Hot At Sphinn: Google Favoritism In Search Results, Eric Schmidt Steps Down & More

sphinn-logo The idea that Google might be favoring its own properties and content in search results was a big topic of conversation last week on a lot of blogs, forums, and social networking sites — and it was also the big discussion topic on our sister site, Sphinn. News that Eric Schmidt will step down as Google CEO and an article about PayPal’s impact on conversion were both popular among Sphinn users on Twitter.

Our “Discussion of the Week” asked, Does Google favor its own properties in the SERPs? That story got the most comments last week on Sphinn, and we’ll single out one of those as our comment of the week here. It’s from Sphinn user MagsSikora of, who shared this story:

I work for an action sports video sharing platform and I can easily see how Google favors YouTube. My client very often has an exclusivity for specific video for a few hours time. Obviously during that time they are on the top of SERP for relevant keywords (usually the video title; and I am talking here about the universal search results, not the video search specifically) . However as soon as the exclusivity finishes and someone upload that video to YouTube, their video is pushed down in SERP… I understand that YouTube’s videos will obviously get many more views and that counts, but wasn’t my client the first who had this content?

You can still join the conversation on our Discussion of the Week.

Danny Sullivan’s thoughts on Larry Page as the new Google CEO was the most tweeted story of the week, and an article about Facebook marketing — Why Only Idiots Promote Their Brand’s Facebook Page via Traditional Media — earned the most “likes” over the past week.

Here’s a look at all of last week’s Sphinn activity.

Most Comments

  • DOTW: Does Google favor its own properties in the SERPs? – Google is under attack from many sides about perceived favoritism in its search results. The complaints say that Google promotes its own properties/sites in the search results at the expense of other sites. The EU has even launched an investigation looking into this. What say you? Our "Discussion of the Week" wants your opinion: Does Google favor its own sites in the search results?
  • SEO Cloaking Techniques to Avoid in 2011 – Cloaking is the technique used to present different content, layout, functionality or headers (a completely different page or partial components of the page, known as Mosaic cloaking) to a search engine spider than to a user's Web browser.This article outlines some of the common on-site functionality that may be (mis)interpreted as cloaking-spam.
  • 32 useless SEO tactics to avoid in 2011 – Lindsay Wassell lists 32 categorized SEO tactics that just don't work (anymore): "If any of these buggers have made it onto your 2011 task list or are still lingering in the queue from years past, go ahead and cross 'em off."
  • Guide to Competitive Backlink Analysis – Justin Briggs wrote an awesome post examining how he uses various tools to get a competitive link analysis. It's a must read for SEOs and linkbuilders.

Most Tweeted

Hot On Sphinn: January 17 to January 23, 2011

  • How we got our rankings back with mainly technical changes – Jeroen van Eck presents a case study that drastically shows why for ranking purposes it is important to analyse the markup's structure before the fancy CSS kicks in.
  • Should I Bid Using PPC on my Brand Terms? – Really great discussion on when you should and should not bid on your brand terms.
  • Why a Link Analysis is Anything But a Waste of Time – In response to a recent SEO Theory post stating that competitive link research is utterly useless, link building expert Wiep Knol discusses many benefits of a professional link analysis, which go far beyond goals like acquiring links from sites that link to the competition.
  • Response to Rand Fishkin’s Thoughts on Mobile SEO – I'm not a fan of calling out people by name in article headlines but, despite that, this is just a very interesting and educational piece about mobile search and SEO that Bryson Meunier has written.
  • Google Whitelisting Web Sites In Organic Search Results? – Barry Schwartz highlights a case where a site, penalized by Google for spamdexing, claims their AdWords rep has "whitelisted" them for organic results. Maybe they just filed a reinclusion request after fixing their site? There's no comment from Google, yet.
  • Official Google Blog: Google search and search engine spam – Google's Matt Cutts responds to recent articles about a perceived drop in search quality at Google, and he also outlines some areas where Google's anti-spam efforts will be focused in 2011.
  • City Centroids Replaced By Outlines In Google Places – In the past, it was known to local SEOs that Google Maps preferred businesses near city centerpoints. As Google reduced that factor's weight, it appears that they added city and ZIP border outlines in determining local relevancy. Yet, Google can make mistakes which using this criteria, which local marketers should be aware of.
  • In Defense of Social Media – B.L. Ochman writes how for decades, brands lied, exaggerated, omitted facts and glossed over defects, but Social Media changed the balance of power.
  • Google Approaches Its Breaking Point – Aaron Wall questions Google's webmaster guidelines, as well as recent announcements with regard to so called spammy webmaster activities, as smoke on the water, where the fire ain't burning in Montreux but in Mountain View.
  • Google Sucks All the Way to the Bank! – A disenchanted Jill Whalen concludes: "It seems that as an SEO, your choice is to help ruin the Internet by performing spammy SEO for your clients (or to heavily invest in Google AdWords) which of course plays right into Google's hands." — If not Matt Cutts gets his spam fighters back asap.
  • Study: Google “Favors” Itself Only 19% Of The Time – Searchers "want relevancy, not regulation" says Danny Sullivan debunking a bogus Edelman "study" claiming that Google favors itself way too much. "There are no 'perfect' search results, nor will you ever find a set that’s 'neutral.' An algorithm, ultimately, is an opinion. Opinions are not neutral." — "I can remember when Lycos favored itself so much back in the late 1990s that it was difficult to do a search that didn’t lead you back into Lycos. Where’s Lycos today? Right. Relevancy will attract and retain users."
  • Are You A Link Loud Mouth? – "To not use a 'type' of link is to leave equity on the table.   If you understand the basic concept of link popularity, then you’ll understand why most link building techniques will work.   That includes the good, the bad and the ugly."  Debra Mastaler concludes:  "I never hear professionals from other industries telling people what they should and shouldn’t do without disclaimers and/or printed research, why should we be different?  If you’re going to publish link building comments as fact, back it up with data or at least a disclaimer that it’s your opinion."
  • Why competitive link analysis wastes your time – "You can take your competitive link analysis and put it where the PageRank don’t flow — that’s all its worth anyway," says Michael Martinez, most probably starting a heated discussion, and elaborates: "Beginners who don’t understand how to obtain links can learn something by following in people’s footsteps, but if you’ve been doing this for more than six months you should have moved on to obtaining more effective links that your competitors don’t yet have."
  • More Landing Page Teardowns for Landing Page Design Inspiration – Whenever we start a new Landing Page Optimization project we like to start-out by seeing what else is out there. In this new section we’ll run through high-traffic landing pages that we like, and highlight the good and bad. To see our comments, just rollover the images.
  • Video converts and here is the proof: 46% increase in conversion rate – Considering how big Universal Search and the verticals are these days, I tought this was an interesting case study – enjoy
  • Eliminate Black Magic SEO – Alan Bleiweiss rants about the kind of pseudo-valuable “SEO insight”, presented in a “scientific testing package”, that qickly gets adopted  as "best SEO practice". Those actually result in decreased rankings, because folks are busy sailing around minor Google barriers, losing their focus on important things that desperately need optimization.  He says that nonsense like PageRank sculpting or breaking an imaginary first-link-counts rule should not be allowed to work its way through the maze of our industry. Responsible industry sites must put huge bright bold and blinking disclaimers above and below such magic carpet rides into worthless time-suck, he continues.
  • The Dawn of Paid Search Without Keywords – Adam Cohen discusses Universal Paid Search, and how the myriad of Adwords changes in 2010 are notable for the dramatic departures in every step of how you advertise on Google now and in the future.
  • SEO Mistakes That Just Make You Look Dumb – Lisa Barone's funny reminder of the "dumbest SEO mistakes ever" stands out of the usual SEO checklists. Learn why "like a husband who just sits on the couch all day, bad URLs hold you back and are a complete turn off " and what happens when you befriend the wrong keywords.
  • How to Build a Marketing Consulting Business – Pam writes about how she made a successful PPC consulting business in a bad economy, and how not to sabotage your chances at success.
  • What Industry Experts Look for On Twitter… – If you'd like to get retweets, attention, engagement, or whatever from industry experts on Twitter, maybe you should read Melissa Fach's interviews with those who told her what they're looking for in your timeline.
  • On Facebook Microsoft tricks users into making Bing their default search engine? – According to RWW's research by Marshall Kirkpatrick and Google's Matt Cutts, who discovered the scam, there's no proof (yet) that Microsoft actually pays the suspected scammers (Facebook's third largest advertiser for new searchers, but they certainly do profit from their FB ads, not only in terms of market share.
  • Magazines Pursue Tablets, but iPad Limits Subscriptions – The frustration that the country’s magazine and newspaper publishers feel toward Apple can sound a lot like a variation on the old relationship gripe, “can’t live with ’em, may get left behind without ’em.” The New York Times reports that Apple may offer new opportunities with its devices, but it exacts a heavy toll. The NWT cites a user's comment: “Sheer highway robbery, I’ll keep with my paper subscription." and predicts change coming shortly “with all the new developments and all the new Android devices". [Free subscription]
  • Almost 2 years with Bing – Brett Tabke's notes on using Bing for the past 2 years. What he likes, what he doesn't, and how it compares to Google.
  • Bing Terminates Relationship With Publisher Doing Tricky Home Page Switch – Is Facebook’s third largest advertiser really a site that tries to trick people into switching to Bing? At least no longer, reveals Danny Sullivan in a follow-up to the story brought up by Matt Cutts and RWW.
  • SearchFest 2011 Interview: Mike Blumenthal – Where Mike talks in great depth about many aspects of local search.
  • LinkedIn #PPC Personas: Targeting B2B Buyers – A really excellent overview of the features and segmentation available with LinkedIn's upgraded PPC platform.
  • Getting a grip on social signals in search – G'day peeps… part of me new years reso was to start adding stuff here while collecting newsletter goodies. First of many. Happy New Year. Oh description, uhm… just a geeks guide to dealing with the hyperbole that often surrounds search and social. WORD!
  • What you can do with the Tilde (~) search operator in Real Time Search – There are millions of people tweeting content continuously, telling what interests them at the moment. Rishi Lakhani recommends: Crafting propaganda for tweets based on research of realtime results pulled with the tilde operator gives be the biggest variety of words to use, rather than organic results that consider all the outdated content out there, too.
  • What Your Website's Error Page Reveals About Your Company – How are you supporting your web visitors when they encounter an error? Do you make them feel like it's their fault they're at the wrong place?
  • Stop Writing for People, Start Writing for Search Engines – While the title of this one is a bit misleading, this is really a good post about writing for both search engines and people!
  • Google to fight Spanish demands to remove 'libelous' links – Google will this week challenge a Spanish demand to remove links to articles in newspapers, including El País, and official gazettes, in which the subjects of those articles have complained they are potentially defamatory.
  • Google Testing Segmenting PPC Markets: Session Based Broad Match – Google has begun testing a new PPC layout for certain search queries. The new layout segments a broad keyword into segmented categories. This is also referred to as session based broad match.

This is the latest in a weekly look at the stories that were “hot” on Sphinn in the past week. We’ll post these recaps every week.

Related Topics: Channel: Other | Sphinn


About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Search Engine Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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