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New York Times Article About Google
The article mentions WebmasterWorld.com
DanG82




msg:121971
 8:42 am on Dec 9, 2002 (gmt 0)

I just came across an article online from today's New York Times about Google that specifically mentions this site. Sorry if this has already been posted. I'm fairly new here, but I looked all around the board and didn't see it.

---

Sites Become Dependent on Google
By DAVID F. GALLAGHER

New York Times Article About Google [nytimes.com]

---

--DanG

 

Rugles




msg:122001
 7:46 pm on Dec 9, 2002 (gmt 0)

NancyB

There is nothing as productive for a website as free press. We rely on it for tons of web orders. There seems to be all kinds of reporters just looking for content and you have to do is package it right.

troels nybo nielsen




msg:122002
 8:10 pm on Dec 9, 2002 (gmt 0)

Welcome to WebmasterWorld, davidfg.

It's extremely important that there are people with different backgrounds here. In spite of my general skepticism about journalists I find it a good thing that there are some of those too. Stick around, read a lot and contribute to the discussions when you feel like it.

Troels

Beachboy




msg:122003
 8:15 pm on Dec 9, 2002 (gmt 0)

GG said:

<<I'm going to spend some time thinking about what Google can do to be more proactive/responsive with webmasters. We do a pretty good job already, but I'd like us to do better.>>

That would be good. Where automated penalties are applied, such as last year's infamous PR0 for crosslinking, followed by no recovery or limited recovery after the problems were corrected, Google ought to have a procedure in place to fully remove such penalties. I would never ground my kid forever for messing up, and Google ought not do the same thing when webmasters mess up.

BigDave




msg:122004
 8:31 pm on Dec 9, 2002 (gmt 0)

But beachboy, you are not Google's kid. You are more like someone else's kid that goes into a store and shoplifts. In most stores you get banned for life if you get caught.

As long as Google has good enough results without you scoring well, then there is little incentive in making it easier for people who have a record of making their job harder.

There is a difference between a penalty and a filter. I see no reason for Google to lift a penalty just because you cleaned up your site. You are being penalized for what you did, not what you are doing.

That being said, I think Google should differentiate between first time offenders, and habitual offenders. A 6 month penalty would be enough to teach most companies to play by the rules (if they survive). If they don't get it the first time, then I think the death sentence is not inappropriate.

Beachboy




msg:122005
 9:34 pm on Dec 9, 2002 (gmt 0)

::: Shrug :::

Google is not in the endless penalty biz. Google is in the relevant search results biz. It does not support Google's mission to pass out permanent penalties, simply because some of those who are penalized may well indeed be among the most important sites in their category.

Let's cite an extreme, fictional example. Ford Motor Company did some crosslinking and got penalized. Would Google ban them forever? Oh heck no.

Shoplifting? Do you suppose Winona Ryder will never again be allowed back into Saks 5th Ave.? If she wanted to spend half a million bucks, I doubt they would bar the door. They might keep an eye on her, yes (and that is understandable.)

I haven't any idea whether trying to track behavior of individual webmasters would be worth the cost, but I think the bottom line is pretty clear. If there is no longer any violation, lift the penalty. Fine with me if they "ground" a penalized site for 6 months. ;)

MJR




msg:122006
 9:52 pm on Dec 9, 2002 (gmt 0)

This line caught my eye, well actually it caught someone else's first then mine :)
" ...emphasis on keeping users happy, even at the expense of Webmasters."

[edited by: MJR at 10:02 pm (utc) on Dec. 9, 2002]

turk182




msg:122007
 9:55 pm on Dec 9, 2002 (gmt 0)

Beachboy, that's ok if you are a "big one", but it you are not, you may become banned for a long long time (maybe no that long, but don't say it to the penalised site owner who obtaing up to 80% of their visitors and sales from Google ;)).

From what I've been reading in Webmasterworld, if you are penalised you are "out" for a minimum of four months. Of course there're alternative solutions, like banning googlebot for some months or putting your web site in another domain, but I still find banning very disturbing.

MJR




msg:122008
 10:07 pm on Dec 9, 2002 (gmt 0)

From what I've been reading in Webmasterworld, if you are penalised you are "out" for a minimum of four months
That's not necessarily true. There have been many sites reinstated the very next update. Of course the question would then be were they really penalized in the first place or was it some kind glitch :)
WebGuerrilla




msg:122009
 10:31 pm on Dec 9, 2002 (gmt 0)

>>There have been many sites reinstated the very next update.

If you are reinstated the following update, you weren't penalized. You were the victim of a glitch.

BigDave




msg:122010
 11:14 pm on Dec 9, 2002 (gmt 0)

Or it could be some sort of filter instead of a penalty.

If you do something that triggers a filter, you could drop down this month, but if you fix it, you could go back up the next. Google isn't keeping track of those sites. A penalty on the other hand, would be kept track of for the required number of months, even if you fix the root cause.

A filter would clean out this month's results. A penalty is meant to penalize you for being a pain.

Then again, there are also plenty of glitches.

EliteWeb




msg:122011
 11:25 pm on Dec 9, 2002 (gmt 0)

:) hehehe interesting read, did they link WebmasterWorld? I only saw a text but not hyperlinked. heheheh :) that coulda been yer link to the next pr :P

caine




msg:122012
 1:23 pm on Dec 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

The Black art of SEO, mmm!

terribly unexciting manner in which to address many of our vocations / interests in life.

I suppose it is a privalege of reading and contributing for a while here at webmasterworld, as the contents of that story come across as old.

85% earnings from google alone, sensed contridictions in the story about that amount of return from G. Wonder how high the site ranks across all the SE's for its major kw earners.

europeforvisitors




msg:122013
 3:25 pm on Dec 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

I suppose it is a privalege of reading and contributing for a while here at webmasterworld, as the contents of that story come across as old.

It isn't old to the typical New York Times reader. That's what counts. (The story wasn't written for SEOs or Webmasters.)

Liane




msg:122014
 3:41 pm on Dec 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

85% earnings from google alone, sensed contridictions in the story about that amount of return from G. Wonder how high the site ranks across all the SE's for its major kw earners.

Caine, please see your stickymail. I've sent you a list of the keyword phrases I have targeted and I think you will find the site does rather nicely in all major search engines.

Lest we confuse the issue, Google is responsible for Yahoo and AOL's SERPS as well and the figures in the article include these engines as well as Google.

As I do not participate in any PPC programmes, I am really only concerned with how my site is positioned on those three plus Fast, MSN, AV and one or two others.

I rarely if ever bother checking ranking on Overture and have never managed to do much on ask Jeeves. Since LookSmart went PPC I don't worry much about them anymore. The rest send so little traffic, they are not worth bothering with and I have never been concerned with them.

Brett_Tabke




msg:122015
 4:12 pm on Dec 21, 2002 (gmt 0)

It is rather strange the links that were choosen for href'ing.

Glad you are doing ok Liane. I guess we've never mentioned it in public before, but Liane's site was a bit of a community project here. Three years ago when we first started, we had this plan to do WebmasterWorld Answers where we would do site reviews and seo recommendations for a fee (no, I'm not kidding about the name). We'd started with a community service project to toy with the system and move on to commercial sites. Lianes site was that first project. You've come a long way since then!

chiyo




msg:122016
 4:33 pm on Dec 21, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Answers sounds like a brilliant idea, and a way to increase revenue. I vote for considering it again.

excell




msg:122017
 5:01 pm on Dec 21, 2002 (gmt 0)

LOL... ahh yes it would be a way to go wouldn't it!

MJR are you implying the some so called "penalised" sites that made a public fuss about google indexing could have been subject to server downtime only?

nancyb




msg:122018
 5:40 pm on Dec 21, 2002 (gmt 0)

Caine, I meant to mention this earlier since you asked and forgot ...
My site also ranks very well on all the other major engines for a large number keywords/phrases and always has. But the loss of listings in G, Y! and AOL caused at least an 80% loss this year and even worse for the Christmas season.

Jon_King




msg:122019
 5:48 pm on Dec 21, 2002 (gmt 0)

I find the article so subjective to not be of much use. What SEO does is not black magic as much as it is marketing logic applied to a new delivery method (se's). And the new delivery method has its limitations and rules as does any other medium. These rules and limitations are not widely published and are also constantly changing...

[edited by: Jon_King at 6:58 pm (utc) on Dec. 21, 2002]

GoogleGuy




msg:122020
 6:42 pm on Dec 21, 2002 (gmt 0)

davidfg, glad to see you post. If you have any suggestions on how we can improve our process, I'd be interested in what you think. I'd also love to discuss what people think Google should do differently, especially how much communication people think that there should be. I'm really interested in thoughtful, pragmatic advice about how we should allocate our resources between scalable spamfighting, responding to spam complaints ("non-scalable spamfighting", for lack of a better word), alerting sites that don't abide by our quality guidelines, and responding to emails from people who claim they've been penalized.

excell




msg:122021
 7:14 pm on Dec 21, 2002 (gmt 0)

On your spam report form you should set up some sort of system that flags frequent reports.. that way when all see something happening you will see it and hopefully DO something about it.

Is there technically a way to do this?

excell




msg:122022
 7:20 pm on Dec 21, 2002 (gmt 0)

people who are ordinary every day users of google and common webmasters *are* concerned with google's results as they are becoming aware of the enormous market share of same.. Google is *not* just dealing with a group of *black art* "seo"ers but they are dealing with the world at large..

Response .. feedback & *acknowledgement* would be the key to google's on going success-in my opinion.

This is all just common *customer service*.

Liane




msg:122023
 7:31 pm on Dec 21, 2002 (gmt 0)

I guess we've never mentioned it in public before, but Liane's site was a bit of a community project here.

It was what saved me from utter disaster and I have never understood why Dave insisted that it never be made public ... but agreed to keep it to myself.

I had been desperately trying (for months) to find out what had happened to my site in all the INK partner sites. They were very big back then and powered Yahoo, Hot Bot, Alta Vista, LookSmart, Excite (if I remember correctly) and several others. It had just disappeared overnight after having enjoyed moderate success. My business was going down the tubes rapidly.

I finally managed (through a kindhearted lady at canada.com) to connect with someone at Inktomi. This was before they went PFI. The gentleman actually called me in the BVI from California just out of the blue. He told me that their site submit had been seriously spammed with porno sites and the entire database had been hopelessly corrupted. I had not been black listed (which is what I had thought) ... but there was no way he could help me either.

I had found Search Engine World and decided to post a message telling everyone what the gentleman had told me because others were just as perplexed in regards to what was happening with INK as I had been.

Following that, stcrim (a mod for the Ink forum) contacted me (thinking I was an SEO or Webmaster) and invited me to join the INK forum at WebmasterWorld.

They soon discovered that I knew nothing about web sites at all and was just a business owner in dire straights ... so they collectively decided to help me build a new site and start all over from scratch. This was announced on my birthday, (September 21st, 2000). It was the best birthday present I have ever rec'd in my life.

What I didn't know at the time was that they expected me to actually build the site! I'm a yacht charter broker ... not a webmaster! I was totally scared. I didn't even know what an FTP programme was or how to upload files, let alone what html was all about! To make matters worse, I had not been in school for more than 25 years ... and even back then, my study habits were pretty poor. Now I was going to have to learn a whole new vocation in order to dig myself out of the mess I was in. Yikes!

A special projects forum was set up and I was bombarded with questions about my business. The next thing was that I found myself writing, writing and writing some more. Content, content, content! ... they kept advising!

They said I had to offer my clients more than anyone else in the industry had ever done before. Information is what you need to provide. Good quality information ... and lots of it.

After several weeks of tossing around ideas in the forum, I was handed off to DaveIFG who was lumbered with the task of teaching me to be a webmaster ... by e:mail! That poor man. I honestly don't know how he managed to get it all into my thick scull!

Dave's lovely daughter (Michelle) prepared a template page and designed a new logo for me. It was lovely and very professional looking. I was absolutely thrilled!

I then had to draw layouts for every single yacht I represent ... and that took about 6 hours for each one. I represent 35 odd makes and models ... so it was a gruelling process during which I had major eye problems which required that I wear a patch. I could only work on them so many hours per day.

I believe it was February 9th when Dave and I had agreed that the site was ready to upload to the server. It was the most learning intensive 5 months of my life and I'm sure it was Dave's most frustrating. The man is a saint!

Since then, I have been learning little bits about SEO and through all the advice here, have managed to do very well with the site. I consistently receive complimentary remarks from customers saying, we chose to book through you because you offer such detailed information on your site.

It was a bumpy ride for quite some time, but all the hard work and very long hours started to really pay off this time last year. Since then, I have been digging myself out of debt (slowly but surely) and can finally see some light at the end of the tunnel. With any luck ... I should be out of the doldrums entirely by this time next year.

All of it is because of the kindness and generousity of the WebmasterWorld community and Dave in particular. I will never be able to thank you all enough!

(I didn't spill the beans Dave ... Brett did!) ;)

[edited by: NFFC at 8:29 pm (utc) on Dec. 21, 2002]
[edit reason] fixed side scroll [/edit]

2_much




msg:122024
 7:56 pm on Dec 21, 2002 (gmt 0)

That's really beautiful Liane.

I know we're supposed to be hard and stuff but I'll take the risk in saying that I feel very happy to be part of this community.

spinnercee




msg:122025
 8:18 pm on Dec 21, 2002 (gmt 0)

re: NYT, links and signing up:
I think that NYT online has a setup similar to Yahoo! as far as referrals --- They use a redirector to track exit URLs --- I guess they want to force a signup (it IS free BTW), so they can get those juicy demographics, since they probably get no other consideration from the sites they "mention," which as any of us know, can be gold.

It is interesting how articles written for the masses seem to grossly understate the technical complexity of the whole deal -- maybe it's for the better, another "dark art" of the many in the guru's bag of tricks :) -- personally, if they're gonna mess something up, it's usually when a journalist "thinks" they know a little something, and just freak people out by drawing conclusions from thin air [y2k comes to mind]. --cjw

troels nybo nielsen




msg:122026
 9:06 pm on Dec 21, 2002 (gmt 0)

Wonderful story, Liane. NYT missed that, huh?

nancyb




msg:122027
 10:57 pm on Dec 21, 2002 (gmt 0)

Laine, almost makes me wish I didn't have such good listings way back in 2000 :)

Oh, Googleguy - did you say something about advice? ;)

But first, I do applaud Google for their spam fighting! However, since my own site has been out and/or lost in the index for so long, I routinely use other engines when searching for something to make sure I don't miss a good site that might be similarly afflicted with a Google penalty.

IMHO, I don't think Google needs to, or even should, alert webmasters that don't follow the guidelines. Google offers a pretty extensive section on Webmaster Help and they should be able to find these guidelines on their own if they perceive a problem with their site. But, responding to the webmaster/site owner who has read the guidelines, and is still frustrated, and who writes to ask for a site review would be good customer service. Probably would help to keep the index cleaner in the long run because those webmasters wouldn't risk a penalty again.

I've emailed Google many times acknowledging my past sins and indicating the changes made. On all but two occasions I received the standard form letter saying "This note is just to let you know that we've received your letter, and you'll hear from us soon." . But - I never heard anything after that. I would suggest not sending that form if Google is not going to respond as it just adds to the frustration when you are waiting for an expected response. I was thankful for the two responses I did receive because it proved someone at Google was reading the mail, but neither addressed my questions.

How about if Google designed a form letter response which lists the most common techniques that could get a site penalized - hidden text, cloaking, excessive cross linking, no content, automated queries, etc. and suggested the webmaster request an "automated" review after the site was cleaned up. If the site was not a repeat offender or otherwise full of sneaky "tricks", an automated review could be run and the penalty removed after a reasonable time. If the webmaster either never engaged in the listed spam techniques -or- had already cleaned the site up, a check box could be included in the form letter indicating this. At this point, the webmaster could be given the opportunity to pay for a more detailed response. The fee to be based on the level and type of spam detected by Google originally with very high fees for sites that appeared to be engaging in dedicated spam and lower fees for small businesses that were basically clean but stuck with a long standing "penalty".

Setting this up initially as an automated system could be somewhat resource intensive, but it would certainly result in good press for Google as being responsive to inquiries.

Marcia




msg:122028
 10:59 pm on Dec 21, 2002 (gmt 0)

>applaud Google for their spam fighting!

Me too, Nancy. I'd certainly hate to see the kind of corruption to Google that happened to Inktomi.

The subject of "spam" does, however, get a little tiresome and repetitious after a while, and there's really very little that can be accomplished in the way of discussion to accomplish the kinds of positive input that helps people in the way Liane was helped, and how many, many members are helped to improve their sites each and every day here at the board.

And of course, the ways we as webmasters can help Google with our input goes much further, so we really shouldn't limit it by going over the same ole same ole all the time. Personally, I think those should be restricted to topic restricted threads so they don't obfuscate other topics; it would also eliminate a lot of repetitiousness. Just mho, of course.

What a wonderful story, Liane! Sept. 21, 2000 was exactly one year after a very significant date here. It's also the official join date in the profile of our favorite WebmasterWorld member. [webmasterworld.com] ;)

My join date was Sept. 28, 2000, so of course I didn't know about the project at that time. But I have been looking at the situation for quite a while, with all the people who do need individual help, along with the fact that it would be impossible for us to do individual site reviews, for a number of reasons.

WebmasterWorld Answers sounds like a brilliant idea

I tend to agree with chiyo, though I don't know about format. I've given the issue a lot of thought, and being a big believer in "peer counseling" the thought has crossed my mind, wondering if it would be a good idea to have something that's subscription based, where people could freely help each other out.

The element of confidentiality would probably help some out who are on the shy side, and might be embarrassed to publicly have their work torn apart, which can often happen if people are being totally honest. Actually, anything less than total honesty isn't helpful.

I think the first time the idea hit, in my mind, was well over a year ago, when a member fairly new to web development wanted some input on a client design.

With SEO it's a different story, but one of the best ways to increase knowledge is by critiquing and helping others. It's also a great way to brainstorm about different ways to market sites, and then there's always the aspect of improvements that can be made to increase conversion. There's a lot of inpiration that comes with collective thought with a spirit of mutual cooperation where everyone is in it together.

Liane, thanks for sharing the details. We do have incredibly big-hearted people here, an awful lot of them. We see it every day with how willing people are to reach out with answers for others they've never even met. That kind of help can actually change the course of people's lives. We've had some testimonies from members in our Community Center.

Yours is such a wonderful example of the best the internet has to offer, with people reaching out to each other. That's something that gets far too little mention made publicly, it's nice when it finally comes to light.

fathom




msg:122029
 12:51 am on Dec 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Answers sounds like a brilliant idea

I tend to agree with chiyo, though I don't know about format. I've given the issue a lot of thought, and being a big believer in "peer counseling" the thought has crossed my mind, wondering if it would be a good idea to have something that's subscription based, where people could freely help each other out.

Wholeheartedly agree. There are billions of web sites that offer such valuable information, real products and real services but remain at the bottom simply because they do not understand the metrix of the web, interface and instructional design, and online marketing.

With SEO it's a different story, but one of the best ways to increase knowledge is by critiquing and helping others. It's also a great way to brainstorm about different ways to market sites, and then there's always the aspect of improvements that can be made to increase conversion. There's a lot of inpiration that comes with collective thought with a spirit of mutual cooperation where everyone is in it together.

I really believe this is WebmasterWorld future as well as sustainable growth of the Internet.

stcrim




msg:122030
 4:49 am on Dec 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

Liane,

I can't say enough about how happy and proud I am for you. You, and you alone took a difficult situation and made it into an opportunity.

You are the perfect example of why I love WebmasterWorld.

Congratulations
Steve

BTW - I may still have all of your emails from back then if you want to take a trip down SEO memory lane... And wouldn't it be fun is NFFC had transcripts of those chat sessions.

Liane




msg:122031
 3:43 pm on Dec 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

BTW - I may still have all of your emails from back then if you want to take a trip down SEO memory lane... And wouldn't it be fun is NFFC had transcripts of those chat sessions.

Hey stcrim! ... I still have them all too! I refer back to them sometimes when I have a particular question and I can't remember how to do something or why you do it this way and not that way. I'd love to see the transcripts from the chat sessions and the forum itself. I was so far over my head that most of the time, I didn't have an inkling what you guys were talking about!

Because I don't work with my web site evey day, it is sometimes hard to remember how to do some of the things Ive done in the past. As I said, I am a yacht charter broker ... not a webmaster!

Yours is such a wonderful example of the best the internet has to offer, with people reaching out to each other. That's something that gets far too little mention made publicly, it's nice when it finally comes to light.

It has always bothered me that I was asked not to make my story known to the general WebmasterWorld membership. There was a lot more to the story ... a real tale of woe in fact. (Note to self: Remember to write that book one of these days!)

My business had been destroyed and I was literally within days of finding myself homeless (for the second time in 5 years) when all this transpired. I have often wondered where I would be today and what I'd be doing if stcrim hadn't seen that post at Search Engine World. Scary thought.

That kind of help can actually change the course of people's lives.

It certainly changed mine! I have never been so touched and profoundly grateful to so many people in my life. Brett, Dave, Michelle, stcrim, NFFC, and all the others from special forum 26. I owe you big.

As soon as I pay off the balance of my debts, I will be buying my way into the "inner circle" at WebmasterWorld. What a wonderful place this is. I owe you everything! ;)

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