Search engines respond differently to SEO: Covario study

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Certain search engine optimization (SEO) techniques may have very different organic search ranking results depending on the search engine used, according to a study by Covario.

“We found that the engines reacted very differently to the [SEO] changes that our clients made,” said Craig Macdonald, VP of marketing, alliances and product management at Covario.

The study, based on data from 300 brand Web sites, took place from March 1 through October 15 of last year. Data was collected from Covario's Organic Search Insight software which tracked Covario's clients' SEO practices and their resulting improvements in organic search rankings on Google, Yahoo and MSN. During the study, the software crawled each of the brands' Web sites two times per month.

Technical issues addressed in the study included how the site was constructed and how “crawlable” it was by the three major search engines. The study also addressed content issues, such as how certain key terms were used within the site and where they were placed. The number and quality of the links coming into a particular the site was another focus of the study.

According to the study, Google was 15 times as sensitive to technical issues when compared to Yahoo and twice as sensitive when compared to MSN, Macdonald said. In addition, Google was about 25% less sensitive to content issues than the other engines.

Google was 50% more sensitive to quality links than MSN, while Yahoo wasn't sensitive to links “at all,” Macdonald said. However, only “quality” links coming from reputable sources had an impact on organic search rankings, he added.

San Diego-based Covario, formerly known as SEMDirector, is an interactive and search marketing analytics solutions provider. Its clients include Intel, Procter & Gamble and Hewlett-Packard.  

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