It will be a sad day tomorrow as GeoCities is closed down for good by Yahoo. Thousands of websites will disappear offline tomorrow and along with them all the links pointing to other sites. Imagine if your website had more than 50% of its incoming links coming from GeoCities. Is your Page Rank going to suffer in the coming days once those links no longer exist? Quite possibly!

It’s difficult for anyone to know whether this will have any impact on their search rankings. I’ve measured over a hundred links to one of my sites from different GeoCities sites so I’ll be keeping an eye on it and hoping those site owners move their pages elsewhere. Of course, many GeoCities sites won’t be resurrected elsewhere as they are often dead and haven’t been updated in ages so from tomorrow those links are gone. What impact all this will have on SEO and search engine rankings will play out over the coming weeks as Google and co. re-index sites and take into account the missing links.

More importantly than any inbound links though is the fact that a piece of internet history is dying. Jeremy Keith sums it up well so I suggest you read his post on the subject.

Just came across an interesting post by Bill Slawski on the subject of a patent granted to Google last week titled ‘Search result ranking based on trust‘. There’s been a lot of talk about trustworthiness being the next big factor to be considered in search engine algorithms but it makes me wonder how useful it would be in reality.

When I use Google to search for something what I’m really looking for is the most relevant result I can find which will answer my query. To be honest, I often couldn’t care less how much I trust the source as long as it’s reputable (maybe rep is a better factor?).

Where I can see a trust (or rep) factor being useful is with weeding out spam search results who have got themselves a really good natural search ranking. Beyond that I’m not convinced it’s required for normal web search (except perhaps as an option or it would be useful in a search through social streams like Twitter, but here I’m referring to the kind of search you do through http://www.google.com).

You see, to some extent trust is in the eye of the beholder and a very difficult thing to turn into a scientific algorithm. A source could be trustworthy to one person and not at all to another depending on many factors. So to really put an accurate trust rating on web pages is going to be extremely difficult (I think).

Would Google’s time be better spent working on relevancy ranking and using trust sparingly as a factor to filter out spam results? Or do you think trust has a bigger place in the future of search algorithms (maybe trust/rep on news/blog search)? Interested to hear your thoughts…

I spotted an interesting post fromĀ iCrossing via their Twitter account today. It’s about some rumours that are flying round the web on the topic of Google adding a breadcrumb trail beneath each search results on the SERPs. A grand idea and one that should help to give users an insight into the structure of your website before they even visit it (it’d be even better if each stage of the breadcrumb was clickable), however some site owners may not be so pleased.

How pleased they would be would depend on exactly how Google implemented something like this. If they can work out your site structure via the main sections, or via the page title (which would seem to be how the example on iCrossings blog shows it) then it will be a good thing for most site owners. But if they worked it out from directory structure (for example) that would cause a whole world of pain for site owners everywhere.

I think it’s most likely that this will be like Site Links (the links to main sections of a site that only appear under the ‘chosen few’ results that deserve it) and won’t be applied to all websites on the result pages. It does show the power of Google though as changes like this will always hurt somebody who has a legacy or large site and can’t afford to change it to optimise it for the new SERPs. A good reminder of why pragmatic design is so important when building a site, particularly when thinking about the structure and how that may work as your website grows over time (don’t forget your content plan)!