less relevance in search results

The last few months have seen a shakeup in the websites appearing on page one of Google’s search results. And per a comScore report from last August, the United States saw more people on Yahoo than on Google for the first time.

Where previously the top-ten places in Google were dominated by older domains with large numbers of links to the ranking pages, what we’re seeing now in many industries is a lot of newcomer websites that have been set-up within the last year or 2, that have very little relevant content and hardly any links from anywhere. In fact a lot of the ranking pages have zero links.

I’m finding in my own searches that many results are less relevant than before.

Looking at the links back to some of these websites, there’s been a significant about-face by Google this year, shifting a 10-year emphasis on quantity of backlinks, to quality of backlinks.

Looking at the results in the Local (ABC map ) listings, the main difference my Local manager found was in the type of citations, which are mentions of the business elsewhere ( more info about citations here ). Although the top local sites have fewer citations, they are predominately in niche directories.

I’ve found that the biggest influence on moving my own websites up in search results is to promote to the Local directories that they are listed in, and similar authority websites that link back. A lower number of backlinks located on sites that have a high authority, and on domains with a related theme would appear to now be worth FAR more than a quantity of links from sites with less related content.

Even so, there are many websites on page one that are in no-way the most relevant. I’d expect them to move off, and if not Google may need to make some fast changes or risk more customers moving to other engines like Yahoo.