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"The Ides of March" Google Update
twinsrul




msg:36515
 12:01 am on Mar 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

Like many others, my network of sites has been hit hard by this latest March google update. I have not been able to tell what has changed in the google algo & why my sites are ranking lower. Anyone here been able to beat this latest update? Any tips or tricks you'd like to share?

 

Auteuil




msg:36545
 5:47 pm on Mar 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

Since GG has said a few posts back that there has not been a change in the algo that caused changes around the Ides of March, here is my guess as to what may have happened, at least in part.

Around that time the Google directory was updated. In my site's case, it actually appeared there for the first time. (It had been ODP since November.) Because the high PR of the particular page in the Google directory in which my site is listed, and the fact that there are not many sites listed on that page, I surmise that my site's PR got a kick. In fact, my site's home page PR, in the Google toolbar, jumped from 4 to 6 around then.

Furthermore, as the one line description of my site from the Google directory contains words that appear in many popular search terms for my site's subject matter, and that description now appers in the SERPS, those words may have also given my site a small boost in the SERPS.

So, to run the risk of arguing from the particular to the general, other sites may have been similarly affected. That, combined with the supposed extra weight that Google may* be giving to sites listed in ODP, may have caused some of the changes in the SERPS around the Ides of March.
(*There is another thread in this forum that has been discussing how Google may be giving increased weight to sites listed in ODP, perhaps since Florida (?). I am not sure if that is true or not.)

PS: It just occured to me that the very fact that the Google directory is updated less frequently than it used to be, may be be causing more of a jolt in the SERPS when it is updated, than may have been the case up to and including 2002. Due to the infrequency of the updates since then, and the short space of time in which an update takes effect, lots of new sites are now being virtually simultaneously included in the Google directory, and lots of others are being dropped, while others are being moved from one category to another, and/or are having their descriptions altered. These large numbers of multiple changes in the Google directory at update time might also be affecting the SERPS around the same time, IMHO.

GranPops




msg:36546
 5:49 pm on Mar 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

Early morning March 12th. was disastrous day for Spain, and a fairly interesting one for G, inspite of GGís explanation, which of course I accept.

A 20 page niche site which has survived every tweak the G engineers could experiment with in the last 9 months.

Stayed No. 1 for 20 search terms.

Got to 10,000 vistors a month.

As far as we thought not an iota of SEO, just text in a niche market.

..............then bang.

Since then not a single visitor.

Can I make a claim for a world record.

At least I now feel happy that we are not to be excluded completely from the new ALGO exclusions.

GranPops

ILuvSrchEngines




msg:36547
 6:09 pm on Mar 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

>I'm curious which searches you and ILuvSearchEngines dislike so much. :)

Wouldn't you though. If I tell you what my sites are I risk getting permanent ban from you if you feel for some reason that I am unreasonably dissing Google (in your opinion).

If I mention specific search terms I risk getting banned from this forum, or again you figuring out what web site/s or search terms I see the problem in and banning them.

So, I guess the best thing you can do is look at what we (the majority of people) are saying. We are telling you that meaningless directories, affiliates pages or whatever you want to call them are dominating the Google results for 2 and 3 word commercial phrases.

i.e.

state profession
city profession
state city profession

We are even telling you the reason. The top results are usually pages or sub-pages of sites in DMOZ or other human edited directories.

A good example, but certainly not all inclusive because there are so many directories out there in Google now, is superpages. Switchboard was also at the top of the heap on and off for the last month. Not sure if they still are. But again, there are many many directories listed in top results now.

I guess you have to ask yourself why people go to a search engine. Do they go to find a site or to find a directory?

Right now, Google is a directory finder (usually a paid directory), but it is not a web site finder or a web page finder any more. If you are running Hilltop I would ask for your money back.

I really want you guys to be successful (if you straighten up) but what you are doing at this point is ruining people's businesses for no reason.

You have all the small web sites in your database, we know that, but you are excluding small commercial web sites that our in your database. You are getting in-between willing buyers and willing sellers and destroying mom and pop businesses IMO.

I doubt that even the directories are making any more money after these changes. If I were to guess, I would say everyoneís traffic has decreased. People looking for a web site would click on the directory and get discouraged. They will eventually give up or go somewhere else for the information. I would also guess your click-throughs on adwords is going down because of user discontent. If I am right, you guys are already starting to feel some pressure on your business end from the new filtering. That pressure will likely only increase until your adwords become worthless as well.

Hey, I could be totally wrong about everything I am guessing or seeing. Maybe I am just an idiot that does not see the world correctly and canít figure how to make a good directory web site that can get listed in DMOZ.

John_Caius




msg:36548
 6:15 pm on Mar 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

and canít figure how to make a good directory web site that can get listed in DMOZ.

A bit off topic for this thread, but there's your problem with dmoz. As a directory itself, dmoz is less and less positive about listing directories within its own. It would rather list the individual sites. Historically, directories were listed more frequently than they are now, hence it's possible even to find categories dedicated to directories, however the editing guidelines have been tightened up in this regard over recent months and years. Try the Directories forum for further discussion on this topic - it's not a problem with Google.

Chndru




msg:36549
 6:20 pm on Mar 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

meaningless directories, affiliates pages or whatever you want to call them are dominating the Google results for 2 and 3 word commercial phrases.

The top results are usually pages or sub-pages of sites in DMOZ or other human edited directories.

They both sound contradictory, even after assuming for some spam-pages in DMOZ.

And from user POV, would you be happy if you were given a directory of these professionals around that locality, or just a single professional websites? Besides the top 3 local searches are displayed indicating these individual servives.

flicker




msg:36550
 6:23 pm on Mar 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

>If I tell you what my sites are I risk getting permanent ban from you
>if you feel for some reason that I am unreasonably dissing Google

That's the silliest thing I ever heard! Google barely budges from it's algorithmic response philosophy to manually lower the boom on destructive super spammers. You really think they're going to go around manually banning the sites of everybody who was rude in a forum? GoogleGuy would never get any real work done. (-:

Honestly, if people are going to complain, they need to provide specifics in order for their complaints to be taken seriously. If you refuse to do so, what's to keep the rest of us from thinking that you just have a lousy site which is doing badly for very good reasons and you don't want to bring it to Google's attention because it's spammier than Satan?

ILuvSrchEngines




msg:36551
 6:26 pm on Mar 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

>And from user POV, would you be happy if you were given a directory of these professionals around that locality, or just a single professional websites? Besides the top 3 local searches are displayed indicating these individual servives.

I don't know, lets maybe ask Yahoo, MSN, Altavista, etc, etc, etc and ask them. Because I am not smart enough to figure out what is a good result any more. I am nearly convinced that it is better to get a directory than a site. What do you think?

GranPops




msg:36552
 6:28 pm on Mar 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

"We are telling you that meaningless directories etc"

I personally cannot see a problem with that in many cases.

At the weekend I wanted Paris hotels and what I got were directory lists of paris hotels, I would not have been happy if I had got as No.1, a site for a "ma and pa" hotel.


I also have not heard of a radio, TV, newspaper or magazine that provides free advertising for "ma and pa" hotels.

I am happy with what appears to be the basic principle of ALGO experimenting, but am mystified by some of the consequences. Where I disagree, is that I do not consider I can complain in any way to a medium that offers free advertising.

GranPops

Chndru




msg:36553
 6:34 pm on Mar 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

Dont take things personal, ILuvSrchEngines. This medium of communication lacks several nuances that a conversation provides. The things people write on these forums are generally not directed towards any individual.

IITian




msg:36554
 6:44 pm on Mar 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

>Wouldn't you though. If I tell you what my sites are I risk getting permanent ban from you if you feel for some reason that I am unreasonably dissing Google (in your opinion).

I can see your point. Find a search space with problems similar to yours and pass it on to GG with your comments. You don't have to reveal which is your site.

SyntheticUpper




msg:36555
 6:44 pm on Mar 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

The problem with these results is that folks might as well use the real ODP; or type www.Am*zon.com into their search bar and search there instead.

To be fair, I have to say that the Google News results are excellent.

SERPs are poor though.

Auteuil




msg:36556
 6:50 pm on Mar 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

"At the weekend I wanted Paris hotels and what I got were directory lists of paris hotels, I would not have been happy if I had got as No.1, a site for a "ma and pa" hotel."

SNAP!

I also looked last weekend and there were hardly any sites run by the owners of very small hotels or "pensions", and even fewer run by the owners of apartments available for short term rental. Thank God for the directories!

Before the critics jump in an edit this post for breaking some posting rule relating to specific search terms, or say it is too particular to be on topic, please consider the following:

The example of Paris accomodation is an excellent one. It illustrates the fact that so many small businesses, in many industries all over the world, just don't have the money, time or resources, or see the need for creating and maintaining their own sites. So they often just list their small business with an appropriate directory and thereby get some commerical benefit by being mentioned online. And the other big winners are the surfers who can find those businesses, as those directories are listed in Google and elsewhere....A Win-Win result.

SyntheticUpper




msg:36557
 6:53 pm on Mar 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

Sorry to appear dim :)

But your point is?

Chndru




msg:36558
 6:56 pm on Mar 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

>The problem with these results is that folks might as well use the real ODP; or type www.Am*zon.com into their search bar and search there instead.

Well, What do you think should be then? One page websites with affiliate links to amazon or the tons of price engine sites?

You can't have the biggest online store in the world and not be popular in a widely used SE.

Auteuil




msg:36559
 7:02 pm on Mar 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

"But your point is?"

I assume that you are referring to my post about the benefits of small businesses appearing in Google via directory listings.

My point is a counter-point to the negative comments about Google's SERPS giving prominence to directories. Such negative comments appear in this thread and in other threads in this forum. (By the way I will declare my self-interest only as a surfer, as I do not have any commercial connection whatsoever with any directory.)

SyntheticUpper




msg:36560
 7:03 pm on Mar 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

You can't have the biggest online store in the world and not be popular in a widely used SE.

Hmmm.

So G's results are based on popularity are they? I thought they were based on search quality.

I think this is the fundamental issue: what exactly *does* G regard as good search quality?

I'm certainly not seeing it.

And if I want to buy a book - then I bloody well go to Am*zon to buy a bl*ody book!

Come on, look, think, think again, and look again. Are the serps right - of course they're not. Are we now the *no-eyed* person in the Kingdom of the Blind?

NovaW




msg:36561
 7:05 pm on Mar 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

during March - for a main keyword search, site has been position 4, 12, 18, 90, 160 - it's like rolling a dice to see what pos it will be at next.

I'm sure searchers just love that level of consistency day to day.

Funnily enough - the site is now at #4 on MSN for that same keyword. MSN traffic up significantly.

Chndru




msg:36562
 7:13 pm on Mar 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

>>So G's results are based on popularity are they?

In an ideal world, where links are counted as "votes" for a particular page, Yes.

flamehead




msg:36563
 7:15 pm on Mar 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

Well I'm certainly no expert but I say "wait it out" Last month i found this website when my ecommerce website completely dropped out of google.I went from #1 to lower than 500 for some keyword phrases. I went from hundreds of sales a week to a few :-/ I posted here asking for help and a few nice people looked at my website but couldn't figure out what was wrong with it. I even emailed google and they answered back saying the site was not being penalized. Then a week or so ago it started showing back up ranking high again! Sales are back! Now I noticed that another one of my websites is gone from google. Previously it had ranked #2 for it's main keyword phrase. It looks to me as though google is still processing the sites and possibly a few at a time. I say if this happens to you wait a month and see

SyntheticUpper




msg:36564
 7:26 pm on Mar 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

<snipped - silly post, received even sillier response -but in short, Google serps are 'not' based on surfer popularity>

Chndru




msg:36565
 7:32 pm on Mar 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

>surfer popularity

I didn't say surfer popularity. Get a grasp of pagerank and how it works. Do you even read the other's posts?

BigDave




msg:36566
 7:36 pm on Mar 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

Come on, look, think, think again, and look again. Are the serps right - of course they're not. Are we now the *no-eyed* person in the Kingdom of the Blind?

Well, my normal sorts of searches have mostly been just fine. But things that generally interest me, don't seem to be the sorts of things that people are lamenting. I hate hotels so I don't search on them. But I have no problem finding Yurts, National Park, National Forest, and State Park campgrounds.

I live near a midsized city (the state capitol) and have yet to have any sort of problem searching for things here. In fact the new local search has made that a whole lot easier. But I have searched for such highly competitive terms as finding straw bales, thai restaurants, and a place to get my lawn mower serviced.

I have also found good information while researching companies for my investments. I found good information on some people that I was looking up, and good information on the venues for a music festival that I went to.

So, the SERPs that *I* care about are definitely right.

The only time that I have seen bad SERPs is when I went to look at the results that people are ****ing about. And lots of those really aren't all that bad. Yeah, directories come up, but as long as those directories link out to the right sites, I am glad that they come up.

What bothers me is the directories that set up a directory page with no appropriate entries. It is the same thing that epinons does with reviews. If those are the sorts of pages that you are competing against, then I will agree with you. But a useful directory is a good thing.

BigJay




msg:36567
 7:49 pm on Mar 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

Don't think for a minute, that G doesn't analyse the data coming from their toolbar users.

It sends every URL you visit back to them, albeit "anonymously", they still know who is being visited, and if they assign an arbitrary id to urls coming from one ip address or toobar installation ( to know who, without invading privacy ), then they also know how long you stay on that site.

I honestly think that popularity should be a factor in the SERPs. If you have multiple sites for widgets, and one gets significantly more hits ( via g toolbar ) than another, then "maybe" it should be ranked higher.. Word of mouth advertising is still valid.

The issue remains that another site might be even more popular, but with non-G toolbar users, and G wouldn't know.

How to fairly factor popularity is a very tough question.

vbjaeger




msg:36568
 8:34 pm on Mar 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

>I'm curious which searches you and ILuvSearchEngines dislike so much. :)
Wouldn't you though. If I tell you what my sites are I risk getting permanent ban from you if you feel for some reason that I am unreasonably dissing Google (in your opinion).

If I mention specific search terms I risk getting banned from this forum, or again you figuring out what web site/s or search terms I see the problem in and banning them.

This is not an attempt to belittle anybody, but GoogleGuy is asking for the search term, not your site information. Make up a fake name, use a different respond-to email, or something. I definately see GoogleGuy making an attempt to help.

digitsix




msg:36569
 8:44 pm on Mar 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

Network of sites is surely penalized. Not matter if the theme is different. Cross linking hurts. Outbound/cross links to penalized sites hurts. No tricks needed as such. Google is doing this to discourage link exchange.
If someone links to you, u r professional. if u link back to him, then u r classified as friends. No fridnly neighbour hoods needed anymore. Why r u killing the bot.

Go for buying paid links and get all profesional recommendations. No use making friends.

I would like to see some more elaboration on this topic, maybe even worthy of its own thread.....

Ozdachs




msg:36570
 9:27 pm on Mar 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

Honestly, if people are going to complain, they need to provide specifics in order for their complaints to be taken seriously. If you refuse to do so, what's to keep the rest of us from thinking that you just have a lousy site which is doing badly for very good reasons and you don't want to bring it to Google's attention because it's spammier than Satan?

I am new here, but it looks to me like weíre encouraged to talk about widgets and not supposed to post URLs. But, the complaint about content-free sites getting top rankings lately resonates with me.

Ö there are so many directories out there in Google now, is superpages. Switchboard was also at the top of the heap on and off for the last month. Not sure if they still are. But again, there are many many directories listed in top results now.

This is exactly the problem Iím seeing. Instead of showing good content websites in the SERP, Google is serving too many paid directory pages. A few months ago I sent flowers to a funeral across country by searching ď[city] florists (or flower shops)Ē. Now that same search doesnít give me any local information but returns tons of directories of florists. That result isnít as helpful to me.


At the weekend I wanted Paris hotels and what I got were directory lists of paris hotels, I would not have been happy if I had got as No.1, a site for a "ma and pa" hotel.

Well okay. Personally, if I wanted to find a chain hotel in a particular city, I know how to find the chainís own website. I use Google to find businesses that are local, unique, and not huge. Maybe this is just a style difference, but I do feel a loss. Google symbolized David in the battle against the Goliaths. I am disappointed that David is now catering to the giants. I think that Davidís previous strategy was a winning one both financially and culturally.

Actually, I feel that Google has earned a tremendous amount of good will. I hate to see them lose it. Maybe my feeling is OT, but my gut desire to see David remain true to his roots and to keep beating the big bad unfeeling giants is what keeps me reporting spam results and using Google.

markus007




msg:36571
 9:40 pm on Mar 22, 2004 (gmt 0)


This is exactly the problem Iím seeing. Instead of showing good content websites in the SERP, Google is serving too many paid directory pages. A few months ago I sent flowers to a funeral across country by searching ď[city] florists (or flower shops)Ē. Now that same search doesnít give me any local information but returns tons of directories of florists. That result isnít as helpful to me

As a surfer i'm not interested in seeing 100's of rinky dink SEO'd sites about florists, i'd rather see 2 or 3 directories and then pages related to florist information etc etc. Seems many people here think relevence = "that which makes me the most money".

Ozdachs




msg:36572
 9:49 pm on Mar 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

As a surfer i'm not interested in seeing 100's of rinky dink SEO'd sites about florists, i'd rather see 2 or 3 directories and then pages related to florist information etc etc. Seems many people here think relevence = "that which makes me the most money".

Actually, I was SPENDING my money on flowers, not making any. The support of seeing directories is interesting, though. Maybe Google will take that path while other SE's keep their "rinky dink" sites. I wonder who'll get the traffic after that difference in SERPS is clear to the average searcher.

quotations




msg:36573
 10:00 pm on Mar 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

>GranPops
>
>I also have not heard of a radio, TV, newspaper or magazine
>that provides free advertising for "ma and pa" hotels.

We do that. That is one of my "real" jobs.

We were for a while also one of the top providers of ad-free free Internet access and ad-free free web page hosting.


>GranPops
>
>Got to 10,000 vistors a month.
>
>..............then bang.
>
>Since then not a single visitor.
>
>Can I make a claim for a world record.


That would not be a record in terms of raw numbers.

We usually gain or lose 5,000 - 10,000 visitors per day on some of our niche sites when Google makes a major change.

This latest "non-update" has resulted in about a 5% increase in traffic overall with some sites vanishing and some coming back.

One site which has been missing for 14 months has magically re-appeared and is averaging over six thousand visitors per day instead of the 50 to 500 per day itwas getting previously.

Things change.

Don't count on anyone, any search engine, or any vendor to continue to be around and to continue to provide whatever results, products, income or whatever that you need. Agile, flexible, versatile, and adaptable win the day, the week, the month, and the year. To quote a famous figure from the past:

"Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never--in nothing, great or small, large or petty--never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy."

--U.K. Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill at Harrow School, October 29, 1941

BallochBD




msg:36574
 10:24 pm on Mar 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

I have been reading this thread with interest and I must say that I most definitely do not want to see directories in my search results. If I search for Paris Hotels I want to see the websites of ... you got it - Paris hotels!

If I want see Paris hotel directories I will do a search for Paris hotel directories. This however is not the best example because the results in Yahoo are very similar and hotel searches have always been tainted with these directories. Yes, the ones that we must plough through only to find that they are almost all pointing to the same databases. (Incidentally and IMHO, MSN results are actually by far the best for this term. Try it!)

I am not the brain of Britain but if I want to see directories for anything I am clever enough to add the word directory to my search. Why does Google assume that I am not so clever? I know how to find directories, it's a no brainer after all.

If in the light of ever increasing evidence to the contrary Google still insists that directories are important why not put a single link at the top of the results offering a new page of directory results for those who do want them?

The rest of the results could be left to the sites that provide real information or even, dare I say it, shopping opportunities.

Memories ...

Can it be that it was all so simple then
Or has time rewritten every line?
If we had the chance to do it all again
Tell me, would we? Could we?

Da Da Da Da Da Da Daaaa!

steveb




msg:36575
 10:58 pm on Mar 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

"Find a search space with problems similar to yours and pass it on to GG with your comments."

That apparently would take too much time away from aimlessly whining.

If this person genuinely could point to a widespread problem then sending in a report, like s/he has been invited too, would take a few minutes. But instead we just get more crying, and the translation of that is almost certainly another single site or single tactic spammer has been dumped.

The serps have plenty of problems, and it is easy to point to the major ones without revealing your own information to the black helicopter-flying Trigooglateral Commision.

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