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This 152 message thread spans 6 pages: 152 ( [1] 2 3 4 5 6 > >     
Some Q&A answers
GoogleGuy answers some questions from last week..

 4:53 am on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

Okay, I sat down and thought about answers to some of the questions that people asked last week. Brett, how about we work it like this; I'll do the next several posts, with one answer per post. Please wait for me to finish posting answers, and then we can keep this thread open for people to discuss. Does that sound good? I'll let people know when I'm done posting my responses, and if everyone is courteous to each other, I'll try to post some more responses in a few days. As always, I'll try to do my best to give good answers, but bear in mind that this is my personal take on things. Does that sound fair?



 5:08 am on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

Alright, let's see how this goes..

Q: What do you see in the future for your relationship with the Open Directory?
A: The thing that strikes me about the Open Directory Project (ODP, also called DMOZ sometimes) is what a great job theyíve done on a volunteer basis. I think I also read somewhere that theyíve just recent instituted a system for reporting abuse by editors, so thatís another way that theyíre improving as well. Ah hereís the story (I often enjoy reading Pandiaís take on things):
Itís impossible to say what the future holds in this industry, but in my mind, itís a good sign that the ODP is taking steps that will continue to improve its quality.


 5:10 am on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

O.K. Just to make sure everyone's clear on the ground rules. This thread will be off limits for responses until GG has let us know that he is done with his initial answers.

Also, once we start allowing responses, it is important that everyone sticks to the questions he addressed. There is no way we can let this thread turn into a free-for-all.


 5:13 am on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

Q: What measures will be taken to combat Spam, will reporting help or will Google allow Spam to flourish?

A: I think shaadi asked this question. So shaadi, I think if you check the site that you reported for hidden text, youíll find that itís in the penalty box. Let me take this chance to talk a bit about the spam report system. From a webmaster point of view, it doesnít take much time to file a report if you feel something unfair is going on. I would definitely read through our guidelines first to make sure itís something that we would agree is spam:
Reporting a site that you feel is spamming certainly wonít hurt. Now letís talk about what sort of actions Google might take. There are some blatant things that we may take immediate action on. For example, if off-topic porn shows up for a search on someoneís name, thatís often worth doing something on a short time-frame. I noticed that you also did some other reports of things like duplicate content and sites that may be mirrors. Those are the sort of things that we probably wouldnít take manual action on; we would instead look at using that data to write better algorithms. Our ultimate goal is to improve quality using only automated algorithms. Those algorithms may take longer to get right, but the nice thing is that when theyíre done, they can often shut down an entire type of spam. So it doesnít hurt to do a spam report, it gives us feedback about how to improve our search, and many spam reports end up as data that we use when testing our new algorithms.

[edited by: GoogleGuy at 5:24 am (utc) on June 12, 2003]


 5:18 am on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

Q: For many sites, the index page seems to be buried on search terms for which logic determines they should rank highly. Is this a transient feature, like some of the other recent issues, resulting from the changeover to newer data? Or is it due to a more fundamental algorithmic change?

A: I donít think itís a fundamental algorithmic change. I donít recall hearing about any changes would bring about long-term behavior like this. Iím pretty sure that itís more of a transient issue, and I wouldnít be concerned about this.


 5:24 am on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

Q: Have you ever spammed or tweaked a relatives (or your own :)) site as a favour either manually or by giving them "the key" or ever been tempted?

A: Let me answer a more interesting question: have you ever taken action on a relative/friendís site that had spam? And the answer to that is yes. :) Our hidden text detection recently found hidden text on the page of someone I knew from college. That page got the same treatment as any other page. When the white-on-white text was removed, the page came back just fine and everyone was happy. The take-home message is that the spam guidelines apply uniformly.


 5:27 am on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

Q: Is WebmasterWorld a serious source of feedback for Google, does the feedback get discussed by yourselves especially in the light of Update Dominic?

A: WebmasterWorld is definitely a good source of feedback. For example, the recent ďextreme geolocationĒ thread was a good prompt to make sure that we went back and made sure everything worked better. Several months ago, there was also a test crawl that was chopping the last character from urls, and a few people noticed that pretty quickly. Itís also helpful when there are issues that affect Google but arenít because of Google: we saw a buggy caching server in the UK that ended up showing garbled graphics to users on that UK ISP, even though Google was serving the correct images. At the same time, Iíve also seen threads take on a lifespan of their own, even after plenty of people post to say ďthereís no merit to this theory.Ē And Iíve also seen conspiracy theories and hot-headed threads go past the point where every polite person has stopped posting a long time ago. :) So I would say that we treat it as a good source of feedback, but I might take any given thread with a large grain of salt. Just like in the real world, Iím more likely to take serious suggestions from people who have earned my trust with level-headed, solid points in the past.


 5:29 am on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

Q: Are the ODP and Google sites naturally occuring PR10 (PR11 for Google?) or is there some manual intervention for larger sites to ensure they have suitable PR?

A: Itís all natural.


 5:39 am on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

Q: Would Google consider a two tier system for spam reporting?
Level 1 - the current 'report a specific spammer' - where the focus is on reporting a specific (usually competitor) url.
Level 2 - a higher level, formalised programme leveraging the skills of SEO professionals - where the focus is on reporting 'spam methods' - with an aim of improving the filters and improving the results.

A: I would love to see more reports of spam methods rather than just individual instances. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then reports of spam methods can be almost as valuable in the same way. Since weíre most interested in working on scalable algorithms, it helps to have descriptions of methods rather than pointing out a specific instance of spam.


 5:44 am on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

Q: Does Google ever consider that the vast majority of web designers (graphic designers, advertisers, web design professors, web design authors) do not design web sites around search engine queries, thus leaving out important words like the type of product they sell?

A: Absolutely. I think two important challenges for the future are discovering user intent and uncovering webmaster intent. User queries are often short, and it can be really hard to determine what the user is looking for. In the same way, a webmasters might not think of what words a user would type, or they might have to work under constraints that they canít change (e.g. the title for every page might have to be the same). Lots of web designers donít think about how search engines will see a site (lots of session IDís, or framesets, or dynamic urls, etc.). I think one of search engines' big jobs will be indexing a site intelligently even if the site wasnít designed with search engines in mind. Our bots do a pretty good job, but it would always be nice to do more so that people (users and web designers) donít have to think as much about search engines and how they work.


 5:46 am on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

Q: Are there penalties that last forever? And what would be a possibility to remove this penalties from ones websites?

A: There are things that need a manual review before theyíre lifted. If a webmaster is pretty sure that they did something wrong, they can mail to webmaster at google.com with the subject line ďreinclusion request.Ē It helps to describe what you think happened, and what you changed on the site to make sure that everything is in good shape now.


 5:48 am on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

Q: Does Google like honest SEO's or would you prefer there not be any?
Q: What do you think about SEO? Do you think there will be a room for SEO in future WWW world?

A: I think that there will always be a need for consultants that help site owners make their site more useful for surfers and search engines. That might include advice on site architecture, explaining what sort of pages would be crawlable by search engines, or giving help on the copy on a site. Lately, I also see more SEOs broadening their offerings by managing PPC for clients as well.

I think the thing that *doesnít* work well is when an SEO gives bad advice, or does things well outside quality guidelines from search engines, or takes advantage of their clientís lack of knowledge. That happens less than it used to, but sadly it still happens pretty often. For example, earlier today our hidden text algorithms detected a spam network run by a really bad SEO. There was hidden text stuffed at the bottom of the page, and hidden links to old-style doorway pages. There was proof that the SEO did rank checking on Google; basically this company was breaking almost every guideline you can imagine. The really nasty part is that unknown to their clients, the SEO also inserted 7-8 hidden links back to the SEO, so roughly half the PageRank that each customer had earned was getting routed to the SEO! Because the SEO put hidden text, hidden links, and doorway pages on their clientsí pages, the clients may have temporary trouble now. That SEO has basically shot their credibility with both Google and all of their customers. Thatís the stuff that we really hate to see. You see that happen less often than it used to, but unfortunately it does still happen sometimes.


 5:51 am on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

Q: Do they give tours of the Googleplex?

A: I donít think that there are tours in general. Although once I was looking out a window and I saw something neat. A car pulled up pretty fast and stopped right outside the Googleplex. Three people piled out and gathered out front in front of the sign for our building. One person snapped a picture of the other two guys standing in front of the ďGoogleĒ sign. Then they hopped back in the car and drove off. It didnít take over two minutes. :)


 5:53 am on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

Q: Is / will cloaking still be seen as bad, and furthermore is cloaking an issue for what webmaster will be punished without asking for reasons why they use it?

A: Google does consider cloaking to be outside our guidelines. Truthfully, the use of cloaking seems to be in decline. Iíve seen several SEOs serve up pages that do JavaScript redirects or other types of redirects, but itís getting to be pretty rare to see actual textbook cases of cloaking.


 5:56 am on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

Q: When will the Google Toolbar be available for Mozilla/Linux?

A: If youíre interested, you might try doing a search for ďgooglebar.Ē Itís a really nice bar for Mozilla that gives you a lot of the features that the Google Toolbar has. Ah, here it is:
Pretty neat stuff.


 5:58 am on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

Q: I have heard that it is always better to let Google FIND a site, rather than submit it. Does submitting a site directly to Google vs. letting Googlebot find it have any consequence in Google's algorithm?

A: The main difference is that when we find a site after crawling the web, we know that thereís at least some credible person on the web who is ďvotingĒ for your site by linking to it. So we have a PageRank value for that page, even if the PageRank is very low. With a submitted page, we really donít have any external verification that anyone but the submitter thinks the site is good. So it never hurts to submit your site, but I would also take the time to see if you can find some related sites or a part of the Open Directory to link to your new site.


 6:03 am on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

Okay, last question for now. Thanks to whatever mod (Brett? WebGuerrilla?) set it up so I could have the thread to myself for a while. Maybe we could do this again sometime.

Q: Where do you get your hair cut?

A: Okay, gather around. A little closer. Just a little more.. good. Here goes: Pretty much wherever itís cheapest. :) Now I wonder if any other Googlers will read that and tease me. ;)

Let's open up the thread. If people want to start new topics, that's cool too, but feel free to post on here too..


 6:06 am on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

Not wishing to go off thread, but I can assure you that this thread is going to break some page view records in my opinion at Webmasterworld.

GG, you Da Man.



 6:10 am on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

Thanks for answering the questions posted GG, much appreciated.


 6:11 am on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

Hey GoogleGuy - Good Stuff thanks for spending some time to answer some questions.

Regarding your post - do penalties last forever you mentioned that if a webmaster is pretty sure they did something wrong they could email Google and with confirmation of what they thought they did wrong and the remedies they have put in place.

What if the webmaster has recieved a penanlty but they did know what they did wrong - by emailing Google will Google on occassion confirm to the webmaster why the penalty applies....? (this can also go with the question regarding webmasters who do not design a website around search engines - they could have designed a page for functionailty reasons that may have caused a penality - yet this webmaster may have no idea why - I think we do occassionally see posts from webmasters who truelly have no idea why they have a penalty)

Anyway thanks for the great posts :)


 6:14 am on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

Dayo_UK, penalties are really pretty rare, so usually there's someone in the company that knows what they did wrong, even if they don't want to admit "I put hidden text on the front page."

Sometimes we run out of time or space in our crawl and can't get to every single web site, but I think the people who see that happening can often wait for another crawl/index cycle and hopefully we'll pick them up then.


 6:15 am on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

People, let's remember to stay with discussing the points that GoogleGuy has so graciously addressed for us in his posts so we can stay focused and on topic.

Also, once we start allowing responses, it is important that everyone sticks to the questions he addressed. There is no way we can let this thread turn into a free-for-all.



 6:19 am on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

Good point, Marcia. I'm sure people may want spin-off discussions into different threads, too. Yet again I'm thankful for the hard-working mods here. I basically got an itch to post a bunch tonight, and the mods quickly made a post-only thread without any advance warning from me. Hats off to all the mods here at WebmasterWorld.

[edited by: GoogleGuy at 6:20 am (utc) on June 12, 2003]


 6:20 am on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

Glad to read the thoughtful responses, GG.

I can't help but think we'd all be more interested to see some responses to the questions about Dominic, the next update, and current freshbot activity. Whatever you could say without giving away the store would be appreciated.


 6:21 am on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

thanks GG, were looking forward to the next installment of questions :)

Hats off :^) *smiths playing in the background*


 6:25 am on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

nerolabs, I appreciate the question. I feel uncomfortable giving promises about the future for any reason. I would hate it if we published an update date for example, and then something unexpected (machine failures, earthquakes, swarms of locusts) threw things off. The folks on webmaster forums do a pretty good job of identifying when anything changes on a search engine. I think that a lot of the answers that I can't necessarily talk about will be pretty clear when people look back in a little while, and that people will see soon that these are changes that will benefit users and webmasters. Also, there are many cool heads on these boards who have tackled this subject with a lot of wisdom already.


 6:27 am on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

Q: For many sites, the index page seems to be buried on search terms for which logic determines they should rank highly. Is this a transient feature, like some of the other recent issues, resulting from the changeover to newer data? Or is it due to a more fundamental algorithmic change?

A: I donít think itís a fundamental algorithmic change. I donít recall hearing about any changes would bring about long-term behavior like this. Iím pretty sure that itís more of a transient issue, and I wouldnít be concerned about this.

Googleguy, in your opinion, would the transient effect be eliminated with the 1 more traditional update that you said 1000 posts or so ago would take plus sometime in the future. (presumably this month)

Thanks for answering the questions!:)


 6:33 am on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

Once again, with apologies for the interruption. Another reminder, folks:

once we start allowing responses, it is important that everyone sticks to the questions he addressed. There is no way we can let this thread turn into a free-for-all.

If there are topics not covered by these responses, let's just wait on those and stay with that we have now.

[edited by: Marcia at 6:34 am (utc) on June 12, 2003]


 6:34 am on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

I think the next update should help with much of it, mrguy. I'm not going to say that it will take care of every possible thing, but the trend should start being more clear. I know I'll certainly help with testing, and we'll welcome feedback on whether there's anything that we've missed. I'll be around to hear what people have to say and make sure that we're doing the right things.


 6:35 am on Jun 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

Thanks for answering my (and nerolabs) question about the next update.

[edited by: Marcia at 6:39 am (utc) on June 12, 2003]

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