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Google serp quality has gone down hill
For the first time ever that I notice this

 10:21 am on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

Several times recently I have had to swith to AltaVista to find what I was looking for.

(For some searches I know for a fact that I used to be able to find what I was looking for with Google.)

This was mainly for computer related technical searches. (Have not noticed much difference with other searches, but my other searches are often less specific.)

This is the first time in years I've had to do this! If this keeps up, there will come a time when I start in AV instead of Google.

Just thought I'd mention this in case they think all is swell. Google should not think their status is etched in stone for the remainder of all time.



 6:05 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

I agree with TryAgain.
We should be posting messages about this to forums for general interest web users, not just search engine followers. They probably are unaware of these differences yet. Maybe if word of this is spread more generally, Google will take note!

[edited by: hommealone at 7:42 pm (utc) on Jan. 30, 2004]

Total Paranoia

 6:10 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

Looking for things to buy:

I am not looking to go off topic of the thread or continue on with any conspiracy theories but....

If I want to buy a product in the UK. I will try a search on google.co.uk for that product and check the box "Pages from the UK" or simply tag a "UK" on the end of my search query.

Google return pages and pages of PFI directories. Big names that we are already aware of.

It doesn't seem to matter which item I search for, even if I tag "buy" or "price" I always see the same bunch of directories coming back. No use at all to Joe public who already know of the directories and that large company who started out by selling books. It also leaves site owners with one of two choices.

1. Pay to be listed in the directories.
2. Pay to be listed on google.




 6:10 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

>>I do wonder how many more small informative sites for other keywords have also been lost in the algo 'rhythm'

Good to see you surfaced from your lurk Nemesis, welcome.

3 of my small informative sites that made it through FL were hit by Austin. Innocent sites too, no link campaigns, no anchor focus, just not enough authority yet I reckon.

However, the sites that remain are just as good and the SERPS aren't spammy at all.


 6:23 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

<create a broad base of strategically designed sites - and the chances are that when one drops the others will rise.>

What if, like me, you are really only interested in one site? I am a self-employed Engineering consultant who specialises in a niche market. Since I started my business and launched my site in 2001 I have always tried to provide the best, free information on this niche for my visitors. In return I get good will and a few clients. My site was number one for the main KW for much of last year. I was becoming established, almost earning a salary and looking good for the future then Florida happened.

My PR5 site is now nowhere to be seen, my visitors have dropped by eighty percent and the trend is still down. I am receiving virtually no inquiries and hence no work! My site remains the best source of free information on this subject on the Internet but Google have penalized it to the extent that I may have to quit. This is a quality site with quality information that is just not being ranked. Don't tell me the results are fair!

The first five results for my KW now produce four that are off topic and a directory. The directory provides no information on the subject, just a list of vendors. The next five yield three vendors and two more directories. None of the top ten offer any of the real, unbiased information that is freely available on my site. Quality results my a$$!

Hardwood Guy

 6:24 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

Wow, I'm not the only one going to MSN? I'll admit I was hammered once again by google. It's now old hat so there's no reason to complain..just move on. But, general searches are pretty bad. Now I'm getting used to using MSN and finding stuff.

This morning I was trying to get general information on sales tax rates by states while talking with a customer. Couldn't find it, but he did within seconds. I asked what search engine he was using...MSN!


 7:06 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

In the past few days there was a situation where if you search for a "keyword" the first result is pointing to an non existent domain.
It's been a few weeks now that the search results are real mess. I remember such a haos on Google last summer, but back then they managed to sort everything out.


 7:23 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

Google return pages and pages of PFI directories. Big names that we are already aware of.

Very similar to what we're seeing: first 20 results are just PPC/PFI directories under various branding (usually using "tricks" such as keyword1-keyword2.keyword1.example.com/keyword2.html ).

We've had reports from our clients they are unhappy with Google performance (their sites are ranking highly, but their "general searches on Google" are returning poor results) and I'm checking out alternative SEs myself for a "personal preference". Google was good, but by looks of things it's lost its edge now...And I'm a long long time user :(


 7:30 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

> What if, like me, you are really only interested in one site?

PPC - Paid Inclusion - Link Exchange - Newsletters...

This might be the time to start those if you haven't already.

I got a nice traffic boost from a couple of sites where I wrote some "guest" articles for them in exchange for a link in my "byline".


 7:46 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

>> I got a nice traffic boost from a couple of sites where I wrote some "guest" articles for them in exchange for a link in my "byline".

That's exactly what I started doing this wednesday. Went crazy with putting my links wherever I could (that was relevant), in the form of directory listings and even content syndication. It's a little 'mickey mouse' but it works.


 8:00 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

bignet wrote:
>what do you think users do if they do not find what >they are looking for?
>click on adwords if any

Yes I have seen a couple of examples of this where the top 10 of a "keyword1 keyword2" search will not contain "keyword1 keyword2" in the title but will contain stemmed versions of these keywords that are not what is being searched for while the top 3 adwords have the exact "keyword1 keyword2" for their title.


 8:03 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

I've actually noticed some improvements over the last 24-48 hours in some areas.

One example was a blog named after a big keyword. Had nothing to do with the keyword at all, but held a top position for the past month. It disappeared in the last 24 hours.

No matter how popular they are or will continue to be, they aren't perfect. Some things just require a human filter.

I guess my big gripe post-Florida has been the little things that will seemingly slip through the cracks because they defy the *rules*. Example above. Google runs on software, and software runs on rules. They won't ever be perfect.


 8:03 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

I think it's so very hard for us SEO's to judge Google in an unbiased manner. Personally my sites are dong ok, although my new one isn't as doing as well as expected, even though it's got a fair few inbound links, and it's what most people searching for my target keywords would consider to be one of the best "on-topic" sites.

I can't judge it for my arena, but when I do my best to step back and use Google as a consumer while trying to find something unrelated to work, I am finding serps are not what I would like. I have a feeling it's related to the stemming issue. I think that's what made the results messy, but who knows! I also think it might be that Google is not paying as much attention to PR & anchor text.

I think the "seo filters" may be to blame, because whether Google likes it or not, about 95% percent of people that make websites these days do consider optimization. Not everyone goes all the way, but almost everyone making a webpage these days will do something to the page which is classified as "optimization". My theory here is that because Google has employed these SEO filters, it's catching those 95% of pages and putting them lower in the serps, hence all the upoptimized pages rank higher. This seems to be proof that SEO's are actually helping search engines produce relevant results.. but Google doesn't seem to think so and from what I can see, it's just returning crappy results. SEO makes sense. People don't spend money optimizing their pages for a term that has nothing to do with a page. It would be bad business practice if you did since people would just backclick and you wouldn't earn any money from it!

As a consumer, I am using other search engine now more than Google, namely ATW. As an SEO I still use Google, but only because I have to check my rankings in there because I know most people still use them.

The indication here is that specialists usually adopt technicques first, and they filter down to the rest of the work. If we are considered the specialists of search engines, then our new technique of using ATW or another engine will soon filter to the public, and I personally do think people will start using engines other than Google.

A prime example: I know this office guy.. doesn't know s**t about web design or anything about optimization. He only cares about 1 thing, his productivity in the office. Until recently he had Google set as his homepage, but I walked in the other day and was somewhat surprised to see Altavista set as his new default search engine. Clear indication of where things are headed.

I am seeing more and more hits from other engines these days, even for my site which has not been hit by the florida / austin update. So the percentages of searches from Google wouldn't have changed unless people had moved away from it! I even saw DogPile as a referrer a few times, which has never been the case before.


 8:13 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

As long as we are talking about completely irrelevant anecdotal evidence, I heard a group of co-workers the other day raving about how great Google is.


 8:20 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

I heard a group of co-workers the other day raving about how great Google is.

I've heard a group of people just raving for a couple days now.


 8:25 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

As long as we are talking about completely irrelevant anecdotal evidence, I heard a group of co-workers the other day raving about how great Google is.

Good one!

For the record, I believe the SERPs have gone way downhill too and my sites haven't been affected much. I still continue to use G though :o

wifi on the fly

 8:32 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

I agree with Chico_Loco. It is hard to be unbiased when you are the webmaster.

I have been with Google since their rise when they used to pay ISP's a few cents for each search. Google at this moment is the 900 pound gorilla that can't be touched.

I don't agree with what Google has done to the webmasters, the same people that did make them who they are. But at this point Google is making money. The single biggest factor of all businesses is to make money. We could start a revolution, but with Google being who they are it wouldn't matter.

The SERPS are terrible. Just yesterday I uninstalled the Google Toolbar on both my computer and my wifes machine. I only have 1 machine left that I watch PR with. The results just sucked. Today while searching for ata0 on Google the first 2 sites I can't even read. They are a completely different language. These things are all new. We are consumers and Googles results are not what they used to be.

Sooner or later someone is going to build on Googles Algo and create something that brings them to the spot where Google used to be. It is only a matter of time before the next big Google comes out.


 8:47 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

I highly recommend people give
altavista, excite, and msn a try.

Google is crap and people are losing millions because their playing around. A lot of ligit small company's and large have spent years to get where they were. People have kids to feed and families to support - not to mention employees to pay which are now out of a job.

I have already switched SE and await the arrival of the big Y and MS. Even if you dont want to switch aleast give the others a try for a week or something and maybe the millions of people who do this will leave a message.

Good bye Google


 9:40 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

I thing Google's current results are the worst I've ever seen them.

The only upside I can see for Google is that the competition still isn't up to much. To me, Inktomi's results are hopelessly out of date, Alltheweb is unreliable and I have no faith in AltaVista.

Plus 'broad matching' without offering me a choice is much more annoying than the lack of case-sensitive search has ever been.

But I still use Google 90% of the time. My choice of search terms is just getting more and more complex, and my smile at Google being made out of lego is becoming less and less convincing ;)


 10:47 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

I think the powers to be a Google ought to pay close attention to what seasoned webmasters think about their SERPs. There was a time when folks posting here almost unanimously agreed that Google's relevance far outshone any of the other SEs.

We're the keenest observers outside of Google of how they're doing vis a vis other SEs.

While there has always been some carping after the various updates, I don't think I've seen anything in the past here at WebmasterWorld approaching the level of dissappointment prevalent since Florida and Austin.

I think Google would be at great risk to dismiss us under the notion that Joe Surfer is too unsophisticated to know the difference, and after all, we're simply webmasters with an agenda. That's a perilous path.


 11:24 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

I think Google would be at great risk to dismiss us under the notion that Joe Surfer is too unsophisticated to know the difference, and after all, we're simply webmasters with an agenda. That's a perilous path.

Yes, but Google may feel that it's justified in dismissing complaints that are inspired by economic self-interest. :-)


 11:41 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

All I'm saying is that they risk dismissing such observations at their peril.


 12:06 am on Jan 31, 2004 (gmt 0)

I agree with the above.

I admit I am biased, but it's maddening to see the #1 spot being taken by some irrelevant page that only mentions the phrase once in the entire page.

It seems to me Austin's purpose was to baffle webmasters so thoroughly that they give up optimizing altogether.


 12:08 am on Jan 31, 2004 (gmt 0)

remembet the old says when moaning about google meant moaning google didnt pick the most relevant page from a site?...now they cant get the most relevant site....but the most shocking thing to me is the complete denial that google goes into....how on earth do they measure their quality..i mean how do they look at their lastest oh so clever algo tweak and then say ...YEAH WE GOT THAT RIGHT....we must assume they some sort of quality control....so what the 'ell is it?


 12:42 am on Jan 31, 2004 (gmt 0)

I quit using Google as a SE back in November. Why continue using something that makes me work for relevent results? I found AV to give me better results than Google, close enough to the old Google that I didn't have to work to find what I was looking for. From other forums I frequent, more and more "joe surfer" types are turning to a SE other than Google. If the current results are supposed to be good for joe surfer, they have completely lost sight of who joe surfer is and what he wants.

As for optimizing for Google, I gave that up in December. Now, after more than a month of even looking at any Google SERP, I did a quick check on some of my relevent keywords after I found out about this recent Austin update and saw that now you have to be a directory, or completely irrelevent, to get listed anywhere in the top three pages. Why bother when Google keeps screwing the pooch with each new update?


 1:00 am on Jan 31, 2004 (gmt 0)

Well, honestly, I don't think it's as bad in all areas, in fact, some areas (there are millions of "areas" Im talking about and I've seen only a very small number) are fine. Its just these other areas, certain common keyphrases that are populated with apparently unoptimized and downright ludicrous results. Other areas are fine, strangely.


 1:48 am on Jan 31, 2004 (gmt 0)

Old Google:

The restaurant that has the most road signs saying 'good restaurant' must be the best restaurant.

New Google:

The restaurant that has the biggest roadsign pointing to it and no other roadsign with the same text on it must be the best restaurant.


Any lowbrow could understand why both of these are actually really primitive interpretations and why the second is probably even worse than the first.

While it is certainly true that thousands of roadsigns pointing to a place don't make the food better, it's always better than ending up in a place where they don't serve food at all.



 1:58 am on Jan 31, 2004 (gmt 0)

As above I have not found that the SERP's have changed as drastically for all areas as some posts would have us believe.

Example geographic widgets.

The most competitive term is shot to sh*t - widgets london. Google gives directory after directory and the most out of date offical body around, a page saying the site has moved. Not a widget supplier linked to directly for the first five pages.

A less competitive term - widgets essex. Pretty much the same results as pre austin.

Doesn't prove much but as I was not hit at all by the Florida update then I guess it will just be a matter of time before these areas get mangled too.

I am also seeing a healthy increase in traffic from other enginess too, MSN mainly but ASK and AV plus a few from Dogpile. Only a few percent down on last month but Google stripped in half and the new algo only kicked in a week ago.

Google will be what ASK was six months ago if it is not careful...

What a monumental stuff up, don't see how any long term game plan could benefit from this.

Off to play on another search engine now! I reckon Gates will do v nicely out of this.



 2:14 am on Jan 31, 2004 (gmt 0)

There never has been any evidence Google "dismissed" comments here on webmasterworld by webmasters (or other places for that matter). On the contrary Google Guy has solicted comments from webmasters many times, particularly about Florida, and the clearly poor tweak on -in the first week of December (that was soon replaced by a much better tweak on -in).

The removal of jillions of redirect sites is certainly in part due to people here pointing examples of them out. Will subdomains follow? Probably, but that is a tougher nut to crack given tripod.com-like valid subdomains.

Despite a significant chunk of people not wanting to look at the big picture, either because of financial pain or more short-term mindset, it seems clear to me that Google is in the *process* of unrolling a new way of doing things here. Florida had zero theme/local-niche concept. Austin clearly has a lot more, whether it is enough or not seems to vary from niche to niche. Some obviously relevant sites were lost in Florida, many have returned as they have been re-crawled and reevaluated. Some others (or even the same) have gone AWOL with Austin which I think will also return in due course. Some of the regional Google's show some of the AWOL sites ranking well, among the rest of the serps being relatively unchanged, while at the same time some of the regional Googles are showing piles and piles of pure spam for some terms. It's like there are five or ten or more algorithms being used simultaneously.

Then also, we are seeing a clear acceleration in the "update" process. Backlinks and PR are updating every couple weeks. Significant serps shakeups about every three weeks. I'm sure the increased frequency of these backlink/pr and serps updates, which are related even though they occur before our eyeballs at different times, is a sign of Google rolling out its new algorithm on a timetable -- which non-coincidentally would lead to them having (what they consider) awesome serps at the end of the first quarter, at the originally scheduled time of the IPO. The roll out process of course involves tweaking it along the way.

Thus, the algorithm is a teenager. Like all adolescents it is capable of great achievement along with some immaturity and dunderheadeness. If people are fair-minded about it, I'm pretty sure people will aknowledge some areas of great improvement, like the gambling sector, and some areas of great problems, like travel. One thing is for sure, both these areas are incredibly hard to accurately search engineer. *If* this is a process unfolding, as I believe, it shouldn't be a surprise that since they haven't finished the results are sometimes not good, even if they often are. That may be small comfort to some people, but ti does comfort me *both* about the stuff I've lost *and* the stuff doing well.


 2:24 am on Jan 31, 2004 (gmt 0)

"Not a widget supplier linked to directly for the first five pages."

These sites shouldn't rank well unless they have solid information on the widget.

The not-so-secret secret here is Google is a information search engine, so if you sell widgets, you will only rank well if you also have information on the widget that stands on its own. It seems like some people with one dimensional sites are complaining because Google is ranking other-dimensional sites and multi-dimensional sites above them.

A lot of people think the Internet is about buying and selling widgets, and whether it is or not is academic, the point is that this isn't what Google is about.


 2:39 am on Jan 31, 2004 (gmt 0)

>Google is still the big kahuna on my referrer list. If Google were assigned a value of 100, MSN and Yahoo would be about 20 each, with AOL Search and AltaVista being about 2.5. Everything else is background noise.

Then unless your ask.com SERPs really suck, something is very strange. I've never seen logs of a site that did very well in both Google and ask.com where the ask.com hits weren't significant. Nowhere near Google, but better than 2.5% of Google.


 3:30 am on Jan 31, 2004 (gmt 0)

patrick deese-
I think he clicked the 'pages from uk" at the top of serps

This 186 message thread spans 7 pages: < < 186 ( 1 [2] 3 4 5 6 7 > >
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