“How’s the weather out there on the web?”
Now there’s something you don’t hear every day. Weather is a common enough topic – a classic icebreaker when trying to open up a conversation with a total stranger. But the web is an interlinked system of documents. It has no place for rain to fall or snow to drift or clouds to darken. So, who in their right mind would track and report on the weather for the web? And why?
As human beings perpetually scurrying from one place to the next during the course of our busy days, we stop every so often and turn our eyes skyward – looking high above the coffee shops and skyscrapers to the vacillating skies above. We look for changes and patterns in the weather, ever cautious of any new development that might alter our plans for the day. We are a people obsessed with weather because it represents a constant potential for change – change that we cannot, as yet, invoke ourselves.
Change is inevitable, a constant in the universe. It’s sometimes good and sometimes inconvenient, but it’s always present – much like the weather. When it comes to tracking changes in the weather, forecasters working for your local TV news station look at the changes in specific elements (such as temperature, air pressure, humidity, and precipitation) and try to understand how changes in these elements affect our climate. The resulting weather report tells us what we can expect when we walk out the front door in the morning. Which is good.
The weather report also tells us how to prepare for the day. Armed with this kind of weather information, we can hit the streets better informed about what’s likely to happen from one period of time to the next. TV weather forecasters across the planet strive to accurately predict the weather so that we know how to prepare for our day. It’s a big business that delivers valuable information.
Unless you’re living on the Moon (which has no atmosphere and, consequently, no weather), the morning weather report is one of the first things you arm yourself with every day. It’s what you need to know before planning almost anything. And that’s exactly the same kind of thinking that drove SEOmoz to build MozCast. The goal was to track “the weather” on the web in hopes that a predictive model could be created that would deliver a more accurate forecast to the web-marketing community. But what exactly are we talking about in regard to the web, you ask? An excellent question!
Every now and again, we hear from Google about one large update or another. The recent Panda and Penguin updates received a lot of press and commentary from the web-marketing community. As web marketers, we keep our ears to the ground – always waiting for signs of change. Both Panda and Penguin represented a significant change in the web climate that precipitated a good bit of alteration to our day-to-day activity (now you’re catching on, ‘eh?). But the Panda and Penguin updates were only a few of the 500+ changes to the algorithm that Google made in the last year or so.
Most would agree that the reports on Panda and Penguin are not at all representative of the sum total changes made to the Google algorithm in recent months and years. And it’s a safe bet that those nodding their heads at this time would also agree that a more comprehensive web weather or Google-algorithm-change-reporting system should track “weather patterns” in relation to a select group of keywords and day-to-day results. MozCast is just the thing.
As the official MozCast site states “MozCast is an experiment in tracking the weather patterns of the Google algorithm.”
In summary, it can be easily said that there’s an awful lot of math and statistics involved here but the outcome is fairly easy to read and understand at a glance. When the temperature in the MozCast weather report goes UP, it’s a sign that there were MORE changes to the selected keywords in Google rankings. When the severity level icon changes from Sunny to Cloudy to Stormy, you know big changes are occurring. Reports are given every 24 hours.
Now all we need is a MozCast web weather app or gadget for our smart phones and desktops. How cool would that be?