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What do you think of the quality of Google *non-commercial* searches?
Is it just commercial webmasters wailing and gnashing teeth?
rfgdxm1




msg:91190
 5:07 pm on Oct 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

I have noticed a lot of moaning and complaining around here by people that with the latest Google index, SERPs are far less relevant. However, on average personally I haven't noticed this to be the case. The latest index to me looks as good as before, if not better. I'm not having trouble finding the sort of thing I am looking for.

However, it is quite obvious that at Webmasterworld, typical posters tend to be commercial webmasters, and SEO types. The very home page of this site proclaims "News and discussion for the independent web professional". Which would suggest that most y'all just ain't the people Google are trying to please. Google is aimed at the average Joe Searcher out there, who probably is just looking for information on a topic of interest to him. Maybe someone trying to settle and argument, find out more about his personal hobby, or some kid doing a paper for school. I almost never use the Internet to find things to buy, and probably this rarely is what most people out there searching have in mind to.

This leads me to the hypothesis that in the latest Google index they have intentionally altered the algo in preference to what this average Joe Searcher wants from Google. Yeah, this has mucked things up a bit for commercial webmasters and their SEOs, but you guys are just collateral damage for the greater good. Besides, if you are selling something on the Internet, that is what Google Adwords are for. ;) The more relevant the SERPs are on commercial searches, the less the average Joe Searcher will need to click on a Google Adword. Thus Google has no particular incentive to want the algo to be most relevant for commercial searches.

Now I ask: how many of you are really having problems finding the content you want when doing searches where the relevant results wouldn't be businesses hawking widgets and stuff? From what I believe to be that changes in the latest algo, they don't seem to be of a nature that they would tend to make it less relevant on non-commercial searches. Am I wrong about this for non-commercial Google searches?

 

EliteWeb




msg:91191
 5:11 pm on Oct 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

rfgdxm1 i used google 30 times or so in the past 2 days and i've found everything I was looking for. I am a SEO but my main SEO activities happen for my own sites which are basicly non commercial and they are doing fine, always have been. Sure they move up and down some indexes but im not complaining to news sources saying Google sucks.

Sasquatch




msg:91192
 5:25 pm on Oct 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

Everything has been at least as good as before on my non commercial searches. And even searches for the commercial sites that I would visit have come back in good shape. Mind you I don't buy timeshares, go to gambling sites, look for accomodations in specific european cities, or buy things from affiliate programs.

I tend to buy obscure items from mom & pop shops that I cannot find locally. These searches have improved a great deal, as I usually only have to go through the first couple of pages to find what I want. I don't need to search for the bigger companies because generally type in their domain name.

But remember, our opinions don't count, so this was the worst update ever!

Marcos




msg:91193
 5:25 pm on Oct 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

This is how I see it.

- Non commercial queries: site #1 is now site #20, site #50 is now #1. So? no bid deal. Most pages are more or less decent pages, so nobody cares.

- Commercial queries: site #1 is now site #60, site #230 is now #1. Problem is, the new site #1 is a spammer, like anything down to site #20 or so, and site #1 was a important industry related portal.

You see, this changes have randomised the top 50 results, no such a big problem for spammers-free categories. But commercial cats have been invaded by spammers sites, 1 page sites, and so on.

[edited by: Marcos at 6:06 pm (utc) on Oct. 5, 2002]

Sasquatch




msg:91194
 5:40 pm on Oct 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

Did you really have last months searches mapped out to page 230? I don't think I've ever done a search on something that would give me that many results.

mosley700




msg:91195
 5:58 pm on Oct 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

Show me a search on Google that doesn't give you that many results.

Marcos




msg:91196
 6:02 pm on Oct 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

Sasquatch,
>Did you really have last months searches mapped out to page 230

No, we don't, but we did during the Google dance, It was pretty easy to compare, back them, you just have to search at www2, pick the first spammer, and try to map them at www.

PD: Position 230, no page 230. Page 23, or page 2 if you do advanced options 100 per page searchs.

Sasquatch




msg:91197
 6:13 pm on Oct 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

Okay, I can accept that you had position #230 mapped out.

mosely700, I sent you a sticky with my last 4 commercial searches. As you can see, the sort of stuff I look for, I am having no problems with relevance, or too many pages returned. In a majority of my searches, I do not even get to position 230, much less *page* 230, which marcos originally had typed before he fixed it.

Time to go hit the trail, now play nice while I'm gone;)

mosley700




msg:91198
 6:17 pm on Oct 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

True, most people never get to page 4. Most people change the search terms before the go past the second or third page.

rfgdxm1




msg:91199
 6:27 pm on Oct 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

>rfgdxm1 i used google 30 times or so in the past 2 days and i've found everything I was looking for. I am a SEO but my main SEO activities happen for my own sites which are basicly non commercial and they are doing fine, always have been. Sure they move up and down some indexes but im not complaining to news sources saying Google sucks.

I'm not having problems with my only 2 non-commercial sites. On one main keyword I dropped from #2 to #6, but somehow shot up from the bottom of page 1 to the #1 spot on the other main keyword. I'm not in the SEO business, but did learn the basics of it when I got sick of how poorly my site was doing in search engines, and learned how to change this. And succeeded. Although, I confess that went over to the dark side and SEOed, although on a volunteer basis, some little commercial site selling a certain item for childrens amusement. He was doing everything wrong in terms of search engines, and was really low ranked. I spent an hour redoing the HTML of his home page, sent that to him, and he used it. I just checked. He's still #1 on the main 2 word keyword phrase on Google, and #4 on the other important 2 word search phrase! Go figure. ;)

I still think that those complaining to news sources Google sucks are those out to make a buck, and Google isn't working as well to them. Google was quoted in one of those news articles that complaints weren't up from the average Joe Searchers out there. I suspect Google is telling the truth.

mosley700




msg:91200
 6:32 pm on Oct 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

After the update my sites plummetted. Dropped all SEO-ish page titles and my sites are doing great with the new page titles, thanks to G-fresh.
Don't try to get traffic, and you'll get it!

rfgdxm1




msg:91201
 6:52 pm on Oct 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

- Non commercial queries: site #1 is now site #20, site #50 is now #1. So? no bid deal. Most pages are more or less decent pages, so nobody cares.

- Commercial queries: site #1 is now site #60, site #230 is now #1. Problem is, the new site #1 is a spammer, like anything down to site #20 or so, and site #1 was a important industry related portal.

You see, this changes have randomised the top 50 results, no such a big problem for spammers-free categories. But commercial cats have been invaded by spammers sites, 1 page sites, and so on.

------------

*I* care, gosh darn it! You're assuming that the rankings of non-commercial categories are "so nobody cares", yet in commercial categories it is the reverse. I don't really care much if the SERPs ain't that good for commercial categories. However, if on non-commercial searches site #1, which was the most relevant, falls down to #20, that means I've gotta slog through 19 lesser site to find the really important one. Assuming I have the patience to slog through that many sites. Since basically all my searches are non-commercial, I'd really be inclined to ditch Google for another search engine if this was the case.

Also, I *don't* see this randomizing of the top 50 sites in non-commercial SERPs. Those seem as relevant as before. Even better than before, in fact. Maybe commercial searches seem a lot less relevant, but I consider that acceptable collateral damage if it improves the non-commercial searches, which is by far what Joe Searcher out there usually does. My guess is what happened is that Google tweaked the algo to produce more relevant results with non-commercial sites that weren't Google SEOed to the max before. Of course, sites that were SEOed to the max before are the ones that are going to take the greatest hit any time Google changes the algo. They were designed *with the old algo specifically in mind*. Google isn't in the business of keeping commercial SEOs happy. They aim to please Joe Searcher.

Jane_Doe




msg:91202
 6:59 pm on Oct 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

> Google was quoted in one of those news articles that complaints weren't up from the average Joe Searchers out there. I suspect Google is telling the truth.

They may be telling the truth, but that doesn't necessarily mean average Joe Surfer is happy either. Average Joe surfer may never complain even if they don't like what they see in the Google SERPs. It's not like web surfers are locked into a six month contract like they are with their cable company. It takes very little effort to just start using a different search egnine. I would think that complaints would not be a good measure of user satisfaction for Google. I would think the trend in their search volumes would be the more telling statistic.

rfgdxm1




msg:91203
 7:10 pm on Oct 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

Good point. User volume going down would be the main concern. However, I suspect if that had happened, Google sure would have noticed *that*. ;) Although, I'd expect that Google would get early warning signs first in user complaints. While nobody is locked into a 6 month contract with Google, there is some inertia if things aren't as good as before. If that happens, first users would start whining and say "please fix this guys". If after a while Google didn't, they'd start hunting for a new SE.

rjohara




msg:91204
 7:13 pm on Oct 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

I maintain two medium-sized non-commercial sites. Hardly noticed anything with this update (expected, since I hadn't made any major changes). I haven't had any of the problems being reported.

GoogleGuy




msg:91205
 7:30 pm on Oct 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

Okay, so no complaints here from what I can tell. I'm still waiting for several of the people with complaints to write with examples? We really haven't seen many complaints at all, and I'm waiting to check them out. :)

[google.com...]
Mention you've been reading on webmasterworld.

[Mods, I apologize for posting this link so often, but I keep waiting for people to take me up on this offer and only a very few have.]

rfgdxm1




msg:91206
 7:51 pm on Oct 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

Suggestion to Googleguy. That really isn't the address to complain to for what people are beefing about here, at least according to the text on the page:

"Trying to deceive (spam) our web crawler by means of hidden text, deceptive cloaking or doorway pages compromises the quality of our results and degrades the search experience for everyone. We think that's a bad thing.

"If your Google search returns a result that you suspect is spam, please let us know using this form. We investigate each report of deceptive practices thoroughly and take appropriate action when abuse is uncovered. At minimum, we will use the data from each spam report to improve our site ranking and filtering algorithms. The result of this should be visible over time as the quality of our searches gets even better. In especially egregious cases, we will remove spammers from our index immediately, so they do not show up in search results at all. Other steps will be taken as necessary.

"Google appreciates your taking the time to help us improve our service for web searchers around the world. By helping us eliminate spam, you are saving millions of people time, effort and energy. We think that's a good thing."

People here aren't complaining that the SERPs now are dominated by sites with hidden text, cloaking, etc. It is more that minor legit commercial sites are rising to the top, while major industry portal and such are now way down in the SERPs. IOW, it isn't a bunch of spammers have sprung up and are now dominating Google SERPs. But instead that Google quality has plummeted such that where as before the most relevant sites were rising to the top, now the commercial SERPs seem "randomized" and such. That URL you gave is the one where people are supposed to send complaints "this site is cheating, please boot them". What people are more saying is "Google, you are now doing a poor job ranking sites in terms of relevance, unlike before. Please correct this." Does Google have a URL for complaints that aren't about spam, but instead quality of the algo? If not, you should consider adding such a URL.

john316




msg:91207
 7:54 pm on Oct 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

Most folks just complain with their feet, the logic goes something like this: "Why bother telling the cook he gave me a lousy cheeseburger, I'm sure he already knows that".

rjohara




msg:91208
 7:59 pm on Oct 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

Does Google have a URL for complaints that aren't about spam, but instead quality of the algo? If not, you should consider adding such a URL.

I believe at the bottom of every single Google results page there is a link that says "Dissatisfied with your results? Help us improve." It takes you to a form for reporting results that weren't as relevant as you had hoped (as opposed to spammy results).

Jane_Doe




msg:91209
 8:04 pm on Oct 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

> Does Google have a URL for complaints that aren't about spam, but instead quality of the algo?

It's at the bottom of their search results screen -

Dissatisfied with your search results?

[google.com ]

Added: rjohara beat me to it. I gotta learn to type faster.

mosley700




msg:91210
 8:15 pm on Oct 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

GoogleGuy,
Not much of complaint, but since you're asking. I reported 8 sites when you posted that URL before. All sites cloaked, so Google sees a long list of search terms, each linking to an inner page. That's what Google sees. ( cache) But users get re-directed to the highest bidder in the site's "buy 1,000,000" visitors" program.

I reported it 4 weeks ago. Last update this family of cloaked sites actually moved up (with no incoming links even).

So I'm guessing that nobody reads those reports.

Admittedly, having that report is good for PR ( public relations ), as it gives one a feeling of being able to do something about spam, when in fact we're powerless. ( All of us except GoogleGuy.)

You should have a contest - find one hundred spam/cloaked sites and get a free T shirt. ( Not the sixties-looking one )

:)

quotations




msg:91211
 8:22 pm on Oct 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

When people I know can't find things in my chosen topic areas using Google, they end up writing to me. My e-mail from people who are frustrated and hate the way the new index works (does not work) for them (any more), has grown by about ten times since the end of September.

Why can't people just find what they want at Google, instead of having to write to me? Google has suddenly become very similar to Altavista (that is a bad thing). Where do I find some news sources to talk to?

See aztec dot asu dot edu

Brad




msg:91212
 8:25 pm on Oct 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

I don't think I would want to tip my hand by reporting my search phrases.

As for the average user, I think John316 is right, people vote with their feet. It is just like those nice point of sale trackers at retail stores. They tell the retailer what you are buying but not what you are not buying, perhaps because you, the customer, could not find it or because it was out of stock.

nutsandbolts




msg:91213
 8:29 pm on Oct 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

Without any notice that the report has been received and no action on the spam spotted - I suppose people eventually give up!

rfgdxm1




msg:91214
 8:31 pm on Oct 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

Thanks guys. I knew there was somewhere on Google to say "Dissatisfied with your search results?" I just umm...seem to have forgot it was at the bottom of every SERP. I guess I've fried a few to many brain cells at this point of my life. ;) THAT is what people should be using for a lot of complaints I see here. Like the person who wrote "Google has suddenly become very similar to Altavista (that is a bad thing)."

dcheney




msg:91215
 8:44 pm on Oct 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

I have a medium sized (15k+ pages) non-commercial web site and it seems to be doing quite well. No PR change this month, but the referals from Google are up a good bit.

On the other side of the coin, the search results for my various research projects still seem to return quality pages on my terms (when there are any sites covering them!)

steveb




msg:91216
 12:38 am on Oct 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

Complaints are like economists, lay them end to end and they point in all directions.

I'm probably in the top 2% of Google user-searchers and I see better results this month in my various areas of interest. I see greatly better results in my own commercial category, due to either the spam reporting efforts of many webmasters against a virulent spammer, OR, Google downplaying pagerank this update because these same spammers bought pagerank to achieve their prominent positions.

I wish I was sure the spam-site dropping was due to the vigilant actions of the former but I suspect it is the latter, because the sites still show up and do decently for some keyword/phrases (though not the one keyword they clearly target most).

This algo is a clear improvement over previous months, even if it surely is not perfect... #1 results "should" be #4 results, that kind of thing. It seems people with regional-focused sites have the most complaints and I don't have any interests in anything regional, so maybe I'm missing the problems, but I also don't often see URLs in profiles to check out topic areas. Without being able to look at specifics, the complaints make no sense to me since I see no such problems in my interest areas.

john316




msg:91217
 1:01 am on Oct 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

SteveB

If your area of interest is the one in the profile, your serps would not be affected to any significant degree. The reason is that even though it is a very competetive area, it just doesn't have any competition from .govs, .edus or major news sites.

That would explain your contentment with the current algo and why you are missing the point of current concerns.

Most likely (I haven't checked) any kw category that requires more than a $299.00 payment for a yahoo! listing has had little or no major change in the way sites are ranked.

Dante_Maure




msg:91218
 1:38 am on Oct 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

I reported it 4 weeks ago. Last update this family of cloaked sites actually moved up (with no incoming links even).

So I'm guessing that nobody reads those reports.

GoogleGuy has stated on more than one occasion that Google's philosophy is to look at those reports and then use them as a basis for improving their algorhythms.

Wait 2-3 updates and see what happens.

(I reported a site + no immediate changes = they don't read them) is pretty thin logic.

It makes very little sense for Google to get into the business of doing extensive hand tweaking when their business model is built on serving relevant results based upon an advanced algorhythmic methodology.

What does make sense is seeing how their results are being manipulated and adjusting their methodology accordingly.

Hand tweak - one irrelevant result disappears.

Successful algo tweak - tens of thousands of irrelevant results disappear with as little collateral damage as possible.

europeforvisitors




msg:91219
 1:39 am on Oct 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

I'm still waiting for several of the people with complaints to write with examples? We really haven't seen many complaints at all, and I'm waiting to check them out.

Done. I've used the spam submission form to report a deceptive redirect that ranked #1 for a non-commercial keyphrase that I was searching on yesterday.

On a more general note, I'll comment that search results do seem more scattershot than they've been for the last few months. Too bad we can't use real-life examples here, but since we can't, I'll just say that a search on "Elboniaville" now produces several pages of random search results instead of the more targeted results that I would have expected to find previously. Instead of finding broad-spectrum sites about Elboniaville on page 1 of the SERP, I'm finding more random pages with "Elboniaville" in their names such as "Elboniaville Beachcam," "Diocese of Elboniaville," and "Noname Modern Art Collection" (which happens to be located in Elboniaville) along with the home pages of a few general Elboniaville sites. It's almost as if Google heard rumors that it was using themed search results and decided to show, through SERPs, that theming isn't part of the Google arsenal. :-)

BTW, I'd like to know what people here mean when they speak of "commercial" sites. E-commerce sites are clearly commercial, while K-12, university, public-library, and hobby sites obviously are non-commercial. But what about editorial sites that are operated for profit, such as THE NEW YORK TIMES, SALON, or (for that matter) the site in my Webmaster World profile? Such sites are "commercial" in the sense of making money, but they sell to exist instead of existing to sell. For the sake of precision, it might be better to use terms such as "e-commerce sites" and "editorial sites," "content sites," or "information sites."

(Side note: Although my "Elboniaville" ranking went from #2 to the mid-30s in the latest Google update, I appear to be doing better overall in Google than I was last month, and my traffic is up at a time of year when I'd expect it to be declining. So I'm not up in arms as a Webmaster; I'm just a little perplexed as a search user.)

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