The Wall Street Journal‘s Kevin Delaney discusses how the quirky rules of Google and other search engines can cause Internet sites to slide in search-engine rankings when they switch domain names. (Full disclosure: I’ll soon begin a freelance editing job for the Online Journal.) Delaney also reports that news site Topix.net recently paid $1 million to a Canadian company for Topix.com. Delaney writes of the search-engine rules:
Among the most common reasons for unpredictable changes in rankings are frequent updates to search engines’ algorithms. These mathematical formulas analyze billions of Web pages for dozens of factors, such as the most prominent words on the pages and what other sites link to the pages, in order to determine how to rank them for relevance to a query. Search companies change algorithms partly to frustrate people who try to inappropriately boost their sites in the results, but legitimate businesses sometimes feel they’re caught in the crossfire.