While AOL has a 5 year deal to use Google for their search results, it seems they may be using Microsoft for their content SEO, according to their recently leaked Master Plan. The plan that Business Insider published shows AOL plans to use "SEO Checker" for optimizing their content.
SEO Checker is the built in program for optimizing content in Microsoft's Expression Web 4 - their content management system. UPDATE: Simon Heseltine, Principal SEO Manager for AOL, informed us that the AOL 'SEO Checker' was not Microsoft's and the "tool is one that has been created by our devs for use within Blogsmith (our CMS) it's just a tool that verifies that the writers have followed through on the various steps on their editorial SEO checklist; using the keywords in the appropriate places, etc. Can't really go into more details than that, but it's got absolutely nothing to do with Microsoft, or any other company."
SEO Checker "helps you optimize the pages in your site for discovery and indexing by search engines. Pages that follow good Search Engine Optimization (SEO) guidelines rank higher in search-engine results, helping people find your site more easily," the Microsoft site for Expression Web 4 explains.
The AOL Way presentation said they plan to be using SEO Checker for 95% of their content by the end of March.
"The SEO Checker analyzes static page structure and content, compares each page against 50 different rules to ensure the page is search engine-friendly, and produces a detailed report of problems and solutions. To come up with the 50 SEO rules, the Expression Web team researched the current best practices in SEO which generally emphasize authoring well-formed markup and providing relevant content. The SEO Checker's rules provide guidance in these categories:
- Content is not where search engines expect to find it
- e.g., the page is missing the <title> tag, or has an empty <h1> tag
- Content or markup follows patterns that may be associated with deceptive practices
- e.g., the content of the keywords meta tag is very long or contains duplicate keywords
- Content or markup interferes with the ability of search engines to analyze a page
- e.g., the page is not well-formed and may be parsed incorrectly
- Content or markup reduces the appeal of a page in search-engine results
- e.g., <title> is too long, or meta description is missing
- Content causes search engines to consider two or more pages to be relevant to the same search term
- e.g., inconsistent use of trailing slash ("/") when linking to pages
- Content or markup blocks search engines from analyzing your site
- e.g., hyperlink contains too many query string parameters"
If this is the SEO Checker referenced by AOL one wonders if they will improve their rankings more in Microsoft than Google. But given the "content farm" changes both engines are supposed to be implementing, having a major agreement with AOL search and a potentially massive use of this Microsoft platform, maybe AOL CEO Tim Armstrong is smartly taking steps to keep his content in the search results.