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AOL Update?

 6:02 pm on Nov 17, 2000 (gmt 0)

What's up with the AOL update? There were about 2 weeks late and today the update is more like a step back in time. There are sites listed that do not exist in the categories they are listed for on ODP, believe me I know. This looks like old stuff. For certain KW searches you get one page of results and if you hit "next" you get a page of ODP category listings.

Database problems??



 6:30 pm on Nov 17, 2000 (gmt 0)

I saw that too, Jilly. I think they are in process (I hope) right now of updating their data and not all of it's there yet or there is something wacky going on.


 9:19 pm on Nov 17, 2000 (gmt 0)

Dunno about that.. It has looked this way since early this morning so hopefully it's just a glitch. Much of the information in the "new" listings is either old or spam, which is not located in ODP. I know AOL gets some of their listings from other sources but the majority of the main findings were ODP weren't they?


 11:01 pm on Nov 17, 2000 (gmt 0)

Not where I checked, the majority was Inktomi where before they were ODP. That is what led me to believe they were updating their ODP data.


 1:54 am on Nov 18, 2000 (gmt 0)

I hope you're right. Of course we've all seen the "weekend" AOL updates where the results change several times. Could be one of those. Time will tell. :)


 7:27 am on Nov 18, 2000 (gmt 0)

I don't know what to make of it. One client has a number one on their single primary keyword, and I would know if that happened before -- we've never broken above 4 on AOL. But we're buried on INK, so this is not INK. Who knows where this ranking comes from.

From everything you are saying, I guess I should tell the client not to get too excited, but just enjoy however many hours they get in the upper reaches.


 2:27 pm on Nov 18, 2000 (gmt 0)

I wonder if this has anything to do with the Goto deal? Although some of the terms I'm searching for are adult, which are not included in the paid listings between goto and aol, some aren't and they're all messed up. Time will tell, but it's still the same this morning.


 3:10 am on Nov 21, 2000 (gmt 0)

Does anyone know what's up with this? Any ideas at all? The results I'm seeing are completely crazy and erratic... There is one major, very competitive keyword that only has 3 listings for web pages!!!!
Also, on another competitive keyword they show the index page of other engines...For example, in the first word of "keyword", the number 5 listing is www.iwon.com...
What's going on??!!!
Also, some of the stuff is just junk! AND...there's doing some kind of redirect...
For example, under keyword MP3...if you go to any of the sites, you will see a strange redirect.
Any ideas?? Thanks!



 9:56 pm on Nov 21, 2000 (gmt 0)

Still seeing the same SERPs at AOL today -- looking not at all like ODP or Inktomi.

Also I just looked at the "most popular sites" list. This is a third AOL list, ranked differently than Web Sites or Web Pages, and it also shows GoTo results at the top.

I'm guessing this is AOL's own clicktracking data -- since you can see tracking codes when you look at their page source.

Jilly, any changes in your listings? Is it just a problem importing the GoTo kws, or does it affect your regular standings as well?


 6:45 am on Nov 22, 2000 (gmt 0)

Hmmm - results are still bezonked.


 6:47 am on Nov 22, 2000 (gmt 0)

Hmmm - results are still bezonked.

Tedster - could be internal click data. cant find any other pattern for ranking.

Hopefully temporary. wait and see. Laisha, any ideas?


 1:57 am on Nov 23, 2000 (gmt 0)

>Hopefully temporary. wait and see. Laisha, any ideas?

Actually, my first idea after running a ranking report for a client today was to simply close the program and go watch TV. *sigh*

Frankly, anything I have to say would be sheer conjecture. I notice that the GoTo listings have disappeared, so my guess would be that it's temporary while they tweak their database.


HUH? Search for new york tax planner [search.aol.com]. Must be nice if you're the New York Times.

Numbers 2-7 are:

Numbers 12-17 are:


Number 19 is:

Then we see guru.com with similar results.


 4:18 am on Nov 23, 2000 (gmt 0)

I found the GoTo results. AOL didn't drop them, but they did migrate them from the principal SERP to the two secondary ones -- "Web Pages" and "Most Popular Sites".


 1:34 pm on Nov 23, 2000 (gmt 0)

tedster I think you have got it right about the "most popular sites", it is almost certainly based on click throughs.

I had 3 sites in the ODP targeted at 3 of my most competitive phrases. These sites ranked number 1 on AOL for some great phrases and I got traffic by the bucket load. One of the editors at the ODP decided in her wisdom, I'm not bitter honest :), to remove them. They were only in the main AOL listings for 2 months maximum, and were dropped at least 4 months ago. However 2 of them are still listed at #2 in most popular sites category.

Trouble is I now only get a couple of hits a week compared to 100s a day.

Incidently I can see the GOTO sponsored listings on all of the different search pages.


 7:11 pm on Nov 23, 2000 (gmt 0)

Yep, the GoTo pages are back on the first AOL page -- "Web Sites". But now they are dropped from the "Most Popular" page. The "Most Popular" page also contains sites that are not on AOL's "Web Sites" page, so I'm not sure that AOL is using exclusively their own clickthrough/stickiness data. However, the main source of traffic is still the "Web Sites" page, so I'm focusing there.

The Web Site rankings I see on the AOL are still the unusual ones that first showed up last weekend. For instance, on one keyword AOL says they have results of 366 sites. However, page 2 of this results list kicks you to an ODP category list -- and ODP only shows a total of 184 sites.

Since AOL owns them, I thought I'd check in on Netscape Search. For the same kw, Netscape Search shows only 154 results from ODP. Don't know what Netscape did with the other 30 ODP sites. Also, the Netscape ranking is way different from either ODP or AOL.

AOL has been known, recently, to weave Inktomi data into the Web Sites returns page. But that wouldn't explain what I'm seeing either -- Inktomi has completely buried these particular clients, yet one of them is now number one on AOL.

All in all, it's quite a hodge podge. It's also one I'd like to understand better since, right now, AOL really likes several of my clients a LOT. I'd like to keep that traffic, but it doesn't look like a stable situation.


 8:46 am on Nov 27, 2000 (gmt 0)

Well it looks like theyve gone back again to the old database.

Ted, hope this doesnt mean an end to your traffic ;)

Was this sandbox data used temporarily or testing usagetechnology for the future?


 10:32 pm on Dec 1, 2000 (gmt 0)

I'm still seeing the new results. The number 1's are still there, but I don't have a clue why! Maybe it's AOL click data.

If it is click data, I wonder if they're factoring in the GoTo clicks from the top of the page. That would explain a lot of what I see, anyway. And it would be a very intereting situation as well. Improve your AOL rank by purchasing a GoTo keyword!

Jilly, how are your kws looking?


 12:15 am on Dec 2, 2000 (gmt 0)

tedster, I had a number 1 on a very popular two word phrase and the site is now nowhere to be found in this new update. In fact, the directory info from Dmoz is missing on AOL where the site should be located...like no sites listed at all. It is like they updated and forgot a bunch of data. In another category, I am seeing old Dmoz data from a previous dump, not the current one. Makes me think there is just something messed up. (Hey it's AOL, synonymous with messed up!)


 6:29 pm on Dec 8, 2000 (gmt 0)

I don't see any goto rankings if you search under the keyword "impotence"... I had a number one ranking earlier in the week now, I'm on page two, and impotence.org is #1 miraculously.


 9:13 pm on Dec 8, 2000 (gmt 0)

Another major change today in the AOL rankings I monitor. There is an increase of maybe 20% in the total number of sites returned over recent numbers, and a major shuffling of ranks.

I still don't recognize these results.

The total number of sites returned is several times more than ODP only, so whence come these other sites? Theory was they were including some Inktomi, but I see some top tens that I don't recognize from any place else, definitely not Ink.

Internal click data? The AOL proxy server records? Just guessing, of course. AOL traffic means a lot to many clients, and I'd like to dig this out.


 12:00 pm on Dec 9, 2000 (gmt 0)

What is going on with AOL? Had a site ranked 6th for 6 months, bumped to 48th for 2 months, back up to 1st place for one day and then 2nd place the very next day. How often are the updates now?


 5:28 pm on Dec 11, 2000 (gmt 0)

I have the same problems, sent an email to AOL and received the following generic response: "If your site is listed in AOL Search, it was added by one of the volunteer editors from the Open Directory. The Open Directory is a community of tens of thousands of editors who choose to maintain and update Web site information for the good of the whole Internet.

It is at the editor's discretion to choose to make your site an editor's pick, and America Online relies on the judgment of the volunteer editors to determine this. There are no "tricks" to getting your listing higher in our Web search results. We review Web site submissions to filter out "spam" efforts, and in other ways, to prevent false ranking in AOL Search. Your site is ranked based on relevance, as determined by our engine.

Please let me know immediately about any further inquiries or comments you may have. I will always be ready and happy to assist you."


 9:01 pm on Dec 11, 2000 (gmt 0)

That's certainly a generic boilerplate -- almost nasty -- response, isn't it? It was probably written several months ago, because today most AOL searches include more than ODP sites (probably a selection from Inktomi, but I'm not sure on that).

At the top of the list there is a disclaimer that their editors have not reviewed all the material and somthing offensive might be included.

What I get from this is that AOL is not about to help usunderstand how they determine relevance.


 8:07 pm on Dec 21, 2000 (gmt 0)

How often (on average) does AOL update their ODP data? I have three listings in ODP, but AOL only shows one of them...

Not that it matters, we're in the top two for our primary keyword phrases, and we see virtually NO traffic from AOL. I guess their users aren't too interested in alternative energy (and/or they don't have many Alaskan users)... I was just curious.


 5:38 am on Dec 29, 2000 (gmt 0)

Though it's been a bit unstable, I think once a month was the last guess.


 11:39 pm on Jan 3, 2001 (gmt 0)

I believe Laisha is right. It appears to be a once a month update lately except for the most recent one which was only 14 days. ODP has little to nothing to do with the search listings except if there is someone messing with descriptions and titles.

Sad to say it happens in any organization, but they stay on top of it pretty much at ODP, so usually if your description is changed it's because you either added too many keywords making it look spammy or because they are trying to keep things consistant in their category.

AOL applies their own algos to the data they get from ODP as all of the other search engines do.


 2:43 pm on Jan 6, 2001 (gmt 0)

Heads up: AOL updated again today. It appears that many of the returns are not in ODP so it's a mixed update. Actually it looks like some of the stuff "used" to be in ODP from the descriptions and titles, but must've been deleted in a current ODP update. I can't tell but it looks like AOL is still about 3 weeks behind in their data dumps. This is running about every 2 weeks again. Could we be returning to regular bi-monthly updates?


 5:59 pm on Jan 6, 2001 (gmt 0)

New site accepted to ODP Dec.21, AOL sent 1st referrals today. Descr as in ODP.

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