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Should Google just switch back to pre-Florida?
John_Caius




msg:146775
 1:08 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

Lots of comments in recent threads along the lines of:

"quality of SERPs has dropped"
"need to be an eBay store to get to the top"
"Google has lost its 'cool' tag"
"increase in visitors from MSN, AV etc."

Google thinks its SERPs have improved but are there really many areas that have genuinely benefited from less spam in the last three months?

If not, should Google just assign recent changes to the dustbin of history and reload the pre-Florida algorithm, then go from there?

It strikes me that, if those quotes really do represent the true state of affairs, perhaps spam in certain areas where people usually expect spam might be better for the Google image than poor results across the board, especially in areas where 'normal' web users are starting to notice, such as looking for information.

A thread for objective analysis of SERPs you follow as a user, not SERPs you follow as a website owner... :)

 

Brett_Tabke




msg:146776
 2:31 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

>comments

sure - by those that got the boot or hook.
Aside from that - no one anywhere outside of the 'webmaster world' even knows that anything happened on Google in the last year.

From what they know, if you go to Google and type in "www.hotmail.com" or "www.yahoo.com", those are still the first results and they can click to go check their mail. That is the computer literacy of 50% of the internet users.

Haecceity




msg:146777
 2:37 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

"quality of SERPs has dropped" = "my site has dropped"

"Google has lost its 'cool' tag" = "I'm pissed off that my site has dropped"

My referals from AV have risen, but that's probably because AV has been getting better, not because Google is getting worse. A year or so ago AV's results were a joke as far as my field goes. Sites with the keyword repeated five or six times just in the page title were at #1. I call that spam.

rcjordan




msg:146778
 2:41 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

>no one anywhere outside of the 'webmaster world' even knows that anything happened on Google in the last year.

Nor really cares about Google or any other SE for that matter. You can look at my logs for a testament to the pure crap JohnQ is using daily. As mentioned in other posts, I'm getting more traffic from rogue toolbars than some search engines that we here consider to be significant.

too much information




msg:146779
 2:56 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

I actually think the SERPs are getting better. Sure I lost page 1 for a site or two, but the same thing happened after Florida and after sitting on my hands for a week or two I actually landed above my previous positions.

What I noticed today is that my searches are bringing up more foreign language sites. I'm in the US and searching on www and have seen many german language sites. I'm sure things will iron out in a few days.

I can also say that I have seen a large increase in traffic from Yahoo. As far as I know Yahoo is still serving up Google results (or a version of them anyway). So a drop in Google traffic along with an increase in Yahoo traffic does seem to tell me that people are trying new things.

Of course the Yahoo traffic could have been from an Ink. test, I don't have a way of verifying that though.

digitalghost




msg:146780
 2:58 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

>>Aside from that - no one anywhere outside of the 'webmaster world'

Wrong. People outside of webmaster and SEM circles are noticing. Take a look at online shopping figures. It's not the SEOs and SEMs doing all that shopping.

Recently overheard: "Google is for geezers". ;) "Did Ebay buy Google"? "Google sold out, Hollywood image, no soul". (from college students at a local coffee shop)

>>switch back

I don't think they need to hit reverse, they just need to plan better and move forward with users in mind. Progress rarely comes without a few setbacks and I think we're seeing the setbacks now.

dotme




msg:146781
 2:59 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

Not that it matters to Google, but here is my opinion:

1) Spam to me is a site who gets to the top for keywords unrelated to the content, or duplicate pages (20 domains all owned by the same organization) that dominate the top spots for a given search. If the keywords are on target for the topic, and only one site from the organization is listed, it's not spam to me even if they keyword stuffed their page. The more Google can control that, the happier I am.

2) But... I dislike intensely the stemming/plural results Google has now adopted. I know you can turn them off with a +, but not many surfers know that.

To me, you shouldn't ever ALTER a searcher's query. It seems arrogant and presumptuous.

It is okay, IMO, to put a link at the top and bottom of each results page saying "Show me other sites that are related to the terms "kw1" "kw2". If the searcher clicks on that link, they get the stemming/plural variations of their keywords. But the default results should be confined to the words they typed.

To make assumptions about what a surfer is seeking and modify their terms without their knowledge is, to me, not entirely ethical either. However, being a private company, I recognize that Google can do whatever it wants.

I am a web developer part time, but a systems engineer by trade. Since the algo changes, searching google for answers to obscure Microsoft error messages (for example) has become very frustrating - I am forced to consistently use the Advanced Search option to make sure that the exact words in the error messages are the only results returned.

I can't speak for Joe Surfer - only my own experiences. I'm Glad spammy sites are taking a hit, but I'm frustrated that my search terms are being modified by Google without asking me first.

My 2c :-)

ulounge




msg:146782
 3:25 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

I would have to agree with digitalghost. People ARE starting to realize.

I think the increase from other search engines and a greater number of clicks from secondary/more specific keywords stems from people not finding what they are looking for.

It is easy for alot of us to notice changing search results.

What does it say when the public, who isn't very sensitive to chaging results, starts to notice?

rfgdxm1




msg:146783
 3:35 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

>From what they know, if you go to Google and type in "www.hotmail.com" or "www.yahoo.com", those are still the first results and they can click to go check their mail. That is the computer literacy of 50% of the internet users.

Yep, this is the reality. However, a consequence of this is that any other SE that gives adequate results can easily draw people away from Google. Think here of Yahoo switching to Ink SERPs from Google. Assuming that Ink SERPs at that time are halfway decent, expect that Google will control a lot less of Internet search when Yahoo switches.

msgraph




msg:146784
 3:35 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

It seems Google did their best, and succeeded for the most part, on cleaning up one-two word searches. The price they paid for doing so, is that they ruined almost any sort of NL phrase search or many searches that have 3+ words.

Multi-word phrases is where Google totally bungled their results. And this where you will most likely find the repetitive results that show Amazon, Ebay, Yahoo Directory, Dmoz Directory, Google Directory, Looksmart, Zeal, Shopping MSN, Eshop MSN, Dealtime, Bizrate, Lycos Bizrate, and more. Unless you quote your phrases you are pretty much tied into this directory/product abyss over and over again. Do they really need to list multiple pages of all these sites in the top 30. What happened to the rest of the web?

The question is will users get tired of the repetitive results and having the "shortest path to what they want" taken away from them?

customdy




msg:146785
 3:42 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

Definate switch back... Since I have the Google Toolbar loaded on my browser and I am in the habit of using it for all searchs, I find myself consistantly searching for things and coming back with non-relevant results. Since we recently had snow here, my wife was trying to search for a certain type of sled for the kids, she couldn't find it using Google, I told her to go to Altavista and search and guess what, she found it.

I am 100% for removing the SPAM but I am also 100% for relevant results. If I can't have both, I would rather deal with the SPAM mixed in with some good on topic relevant results.

I am positive that if Google leaves the SERPS as is they will lose market share. It is not going to happen overnight, but overtime, one user at a time is going to make the switch. It is much easier to climb to the top than to stay at the top. The momentum that Google has will shift to some other search engine and once that happens Google will fall from #1. I think that Google probably has about 6 months to clean up their act.

yetanotheruser




msg:146786
 3:45 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

> A thread for objective analysis of SERPs you follow as a user, not SERPs you follow as a website owner...

I won't go into how our sites are performing - same as a'bdy I guess, some up/some down.. but as a google-user I have to agree with dotme...

When I _use_ google it usually to track down docs or throw an error-line into it. Maybe I'm wrong but I get the distinct impression the results in this area really have dropped and it has become very frustrating. Notwithstanding the fact that I keep seeing what I would consider major bugs - no snippets on results, 100% foreign language results, etc..

I haven't switched to AV just yet, but I am having to use more advanced searches to force it to do what I want - why on earth sites like perl.apache.org seem to have been penalised for instance I cannot fathom!

For all the good intentions I'm sure Google had when they came out with the Florida algo it's a pitty they seem to have lost sight of the things they were good at - finding the credible results you're looking for!

TTFN, :)

Loki99




msg:146787
 3:52 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

"From what they know, if you go to Google(altavista circa 1998) and type in "www.hotmail.com" or "www.yahoo.com", those are still the first results and they can click to go check their mail. That is the computer literacy of 50% of the internet users."

Sounds like a direct quote from altavista's mission statement.

kaled




msg:146788
 4:25 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

RE: Stemming

Google should place a checkbox on the screen indicating whether stemming is to be used or not. The default value should be stored in the cookie.

Personally, I don't find stemming to be a problem - I think they've done a good job - but you should be able to switch it on or off easily.

Kaled.

Trax




msg:146789
 4:25 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

yes they should

John_Caius




msg:146790
 4:42 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

Has anyone seen any articles on loss of quality in Google search results from a non-web oriented source e.g. BBC, CNN, USA Today etc.? That would be an interesting measure of whether the real world has noticed a change.

Brett_Tabke




msg:146791
 4:48 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

Google could randomly boot out 50% of the index, and John Q wouldn't know, notice, or care.

What they care about? John Q is more interested in when Google is going to change the logo, than they are the serps.

annej




msg:146792
 5:23 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

It seems Google did their best, and succeeded for the most part, on cleaning up one-two word searches. The price they paid for doing so, is that they ruined almost any sort of NL phrase search or many searches that have 3+ words.

Interesting and it seems to be true in my searches. Are there any stastics on the % of people searching with one, two, three or more search words? My stats show a little of everything.

Google seems to be giving much better informational results especially on the 1 and 2 word searches. But it's terrible when I am actually looking to buy something. Froogle is too limited and most people don't know it exists.

As a searcher I'd like to be able to select whether I'm looking for information or products to buy. But when I want to buy I don't want to be getting those webpages that are just about searching for me. That's why I am on Google, to search.

From the point of view of a webmaster of sites that are primarily informational Austin has been good to me. Brett's guidelines to good website building still hold true. The more worthwhile information on your topic the better you will do and I wonder how many of the sites that have really dropped during the last couple of updates have put the time and hard work into the sites and done what Brett suggests.

Autobahn




msg:146793
 5:43 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

Has anyone seen any articles on loss of quality in Google search results from a non-web oriented source e.g. BBC, CNN, USA Today etc.? That would be an interesting measure of whether the real world has noticed a change.

There was an article at DER SPIEGEL (which is the most popular weekly news magazine in Germany) regarding crappy results on google in November. I think that Joe Public is starting to realize that there is a problem ...

ryan26




msg:146794
 6:02 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

From what they know, if you go to Google and type in "www.hotmail.com" or "www.yahoo.com", those are still the first results and they can click to go check their mail. That is the computer literacy of 50% of the internet users.

I agree to a certain extent, but I would give the "basic" users more credit for knowing the staples of the Internet and their uses. For instance, if the basic user wants to find a book to buy online, my opinion is that he or she will likely first hit Amazon rather than Google. Same goes for CNN, eBay, other major sites.

Since Florida, however, results from sites like Amazon have drastically jumped in ranking for *major* keywords. As a search user, I personally find it a bit annoying to have to weed through results like that now to find what I am looking for. I consider my engine of choice to be there to help me find CONTENT-BASED WEB SITES. If I want a book, I know how to get to Amazon.

Amazon does deserve a fair shake, but this is where something like Froogle should come into play.

Sorry for picking on Amazon, but it's really supposed to just represent the average super-site. There are other examples I have seen where you could swap Amazon out for eBay, so on.

taxpod




msg:146795
 6:10 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

Years ago ordinary folk asked me how to find X or Y and I said Yahoo. So did perhaps millions of others. Thus was Yahoo built into the behemoth it is now. Then a few years back millions of people started answering the question with Google. Nowadays people are asking again.

Are we all still saying Google? That's the measure.

A few months back my wife, an avid searcher, finder and buyer, was searching for something but had zero luck on Google. She asked where she should go, I said ATW. Guess what, she found it in the first position. Does that mean ATW serps are better? No. But the first word out of my mouth was ATW and she has already told two friends, and so have they.

It's word of mouth, dude. Take an informal poll of your friends, co-workers and family. Then report back here. I'd be willing to bet that Google is the first word out of the mouths of most people but the real question is, is that changing.

I disagree with the comments regarding the ability/knowledge level of the average surfer. It used to be that way but as with anything that is in broad use, that has changed and will change more. People have been spending a lot of time online.

Spine




msg:146796
 6:16 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

To say that 50% of the web surfing public are ignorant, and will stay with Google is wishful thinking.

This is the same 50% who moved from one SE to the other before Google was king, why would they settle and stay with G when they didn't with AV? If people perceive crap results, it will start to happen.

I'm not saying it's happening yet though, momentum takes time to build.

I welcome Google being knocked off the top, things have been static for too long in this line of work.

hommealone




msg:146797
 6:25 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

I agree that the Google changes are a big mistake; sites with extremely high relevency - even ones that Google listed as highly relevent until recently - are now absent from the Google SERP's entirely. But those of you who agree with this should be posting messages on forums that appeal to general web users, not just SE forums, to spread the news and help influence Google.

>> As a searcher I'd like to be able to select whether I'm looking for information or products to buy. But when I want to buy I don't want to be getting those webpages that are just about searching for me.

Two great points!

[edited by: hommealone at 7:37 pm (utc) on Jan. 30, 2004]

DVDBurning




msg:146798
 7:12 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

Google could randomly boot out 50% of the index, and John Q wouldn't know, notice, or care.

Brett - while your postings at WW are always accurate and insightful, I'm not sure that I agree with the point that you seem to be making. Are you saying that because most Internet / Google users have very little expertise or limited experience, search quality doesn't matter? I hope not.

Even if search quality is not immediately and consciously obvious to most Internet users, it matters a lot. With Microsoft and Yahoo both working on taking over Google's near monopoly as the SE of choice, it matters more than ever. And the point made by a couple of others that professionals and experts advise their friends, family and colleagues is valid also. Build a better mousetrap, and the world will switch... no doubt about it. It may start with the experts, but the masses will follow the experts just like they did when you and I and everyone else started using Google instead of Altavista a few years ago.

textex




msg:146799
 7:44 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

Google is gonna crash and burn!
Remember what happend to AV? InfoSpace? Excite?

Big shift in power is happening. Google is going to be a thing of the past. Can't understand why they are holding oof on IPO.

Kirby




msg:146800
 8:00 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

>Google could randomly boot out 50% of the index, and John Q wouldn't know, notice, or care.

If John Q is shopping, he'll never notice. There are so many pages that could justifiably be page 1 anyway, but only room for 10 - a ridiculously low number in relation to the number of results returned for the majority of most commerce searches.

If John Q is looking for non-com info, then John Q would probably notice.

[edited by: Kirby at 8:02 pm (utc) on Jan. 30, 2004]

webdude




msg:146801
 8:02 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

yes

ulounge




msg:146802
 8:10 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

While i'm NOT convinced Google is going to fade away..
They will lose market share search if the quality of results drop.

Many Google users will not realize changes, but how many will?

People will be interested in the Google logo only as long as they stay interested in Google's results.

[webmasterworld.com...]

m2c1r




msg:146803
 8:19 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

I think some people here are underestimating the intelligence of the average users- sure they may not immediately notice that X number of sites have dropped out of the SERPs, but I have heard many people comment that they haven't been able to find things as well as they used to- and that includes information AND commercial searches.

And it is not as if because they didn't notice right now and change to AV this week that over time they won't migrate away just as it took a few years for so many peoplt to migrate to google.

I believe google is confusing spam with optimization. Spam in my mind is trying to get top listings for anything, relevant or not, optimization is trying to get top listings for relevance.

If I am selling widgets, it does me no good to spam other kws just to get some clicks to my widget site. But if I am a legitimate widget seller, then there is nothing wrong with me and other widget sellers trying to make ourselves known to widget seekers.

Google is seemingly imposing their own will on who should be regarded as an authority, but this is where they are messing up- rather than simply hosting a forum for people looking for things and people offering things, they are trying to get to deeply involved in the act of judging what's best for the users, and doing a poor job.

TryAgain




msg:146804
 8:28 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

Google could randomly boot out 50% of the index, and John Q wouldn't know, notice, or care.
What they care about? John Q is more interested in when Google is going to change the logo, than they are the serps.

What you are saying holds a lot of truth. But on the other hand, who made Google what they are today? Supposedly those same JohnQ's no?

Though people are creatures of habit.

(Like how hard it is for a browser like Mozilla, which is free and at least as good as IE, to get substantial market share.)

Anyway, it's not as if I've completely given up hope for Google or anything like that. (Or maybe I'm also too set in my ways?)

This 56 message thread spans 2 pages: 56 ( [1] 2 > >
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