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This 97 message thread spans 4 pages: 97 ( [1] 2 3 4 > >     
Latest Google guidelines to survival?
Top ranked sites are now #150... how to survive?

 7:37 pm on Jan 27, 2004 (gmt 0)

I've noticed the super thread about last Google major update. And also noticed some of my good ranked sites moved down deep.
So I guess something has changed in Google's appreciations...

What are the guidelines for a Google friendly site those days?



 5:22 am on Feb 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

Same as it's been for a long time:


It works for me!


 11:08 am on Feb 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

Same as it's been for a long time:

have you been on holiday?


 8:52 pm on Feb 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

have you been on holiday?

Hopefully he has had a nice holiday recently :-)
I haven't had a holiday, been through all the Google dance threads, and bought the T-shirts, but I do agree with ScottM.

Many webmasters spend too much of time optimising their sites for Google, tweaking, exchanging links, worrying about the latest algo changes. For those who rely on their sites for a living that's a perfectly valid and understandable activity.

Imagine for a moment someone who doesn't NEED traffic. I know it's difficult, but bear with me here. Imagine someone who likes a subject enough to built a website around it. He does his meta tags etc but doesn't worry about keyword density, anchor text, PR, or H1 tags. He just writes his articles and posts them. Over time he has accumulated a thousand pages of good content. Other sites link to his articles because they believe it's good stuff. But he still doesn't worry about Google.

These are the sites that are least affected by the Floridas and Austins and Londons and Sydneys. *Most* of them go down a bit in one dance and up a lot in the next one... continuing to show a net result of large growth over the year.


 9:06 pm on Feb 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

ok, now imagine a real world where old forums, large directories and sites that offer to compare prices for you replace sites with content and that have been around for years with good links. Actually both your examples and mine are both true. The point being its pot luck what kind of serps you get on a particualr search. It is simply not true to suggest that you are safe if you have good links, been around for years and have good unique content because these sites for many have gone. Thats a fact. They have been replaced by crap. To suggest there is a way to build a site and be immune from the random exiles being handed out by Google is simply not true.


 9:14 pm on Feb 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

you can't be "immune from random exiles" and there are sometimes spam/affiliate/amazon/price comparison type sites in SERPS that annoy the hell out of me too. But I think that ironically the less concerned you are about Google rankings the better you'll tend to do in the long run. Panic at a 30% drop at one Google dance and make major changes to your site and you are less likely to see a 50% jump in traffic after the next dance.

It's always pot luck but it may be the case that in the long run pot luck will be in your favour if you don't try to out-guess the algo. That may not be an option for most webmasters, but NOT making major (optimisation) changes may be the best long term plan for others.

[edited by: Macro at 9:19 pm (utc) on Feb. 1, 2004]


 9:16 pm on Feb 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

With you on that SoapyStar - but, perhaps understandably, many people just can't face up to it.


 9:20 pm on Feb 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

I honestly believe that there are quite a lot of people here who have cracked the main points of the new algo but they're not saying for obvious reasons, the main one being that tens of thousands read these posts every day. Just sticky me with the details and I'll keep quiet..honest!


 9:28 pm on Feb 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

Chelsea, I do appreciate that lots of sites have had problems (to put it mildly) with recent dances. The lengths of the threads testifies to that :-)

But at least Google keep trying. Either they are 1) doctoring the results to affect commercial sites... or 2) they are not. If they are doctoring the SERPS *unfairly* they will be long term losers as customers will desert them. I'm not talking the odd thread here saying: "I hate Google. I'm going to tell all my friends to use AV". I'm talking long term. If customers desert Google, those customers will need to find another SE and they'll find one that delivers the results for them. That SE will need some criteria to base their SERPS on and hopefully they won't make the same mistakes.

Option 2: they are not doctoring the results and are just trying to improve quality. If that's the case - which I believe it is - Google may take a hit or two at one dance on some subjects/type of sites and make some corrections for the next dance. And try again. And again. As long as they are trying to improve results we've got to appreciate that not all webmasters will be happy with the change. It takes probably only 5% of WW members to be unhappy ... and you'll get threads as long as the Florida ones! :-)

[edited by: Macro at 9:30 pm (utc) on Feb. 1, 2004]


 9:29 pm on Feb 1, 2004 (gmt 0)



 9:33 pm on Feb 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

Definitely Adwords. If most webmasters used the free traffic as a bonus rather than their main business then you won't get so many "this DC has changed", "this DC is now updated", "this DC....blah, blah" type of obsession we see with the Google dance threads.


 9:38 pm on Feb 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

I think that's the way it's all going to be - if you have a restaurant then you might get a review or you might get a listing in a magazine, but if you have no reputation or are just starting out then you'll need to pay for advertising...


 9:45 pm on Feb 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

Same as it's been for a long time:


I disagree. I've been following those guidelines for a while, have a number of content-heavy information sites.

This isn't a whinge: most of my pages escaped Austin unscathed. However a few, seemingly randomly, have just disappeared and the new SERPS show less than useful pages instead.

How many others might disappear next time?

Why go to the effort building quality pages when Google seems to randomly dump on some?

I don't know what the key to the new Google algorithm is but it certainly isn't quality of content.


 9:49 pm on Feb 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

valeyard, how did Florida affect you? When you take Florida together with Austin, together with the next one are you still saying the net effect will be a drop in your traffic overall? (Algo changes WILL involve drops in some pages. Not all of them may be fair or improve relevancy)


 9:57 pm on Feb 1, 2004 (gmt 0)


Florida didn't touch me at all (that I noticed), possibly because I've got nothing to do with very high commercial terms like real estate, hotels, casinos, whatever.

A bit of "reshuffling" in SERPS is expected and acceptable. To go from page one to nowhere is not.

Like I say, I haven't been hit too badly yet. However the fact that some of my content has - for no discernible reason - been trashed means I can't trust Google any more. Who knows what will happen next time?

Trust is a bit like virginity, there's no getting it back.

Google are well and truly... well, you can guess the rest.


 10:05 pm on Feb 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

I still stand by the original statement I made. I've been sitting rock solid at the same #1/#2 position for several websites through every update. All of them.

I realize that some people have dropped in position, and I'm not trying to be insensitive, just pointing out what works for not only one site, but several sites.

There is a reason why some sites stay rock solid and others bounce around and Brett's primer is the best advice I've found.


 10:40 pm on Feb 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

So there are actually two stock responses to people with good quality sites that have suffered:

a) You've over SEOd, or,
b) you haven't followed Brett's guidelines ;)

I have a top performing site (probably an 'authority' in the technical sense in its own small way) because I've used no tricks, and built it along the same good solid lines that Brett has famously laid out. But this doesn't explain why it now doesn't perform for certain keywords, or indeed why it is thrashed in the SERPs for certain highly relevant searches by PR0 sites selling an entirely different product. (On one search term the other week, my own CV was ranking higher than my site! Surely people want to learn about or buy the product, not read the CV of someone in the industry!) The SERPs in my sector are dreadful today: this is not really an opinion, any sane person looking at them would agree with me. So enough of the chastising please ;)

[edited by: Chelsea at 10:45 pm (utc) on Feb. 1, 2004]


 10:44 pm on Feb 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

I followed Bretts guidelines on 12 sites.
Those with UK and Australia specific domains are, in the main, trashed, whilst those with US and Canada domains are OK. Very strange.


 10:52 pm on Feb 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

The SERPs in my sector are dreadful today

I am seeing the same thing in my sector - results at the top that have nothing (or at best very little) to do with the search keywords... truly bad results... not because I'm not there, but because the sites that are showing up are total c!@p


 10:59 pm on Feb 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

Yep, adwords is how to stay on first page, that and luck.


 11:13 pm on Feb 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

adwords is how to stay on first page,

I do not use adwords for my sites. A competitor does. I rank thoroughly higher in each case.

They aren't related.


 12:07 am on Feb 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

Chelsea, there's no chastising.

The problem is that if you have expectations of free traffic, whether from the amount of SEO, or historic levels of free traffic, then you are more likely to be disappointed or elated at some pages going up or down in SERPS each time Google changes algo.

The problem is this expectation some webmasters have that they are *entitled* to free traffic.

I haven't analysed my keywords and haven't kept records of how they fared through the dances. Looking at the logs for one of my sites now I find that after Florida some really good pages seem to have dropped 50% in amount of Google traffic. About 40 other pages dropped in Google post Austin. BUT, overall my traffic from Google for the last week is 140% of what it was last year this time - like for like. I didn't realise it till I just checked. Traffic may drop at the next algo change, it may go up... just as long as Google's *intention* with each algo change is to improve the quality of the SERPS.


 12:14 am on Feb 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

A DMOZ listing IMO is critical to getting anywhere with the new Google - it seems to being used to define the theme of your site. If you can't get one - get a link off the index page of sites in the category you need to be in. Its all speculation, but I have observed some sites return from the abyss - a new DMOZ listing or link seems to be the common factor.


 12:29 am on Feb 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

Fair enough Macro - I'm used to going up and down in the SERPs. But I think most people would agree that what has happened over the past 3 months or so is somewhat different to the usual, expected fluidity.


 12:32 am on Feb 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

>>I do not use adwords for my sites. A competitor does. I rank thoroughly higher in each case.

Good for you... but I was talking to someone else about something else. Theres one way to stay on the first page regardless of serps, and it involves money. Im glad things are good for you now... but G doesnt care.


 1:18 am on Feb 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

Theres one way to stay on the first page regardless of serps, and it involves money.

Oh, I understand what you meant now. Yep, you are right. My apologies. I thought you meant that paying for AdWords get's you a better position in the Serps on Google...and that isn't true. But now I realize you meant to pay for AdWords. And THAT gets you on the front page, but not a ranking increase in the SERPs

Sorry about that misunderstanding!


About me? Yes, you are correct. About the quality of their product? I beg to differ.

The topic of this thread is "..what are the latest Google guidelines". AdWords is another subject altogether.


 9:51 am on Feb 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

Chelsea, I don't know about "more" or "less" change over the last few months. Perhaps the type of sites that have been adversely affected recently are the highly competitive ones and/or the SEOed ones (white hat/black hat/grey hat/multicoloured hat) whose webmasters are more likely to post here. For every page that's gone down another one has moved up. It's unlikely you'll get a similar number of posts saying "I used to be #180, now I'm #3, damn, bl**dy Google, I've lost faith in them, I'll never use them anymore, I hope they rot in hell".

What would be a step in the wrong direction is if most of the pages that have moved up in SERPS are from spammy or price comparison type sites. If in some subject areas that is the case then hopefully Google will correct it in the next dance. They don't have a choice. If spam takes over Google, Google will ultimately cease to exist.

There are some spam sites still in SERPS. I get them now as I used to before, I get them in my subject areas and when I'm generally looking for information outside the subects areas of my sites. They do not seem to be dominating the SERPS though. Since yesterday I've done some more research on my logs. I've got plenty to complain about both on Florida and Austin as many, many pages seem to be getting less traffic from Google. But the *overall* picture over all my white hat sites (some NOT optimised at all) is one of substantially more traffic from G SERPS.

ScottM's msg #2 is still the best answer to the original question.

Just inPrefs

 1:40 pm on Feb 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

Hy everybody!

My advice is simple: make your website for your visitors by adding big and great content. Think human. The robots wants to see this content made for the end-user. Don't think in algos, think with the user in mind. "Don't buther be the best cause you'll die like the rest...". Be a nice webmaster, not a raving SEO.



 2:33 pm on Feb 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

Fine words JustinPrefs! but if you look at the high positioned sites in the SERPs dished up by G for my sector this just doesn't apply. They're in the main horrible little sites, with low content and poor info. There's 10x more authoritative info on my humble effort ;) - but it's gone from #1 to page 2/3, and on some terms it's off the radar.

It's still gratifying though when someone e-mails and says "I really liked your site." Doesn't put food in the oven though if 'the world's finest search engine' has decided you're far too good for the masses and has put you into 'stealth mode' :)


 3:33 pm on Feb 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

JustinPrefs, nice post.

Doesn't put food in the oven though

That's a large part of the problem Chelsea. I do sympathise with webmasters who *rely* on free traffic to put "food in the oven", but that doesn't mean I think that relying on free traffic is a good business plan.

Perhaps if they weren't any SEOs Google had to fight against, if they weren't millions of sites devoting a lot of resources to manipulating/influencing SERPS, if they weren't black hat/grey hat/dunce hat webmasters they had to cope with... then Google'd be able to do a better job of giving Joe Surfer the relevant results he seeks. And we'd all have less of the algo experimenting and tweaking that sometimes comes up with irrelevant results for everybody.

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