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This 36 message thread spans 2 pages: 36 ( [1] 2 > >     
If Content Is King
.. how does zero content get to be #1?

 11:29 pm on May 26, 2003 (gmt 0)
This is not a whine about a particilar site but rather a need to better understand how search results can remain dominated throughout many, many updates by a site with nothing it except an instruction to go somewhere else .... what are the possible scenarios and circumstances that cause this to happen?

An example of this is a site with the following content:
** http://searchword1-searchword2-searchword3.com/ ** (font size 4)

Just click the URL to see the new searchword1-searchword2-searchword3 portal!
As you would expect, searchword1-searchword2-searchword3 appear in the <title> and Blind Freddy can see the connection between <title>, the anchor text link and that one line of text.

However, the site is totally useless to the visitor who gets offered it as a #1 result. It simply has nothing in it by way of content, yet outranks sites with lots of content. A temporary blip in the results I can understand but that usually gets sorted out in a later update. No so in this case.

Links? Google shows 14 with a mix of mostly PR4, some 5, a 6 and a 7. Many off-topic.

Competitive area? Very much so, there are lots of competeting sites for this term.

I keep reading that content is king... so why am I not convinced?



 11:33 pm on May 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

Being #1 is king:)



 11:35 pm on May 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

Hi there!
I see that for some terms as well, but it seems to be an Everflux phenomenon... Ran into things like that for words with more than 4M results found.

The site I am watching popped up brand new about 5 days ago and is top of 4M results with nothing than SPAM, but well linked via linktrader sites...

Hmmmm, guess this will be solved soon with a REAL update of the index with the filters GG was talking about...



 11:37 pm on May 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

for every one spam site - there are 1,000 non spam sites.

I doubt it is TOTALLY useless. If it was - the person wouldn't have made it - it would make them no money. Be honest - you mean much less useful than you site that is competing for the same keywords :)

Google can't crawl every site - it can't use content as a REQUIREMENT to be listed. Google have never crawled overture - and has no problem finding it.

Plenty of commercial sites spam all day long. Half the personals sites for places like the new york times are just copies of match.com - but since they have money - and dress it up - no one complains...


 11:38 pm on May 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

>>I keep reading that content is king

First off, compelling content is king. Secondly, without some compelling content on the page it doesn't matter where a page ranks. Search engines don't buy anything.

Now with that said, I've seen many sites rank well in Google with nothing more than a title, header tag and a single line of text.

Now, you've already stated that the site is useless to the visitor, so rather than think that content isn't important, why wouldn't you just accept the fact that Google is easily manipulated?

Compelling content is still king. It's Google that looks like the court jester.


 11:38 pm on May 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

>Links? Google shows 14 with a mix of mostly PR4, some 5, a 6 and a 7. Many off-topic.

With high PR links like that, this is a major factor in the why here.


 11:53 pm on May 26, 2003 (gmt 0)



But I think the problem is that search engines are used too much for generic terms, and directories not enough. I know this does not help, but people should select what they use to search for a subject as carefully as they chose what they buy.

I wish Google would buy out / merge with Yahoo (sorry, I *really* do not like ODP), and suggest people use the directory for generic search terms, the search engine for specific items.

It is clear Spammers Spam for generic terms (where the competition is greatest), not so much the longer / more specific search terms.

GoogleGuy - how about it. Enough money in the petty cash tin yet to buy Yahoo?


 11:58 pm on May 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

I don't think this is everflux, I have noticed a few completely blank pages that have good rankings on what I would guess are pretty "profitable" search terms. I have found a few that have been present ever since Dominic first rolled in. These pages have nothing on them, with "New Page" as the title, no meta tags and absolutely nothing between the body tags. If it were everflux, I don't think they would still be there after 3 weeks.


 12:07 am on May 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

As rfgdxm1 suggests, quality incoming links can compensate for a great deal. There is a site that ranks well on a *very* competitive keyword that is comprised of nothing more than a single page with a meta refresh tag pointing to a different domain - no mention of the keyword at all. It ranks solely because the company name incorporates the keyword, and it is used in incoming link text. I'm sure it isn't the only example.


 12:23 am on May 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

GG has been telling us for most of May that Google is currently undergoing some pretty major fundamental changes.

Google isn't currently fully operational, and is giving some unusual results. Just try a search for:

search engines

Who's feeling Lucky today? Look at the pagerank?

Its like roadworks on the freeway - you've got to break it to fix it and widen it. And there is inconvenience and frustration while everything is dug up & broken - during the process of upgrading and improving - while people are still using it.

Wait until the roadworks and upgrades are completed, then judge whether its an improvement or not.

We have now all found a gazillion examples of PR0 sites dominating the SERPs for highly competitive phrases. There are now numerous conspiracy theories - adwords, PFI et al.

GG has already told us - a whole new process is unfolding - and it takes time . Read WebGuerrilla's condensed guide to GoogleGuy's posts [webmasterworld.com]

I'll reserve judgement until the 'next' index.



 12:28 am on May 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

These sort of results don't bother me in the slightest...it's not ranking that counts but converting site visits into cash, or repeat visits if it's not a business site.
If top ranked sites have no content then visitors will press the Back button and click the 2nd ranked site.
And so on, until they reach a useful site, maybe your site, ranked #9?


 12:38 am on May 27, 2003 (gmt 0)


Be honest - you mean much less useful than you site that is competing for the same keywords :)

Sorry to upset your jaundiced view of the world, but, no, I don't have a competing site. I really do have an interest in knowing how this happens. Who said anything about spam... if that's all it was, I wouldn't have bothered posting.

I said useless to the viewer... that is supposed to be Google's priority. It's commercial worth to the owner is a totally different subject.


With high PR links like that, this is a major factor in the why here

I suspect you are correct... off-site exerts more influence than on-site. Pity about the relevance.


why wouldn't you just accept the fact that Google is easily manipulated?

I can... its the continual pushing of the idea that content overcomes all else when it seems that is not the case at all.


 12:45 am on May 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

Y'know, some of you don't realize, but when studying google and SEO, you tend to look at terms THAT AREN'T YOURS! You can learn alot from what is going on in other subjects beside(s) the one(s) that you are aiming at. Perhaps someone has a number 1 for green widgets, and you can apply some of what made that happen to your blue widgets.

Conversely, when you look at green widgets, you might find 100% total spam sites. Now, should you just turn a blidn eye to the spam because it doesn't affect your directly?

Nope. Any spam, all spam is a technique that could be used in areas of your interest at some other time. It is totally in everyone's interest to point it out, to examine it, and learn from it - and to report it to google so that it can go away.

It isn't about the individual listings - it is about the techniques and the holes that exist in the system that google needs to know about to keep ahead of the scammers.



 12:47 am on May 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

...its the continual pushing of the idea that content overcomes all else when it seems that is not the case at all.

I don't think anyone on Webmaster World has ever claimed that "content overcomes all else." Content is certainly important in Google's eyes, and it's likely to outperform here-today, gone-tomorrow SEO tricks over the long haul. But that doesn't mean a content page or a content site will always rank #1 for a given search term.


 3:47 am on May 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

It sounds to me like someone bought an expired domain (or not expired) because of its backlinks and the expired domain filters haven't been added back into the algo yet. In my experience with these, the backlinks will usually include a high pr dmoz link. If thats the case, an abuse report sent in to dmoz will take care of it pretty quickly, although it will still benefit them as far as pr goes for a while longer.


 5:35 am on May 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

A very popular misconception of the Content is King phrase is people think good content will make them rank higher for that Ultra competetive keyword. That simply is not true. What many mean by content is king is that having content will serve as a doorway page for people searching for related keyphrases and because you have that content in your page people will find your site in search engines. Look at your logs and see how funny terms they use to arrive at your site.

The specifics of this case make me agree with what Powdork said but when anyone says Content is King look at the broader picture :)

BTW have you read those excellent articles by DigitalGhost in content and copywriting


 5:56 am on May 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

I agree with Mil2k; Content is *Not* the King in every prospect, especially if your website is product oriented; however, content can serve as a supportive factor in implying to the prospect buyers that you are more outstanding than the other competitors. Status of the King could be over exaggerated - perhaps only "Queen" or "Prince" would be more appropriate.


 6:23 am on May 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

It's not an expired domain. Its been around for quite sometime. We are talking perhaps an 8-10 months period so this is not about everflux or some Dominic effect.

I suspect what is happening is that way back when, the site had its fair share of content and was a logical link partner. Since then they have moved the "operations" to a new domain, leaving behind just the one "we have moved" page at the original domain name. At least some of those original links are still pointing to it.

A little bit of SEO magic with the <title> and anchor text and bingo... a #1 with nothing in it.

Posters: the question was not about the site being profitable, getting conversions etc etc... it's about trying to understand the part that content plays vs offsite factors. I guess another way of looking at this is to ask if Google can distinguish pages with little or nil content and if so, should they apply a filter?


 6:29 am on May 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

if Google can distinguish pages with little or nil content and if so, should they apply a filter?

Google can detect pages with nil content and in that case they take help of Meta Tags to guess what the page is all about ;). And why should they apply filter for a page with no content? Those are the specific things they do not want to get into.


 6:30 am on May 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

err .. I am surprised the url hasn't been removed in this post?

"Self promotional URL drops and whisper campaigns are strictly forbidden within the forums and will be edited out."

As far as that is concerned, my link just pointed to a pic of a zoomed pr0 .. so i wanted to confirm whether it meant -1 or pr0 or more than pr0


 6:31 am on May 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

In the good old days people used to stuff their home pages with hundreds of keywords in some form of gibberish sentences right down the bottom to attract the folks that use weird and wonderful, but still relevant, search terms. In fact many people still do this today. I have a competitor that is so blatant they even label it "Spider Food" as some method of telling anyone who sees it that it wasn't meant to be read by them!

Then a new concept came about, why not create pages for all these keyphrases that actually look like real pages and have some value in their own right? Hence the added true Content made you King, and you didn't need to worry that an SE might get upset by your illegitimate use of keywords in gibberish sentences.

Looking at your logs may show some of the other terms used, but then "imagine" what else people might be typing that you never get to see. Wordtracker & Overture can help some in this area, but your own knowledge of the category will be the winning factor.

I only do SEO in one specific area. I often get asked by people in other categories to help them. My response is always that I do not know their category well enough to be able to do a good job and they should find someone who specializes in that area. They say, "we can tell you the 10 keyphrases we want to rank high for", I say "yup, but can you tell me the 2,000 others that combined will probably generate 100 times more traffic than those 10?".

In many categories to get a high position for a single common search term is not that difficult to achieve with almost zero page content. It is usually done using anchor text backlinks. But to capture thousands of relevant terms using only anchor text is almost impossible, you would need hundreds of links from sites to a site with no content!

In the instance stated it may be an expired domain(okay scrub that now) or it maybe that the SEO also owns/influences the sites that are providing links. The SEO may have a legitimate use for that site in the future, but the promotion of it got ahead of the development.

At the end of the day the site with zero relevant content trying to capture one or two search terms can be a nuisance to SEO's, SE's, website owners and users, but it isn't really much more than that!

In fact there is a theory that says if others burn the user's time up with this type of stuff they are more likely to enjoy your site when they get couple of places down the SERPs because you have delivered what they were looking for and not frustrated them.


 6:38 am on May 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

I guess a lot of info site people like me were bemused when the "content is king" catchcry went up, not only because it was an oxymoron. Anything on a site is content, and we information site people had been providing it for years.

The change came with PR and link pop and "autority sites" - concommitant with the rise of google and the incoporation of off-site and more broad criteria than plain old dumb test analysis and keyword criteria of previous alogos employed by previous SE's.

What happened however, was that "content" suddenly became a concern of SEO's, and some amatuers started posting = "How do i find a lot of old newsletter copy. Quantity, with lots of keywrods, were what SEOs suddenly wanted.

Content has ALWAYS been king, its just that in the past copule of years it has become an OPTIMIZATION method. Google has been slow to keep up with the amount of crappy duplicate outdated copy filler, much reminiscent of the old paras of nonsense copy that deisgners would put in their designs for filler until someone wrote the actual copy. Google is trying hard i think, but I do see examples of this all the time, including one line pages on our sites that redirect to a new domain that we set up to totally focus on a section of our old site and just removed and updated them to the new site. They said

"The 'blah' section has been moved to a site of its own at <link>'blah'.com</link>. click on the link or you will be redirected in 5 secs"

We just totally removed the redirection pages a couple of months ago, but for 12 months and who knows how longer they were outranking our full content pages at the new domain! One thing we surmised was that very small even tiny pages, with good density rank well. We all noticed this very early on in WebmasterWorld's early days. Only since seos really started using content as optimization the problem has become more obvious.

Once people started using content, not just for content for users, but for SEs Google had a problem on its hands. But i have a feeling that the new system as it rolls out in the net few months may sort some of it out.


 6:43 am on May 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

Google can detect pages with nil content and in that case they take help of Meta Tags to guess what the page is all about ;). And why should they apply filter for a page with no content? Those are the specific things they do not want to get into.

What about pages which never exist...I see commission junction affiliate links in the SERPs...and even the merchant is no longer with CJ - but comes up for high searched phrases. Also see lots of sites with 404 Error ranking high for competative keywords.

Every one here should agree that some thing is wrong at Google. Every thing seems to be broken...thinking beyond my site SEO and traffic from Google, as a user point of view Google is just severing me with hopeless results and bad user experience.

Before any moderator points out that you’re never forced to use Google and can change to any other search engine at will, just to inform them I have already done that :)


 6:51 am on May 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

I think one of the best uses of content within your site is the use of links. IMO internal and external links woven into content work better than a navigation bar for search engines. I think external links woven into content work better for users and se's. It's not something I have successfully worked into allmysites.coms yet, however. It is a considerable undertaking to do it with fluidity. In general I try to do it as much as possible with externals (especially to important clients) and pepper it in with the links to internal pages.


 6:55 am on May 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

>What about pages which never exist...I see commission junction affiliate links in the SERPs...and even the merchant is no longer with CJ - but comes up for high searched phrases.

They must have existed at one time...maybe the affiliate should have stuck it out a little longer;) I suspect they are back in top spots now because of the current change to the algo weighting between PR and anchor text.

I agree it would have been nice if Google had put a "weed-whacker" filter in place before they set this puppy live....but we are assured that G is going to do that in the "near" future.


 2:47 pm on May 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

In my opinion a site that was previously doing ok and has some links to it will leave a trail for a while while it moves.
"a #1 with nothing in it." is seeminly outrageous, BUT consider that if they left the title and simple key phrases to announce the fact that they have moved that it *is content*, it is very sharp and focused content backed up buy other websites that lend it credibility.

Over time, hopefully, they will do what all good webmasters should do and notify the directories and linksbacks of the new url.

I find that when moving URL it is best to leave as little as possible in the way on indexable content on the old domain, however, we have had to learn that in order to get the old domain dropped and the new one rocking and rolling well.

I have also seen folks that move here, there and everywhere not caring about either aspect of strenthening a new site, the search engines or searchers that leave *content* all over the place, choke the top 10 results and will hopfully be dealt with and ironed out at some stage. <--- that is in my opinion worse that someone who has removed their files and attempted to move cleanly (even if they left the *content* reffering to their subject).


 7:19 pm on May 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

You are absolutely right austtr. I know of a site that has a single page, with practically zero content, yet it ranks #1 or #2 for several very valuable search phrases... and it has for many months.

You would think that Google's algorithm might be able to distinguish between a single-page site with only 18 words on the page and a real website... but apparently it doesn't care. Google only calculates PageRank and creates an index of results for pages... not sites.

Worse yet, the site claims that they moved their domain, and asks the user to click a link to enter the new site. Yet, the link is an affiliate link (proving that the site they are referring you to is not "their new domain"). To me, this constitutes a deceptive redirect, yet it has been reported to Google several times with no action taken.

How does an 18 word single page site rank so well for a competitive phrase? They SPAM Google by creating other sites with hundreds of pages (adult related!) that link to this site using the phrase in the anchor text.

Content should be king... but it isn't yet. I am just waiting and hoping that Google's new filters will screen these kind of pages out of the SERPs.


 9:41 pm on May 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

As Chris_D pointed out, GoogleGuy has made it clear on several occasions that Google is in a transitional period at the moment. It we take time for that process to complete. While it's ongoing, there is a very good chance things won't work perfectly.

Why is that concept so hard for everyone to understand? The time to start complaining and telling everyone Google is broken would be at the point GG stands up and says that the transition to the new and improved Google is complete.


 10:19 pm on May 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

austtr started the thread with the comment "a need to better understand how search results can remain dominated throughout many, many updates by a site with nothing it except an instruction to go somewhere else ".

This is not a new problem, related to the new algorithm / update. This has been a problem all along, that has yet to be fixed. No one is "complaining and telling everyone Google is broken". We're merely pointing out an opportunity for improvement.


 10:41 pm on May 27, 2003 (gmt 0)


I agree that shouting Google is broken is not a plausible response for whatever loss the poster thinks they have suffered.

But this thread is nothing to do with Google being broken, if anything its about Google doing what Google has always done.... react to off-site factors. The issue is where does the content, or lack of it, fit in? Trying to analyse issues like this within these forums is exactly what the updated TOS have just reiterated.

Google may well be in a transitional phase, but that should not "put on hold" debate and analysis of important issues during that phase. What if there is no big announcement that "The Google improvements are now complete" but rather a more modest "Google continues to implement enhancements as necessary". The transitional phase becomes never ending. We could end up waiting for an event that never actually happens.

Let folks have their 2c worth.... if Google have the issue under control, then thats great. Let the newbies get the benefit of lessons learned by others who choose to post here.

This 36 message thread spans 2 pages: 36 ( [1] 2 > >
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