finally the actual natural search results.
  • As a derivative of point #2, the search results page feels cluttered and busy

To the defense of Yahoo!, they do place little icons beside each block in an attempt to separate them. For a savvy internet user, they will probably notice and associate the icons and realise there is something different about those results. Unfortunately, I expect that an average user probably won’t; at which point they are clicking on advertising without knowing it.