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Local Google Killed My Traffic
renee




msg:165752
 3:19 am on Apr 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

My traffic dropped to 10% after Google Local came about. My web pages continue to be in the top 5 of the serps for my main keywords - "city widget".

Looking at my logs, most of my referrals are from Google Local. This means that most of the surfers go to Google Local and about 10% are not satisfied and try the websites listed by google local.

Do you folks have the same experience or is it just me?

 

renee




msg:165782
 2:52 pm on Apr 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

We provide a directory of local, small business. Our model provides a solution to the following needs:

1. businesses that have websites but find it imposssible to rank high and be found through the search engines;

2. business who are new to the internet and would like a low cost way of getting their feet wet and generate revenues as well.

Our traffic (pre loco-google) was in the hundreds of thousands of page views a day plus the feedback of our customers and users is testimonial to the relevance and usefulness of our sites.

Then this is what loco-google did in one fell swoop:

1. classified about 20% of our pages as supplemental (killing relevant pages for what reason?).
2. remaining pages continue to rank high in the serps but most referrals come from loco-google (not the main serps). Not all our highly ranked pages appear as part of the loco-search.

All in all, our taffic (post loco-google) is down to 10%. A lot of our customers have been calling to ask why they're not getting referrals from our service, in particular, and the web, in general.

So as you see, local directories can be valuable to the brick and mortar community. As for loco-google, argh!

howiejs




msg:165783
 2:55 pm on Apr 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

Local search is still "early" / beta so the results so far in my opinion are not that bad . . .

I am happy to see the lack of affil. directories in the results so far.

HughMungus




msg:165784
 3:26 pm on Apr 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

What's an "affiliate directory"?

hutcheson




msg:165785
 4:20 pm on Apr 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

hughmungus, what I'd mean by "affiliate directory" is the text-link equivalent of an "affiliate banner farm." Some drooling doofus tracks down and signs up for every affiliate program he can find, then generates one site (usually on a free server), and slaps all those affiliate URLs in it.

Then he calls it a "shopping directory" or "shopping mall" or "one-stop resource" (or even more offensively, "YOUR" whatever, as if I personally was so stupid as to desire any personal connection with it).

On his "about us" page he puts some inane boilerplate like "we've searched the web for you to find all the best prices (or "coolest products") so you don't have to."

[edited by: hutcheson at 4:26 pm (utc) on April 12, 2004]

hutcheson




msg:165786
 4:22 pm on Apr 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

hughmungus, I tried "church" in one local category; I got not only churches but businesses that catered to them. Could you be more specific about what kind of "widgets" you're referring to? (that is, if they are non-adult in nature)

HughMungus




msg:165787
 6:43 pm on Apr 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

hughmungus, I tried "church" in one local category; I got not only churches but businesses that catered to them. Could you be more specific about what kind of "widgets" you're referring to? (that is, if they are non-adult in nature)

Try "coins" and a big city name. You get everything from numismatics to coin operated laundry. Just an example of how a local directory would be far superior to Google's local search (though I do give Google credit for its efforts which I'd bet will be refined).

sunnyland




msg:165788
 7:25 pm on Apr 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

How does Google decide what goes into local search results? I typed in my zip code that I have on my web site and then my business "web design". I was not in the results. Not one business with my zip code was listed. But if I type that same info into regular Google I am #1.

Is local Google only the phone company yellow pages or what?

HughMungus




msg:165789
 8:53 pm on Apr 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

Is local Google only the phone company yellow pages or what?

Good question. Someone asked this a few days ago in one of the forums and got no response. I'm assuming they're using someone's yellow pages.

hutcheson




msg:165790
 9:16 pm on Apr 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

>Try "coins" and a big city name. You get everything from numismatics to coin operated laundry.
OK, I do indeed get that, which is what I'd expect.

And I also get a little line across the top, "Show: All Results - Toys & Games: Coin Dealers' Supplies - Wholesale - Collectibles: Coin Dealers - Banking Equipment: Coin & Bill Counting, Sorting & Wrapping Machines - None of these" -- a first cut at semantic filtering. The "None of these" is mostly, as you say, coin-op laundries, but a few coin dealers slipped into the list.

>Just an example of how a local directory would be far superior to Google's local search (though I do give Google credit for its efforts which I'd bet will be refined).

That looks pretty good. Although it's not perfect, I don't know anything comparable. What would you have expected to come out of such a search? And who does a better job?

My guess is that they are keyword-indexing someone's yellow pages, and for each entry adding the "I'm feeling lucky" link from the web search (perhaps with some additional filtering, since I saw a few -- and only a few -- false positives.)

HughMungus




msg:165791
 5:23 pm on Apr 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

That looks pretty good. Although it's not perfect, I don't know anything comparable. What would you have expected to come out of such a search? And who does a better job?

Hand-edited local directories by local people.

yintercept




msg:165792
 8:50 pm on Apr 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

The groups that I think do the most harm are those that figure they can take a FIPS database and create a massive site with a page for every "city widget" combo for their ad. Despite the fact they have nothing to do with the region.

The best example of data generated SEO spam is the hotel industry, where there are thousands of businesses that simply have unique interfaces to the same database of hotel names. They generate so many thousands of pages for "city hotel" that is it next to impossible to find a real hotel site in the clutter.

Unfortunately, there is a growing number of merchants that spew forth data feeds with product listings. You don't even have too think much about keywords, just do a cartesian product of city names and products. If the Google algorithm accepts the site, then you will get some stray traffic and might make money.

I agree that hand edited directories have a place. Unfortunately, there is not a good economic model for such directories.

hutcheson




msg:165793
 12:10 am on Apr 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

I am hardly the person to disparage locality-based directories. But ... the yellow pages (which is basically what Google is providing here, no?) is one such directory. And, as is characteristic of directories, the larger and more heavily used they are, the more likely a business is to make sure it's listed.

Web directories don't yet adequately cover the business map -- too many local businesses don't have them and probably never will.

Because the printed yellow pages are so well known, the online versions are going to get lots of views. Because the phone companies already have the data, they're going to have an enormous cost advantage versus other, less efficient data gatherers. Because the phone companies have data for so many cities, they're going to have another enormous cost advantage by distributing presentation development expenses over all the cities. This looks like a natural monopoly that will be impossible to crack unless they do something extraordinarily stupid. And licensing their content to other "presentation development experts" like Google is a very long way from stupid.

Hand-building a competitor to that, will be like bringing a pair of mules to a tractor-pulling contest. Like Flint-knapping and buggy-whip making, it's economically obsolete.

HughMungus




msg:165794
 5:55 pm on Apr 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

I agree that hand edited directories have a place. Unfortunately, there is not a good economic model for such directories.

I know. That's a tragedy. I was wondering the other day how many of pages on the web are simply repackaged information.

ichthyous




msg:165795
 2:18 pm on Apr 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

I have seen the exact same pattern with my web site. traffic was soaring through Feb and March and then suddenly at end of March traffic plummeted. So far it seems that traffic is off by 25-30%. At the same time my site went from a PR 4 to a PR 5. I have many pages optimized to bring in local traffic as most of my clients come from the surrounding metro area. I would like to know what can be done to reverse the trend? Is the drop due to a change in Google algo or local search? Frankly, Google's local search seems pretty useless to me. I ran some local searches for the terms that I have optimized for and the results were laughable.

JoeyBall




msg:165796
 2:36 pm on Apr 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

if someone could explain to me what is local google?

howiejs




msg:165797
 2:42 pm on Apr 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

Last year I posted a topic about "best practices for local search" -- I don't think there was one reply . . .

I saw that question raised again in this thread.

I am creating a new topic for "no complaining" about local search - just where the results are coming from and what it takes to optimize your site to succeed.

HughMungus




msg:165798
 3:53 pm on Apr 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

[google.com...]

ichthyous




msg:165799
 4:17 pm on Apr 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

That's a great idea howie! I am still at a more basic level of trying to determine the source of my traffic slump. How do I know whether it's a google algo change or google local? As I mentioned, I have noticed the same trends as others have reported, namely a sudden drop at end of march, even though my PR actually increased. In my web stats I see no hits from Google local, and I'm wondering whether or not awstats can even differentiate between the two or if all google hits are lumped together. Does anyone have any specifics about Google's recent algo changes? Thanks!

renee




msg:165800
 5:35 pm on Apr 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

Other observations about my sites which hopefully can be confirmed or debunked by others' experience:

1. About 70-80% of my site pages got classified as supplemental (for whatever reason? why not all?) sometime in feb/march. prior to the change, it was ranking very well in the serps with outstanding traffic. The remaining pages continue to rank well in the serps but most traffic come from loco-google referrals which means overflow only. The PR remains the same pre and post loco-google.

2. The site continues to be crawled heavy by googlebot but does not increase the number of number of non-supplemental pages indexed. Does this mean once a supplemental always a supplemental? Some new pages I've added appear to be indexed ok.

3. Some of the results of a crawl seems to appear in the index 3 days after the crawl. A large number of "url" only entries in the index is very noticeable.

4. New domains, although crawled, can't seem to get substantial number of pages into the index. Mostly one or 2 over a 2 month period.

Opinions, comments, inputs to help understand what google is doing will be appreciated.

ichthyous




msg:165801
 5:49 pm on Apr 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

Renee, what is a supplemental page and how can you tell if your pages are classified as supplemental? Are those the pages that are indented under other pages in Google's results? thanks

renee




msg:165802
 6:56 pm on Apr 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

hi ichthyous,

see the following thread for a discussion of supplementals:

[webmasterworld.com...]

in my case, I'm able to tell the supplementals by doing a site search as follows:

site:mysite 2003 -2004

my pages have copyright years ("copyright 2002 2003 2004") so the pages that have been been indexed in 2004 will be shoen in the result. Most probably (not always!) the results are in the supplemental google bag.

when you do a search and google feels that there are not enough results, google draws on the supplemental bag (db?) to augment the serps. Those items are tagged as supplemental in the serps.

hope this helps.

HughMungus




msg:165803
 7:37 pm on Apr 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

4. New domains, although crawled, can't seem to get substantial number of pages into the index. Mostly one or 2 over a 2 month period.

I've been reading elsewhere that there's (supposedly) a 3-month quarantine for new sites now (that is, they're crawled but don't appear in search results for months).

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