| 7:23 pm on Feb 8, 2004 (gmt 0)|
Actually, its more than just impacting SEO.
Formerly (November), both commercial and content/info searches on various aspects of my field produced a wide range of solid commerical and solid content results.
Currently, the same keyword searches are producing SPAM, very shallow content, well pff-the-mark content, and in several cases, a series of duplicate websites that are seriously dominating (in attenuating) results.
| 7:24 pm on Feb 8, 2004 (gmt 0)|
Well, it's good to hear some positive user experience with searching Google. My recent experience was exactly the opposite.
I used Google during yesterday's gizmo quiz and no matter how I tweaked the search Google returned pages and pages of spammy SERPs, sites with the same four or five page titles, same content, but different URLs, calling themselves portals, directories, resources, etc. The results were so poor and it was so frustrating spinning my wheels I actually used the "Help us Improve" link.
Now surprisingly, I don't get the same results today. The SERPs are, in fact, excellent for all variations of the terms I searched yesterday. All the spammy pages gone.
A new Google responsiveness? Different data center? Whatever, I'm going to give G a couple of more tries this week and see how it goes.
| 8:06 pm on Feb 8, 2004 (gmt 0)|
The catch is "Not every seracher is as smart as you are".
Google knows what all is searched on top of mind and has defenitely attacked those KWS/Industries.
if there are 5 examples to show Well performing Google, there are 25 Results to let it down to crap.
thats a Bet!
| 8:41 pm on Feb 8, 2004 (gmt 0)|
That is what I have been saying all along. While some areas with each update get screwed up, the vast majority of searches produce good results.
I am especially dubious of complaints about how "all of google is going downhill" when the only examples that people use start with "in my area".
Well in my area the SERPs are good. In the areas I choose to search in the SERPs are almost always good. I have to do searches in areas that I just don't care about, either professionally or personally, (travel, gambling, real estate) before I get bad results. And in most of those cases I can get past the bad results by tweaking my search a little bit.
I'll believe the doom and gloom stories about google when I start seeing more traffic from other search engines.
| 9:01 pm on Feb 8, 2004 (gmt 0)|
Well we are just dumb old searchers in a non-commercial field. We would not know your SEO if you hit us on the head with it.
For us, the results were turned on their head two weeks ago, rendering Google practically useless for most searches. Our intranet has changed its default search to Altavista.
| 9:05 pm on Feb 8, 2004 (gmt 0)|
There is an interesting thread in the supporters forum on that very topic at the moment Big Dave, some people are now seeing trends away from Google in their logs.
My view is that when you are very specific in what you are searching for you can still get the best results from Google. On the other hand in some of the more commercial areas there is a lot chaff to be gone through, if you are not specific enough in your requirements.
| 9:28 pm on Feb 8, 2004 (gmt 0)|
I think when people state that there is a decline in the quality of Google search results "in their area", its because this is their area of expertise, they watch serps change on a daily basis, see the nuances.
When countless posts from different people in different areas echo eachother, one conculsion you may be able to draw is a general universality and conformity in the decline of quality.
That is not to say Google is useless. Far from it. It is just less useful than it was and requires more from the user in unearthing quality results.
| 9:38 pm on Feb 8, 2004 (gmt 0)|
I would tend to agree with the comment that the average "joe surfer" doesn't really know how to use a search engine. No doubt google is a great tool for students looking for study notes or webmasters looking for duplication of their content. I don't think the test of a great search engine is whether it can find and return the vast amount of obscure content it has indexed. It is rather how to return relevant content in an index that is saturated with very similiar content. Many times, affiliate sites can be less spammy than the sites of official companies that sign up the hordes of affiliates. Then again spam is in the eye of the beholder, nobody thinks their spam is spam.
| 9:41 pm on Feb 8, 2004 (gmt 0)|
Google's improvement over the past couple months is easily seen when searching for information. Websites that aren't first and foremost informational have been hurt, while sites that any reasonable bot should consider offering trustable information rise. Spammers obviously hate that. People who rely on reams of anchor text hate that. People who sell the same things as a million other people hate that.
Gambling is an example of Google at its best right now. The searches for the entire area are drastically superior to previously. And "drastically" is understating it. Genuine information sites rank well everywhere. Of course they still mix with some seo-piffle site built on zillions of links; and now also with trivial articles on the topic from cnn or major newspapers, but those weaker results are a major improvement over previously, and would disappear if localrank were included in this mix. There aren't many areas of the internet that are as competitive or pure money-focused, and the results are very good, and far and away better than any other search engine or Google pre-florida. And this is a good example area to focus on, because there ARE good informational sites out there on all topics, but they represent well under 1% of the sites pretending to be about the topic. Right now Google is doing a very, very good job of finding those 1% sites and ranking them sensibly, not perfect, but pretty darn good.
| 9:52 pm on Feb 8, 2004 (gmt 0)|
"Google's improvement over the past couple months is easily seen when searching for information."
But that is all we ever search for! For us, we used to get pages returned which at least covered the topic in hand. Now we just find inner pages of large commercial type directories and portals. This is the reverse of what you say.
Granted, we are just ingorant joe surfers seeking information and I agree we are not trained in the nuance of effective search. Google used to satisfy our needs, but doesn't anymore, or at least not as well as Altavista. I am certainly not surprised at the comment above from Ian Turner about logs and trends.
| 9:57 pm on Feb 8, 2004 (gmt 0)|
|There is an interesting thread in the supporters forum on that very topic at the moment Big Dave, some people are now seeing trends away from Google in their logs. |
I would have to respond that I first discount the vast majority of webmaster's ability to understand numbers. Most of them will look at the percentages of search referals on their own sites as proof that google is going down hill. When what they should be doing is watching the actual numbers of non-google search engine referrals instead of the percentages.
That being said, I too have noticed that non-google numbers have increased, as well as the percentages. The thing is that I can at least attribute the 50% increase in MSN traffic as coming at least in part from jumping to #1 on two popular searches.
Here's the thing, while there are obvilusly people leaving the google fold, I do not believe that is is in significant numbers. My AV traffic would just about triple if they picked up just 1% of Google users, but in fact, in the last 3 months my AV traffic has increased slower than my google traffic. (my positions have gone up in both engines)
| 10:53 pm on Feb 8, 2004 (gmt 0)|
When I said:
"the average "joe surfer" doesn't really know how to use a search engine" I didn't mean to imply that they should, in fact until recently google was about the best for being user friendly IMO.
Now, unless you know how to use boolean operators you won't be able to get results on a commercial search term that you would a couple months ago. Some are going to argue that is good, spam is less... but define spam. Is a directory page returning for a commercial search term SERP that has ppc ads on it for the searched term a good result? To me it is no better than the old spam, but that's just me. Will the average "joe surfer" be able to tell the difference... probably not. But, if another engine becomes known as the more "user friendly" of the engines they are done for. The internet is a very unforgiving place.
| 11:22 pm on Feb 8, 2004 (gmt 0)|
I don't think there's much doubt that the recent changes cleaned up most of the really bad, spammy searches. It was the extension of the algo into areas where SEO was mild (and for the most part, helpful, in that the SEO went along with well designed, on-topic sites) that messed things up. Google tried to fix a lot of stuff that wasn't broke, and, in the process, broke it.
| 11:38 pm on Feb 8, 2004 (gmt 0)|
|I would have to respond that I first discount the vast majority of webmaster's ability to understand numbers. Most of them will look at the percentages of search referals on their own sites as proof that google is going down hill. When what they should be doing is watching the actual numbers of non-google search engine referrals instead of the percentages. |
I agree BigDave and there are many factors which affect those log numbers, a recent significant change in Ink has also benfitted our sites, BUT I would say that following the Florida and Austin updates we need to be looking carefully at logs, to spot any trends.
| 12:38 am on Feb 9, 2004 (gmt 0)|
By and large, my Google searching experience has been excellent since the Florida thing. I've had no problem locating academic and informational material with Google. Did some pleasant and easy e-shopping for the holidays, too.
Searchers looking for a topic, related to the topic of the educational site I work on, yet not covered by our site, have been showing up at our site lately and sending us a lot of email asking for information about the topic we don't cover. They're probably getting sent our way because the Google algorithm isn't sophisticated enough yet to realize that our site is an authority on one but not both of these related topics. I imagine this sort of thing will improve with time. In the meantime, I just added a subpage to our site redirecting people looking for the second topic to a bunch of sites that do cover it in depth.
A whole bunch of the old-school spam is completely gone from the educational searches I do most often. There is one pernicious new kind of spam that's been taking horrible advantage of whatever theming/stemming thing is going on at Google, and my hopes that Google is going to be able to do anything about it are diminishing--every time they seem to plug one hole, more of the same type of spam pops in the next week. It's not at all relevant; in fact most of what I'm seeing is adult oriented doorways spamming common schoolkid queries. Sure hope the children all have safe search turned on.
A few things are worse, in other words, but many things seem better. I think Google is in transition right now. I expect that by this time next year, they'll have worked all the kinks out and it will be better than anything I've seen before at finding information for searchers. Sadly, I also expect that the serious spammers will all have changed from the old, ineffective spam style to the new and apparently effective spam style, and the net change in real spam will be nil.
| 7:00 am on Feb 9, 2004 (gmt 0)|
"Now we just find inner pages of large commercial type directories and portals"
Where a page is located is irrelevant. Google has gotten better at indexing long url's deep on large sites. Sometimes this is good; often it is bad. It's good when you find quality material deep on a content rich site. It's bad when an authoritative domain with lots of quality material happens to have a lightweight page on the query.
Sites that offer information on a query have risen to the top of the serps. Some folks don't like that "information on the query" includes an authoritative page of links to topical sites, but that page is no different than the index page of most sites -- it simply links to quality content. Some folks seem to just not get that. Google is returning a page, not a domain. If you have a 1000 page domain on a topic, your index page is simply not much different than the Yahoo Directory page on your topic. You have links to your content. The Yahoo page has links to a variety of content.
| 8:27 am on Feb 9, 2004 (gmt 0)|
The loyalty to Google I see here is impressive and there is nothing wrong with it. It is familiar and has served most people well for quite a while now.
It is a shame then, and it takes a bit of getting used to, when they begin to falter, which they are doing. I'm not in your SEO world, and neither are the other people I have discussed it with, and for us the results are now far less useful than they were. I am now much less likely to get straight to that definitive site using Google.
We don't want to go to an inner page that has only a passing reference to the topic. We don't want a page that just happens to have the words on it and seems to show because it is on a mega-site. We don't want a page that has links to pages that MIGHT have the content we want.
These are our experiences all too often now. This is why our webmaster changed the default search on the intranet to Altavista. He took a pragmatic decision which I think for now is the right one. Unless something changes I see more people doing that as time unfolds.
| 8:54 am on Feb 9, 2004 (gmt 0)|
Why not just redirect the user to the same search with an effective search engine?
|I just added a subpage to our site redirecting people looking for the second topic to a bunch of sites that do cover it in depth. |
| 9:08 am on Feb 9, 2004 (gmt 0)|
|It is a shame then, and it takes a bit of getting used to, when they begin to falter, which they are doing. |
But they haven't just begun to falter. In various searches they have been faltering for years. they just falter in different areas at different times.
The counter to your post is why do you not see the areas where Florida and Austin have increased the quality of the SERPs?
Two years ago, it was easy to find some search areas where other search engines would out perform google. And on those same search engines you could find areas where Google would out perform them.
The same is true today, it is just that the areas have changed a little bit.
If Google sucks in the area that you are searching, then switch. If AV sucks in the area where you are searching, then switch.
The point that Hawkgirl made was that she actually got some good results. It sure sounds like Google didn't fail her and that it is not "faltering" in the areas where she searched.
| 11:22 am on Feb 9, 2004 (gmt 0)|
I do not believe everyone that is posting here complainig about recent mess on G is a webmaster that got hit by Austin. In gact I lost and I gained trafic in last few weeks. I lost quolity trafic and I win irrelevant one.
One of my sites - <snip> disaapeared form the SERP's when searching for Keyword. It was N1 when searching only sites on my native language. The Keyword is present ot the title tags, decription and of course (as this is the tittle of the site) on every backward link I have (site's PR is 6).
There is no overoptimisation as I cant use the Keyword more rarely - in fact the site is the biggest resource for info and services about Keyword in my language. Thatts why It has lots of backward links (and this PR).
On the other hand I have a portal site that G now thinks is authritrative. It has a directory and an RSS news portal (lots of RSS feeds shown there). Now dir.myste.com and feed.musite.com shows in the top 10 positions for almost every search im my language and in lots of english searches.
The title tyg of everery page here is he same and there is no any keyord in it. There are no descrition or keyword tags in the HTML head area. The links to the sie are no muche eather - mostly internal links.
A we all here try to do some reverse ingeneering here I would like to point to something different. More of you are searching for an english words. And at the end most of the people believe that here are some "industries" and "keyword"zones that are affected.
Well,when I do a search for words in my language I can see the chaos all over.
And my final poin for now - I think it will be correct for everyone that posts here in this fourm to psecify which Google site is using - de, uk, us or some else, as the algo's used for those sites are different.
<mod note>pavlin's keyword was in his domain name</mod note>
[edited by: ciml at 3:34 pm (utc) on Feb. 9, 2004]
[edit reason] No examples please. [/edit]
| 1:42 pm on Feb 9, 2004 (gmt 0)|
|There is an interesting thread in the supporters forum on that very topic at the moment Big Dave, some people are now seeing trends away from Google in their logs. |
I haven't seen that at all. If anything, my Google referrals are up as a percentage of the total. The only drop I've seen has been for MSN, which had a spike about a month ago (when it was tied with Yahoo in my referrer logs) but has declined in the last week or two.
| 1:57 pm on Feb 9, 2004 (gmt 0)|
I, like you, had to write a paper this weekend for some classes I am taking. I had no problems finding any information on the subject at hand. All the material I needed was on the first page of the SERPs. I found it quite satisfying when using the G.
This does bring up the point of how I search, though. I use very narrow search criteria where I am looking for specific phrases. This seems to help me quite a bit. If I see a reference for a quote from another source, I will search for the specific source and the quote, and usually always end up on the site that would be considered the authority for the subject.
I don't know of the searching habits of the general population, but I have always searched this way and have had no problems.
As a side note to all this, the university I am attending had a non-credited informational night that focused on researching for writing essays and papers. One part of the presentation was how to use search engines. Google was part of the discussion and they covered all types of ways to search using booleans, phrases, etc. It seems that the non-SEO people are getting educated in how to use the G, at least from an academic point of view.
| 2:36 pm on Feb 9, 2004 (gmt 0)|
I love google for all its done for webmasters and the simple homepage, but as a searcher, lately I have found nothing but spam and its of the weird primitive variety. Something happened with the results about two months ago and its just not been the same. I've been using AV and msn lately, and I like the results much better. AV in particular shows all backlinks and they show me what I'm looking for on the first or second listing. As a webmaster, the traffic from these search engines has been growing lately and it is a high quality high converting traffic. It will be interesting when yahoo finally switches to ink.
No matter what google does, I still will always have a lot of respect for them. They are a great company. I guess they are trying perhaps too hard to stamp out spam. As far as my own searches go, I prefer AV then MSN.
| 2:48 pm on Feb 9, 2004 (gmt 0)|
Sorry you disagree with me so strongly BigDave. I did mention loyalty to Google here at start of my message though.
I must re-emphasize though that it wasn't just a few searches that led me to my conclusions and to the decision to move from Google. It was a lot of searches on a range of topics. All of a sudden the nature of the pages returned changed. They all now have a more similar big portal look and feel about them, and usually tend to be less useful and informative than before.
Plenty of others have reached the same conclusion as me and I am guessing more will follow.
| 3:04 pm on Feb 9, 2004 (gmt 0)|
|The catch is "Not every seracher is as smart as you are". |
Don't underestimate the intelligence of the average searcher. Recent studies from a variety of sources suggest that searches are getting more complex -- I think OneStat released figures just last week that show that most users now search for three-word phrases.
As internet users get more used to searching, their ability to search becomes enhanced. It's all a process of trial and error; we all learned this by doing.
| 3:15 pm on Feb 9, 2004 (gmt 0)|
>> I think OneStat released figures just last week that show that most users now search for three-word phrases.<<
My top search strings are two-word phrases, with a sprinkling of single keywords and a few three-word phrases.
Most of the multiple-word phrases that I see aren't "complex" searches per se; they're just obvious phrases like "Hotel Whatsit Shelbyville" or "Elbonia rail passes" or "things to see in Whatsonia." As the search engines' indexes became larger and more cluttered, searchers learn to focus their searches intuitively even if they aren't up to the rigors of constructing Boolean queries.
| 6:27 pm on Feb 9, 2004 (gmt 0)|
|My top search strings are two-word phrases, with a sprinkling of single keywords and a few three-word phrases. |
Actually, I've just found the OneStat press release and two-word phrases are the most popular. Here's the breakdown:
1. 2 word phrases — 32.58%
2. 3 word phrases — 25.61%
3. 1 word phrases — 19.02%
4. 4 word phrases — 12.83%
5. 5 word phrases — 5.64%
6. 6 word phrases — 2.32%
7. 7 word phrases — 0.98%
| 6:41 pm on Feb 9, 2004 (gmt 0)|
>>Gambling is an example of Google at its best right now. The searches for the entire area are drastically superior to previously. And "drastically" is understating it
right on, steveb.
| 6:48 pm on Feb 9, 2004 (gmt 0)|
>Why not just redirect the user to the same search with an effective search engine?
Because then they'll have to contend with spam and garbage results all over again. The day I find a search engine that has NO spam in it, I'll gladly do that. (-: This way they can get straight to a site they're looking for with just one more click, not 2-12 more. I did include a DMOZ category as one of the links, in case they wanted a more comprehensive (and better-maintained) list.
That's not the point, though... my point is, Google's algorithm currently seems to have at least a few snags in it that are sending people to pages of sites that are authoritative for very similar, but not the same, queries. I expect this to improve with time as Google learns to differentiate closely related queries better.
At which point, no one will visit my site looking for that related-but-not-quite-right term anymore, and I can delete that subpage. Hopefully before much link rot sets in, for I don't care to spend more time on it than I already have. (-:
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