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G traffic dropping
metrostang




msg:116449
 3:56 pm on Jul 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

Is Google losing it's battle with the other search engines? I'm seeing serious shifts in where my traffic originates. Below is a summary of the trends on my site. Has anyone else seen this? I saw recently where Bill Gates said we would see a change in the MSN search starting in July. Are we seeing the results?

Six months ago Google provided 80% of my traffic and sales, two months ago it had dropped to 40% Google and 40% Yahoo. Last month it was 35% Google and 45% Yahoo with MSN ranking behind some of my on pages with 10%.

This past week, google took a severe drop with MSN increasing until yesterday when MSN passed Google in referrals. It's now Yahoo 35%, MSN 30%, Google 20%.

Sales have remained steady during the month with an upward trend this week. Is this particular to my site or sector or are others seeing the same shift? In the past I've optomized for Google, looks like I might need to change tactics.

 

BigDave




msg:116479
 8:32 pm on Jul 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

I think many .edu sites cover the same topics but I hardly see any reciprocal linking between say Stanford and MIT. Or between US .gov and UK .gov sites.

Non sequitur. Just because you can find groups that cover similar topics that do not heavily link to each other, does not mean that there are no non-commercial groups that do not link heavily to each other. Or even commercial groups that link heavily, but it is not some sort of link exchange.

And by the way, educational institutions link VERY heavily to each other when discussing different topics. Go look in some of the research areas, and I am certain you will find lots of links to MIT from stanford. Look up some joint research projects, and you will find lots of links.

As for .gov sites, every day when I check the weather here in Washington, I see a link to go check the weather up in Canada.

[wrh.noaa.gov...]

However, lots commercial widget parts sellers cross link to each other. The reason is very clear. One group cares about its free ride in the Google serps and the other group can't care less.

What about the groups like an industry organisation that lists their members, and membership is a selling point to customers? They have reciprocal links, but not traded links.

What about lodging near a major annual event? They are sure to have a link to that event, and the event is likely to have an "accomodations" page on their site.

Remember that the vast majority of commercial webmasters don't hang out here on WW. The majority of the web still works the way that it is supposed to.

There are a few genuine non-commercial cluster of sites linking to each other but that can be easily identified by 1) lack of shopping carts 2) lack of links from commercial sections of fee-directory like Yahoo and business.com.

Every site that links out is part of a cluster. And it is even more likely with non-commercial than commercial. Then there are a huge number of semi-commercial sites like mine. We deal with businesses, we link to businesses, and they link to us, but we are not commercial.

Think about just about any hobby you can think of, and go check out the pages that deal with that hobby. They link to other hobby pages, they link to .edu pages and they link to commercial vendors that cater to them.

I will grant you that abuse is a problem in commercial areas, but you still have not come up with an acceptable way to identify them.

Blogs! Most reciprocal links are between friends. Do I want to see a blog come up on top for a serious topic because all 1000 of her high school friends had cross links with some common anchor texts? Only when a blog gets links from authority sites for some valuable content, I want to see them.

You missed the point by a mile.

The blogger doesn't care about whether they come up top in the search. It was an example of a reciprocal linking cluster that doesn't care.

Your solution will just open the door for those that sell links, and will damage a lot of sites that got their reciprocal links honestly.

europeforvisitors




msg:116480
 9:16 pm on Jul 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

There's no need for Google to take a simple-minded, heavy-handed approach such as "Ignore reciprocal links" or "Ignore any link from a page with a shopping cart." Instead, its algorithm could look for artificial linking patterns, using other factors (e.g., the presence of a shopping cart, a triple-hyphenated domain name, an .edu TLD, whether the page appears to be a blog, etc.) to subtly raise or lower the value assigned to any given link.

ILuvSrchEngines




msg:116481
 11:50 pm on Jul 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

while Google is returning relevent results optimized for the person searching.

That statement is absurd IMO. Google is returning big money web sites, it has nothing to do with optimization, it has everthing to do with money and who can buy PR, and important links.

IITian




msg:116482
 11:56 pm on Jul 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

My logic is very simple. Commercial reciprocal linking is mainly for the benefit of anchor texts. On average there is no PR change and traffic is quite low for most of those 100 links on a links page patterns.

Just take away the benefit of anchor texts - from all reciprocal links. That will make the playing field even for most.

I have learnt from my experience that non-commercial sites rarely give out keyword-loaded anchor text links. (I have links from Stanford, Berkeley, U of Texas at Austin, Monash U and a few other reputed sites and almost none of them have any important keywords in the anchor. In most cases, anchor text is the url or words like "click here.") On the other hand a couple of minor "used widget parts" commercial sites I asked for reciprocal links, gave me exact anchor text "keyword1 keyword2 keyword3" I asked for. Which should be counted more for keyword1 (or keyword2 or keyword3?)

I think the flaw of Google in valuing reciprocal anchor texts (it's so 2000) is not very obvious because many of the top sites in the serps will appear near the top regardless of whether reciprocal anchor texts are considered or not. But considering anchor texts related to reciprocal linking allows some heavily SEOed sites to do very well. I would rather see them on the side bar as Adwords. That will make clear to surfers which sites are in the serps because they are really popular (lots of unbought one-sided links.)

If webmasters assert that they are doing exchange linking for the benefit of users then I can envision them still doing it - sending out thousands of emails and hiring link mangers to solicit reciprocal links with relevant anchor texts, regardless of whether Google or any other search engine values them. On the other hand, if it becomes clear than anchor text is NOT used by Google, I would love to see how many site owners exchange links. (My answer is - a very small percentage.)

europeforvisitors




msg:116483
 12:21 am on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

Just take away the benefit of anchor texts - from all reciprocal links. That will make the playing field even for most.

There might be some merit in reducing the importance of anchor text in links from third-party sites and subdomains. But anchor text has value to Google (and, ultimately, to the user) in determining page relevance within a site.

Why? Because using simple, direct, keyword-rich anchor text is normal and natural for internal links. It's less natural for links between sites. Let's say I have a site named wallyswidgets.com. If I link to a page about purple widgets on my site, I'll probably just use the anchor text "purple widgets." If an external site links to that page with the generic anchor text "purple widgets" rather than "Wally's Widgets: Purple Widgets" or something similar, there's a greater likelihood that the anchor text is being used for SEO and not for the user. So it wouldn't be unreasonable for Google to ignore such anchor text, to give it less weight than internal anchor text, or to take other "SEO factors" into consideration when deciding how much weight (if any) the anchor text deserves.

Larryhat




msg:116484
 12:47 am on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

Back to the original question: My 100 page PR-6 non-commercial site (good content) has seen a significant drop in Google traffic the last 2 weeks. I presume its because I fell back from #20 to #30 for my primary search word on G. I have 240 listed back links for my main (index) page.

Here's my question. The #1 slot for that same kw is a spammy page, with only 40 or 50 backlinks. I looked up their page rank PR = 8 (eight!) Now, how can that be with 1/5th of the backlinks I have listed?

I looked thru those 40-50 links, and saw no big portal sites etc. Given the content and 1/5 the links, how does this page rate a PR = 8, and the top of the SERPs? I'm at a loss here. -Larryhat

IITian




msg:116485
 1:04 am on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

But anchor text has value to Google (and, ultimately, to the user) in determining page relevance within a site.

I am in favor of using internal anchor texts to determine page relevance. Questions have been raised about chances of spamming it since it is under one's control. Normalization should take care of that. If the anchor text is "keyword1", keyword1 gets 100% of the benefit. If it is "keyword1 keyword2", keyword1 gets say 30%, keyword2 20%, and "keyword1 keyword2" 50%.

One disturbing tendency because of Gogle highlighting the search terms in the directory path, appears to be path names like www.domainname.com/kw1-kw2-kw3/kw3-kw2/k2-k1-k2.html becoming more and more common. I hope Google gives (almost) zero weight to directory names and file names. [There is slight value to relevant name but should not override other factors.]

europeforvisitors




msg:116486
 1:29 am on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

Well, there's nothing shady about descriptive file or directory names, although I agree that they can be abused. (I use nothing but descriptive file and directory names on my site--mostly because it's a lot easier to find and update a page on Shelbyville Widgets when it's called shelbyville-widgets.htm instead of something less descriptive!)

IITian




msg:116487
 1:56 am on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

>Well, there's nothing shady about descriptive file or directory names,..

I too use descriptive names for my convenience but don't expect to be rewarded for that by Google, except perhaps in a very small way since it makes it easier for surfers to know the structure of my site.

Why is Google highlighting keywords in the path though is a mystery to me. It will encourage excessive keyword stuffing in the file and directory names.

IITian




msg:116488
 2:08 am on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

And by the way, educational institutions link VERY heavily to each other when discussing different topics. Go look in some of the research areas, and I am certain you will find lots of links to MIT from stanford. Look up some joint research projects, and you will find lots of links.

They do but the extent of crosslinking is nowhere near what I see for many widget sites. a few dozen links on a topic is fine but 100's if not 1000's of links! It's not normal.

Anyway, I have nothing against crosslinking except that unnecessary money terms should not be rewarded by the anchor texts. When I see educational sites linking to say reaseach papers, they normally link by the title of the paper, which does not really contain any money terms because of the obvious reason that they are not going for the monetary aspect of linking.

steveb




msg:116489
 2:17 am on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

"how can that be with 1/5th of the backlinks I have listed?"

Because pagerank has nothing to do with volume of links. A PR8 could be the result of one PR9 link, for example.

newwebster




msg:116490
 3:46 am on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

"I too use descriptive names for my convenience but don't expect to be rewarded for that by Google, except perhaps in a very small way since it makes it easier for surfers to know the structure of my site.

Why is Google highlighting keywords in the path though is a mystery to me. It will encourage excessive keyword stuffing in the file and directory names."

I think you answered your own question here
As a surfer, the highlited keywords in the directory path give the end user just another tool to visibly see that that page has something to do with what they are searching for.

On this future of search and seperating commercial and non commercial, I do not think anybody realizes that there are alot of commercial sites that also have good information as well. How would a search engine know how to catergorize? (do not expect an answer just asking the question)

BigDave




msg:116491
 4:25 am on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

Anyway, I have nothing against crosslinking except that unnecessary money terms should not be rewarded by the anchor texts.

Here's the problem. you want Google to make changes for the big "money terms", when the reality is that those are an almost infinitesmal percentage of the searches. And those areas are the least worth worrying about, because they are full of the sites that will always be bleeding edge when it comes to beating the algo.

Basing the algo on the few searches on the big money terms would be a losing game.

oaktown




msg:116492
 4:52 am on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

Back to the original topic, I've got a good sized site (10,000+ pages) I acquired a year back. Traffic was great, life was good. PR on homepage was 7, next level down - 48 PR6, and so on.

I lost some inbound links two updates ago and now the homepage and the 48 below it are ALL 5s. Yep they pass PR externally, so I assume there's no penalty.

Problem? No damn traffic fro G at all! It's been dropping like a stone in a well. Since April 2, I've had to sit and watch the flood of hits dwindle down to a trickle. I'm glad for those who have seen their traffic go up, but mine has fallen off a cliff. Any suggestions?

percentages




msg:116493
 5:05 am on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

>Is Google losing it's battle with the other search engines?

I run over 600 web properties. Right now I've seen Google drop a small percentage (1.7%) since the Yahoo switch in January.

Google has lost something, but it is hardly worth writing home about. It lost a huge amount of marketshare when Yahoo switched in mid Jan, but as of yet Yahoo and MSN have failed to get loyal Google users to convert.

Over the long term picking up new users will have a major impact, but both Yahoo and MSN need to invest heavily in advertising to get current Google users to switch.

Sylver




msg:116494
 5:09 am on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

I think the flaw of Google in valuing reciprocal anchor texts (it's so 2000) is not very obvious because many of the top sites in the serps will appear near the top regardless of whether reciprocal anchor texts are considered or not. But considering anchor texts related to reciprocal linking allows some heavily SEOed sites to do very well. I would rather see them on the side bar as Adwords. That will make clear to surfers which sites are in the serps because they are really popular (lots of unbought one-sided links.)

But "one sided links" can be bought. How many good ranking websites will sell you a one-sided link, or an ad with a one-sided link? A lot. How do you make the difference between a one-sided link that was bought and one that was not?

In a "non-commercial" context, it is true that a one-sided link means that your site is considered as valuable.

In a "commercial" context however, it is not the case. Not only can you buy one sided links, but other commercial web sites are not likely to give you a link for nothing, even if your web site is good.

So actually, many one-sided links are paid for, and the anchor text is pretty much controlled.

If webmasters assert that they are doing exchange linking for the benefit of users then I can envision them still doing it - sending out thousands of emails and hiring link mangers to solicit reciprocal links with relevant anchor texts, regardless of whether Google or any other search engine values them. On the other hand, if it becomes clear than anchor text is NOT used by Google, I would love to see how many site owners exchange links. (My answer is - a very small percentage.)

I fully agree on this one, and it would not be such a bad thing.

I created my web site at the same time as a friend of mine, aiming for the same keywords. I worked heavily on developping a volume of quality content. He made a rather empty website and worked heavily on collecting links and promoting. Guess who is on top of the SERP?

Over the last year, my content brought me a lot of "thanks you so much for the data!" and very few visitors or customers. My pal never received a "thank you" note for his content, but he is caved under the workload of high paying customers.

Now I find myself spending an increasing amount of my time to collect and hunt for links, and tweak my site and my rankings improve...but I ain't got no time to write up more real content like I used to. It's not commercially viable to do so, just a hobby.

IITian




msg:116495
 5:18 am on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

Here's the problem. you want Google to make changes for the big "money terms", when the reality is that those are an almost infinitesmal percentage of the searches. And those areas are the least worth worrying about, because they are full of the sites that will always be bleeding edge when it comes to beating the algo.

I don't know the breakdown of informational searches v. commercial searches and it will be impossible to know but even a simple "informational" search like "travel country1" has been painfully hard to conduct because most of the top results will be the commercial sites, thanks to anchor text link partners. The top results won't contain pages like some personal site page talking about his travel experience in country1, or some educational site about the history and landmarks of that country. It will be pages titled "Travel country1 Cheap: Tickets, Hotel Rooms, Reviews, Discounts for Travel country1" based on some cookie cutter template used by almost all the top sites for that search, and probably owned by the same person.

Last month I was trying to find historical monthly sales figure for a major widget. It is a pure informational search. A few years ago I could head to a business school library and within a few minutes could get all the info I needed. It took me over an hour, and after clicking through all the deceptively titled commercial pages trying to sell me widget, and being redirected, and a few spyware installed on my computer, I still couldn't find it and gave up.

I think that except for a few things like most proper name searches, and a few esoteric searches, almost all searches have been taken over by massively linked commercial sites.

europeforvisitors




msg:116496
 5:48 am on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

On this future of search and seperating commercial and non commercial, I do not think anybody realizes that there are alot of commercial sites that also have good information as well.

Nobody's disputing that commercial sites may have good information. But remember, Google doesn't index sites--it indexes pages. So if, for example, buddys-boat-sales.com has a great "how to buy a canoe" tutorial, that's an information page--not a commercial page. Even if Google split information and commercial pages into separate indexes, that "how to buy a canoe" tutorial would likely fall under the heading of "information," not "commercial."

How would a search engine know how to catergorize?

All search algorithms are based on assumptions, and in this case the algorithm's assumptions might be based on the presence or lack of certain characteristic features: e.g., a shopping cart link, typical "commercial" layout features such as copy blocks accompanied by prices, an e-form, boilerplate content, etc. Exactly what those assumptions should be is for the search engine's staff to decide.

wanderingmind




msg:116497
 6:11 am on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

Comments on how bad Yahoo is now and how good Google is -

At least in my business, I have noticed that in google, if i search for widget company selling red widgets located in widget-country, you still get widget directories. narrow it down, use the name of widget-street, and you still get directories.

At least in Yahoo, a specific search gives me a specific result. Its not great when I want to find widget directories, on the other hand.

Even when I want to find the phone number of the grocery store across the street, Google will find me a web directory instead of his website.

Hell, maybe I should have just walked across and asked him...

newwebster




msg:116498
 10:14 am on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

"All search algorithms are based on assumptions, and in this case the algorithm's assumptions might be based on the presence or lack of certain characteristic features: e.g., a shopping cart link, typical "commercial" layout features such as copy blocks accompanied by prices, an e-form, boilerplate content, etc. Exactly what those assumptions should be is for the search engine's staff to decide."

Thanks for your feedback, but what if the page that has the shopping cart or any other commercial aspect also has some of the best content and information about the subject? I guess my point is that just because the "page" is commercial, it should not be discounted for its valuable content. This is where I think it will be difficult for Google to just say, well if a page has these factors on it, then it is deemed as commercial and catergorized as such.

IITian




msg:116499
 2:02 pm on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

Thanks for your feedback, but what if the page that has the shopping cart or any other commercial aspect also has some of the best content and information about the subject? I guess my point is that just because the "page" is commercial, it should not be discounted for its valuable content.

Consider two sites - one pure informational site on widget and one commercial with equally good information on widget. In most instances when one is searching for widgets the commercial site with nice content on widget will show up much higher than the pure informational one. This difference will be mostly based on marketing that includes paying for links and exchanging links with anchor texts containing the word "widget." To neutralize its advantage, if one could find out one way inward links from "paid" sites and ignore them (not so easy to do) and ignore anchor texts from reciprocal links since in most cases they would be artificial, it will go a long way towards that goal.

Presence of shopping carts could be used as a hint to discount all mutual link anchors as well as discount links from fee-based places like Yahoo directory. Absensce of shopping list will allow for some leeway by letting some of them be counted.

europeforvisitors




msg:116500
 2:15 pm on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

Thanks for your feedback, but what if the page that has the shopping cart or any other commercial aspect also has some of the best content and information about the subject? I guess my point is that just because the "page" is commercial, it should not be discounted for its valuable content. This is where I think it will be difficult for Google to just say, well if a page has these factors on it, then it is deemed as commercial and categorized as such.

Yes, and what if a one-page hobby site with a PageRank of 1 has the best content and information about the subject? It isn't going to rank in the top 10 search results, either.

Search algorithms aren't perfect; they're based on statistical probability and assumptions--and it's reasonable to assume that, if Google gave users a choice between "I want information on..." and "I want to buy...", those users would have a better chance of finding non-commercial information on a page that didn't contain a shopping cart, an e-form, or an order button.

Besides, nobody is suggesting that a page should be "discounted" for being commercial. If Google broke results out separately for non-commercial and commercial pages (note again that I said "pages," not "sites"), the quality of search results would be better for both information and commercial searches. (To look at it from a commercial point of view, why should a user who wants to buy a Widgetco WC-1 digital camera be forced to wade through search results for manufacturers' pages and camera reviews?)

newwebster




msg:116501
 2:20 pm on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

IITian

What if you do not have the option of commercial and non commercial on the subject. What if you just have commercial pages that have the only information available or if the commercial pages have much better information than a non-commercial?

IITian




msg:116502
 3:10 pm on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

What if you do not have the option of commercial and non commercial on the subject. What if you just have commercial pages that have the only information available or if the commercial pages have much better information than a non-commercial?

The commercial site should then win over others. If it has valuable information, it will have one way links from a few sites, better than that for others with less valuable info. That is the basic premise of Google's algo.

I have nothing against commercial sites (and demarcation between comm and non-comm sites can be thin) but I don't want any site to gain in organic serps by marketing since it will allow inferior content with better marketing to rise above others. For specialized products, commercial sites have the resources to be the best and rightfully belong at or near the top.

europeforvisitors




msg:116503
 4:03 pm on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

What if you do not have the option of commercial and non commercial on the subject. What if you just have commercial pages that have the only information available or if the commercial pages have much better information than a non-commercial?

Okay, then, let me suggest an alternative: Have Google automatically knock any page with duplicate content 1,000 places down in the search results. That way, we get the boilerplate affiliate and catalog-page clutter out of sight in the SERPs, and users will have access to a wider variety of both commercial and non-commercial information instead of having to dig through hundreds of nearly identical pages about the Hotel Whatsit or Norton AntiBadGuy.

newwebster




msg:116504
 4:15 pm on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

"Yes, and what if a one-page hobby site with a PageRank of 1 has the best content and information about the subject? It isn't going to rank in the top 10 search results, either."

I would want to link to it if I had a commercial site that was about the same subject.

I do agree a seperation of some sort between commercial and non-commercial would be good. I just think it is going to take alot more than looking at reciprocal links or looking at commercial related factors to accomplish this.

newwebster




msg:116505
 4:23 pm on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

"Okay, then, let me suggest an alternative: Have Google automatically knock any page with duplicate content 1,000 places down in the search results"

Duplicate content is another can of worms to figure out how to eliminate in the serps.

mikeD




msg:116506
 4:24 pm on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

also remember it is summer, so certain subjects do better than others. Take this into account when looking at a drop in traffic.

BigDave




msg:116507
 4:47 pm on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

I really don't see a problem with having a commercial site with good information ranking above a non-commercial site with good information.

Yeah, a one page PR1 site *might* have the best information. But that PR7 commercial site might too. Anyway, I don't care about finding the *best* information, I aonly care if what I find is good enough.

Anyway, if that PR1 site really has the best information, how the hell is google supposed to figure that our algorithmically?

And as for all those websites that trade and buy links, my non-link-trading, non-link-buying, informational site beats out a lot of them for some big for their field keyphrases.

My top traffic search term, I am at #3 and have been top 5 for over a year. There are 3.5 million results, and a full complement of adwords. There is not a single external link pointing to that page, so there is no external anchor text. According to your logic, I should not be there.

newwebster




msg:116508
 5:30 pm on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

"Anyway, if that PR1 site really has the best information, how the hell is google supposed to figure that our algorithmically?"

This is the point I have been trying to make. It is going to take new type of search technology that makes the current one look like a dinosaur in order to algorithmically (if it is even an algo in the future) correctly know the difference between commercial and non commericial pages. Simple anchor text reciprocal links, shopping carts, etc. can not be used universal without making too many mistakes as a factor in seperating commercial and non commercaial pages.

europeforvisitors




msg:116509
 6:29 pm on Jul 6, 2004 (gmt 0)

Simple anchor text reciprocal links, shopping carts, etc. can not be used universal without making too many mistakes as a factor in seperating commercial and non commercaial pages.

Nobody's suggesting that any single factor should be used to distinguish between "commercial" and "non-commercial." Google isn't noted for simple-minded solutions; it uses algorithms that are based on statistical studies of large data samples. I have little doubt that Google could distinguish between commercial and non-commercial pages according to its own definition of each if it chose to do so.

Furthermore, it wouldn't even have to deliver completely separate results for commercial and non-commercial searches. It could simply weight a given set of search results more heavily toward "commercial" or "non-commercial" based on the user's input. If the user selected I WANT INFORMATION ON [widgets], non-commercial pages (as defined by Google) would rise to the top. If the user selected I WANT TO BUY [widgets], commercial results would be listed first.

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