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This 187 message thread spans 7 pages: < < 187 ( 1 [2] 3 4 5 6 7 > >     
Google's Wobbles
Or Maybe: The Rise and Fall of Search Engines

 6:46 am on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

The problems reported are actually becoming far more rational and trends are emerging.

That bus which GoogleGuy was talking about in the earlier -SJ update thread, when urging webmasters not to worry about each bump on route.... it could well be starting to stray from the road... and in full view of the searching public.

Is the Plex loosing its grip? Consider the following:

a) This thread: [webmasterworld.com...] Sorry.... a few may gloss over or apply positive spin... but this is a real mess. That cannot be hidden any more, as the scale is wide and actually seems to be growing as the forum posts become more rational. Yes, in some sectors the searching public WILL notice.

b) The geolocation fiasco. Wrong decision, no warning at all to the searching public, and certainly alienation of some. Another real mess.

c) Unfair penalties. Anyone getting a human response on these? I bought a new domain in January. Worked for ages on it, and... PR0. Why? Someone had previously owned it in Sept 2001 and got a penalty. Emails explaining and begging for common sense over a month ago ignored. I'm not the only one.

And yes there are other bits and pieces demonstrating this trend.

The impression from all this is not good. Individually these sorts of issues do cause damage and potentially any one could backfire into substantial adverse publicity, loss of customer/searcher support, etc.

Collectively, the story is getting bigger than the sum of its parts.

I make no bones about being a Google fan, so for me, the above is of great concern. More than any reason because I have seen it before, as have others. This sort of... well it looks like sloppiness or lack of correct focus... was evident when Alta Vista started it's rapid decline.

Maybe over confidence is the cause, or lack of hierarchical control, or just bad judgment. Who knows. But here's a point: when a search engine has fallen previously the first group to have drifted away have been webmasters. That's why I have asked on a different thread: "What the hell is going on".

C'mon Google.... sort it. This is shakey ground and I'm beginning to wonder what is next. It's doing no-one any favors, least of all Google.



 3:50 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

Hey Napoleon, I think I've already commented on our SJ index at length, and given people some idea of what to expect. I believe the change for non-U.S. IP addresses is geared to allow users to separate language from TLD, and I believe that it was tested for several weeks on one TLD, with us watching for feedback. Given that it's a UI change on the home page, the amount of negative feedback has been very low--a good sign. I know that the UI team is interested in the best way to present international users with a choice of which TLD to use and which language to use. If you write to help@google.com with some subject line such as "UI for TLD/language," I'm sure it will reach open ears on the UI team--they want feedback on how to make things smoother for everyone. I'll be curious to read suggestions for how to make that UI better myself. As far as things like expired domains, changes such as SJ are exactly the sort of thing that will allow us to pull in better algorithms that can take full advantage of that data.

Anyway, I hope that addresses some of your questions. We're always looking for feedback on what we can do better. In another thread, I gave a way to give specific feedback to Google about the SJ index: do a spam report with "dominic" in the comments. I've since reminded people about that method a couple times. Yet the number of reports via that form has been less than even the number of posts on this thread. After 3000+ posts about this index on WebmasterWorld, we're sitting at around 30 concrete suggestions about what's bad/good about the SJ index. By that measure, SJ is definitely an improvement over past indices.

The question that I'm more interested in is this: is the nature of WebmasterWorld changing? As traffic seems to double every few months, I see fewer senior members posting. I think I've witnessed more predictions of the imminent death of Google (film at 11! :) in the last six months than in the year and a half before that. And I've seen more people calling each other names than I used to. It's something I think about sometimes. How do other members feel about the tone of WebmasterWorld over the past few months? Same, different?


 3:55 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

You need to go back through every incarnation of the site back to it's first registration date and check the content for anything that may have got it banned.

In the absence of that information being available, don't buy it.

If the information is not available, but it's a domain that you *really* want then get a warranty from the seller that the domain is clean and don't spend too much time and money on it until you know for sure which will require building a small site and getting some inbounds to see what happens.

Good advice, no doubt. I wasn't thinking of buying a domain from someone else though, but registering an expired name. Still your advice applies.

At the same time, I see no reason that a penalty should carry over from an expired domain when someone registers that domain months later. If Google can keep PR from transferring after a domain has expired and is registered anew, than they can keep penalties from transferring also.


 3:57 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

Hey Napoleon, I have some grievances to air as well. "The Rise and Fall of Search Engines". Well I think we can safely say that Google will not fall for a long time, unfortunately no "regime" change for a while in the world of search engines. My site was performing extremely well off its own merits (I hadn't used any un ethical techniques at all) - was looking good on sj, 2 and 3 and then today - gone. Absolutely buried under piles of irrelevant dribble. What seems to be a game every month for Google is proving to be extremely destructive for people trying to make a living out of the Internet.


 3:57 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

Google Guy -

I know your sticky mail is disabled and I didn't want to start a debate about the quality/tone of the Google forum but it seems the quality of information being passed in the Google forum has dropped... I sent a sticky to one of the mods earlier last week. Not to say that I haven't added to the fury (my posts are sometimes ignorant)...


 4:00 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

"The question that I'm more interested in is this: is the nature of WebmasterWorld changing?"

No i think its frustration with Google at this point. I remember something along the lines of better communication with webmasters etc. What i would like to know is when will the last crawl be brought in. Will this "update" be done this month. Yes or No answers, not ones where we have to dig clues out of them, thats not communication.


 4:05 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

i have to agree with GG there does seem to be a lot of 'noise' in the google forum just lately, sometimes it's hard to seperate the wheat from the chaff!

[edited by: incywincy at 4:06 pm (utc) on May 20, 2003]


 4:06 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

one question - how does google judge -sj to be a better index? It's a genuine question.

-sj has improved since it 1st rolled out - this is in line with GG comments that -sj had some stuff to roll into it. Is it a safe assumption that the other datacenters will go through a similar transition and end up looking more like -sj does now?


 4:07 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

"Also, they are planning a big ad campaign for Yahoo search."

If this is the case WHY on earth is Google messing around with its algo now. If I were Yahoo, Alltheweb etc. I would be watching so very closely as a huge AD campaign along with poor results from Google could be the moment the scales may start to tip.


 4:10 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)


You`re absolutely right with your comments regarding this forum. But I think that the "problem" is, that more and more people try to be a SEO than maybe 1 year ago. I`m really a quiet member in the most forums, but I`m reading here since maybe 1,5 or 2 years. What I saw is that webmarketing/SEO became interresting for the mass of people and is no longe some sort of private club. Now everybody is looking on how to cheat Google within 1 day and 5 minutes of work. In former times you had to "know" the web if you wanted to be successfull. Nower days you can buy any Computer magazine and know the most important things on how to get a 1st place. And everybody who is in a huge number of people can feel anonymous and behaves like this... :(

(btw sorry for my english, but I hope you understood what I wanted to say)


 4:12 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

why are we being asked to spam report on sj?...sj is different to the other datacenters...and when comments are made aout sj googleguy says when he refers to sj he means the sj type index..but sj result are not the same on other datacenters nor is it the same as the ones the public are seeing..so..googleguy..do you want reports on sj or sj types indexes?


 4:16 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)


Regarding the number of comments from junior members etc - Although my current nick has a low number of posts - I have had a previous nick that seemed to have gone wrong :( - All in all I have been reading and posting on Webmasterworld for about a year.

However the number of posts from junoir members as compared to senior members is probably due to the growth of Webmasterworld recently - eg there are more Junior Members than Senior Members - I wonder what the ratio is and how this has changed over the last few months/years?

However what webmasterworld provides is a good range of different opinions on Marketing and SEO relating to the web - and these are real world opinions.

But I suspect what you also may see is when these junior members become senior members they will learn from there experiences and there types of post will change.

By the way GG - I hope you still like posting and get a buzz from Webmasterworld :)


 4:17 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

No worries, ThomasB. I think it's a good thing for everyone to know more about search engines, and some of those people will try to make money as consultants helping other people/companies. I hope you stick around and keep posting. I think the mods (and Brett, of course) do a fantastic job making WebmasterWorld a good place to hang out and discuss search engines. NovaW, I would certainly expect to more changes like the ones you mentioned, which is a good thing.


 4:17 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

I think the sudden drop in posts by more senior members may have something to do with the fact that the wiser members are sitting back and quietly watching this debacle and waiting for the mess to get straightened out.

Google has been a consistent leader in searches and when the Google Representative says wait and be patient that's what we do.


 4:17 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

Well done GoogleGuy for posting at this time. Good man (or woman?).

I agree you have been excellent on the -SJ threads. The problem is that this thing goes on for ever... and things are not getting better. The expectation was that we would see improvement as new data (presumably the April crawl data) is pulled in. I don't see any evidence of that at all at this stage. Quite the contrary, with bizarre results intermittently appearing. It never ends.

Don't your guys realize how bad that looks? No... not just the strangeness or the lost sites (some very well known ones)... but that this is being played out in front of Joe Public in a very prolonged drama. It gives all the wrong signs about testing/quality and shakes everyone's confidence. I cannot believe it really had to be done like this.

As for the TLD issue, my impression was that people were just bounced from www.google.com into their national index. For the reasons mentioned at the start, not a smart move.

I think the problem here for Google is that is that if they don't like this (and the thread on WebmasterWorld suggests strongly they don't) their first inclination WON'T BE: "Oh, I'll email Google and it will be fine again". It WILL BE: "Forget this, I'm off to Yahoo/AV/Whatever". Your marketing guys should think about it in terms of specific constituents.

Generally though you shouldn't be measuring customer satisfaction by the number of emails you receive. Definitely not the right medium.

I'm certainly happy to take your word for it on the expired domain names. That little scenario has been running for far too long and too many innocent people are hurting.

One other issue starting to look ugly: Links pages getting a PR0 simply for being links pages (see the substantial thread on this)? Surely not? Again that would look pretty bad.... Google attempting to bend the nature of the web itself. It just feeds paranoia.... you'll end up with no-one linking to anywhere. I assume it's a red herring - a confirmation would be nice.

Finally, the nature of WebmasterWorld. Yes, IMHO definite changes. You'll be interested in the thread in the supporter forum. I believe the change is largely down to the number of new members.... many have to learn the protocols of these things and become experienced before they can post with more experience. Some of it is down to size as well, with a loss of intimacy. It's interesting how some threads attract the experienced, and others the inexperienced.


 4:21 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

Dayo_UK, I definitely still get a buzz from posting here and no doubt will for a long time to come. :) Napoleon, the links = PR0 sounds like a red herring, but I'll be happy to root around and read it. :) I totally agree about which threads attract different types of folks. I've been enjoying the "google as a business" thread and the thread about the "Google Cluster Architecture" especially.

Okay, I'm off to try to bike into work. Wish me luck.. :)


 4:22 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

At the same time, I see no reason that a penalty should carry over from an expired domain when someone registers that domain months later. If Google can keep PR from transferring after a domain has expired and is registered anew, than they can keep penalties from transferring also.

I totally agree, and I'm sure that will come at some point but I can imagine that will require a certain amount of technology to ensure it's a process that does not get abused.



 4:23 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

GG, you`re right, the Mods are really doing a great job and without I maybe wouldn`t even risk a view inside any thread where I can`t find a post from you. ;)


 4:26 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

GoogleGuy, you've mentioned the reports that people have been sending in. Do you plan on replying to those individuals or are you just using them as a general litmus test for the new index which SJ represents?

Let's hope now that everyone has been told SJ is STILL the one to look out for, you will get plenty more ;)


 4:28 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

GG, I've not been around long myself, but it's perhaps a combination of these factors:

general frustration of the unknown

a major change in the releasing of a new index
(an obviously longer time process, one that's much more
public as a result, significant filters not yet applied,
more recent backlinks apparnetly not yet in, etc., etc.)

a growth of new peeps, but not necessarily peeps with seasoned knowledge (case in point, they let me in!)

what 'worked', legit or otherwise, for many peeps for many months, currently appears to not work. Maybe it will again as filters and backlinks roll in, maybe it won't, but there are passengers hunting a bus today, and many are not worried about every little pebble, they are instead feeling like someone swiped the keys to the buses they were sending out for those passengers and those routes are now being serviced by other uses, ones which they are convinced have no insurance, no brakes and drivers who would just as soon run over graqnny as swerve for her.

a low level of new information creates low signal to noise ratios, so peeps much smarter than me obviously are apparently elsewhere waiting for the deafening roar of the hurricane to pass on by before they step out to survey the landscape.

I'm not in e-commerce and i don't do a lot of online buying so I'm not freaking. As to my personal surfing, I'm also not seeing mega problems with google but perhaps my interests are such that I'm simply not looking in the right places.

As to the NFP info site I am involved with, no complaints on what I'm seeing, either sj or otherwise.


 4:33 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

Google's open communication has been 1000% better than anyplace else.

If people think buying an expired domain that used to spam and now is banned is a problem - I suggest that most of these people weren't around when:

1) Altavista would out and out LIE to you when you attempted to submit a domain it didn't like for some god awful reason. They would say "you have submitted too many pages from that domain" - even if you knew damn well you didn't.

2) Got banned by some engine cause your ip looked like some ip of a spammer.

3) Had a page banned as you used some word more often then they liked.

4) Excite requesting your robots.txt file 5,000 times (no joke) without crawling your site.

or any of the other things other search engines used in the past.

Google is far from perfect, but again - there are webmasters living in a fantasy world. People don't care about your site - get used to it. People care about finding information. If they can get it from google - they will use it.

Sure webmasters are a big part of googles success, but people don't write on the forums when everthing is going fine - it seems to add nothing to the conversation.


When someone complains about sj - there are a hundred other people with no complaints - they don't feel like writing "Oh everything seems about the same from last month".


I certainly know quite a few UK webmasters that are ticked off at geolocation. I can certainly understand their frustration, but it is a system google designed to help users. It is far from perfect and I really hope google works on this in the future. It seems more unfair to webmasters than a real problem with the public.

I doubt that even 1 in a thousand google users is aware of it. I doubt there are more than a couple hundred people in the world that REALLY know about it.


Is being penalized for a domain that was purchased when it used to be a spammers domain fair?

Of course not. However, this is 1,000 times as fair as penalizing for C block - and it has been widely known that this would be a problem for other search engines if not google.

There has to be a balance between time, effort, and money google spends on something and the results that it gets.


My biggest problem with google is their seeming lack of progress in the SERPs. I strongly feel that SERPs are about as good as they are going to get. It is to the point now that the vast majority of the time people can easily find what they need.

The problem - in my mind - is the lack of extra features that will allow customization to the user. Something like amazon has in their pages. Everyone searching doesn't do it in the same way.

PageRank was a huge jump in the quality of SERPs. I think google has gone as far as they can with PageRank. Sure they could make things a little better here and there, but 90% of the time - it is the way it should be.

They need to do something else to stay competitive. Right now they have a huge name brand, are fast, easy to use, and in general - SUPERIOR to other engines.

However - this is NOWHERE near the huge quality difference that existed two years ago.

When google first came out - they were orders of magnitude better than any other search engine - all running of a network that fit on two desks.

Now they have tens of thousands of computers - and well - they are still superior, but a lot of the other engines are catching up.

They need to do SOMETHING to JUMP ahead again...

just my 2 cents.


 4:33 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

I think the real problem is that the search engine world is absolutely dominated by one search engine. The fact that they seem to make a good decision one month and a bad one the next is neither here nor there.

If there were 6 or 7 "Googles" which in an ideal world there would be, then we wouldn't all get so upset when we have a bad update because not all our eggs would be in one basket.

What we need is for every man and his dog to stop praising Google like a God and start promoting many more engines because at the end of the day I haven't been really impressed with Googles results for well over 4 months, I only use it because of its genius "cool and simple" branding.


 4:36 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

more big SEs ---> more things you have to know to get to the first positions ---> less people trying to achieve it --> less "bad" discussions at WW

GG I just sent you a spam report, I could add at least 20 more if you like ... :(


 4:39 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

subway, you`re right. I don`t often need a searchengine, but whe I need one, I use Google because I`d also like to know who is on the first positions. But to be honest, I don`t know a real alternative. :( Sorry GG, but that`s my personal oppinion .... Or maybe the web isn`t as good as it was months/years ago?


 4:39 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

I see fewer senior members posting

I heard they're all in the Supporters Forum cooking up a duplicate content filter for the update threads.


 4:41 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

Well I think that alltheweb rocks, and no I don't work for them!

I do think there is an opportunity for an allthewebguy style employee to join this group and start talking about their engine though.



 4:51 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)


Their was a guy, I believe his name was FastMatt.

Elvis Presley

 5:01 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

right..but he wouldnt be in the google news forum surely?...googleguy would end up in a fight with him or something...


 5:05 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)


I've been around for less than a year. What I noticed was that the calmer heads will make one or two posts in the heated threads then go on their way.

Those that are upset tend to go overboard in whatever thread they jump into. More often than not it is the newer members watching their first dance that over-react. Though old timers that get nailed can get pretty vocal too.

Now with the updates that took longer than usual to start and now this slow update, it just gives people more time to get themselves all worked up.


 5:17 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

The question that I'm more interested in is this: is the nature of WebmasterWorld changing? As traffic seems to double every few months, I see fewer senior members posting. I think I've witnessed more predictions of the imminent death of Google (film at 11! :) in the last six months than in the year and a half before that. And I've seen more people calling each other names than I used to. It's something I think about sometimes. How do other members feel about the tone of WebmasterWorld over the past few months?

In the midst of a bungled set of changes, GG aims to shoot the messengers.

Treating one and other (including GG) with courtesy is, of course, right and necessary.

Google as well as members benefit from this forum, and from GG's participation in it.

But if there's one good thing to come out of the past few weeks, it will be that we see more honest criticism of Google, rather than some of the silly sycophancy of the past.

Napoleon has made some pointed criticisms above. It would be good to know more about Google's response to them, rather than have it attempt to dismiss them.


 5:25 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

I have stayed well out of the "this update sux" style threads. Frankly they are hashing over the same problems again and again.

I have noticed many real problems with google, SERP's that change, bell-weather sites that disappear and reappear upon a refresh. Everyone has I believe.

Gathering what knowledge I have about the dance, and the dataservers that bounce around, this update almost looks like it is going in reverse. The new info posted live, with the old waiting in the wings. (ie -sj). I will make one point in this ramble, I bet the adwords revenue is hitting all time highs as Webmasters try to keep up the traffic during this storm.


 5:51 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

>>>I bet the adwords revenue is hitting all time highs as Webmasters try to keep up the traffic during this storm.

Amen! I believe that's what this completely shaken-up index is all about. Take the sites that have plenty of free traffic down so they will jump on Adwords.

Hopefully I'm wrong about this but I don't see how else so many quality sites can be drivin into oblivion when, by Google's standards, they were tops for so long.

The site I care about most will be brought to it's knees if/when this new index sticks. What can you do? Join Adwords? Makes me wonder what the ulterior motive is here.


This 187 message thread spans 7 pages: < < 187 ( 1 [2] 3 4 5 6 7 > >
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