SEO, Google and search algorithms : a quick look under the hood

There are reams (or the digital equivalent) of advice about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) available online, but a lot of it relies on popular SEO myths and ill-advised attempts to game the system in order to boost search engine rankings. But for those of us who are simply interested in improving the discoverability of websites, it’s harder to find straightforward advice without all the bogus tips and SEO myth pepetuation.

If you are delivering services online, it is helpful to keep up to date with how search engines index and present search results. The biggest factor that no amount of trickery can avoid, is that content is king. Providing regular new content with descriptive titles is the simplest and best way to improve your search engine ranking. Another step in the right direction is to make sure that you use clean and descriptive URLs rather than the non-descriptive dynamic URLs produced by some Content Management Systems.

Link referrals is an important but contentious area, if only because it’s open to abuse. While manipulating this by creating link farms or other dubious means will rightly get your hand slapped by the search engine, there is undeniably value in participating in the ecosystem of the web by having people link to your site.

Google occasionally rolls out updates to its search algorithm with vague names such as Caffeine (which introduced real-time search) and Panda. The Panda update, in 2011, was aimed at reducing the rankings of link and content farming sites. And apparently there are still more changes afoot.

To find out what’s happening under the hood of the Google search engine, the best place to start is right at the source with the Google Technology overview  and the Webmaster Guidelines (taking these with the required grains of salt, of course).

This post has focused on Google search, but if you’re more generally interested in the technology behind search engines, have a look at the tech running other, open search platforms such as  Duck Duck Go or YaCy. Or you can go back and have a look at where it all began.

Further reading:

Checking your social media ranking

There are plenty of reasons to keep an eye on social media rankings,  from finding out what’s being said about your organisation (or anything else for that matter) to measuring the impact of a particular promotional campaign.

Menae is a new tool that let’s you check your website’s ranking across a number of avenues. It  gives you a search engine score, social media score, traffic score, social bookmarking score and blog score. Fun to play with but it could sure use an ‘About’ page and it’s a new entry into a pretty crowded field.  SocialScan offers something similar by checking a URL against the main social sites, including Delicious, StumbleUpon, Digg and Twitter.

For a more general overview based on keywords, username or trends,  Social Mention is hard to beat. You can set up an alert to receive regular updates.

And if you’re just looking at your Twitter usage, the Twitter Reality Check is a handy tool and TweetStats generates some great graphs (magic happening!).

And for making the case, the Search Engine Journal explains why social networking is important for SEO.

Multimedia Information and Techology: journal news 30 June 2010

– Repositories Research Project – free onsite consultancy
– Search engine optimisation
– The Blio eBook reader platform
– Jorum Learning and Teaching Competition – closes 2 July
– New History in an Hour eBooks and iPhone apps
– Social networking and libraries – 9th July conference

–        Repositories Research Project – free onsite consultancy

–        Search engine optimisation

–        The Blio eBook reader platform

–        Jorum Learning and Teaching Competition – closes 2 July

–        New History in an Hour eBooks and iPhone apps 

–        Social networking and libraries – 9th July conference

1. Repositories Research Project – free onsite consultancy

The Repositories Support Project (RSP) offers free onsite consultancy visits to any institutions requiring assistance on any aspect of starting or running an institutional repository. 

 If you would like to book an appointment, or would just like some more information, contact Dominic Tate  

2. Search engine optimisation

Article on SEO from Google expert

 This tip comes via Internet World Stats – a free newsletter which you can sign up to at

3. The Blio eBook reader platform

Useful article on the Blio eBook reader: “Is the Blio eBook reader a middleware that sits between systems, or is it a platform?” with thanks to IT Enquirer.

4. Jorum Learning and Teaching Competition – closes 2 July

The Jorum Learning and Teaching Competition <> closes Friday 2nd July.

 Enter via JorumOpen <>, with a chance to win £300, and present your winning resource at the Association for Learning Technology’s annual conference <>. Full entry details can be found on the Jorum website <> .


5. New History in an Hour eBooks and iPhone apps     

Easy to read apps about the Cold War, WW11 etc, targeted at  GCSE, A Level students/ colleges,  as well as commuters and developed by a librarian!  

 6. Social networking and libraries – 9th July conference

There is currently much discussion in libraries as to the use of social networking for marketing and publicity purposes. Several libraries have embraced opportunities allowed by the world of Web 2.0, and social networking in particular, whilst others face criticism for encouraging use of social networks (such as Facebook) within their library spaces.

Many libraries are benefitting from having their services and facilities promoted via Facebook and more and more library services are sending out alerts and updates via platforms such as Twitter. Join Cilip’s Multimedia, Information and Technology Group, as we investigate these developments in a half day seminar dedicated to ‘Social Networking and Libraries’, in which four speakers from UK Higher Education Libraries will present case studies on their experiences of using social networks.


 1.30 p.m..         Registration and refreshments

 1.45 p.m..         Introduction

 1.50 p.m.          Gareth Johnson, University of Leicester

                        “The Thing on the doorstep: networking socially at Leicester”

 2.15 p.m.          Zelda Chatten, University of Liverpool

“Social networking for the unsociable: the University of Liverpool experience”

 3.20 p.m..         Refreshments

 3.40 p.m.          Dave Puplett, London School of Economics

 4.15 p.m.          Andrew Walsh, University of Huddersfield

                        “University of Huddersfield library or @hudlib? Moving the library into Facebook, Twitter and more…”

 4.50 p.m.          Close

Seminar Location

Liverpool, John Moores University, Lecture Theatre, John Foster Building,

Mount Pleasant, Liverpool, L3 5UZ

Price:               £40.00 (excluding VAT) for MmIT members

                        £60.00 (excluding VAT for non MmIT members


Booking form: