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Google's Florida Update - a fresh look
We've been around the houses - why not technical difficulties?
superscript



 
Msg#: 20566 posted 10:20 pm on Dec 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

For the past four or five weeks, some of the greatest (and leastest) Internet minds (I include myself in the latter) have been trying to figure out what has been going on with Google.

We have collectively lurched between one conspiracy theory and another - got ourseleves in to a few disagreements - but essentially found ourselves nowhere!

Theories have involved Adwords (does anyone remember the 'dictionary' concept - now past history.)

And Froogle...

A commercial filter, an OOP filter, a problem caused by mistaken duplicate content, theories based on the contents of the Directory (which is a mess), doorway pages (my fault mainly!) etc. etc.

Leading to the absurd concept that you might be forced to de-optimise, in order to optimise.

Which is a form of optimisation in itself.

But early on, someone posted a reference to Occam and his razor.

Perhaps - and this might sound too simple! - Google is experiencing difficulties.

Consider this, if Google is experiencing technical difficulties regarding the sheer number of pages to be indexed, then the affected pages will be the ones with many SERPs to sort. And the pages with many SERPs to sort are likely to be commercial ones - because there is so much competition.

So the proposal is this:

There is no commercial filter, there is no Adwords filter -Google is experiencing technical difficulties in a new algo due to the sheer number of pages to be considered in certain areas. On page factors havbe suffered, and the result is Florida.

You are all welcome to shoot me down in flames - but at least it is a simple solution.


 

Brett_Tabke

WebmasterWorld Administrator brett_tabke us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 20566 posted 2:42 pm on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

> found ourselves nowhere!

No so grasshopper.

> Theories have involved Adwords

Follow the money, use the force luke - whats the difference?

> remember the 'dictionary' concept - now past history.

I do believe parts of that will be making a major comeback.

> And Froogle...

Whatever. There is also Google News - go4it ;-)

> A commercial filter

Hence the conspiracy theories.

> an OOP filter

We could only dream.

>caused by mistaken duplicate content

That was a real reach.

> absurd concept that you might be forced to de-optimize, in order to optimize.

Whoa big fella. Don't dismiss it out of hand because there may be some truth to it.

> which is a form of optimization in itself.

True to a degree, but this type is not "Fake able".

> experiencing difficulties.

RC said something the other day similar too, "ever put your foot down on the accelerator in the snow and have the car end up pointing the other direction?"

> There is no commercial filter,

agreed.

> there is no Adwords filter

agreed.

> experiencing technical difficulties

I don't think so - atleast not in the same way as you do.
A natural few bugs to be worked out on any new software? Yes.
Unforeseen bugs? No.

> but at least it is a simple solution.

Too simple.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is going to look like magic. (AC Clark)

Google didn't buy Applied SEMANTICS because it tasted great and was less filling.

glengara

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 20566 posted 3:05 pm on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

*A natural few bugs to be worked out on any new software? Yes.
Unforeseen bugs? No.*

Sounds like a programmers Mantra ;-)

superscript



 
Msg#: 20566 posted 3:05 pm on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

Hi Brett - fair enough :)

But have you tried a search for Applied Semantics using their keywords?

Only 'Applied Semantics' brings them up for me post-Florida.

(and yes, they have an Adword in place!)

Miop

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 20566 posted 3:10 pm on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

Semantics in my niche appears to mean select as priority those pages with as few sentences or words on as possible.

What I have found interesting is that if you search for green widgettery (British spelling), you get these horrible irrelevant results (except for the top three sites), whereas if you search for green widgetry (US spelling) the results are sound.

john316

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 20566 posted 3:11 pm on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

It's called "Pay up".

Semantics, schemantics, when identifying a tree, you need to look at the fruit.

superscript



 
Msg#: 20566 posted 3:13 pm on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

Any sufficiently advanced technology is going to look like magic. (AC Clark)

When Arthur Clark wrote this; in anticipating developments like the hand-held calculator, the artificial satellite etc., he was surely referring to advanced technology that actually worked!

Brett_Tabke

WebmasterWorld Administrator brett_tabke us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 20566 posted 4:03 pm on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

> Applied Semantics keywords

That is an oxymoron. Can you really have keywords or phrases in a semantical algo based world? Think about it.

Mardi_Gras

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 20566 posted 4:18 pm on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

> Can you really have keywords or phrases in a semantical algo based world?

So (since I presume the answer to your question is no) what does that leave the webmaster to focus on - that is, in terms of identfiying the value and content of the site for search engines when searchers are using keywords and phrases to tell the engine what they are looking for?

Where is the connect between the search engine - which I think you are saying will not be using keywords and phrases to identify content - and the user, who depends on those very words and phrases words to identify what they are trying to find? How do we bring the two together?

Brett_Tabke

WebmasterWorld Administrator brett_tabke us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 20566 posted 4:27 pm on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

Nice summary MG. That is the question of the hour.

netguy

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 20566 posted 4:50 pm on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

>> SE "will not be using keywords and phrases to identify content"

Mardi_Gras, Google's own search tips:

* DO what seems obvious first.
* DO use the most common words that describe your search.
* DON'T be afraid to type in keywords that come to mind.
* DON'T be intimidated. Type in single or multiple keywords.
* DON'T bother with advanced search techniques, such as +, -, quotes, etc...
>> [google.com...]

Obviously, these statements will need a major overhaul for much of the 'commerce' sections of their searches.

-the two words I'm most concerned about in the few segments I've been hit hard in, are 'intuitive' and 'relevant.'

Hissingsid

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 20566 posted 5:30 pm on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

Google didn't buy Applied SEMANTICS because it tasted great and was less filling.

Hi Brett,

I guess that a technology that can "dynamically analyze a domain name" and match ads to the meaning of that domain name, might also be able to analyze search terms and decide to treat ones that it might use in its domain park to send ads for which it would receive income, differently. So differently as to cause the disaster that many of us are now seeing.

Also this "results optimized for the English language" might explain why we are not hearing complaints from non-english areas.

How long have you known that Florida was all about implementation of Applied Semantics technology?

FWIW if Google is going that commercial it may become far more profitable but it will kill itself as a search engine that people look to for honest results.

Best wishes

Sid

vbjaeger

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 20566 posted 5:42 pm on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

I am sure I am not the only person here that does not fully understand the meaning of "applied semantics". Could somebody break it down? Possibly with some examples?

Thanks in advance

vbjaeger

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 20566 posted 5:46 pm on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

hehe...nevermind. Did a little homework on my own. Is this right?

polysemy (words with multiple meanings like DRIVE or SET)
synonymy (different words with similar meanings like AIRPLANE and AIRCRAFT)
multi-word expressions which need to be treated as such (BILL CLINTON)
errors, typos and poor grammar

For example, a key word search engine would find it hard to distinguish between A RED FISH and A FISH IN THE RED SEA

?

kaled

WebmasterWorld Senior Member kaled us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 20566 posted 5:51 pm on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

Question
Did Florida work as well as Google expected?

Answer (best guess)
No

Why not?
Either the algo is flawed, the implementation (program code) is flawed, or the settings are flawed.

Ultimately, no-one outside Google can know which is true. My own feeling is that the algo is flawed. However, that means that Google will spend the next few months looking for bugs and playing with settings but ultimately they'll be wasting their time. But, I could be wrong.

If Florida was a result of the fight against spam, it failed. The results are not always better on ATW, but I see fewer duplicate results and fewer pure spam sites. If the public knew about ATW (and ATW could handle the traffic) right now Google would be in big, VERY BIG, trouble.

Kaled.

Bobby

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 20566 posted 6:11 pm on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

Just curious, have we had any definitive statement from Googleguy or Google as to whether or not Google itself is happy with the new results being returned?

Miop

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 20566 posted 6:15 pm on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

Well I hope they aren't - I just looked up 'free ****** pictures' and got a load of porn, a website on Scotland, and a bunch of shops that have free shipping.
If that's relevant I'll eat my website [1], and it's not even a commercial search.
1. Might as well anyway.

kaled

WebmasterWorld Senior Member kaled us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 20566 posted 6:20 pm on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

Just curious, have we had any definitive statement from Googleguy or Google as to whether or not Google itself is happy with the new results being returned?

The likelihood that Google would publicly admit it's unhappy with its results is only marginally greater than than a pig named Zephram spontaneously opening a transwarp conduit and becoming the first earthling to travel to other stars.

Kaled.

[edited by: kaled at 6:21 pm (utc) on Dec. 13, 2003]

superscript



 
Msg#: 20566 posted 6:31 pm on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

The likelihood that Google would publicly admit it's unhappy with its results is only marginally greater than...

Precisely - the algo appears to be flawed. This argument is made on the dual bases that:

1) This is the only explanation that satisfies all concerns.

2) it is by far the simplest explanation.

And of course Google would not admit this - in much the same that any company will not admit a fundamental problem in the service it provides.

john316

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 20566 posted 6:40 pm on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

If the new semantic algo is so good, why don't they apply it to the Adwords inventory? I think the Adwords department has a much better algo, maybe they could share some tips with the search team.

DaveAtIFG

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 20566 posted 6:58 pm on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

Perhaps - and this might sound too simple! - Google is experiencing difficulties.
Or as it has been so eloquently stated on numerous occasions, "Google is broke!" :)

The "Google dance" has been a fact of life for so many years that we all just expect it to occur with predictable regularity, and we anticipate a certain duration for the dance before the band quits, the lights go out, and we all go home.

I'm suspecting Florida, or Florida/Galen is more properly F - L - O - R - I - D - A. It's still a work IN PROGRESS, and that our old mindset about what a Google update looks like is flawed.

In retrospect, it's clear to me that Dominic/Esmeralda (Domerlda?) was about AdSense. From the AdSense FAQ, "We go beyond simple keyword matching to understand the context and content of web pages." That sure sounds like "semantics" to me. Domerelda was not a "traditional dance." I'm convinced it was all one big update done primarily to facilitate AdSense and semantics.

Based on SERPs I regularly follow as well as miscellaneous searches, and viewing Domerelda as one lengthy update, I conclude Florida (or Flalen ;) ) is still in progress. Further, I think Google is incorporating semantic search as used in AdSense, into the entire database. It took a while for Domerelda to conclude, so I expect Flalen to take a while too.

<added>Moved some pesky commas!</added>

[edited by: DaveAtIFG at 7:12 pm (utc) on Dec. 13, 2003]

superscript



 
Msg#: 20566 posted 7:02 pm on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

Hi Brett,

There are a couple of posts here relating to your prior-knowledge of these events.

1) Please expand on your prior knowledge.

2) I created this thread approximately 24 hours ago: it has been sitting in pre-moderation until you launched it with the apparent motivation to shoot it down.

3) You refer to 'new software' in your 'shoot down' - is this an admission that Google is now using new software, rather than tweaking a new algo?

4) WebmasterWorld, now with it's 2nd Google representative, may well be sailing too close to the wind to be judged as independent.

5) I guess I'll get booted off now ;)

seasalt

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 20566 posted 7:57 pm on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld, with it's 2nd Google representative

There are actually three reps now. Google, AdWords and AdSense.

The Google reps and Brett do at times seem to be very cryptic, vague and Googlephilic. Maybe we just need to use some "applied semantics" in order to find out what they are really trying to say. I know where we could get help with that. :)

seasalt

vitaplease

WebmasterWorld Senior Member vitaplease us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 20566 posted 8:08 pm on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

superscript,

There have been countless post/thread starts on Florida, most of them never make it. The fact that yours has, (if late) just means it's food for discussion.

>> WebmasterWorld, now with it's 2nd Google representative, may well be sailing too close to the wind to be judged as independent.

I think the fact that Google representatives choose this forum to inform/help/react is one of the reasons so many hang out here. There have been countless moments when the google flaming here would have been good enough reason for any rep to turn away.

All these algo or filter changes are just steps to improvement. Call it broke, I will agree for many (but in absolute sense a minority of) search queries, but I'd call Google predominantly spammed in many areas before Florida.

[edited by: vitaplease at 8:15 pm (utc) on Dec. 13, 2003]

Brett_Tabke

WebmasterWorld Administrator brett_tabke us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 20566 posted 8:14 pm on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

First, lets try to stay within the scope of the thread here. I know it is a broad topic, but these threads have tended to be free-for-alls, and we are doing what we can to keep them on topic - and hence, usable.

>prior knowledge

Had none other than their seemingly bizarre out-of-the-blue purchase of Oingo/applied semantics.

Semantic analysis is much much more complex than simple sentence structure. Think of it more like a grammar checker.
A bayesian spam filter can spot this as spam:

> The big brown dog ate the little brown dogs lunch.

But it can not determine which of the following is spam:

> The quick brown phentermine fed the doctor and then jumped heels over head to the the xenical box and ran into the viagra wall.

> The quick brown fox, jumped over the lazy dog.

However, semantic analysis could flag the first as spam on-the-fly and self learn.

grab a copy of Outlook 2003 and turn the spam filter up to full. It not only grabs existing spam, it "learns" what is spam in the future. Incredible hit rates.


Why does 80% of it explain Florida? Because most of the utterly bizarre searches we've seen since Florida, are in sectors that have very little text on the page. Most are in keyword spaces where generated pages are the norm (travel, hotel, weather, drugs, shopping/commercial product cats, shopping cart driven purchase pages, and ultimately - every ones index pages). There just isn't enough text on those pages to make heads-nor-tails of. It explains the "dictionary" phenom and the "over optimization" phenom.

I don't think it explains everything and I do agree there must have been some specific filters that nailed people in certain categories.


> has google said.

yes, there is that one interview with a Google rep stating their feedback from the public was positive. They also said they were out to increase the quality of the engine.

If they felt there were a problem with the update, it would have been rolled back like they did those other two times.

I don't think anyone has, or will have the whole story for a bit longer, but some of the fog is starting to clear. In the meantime, build content - text rich valid (nonkeyword stuffed) content.

Bobby

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 20566 posted 8:26 pm on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

there is that one interview with a Google rep stating their feedback from the public was positive

This kind of generic response is damage control in my view and does not answer the question "does Google think the results are better?"

I'd like to put the question to Googleguy, and see if he as a user believes the results are better, and not as a representative of Google.

What do you think Brett?

rainbow

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 20566 posted 8:35 pm on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

Brett wrote:
>>> Why does 80% of it explain Florida? Because most of the utterly bizarre searches we've seen since Florida, are in sectors that have very little text on the page. Most are in keyword spaces where generated pages are the norm (travel, hotel, weather, drugs, shopping/commercial product cats, shopping cart driven purchase pages, and ultimately - every ones index pages). There just isn't enough text on those pages to make heads-nor-tails of. <<<<

I don't agree as I have seen far too many mum & pap sites with almost no texts on a 4 page web site now being on #4 for a competitive keyword / phrase. And I do not longer see some really content rich on topic sites with hundreds of good inbound links on the top 100.

O.K. .. it might be that part of the algo has a semantic analysis. If this is the case it has failed in most categories.

For me it's more like a bug. Like a broken index.

marin

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 20566 posted 8:46 pm on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

<Semantic analysis is much much more complex than simple sentence structure. >

Semantic involve boolean operators; try to use ">" or "<" in or search - no effect!

Brett_Tabke

WebmasterWorld Administrator brett_tabke us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 20566 posted 8:53 pm on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

> what do I think

Thanks - g is still the engine with the most relevant results.

However, one point I disagree with the majority on, is that relevance is the be-all-end-all mark of a quality search engine.

I find Teoma in many respects more relevant on particular searches than Google. I also find it much easier to use than Google. However, it doesn't have the depth that Google or Altavista has.

I find AV results very good right now. In alot of cats, they are better than G. Unfortunatly, they are buried 2 levels deep under ads (overture/paid inclusion). I will not use Alta because there is no determining if you are clicking on a paid advertisement or not.

I find Ink results better in some commercial cats, but I also find Ink excessively commercial top heavy. I also will not use an ink engine because I don't want to click on paid ads. The majority of my time I surf for information, not who has the thickest wallet. If I want products, I will got to a affiliate seller like cnet.

I like the depth and speed of alltheweb, but they never had the algo to give the laser like precision that Google still gives.

I do like Google. Not nearly as much as I did in late 2000 into late 2002. Right now, pages are bigger than ever and loaded up with code gimicks and mucked up adwords spam. I feel it is too much at Google so I use search engines as little as possible any more. I proactively seek out alternatives to side step using engines at all.

Do I think Florida was a good update? Ultimatly - yes I do. If it were not for all the uproar, I would not have known -- and still can not tell from simple usage -- that there even was an update. The general results are as good, if not better than ever.

Specific problems to be resolve? Sure. He who buys the first year, first version of any car is going take it back to the dealer a few times, but it is doubtful they will recall it. To me, it is becoming clear, that Google feels it is full speed ahead.

glengara

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 20566 posted 9:15 pm on Dec 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

* full speed ahead.*
What's that big white thing?

This 260 message thread spans 9 pages: 260 ( [1] 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 > >
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