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This 90 message thread spans 3 pages: < < 90 ( 1 [2] 3 > >     
Should Google Penalize Resources Pages with lots of Outbound links?
It seems Google unable to differentiate between scrapers and resource pages
reseller




msg:714815
 8:25 am on Aug 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

Hi Folks

Since 3rd February 2005 we have witnessed Google huge collateral damages as a result of Google´s attempt to improve serach and clean its index.

All whitehat publishers support Google in improving search. But killing innocent sites shouldn´t be part of this game. We read now that Google is also penalizing honest publishers who run site covering genuine contents including resource pages which usually cover alot, but carefully selected relevant, outbound links which really add value to the site visitors experience.

As you might imagine, old sites have through years built up such pages in good faith.

My question is; can we as publishers modify/improve such resource pages to avaoid Google´s unjustify penalties.

Thanks.

 

BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:714845
 10:13 am on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

As Joe Searcher, I can tell you, the very last thing I want to get to when I click on any serp is a directory page. Whenever I see I've landed on a directory page, I leave as soon possible. I suspect I'm not the only one who has little interest in seeing directory pages. I already went to a directory to get the results, the google serps, I don't want another directory, that's not a result, that's just a waste of time. Unless I searched for a directory, of course.

I agree with this 100% ;)

The question of a site with a related links page is completely different. I provide related links on my sites, one page, perhaps ten or twenty links. This is the difference. I think that Google would do well to ban the use of Adsense on directories unless they were approved beforehand. Google has its own search engine as well as probably the best directory available. Why should they publicise others?

nealw




msg:714846
 7:08 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

2by4 Wrote:
As Joe Searcher, I can tell you, the very last thing I want to get to when I click on any serp is a directory page. Whenever I see I've landed on a directory page, I leave as soon possible. I suspect I'm not the only one who has little interest in seeing directory pages. I already went to a directory to get the results, the google serps, I don't want another directory, that's not a result, that's just a waste of time. Unless I searched for a directory, of course.

BeeDeeDubbleU Wrote:
Google has its own search engine as well as probably the best directory available. Why should they publicise others?

I appreciate your points of view, but here is a reason why directories are good - at least some of them.

I my case I run a regional travel site. Full of content, forums, photos, activities, attractions, lodging reviews etc. I also run a large but niche search/directory site for my region.

My search directory lists many hundreds, perhaps thousands, of links that NEVER or RARELY show up in a Google search - At least not for a fairly standard search as opposed to a 10 word search match on Google.

Why don't these links show up? Because the site is for a small hotel, private vacation rental/house, cottage, inn B&B or villa where the owner knows little to nothing about how to rank a page in Google. So the site is largely not included in the SERPS and is probably not listed in DMOZ. Even if it is listed it might be on the 23rd page of search results. How many users go 23 pages deep?

So at least in my case I can give a searcher something that he may not find or is unlikely to find on Google or Yahoo. I also take the time to either approve each site submitted to my niche directory or take the time to visit the site and write good description of it when adding it to my directory.

I think you are both short sighted on the usefulness of a well created niche directory site.

Though I do agree DMOZ knock-offs and scrapper sites are un-useful and annoying.

webdude




msg:714847
 7:57 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

In some ways, I agree with nealw. Sometimes a well put-together directory related to a very defined scope can be much more accurate and better for the user then G. On one of my sites (a hobby site), I have a directory that is discriminating as to the theme. It works very well for my users. To get the same data from Google would take hundreds of pages of results just to weed out the stuff that is not needed or junk.

An example, if I could be so bold, would be to use web hosting as an example. Google returns 92,000,000 results, but I know for a fact that there are not 92,000,000 hosting companies out there.

If I found a well put-together directory that had a section that listed companies that provided web hosting. I would find that much more useful then trying to weed through all the Google results. I am not saying I wouldn't use G as a starting point, but with the search options available, you cannot come up with a defined enough result. I would use Google to find a directory related to web hosting rather then trying to find a link directly to the company itself.

Is this making sense?

2by4




msg:714848
 8:15 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

"I think you are both short sighted on the usefulness of a well created niche directory site."

As I tried to note, if I'm searching for a well created niche directory site, for example by entering this:

lodgings in <somewhere> directory

then when I get to a directory, I've found what I was searching for. However, if I was simply looking for lodgings in <somewhere>, that's what I'm looking for, and it's the search engine's job to provide me a direct answer to that question.

However, while you may know that your directory is a quality one, how can anyone else who doesn't know your site know this? The reason I go to a search engine is to find the answer to a specific question, almost always. This isn't a matter of being shortsighted, it's just how it is. If you step outside of your site, and imagine it's just a completely random result in a search, not your pride and joy, then when you land on it, there's almost nothing that can obviously show you that this is a real directory, of value. It looks just like any other one. This is I think why so many directory sites got hit, quality or not, they all pretty much look the same, especially the ones that are packed with adsense.

Again, re adsense, I'd ask: if your, or anyone's, directory, is so great [and I'm not saying you specifically are doing this], then why would you want to dilute its value by putting adsense all over the place? This is just a rhetorical question, I know why people put adsense all over the place, they hope the visitor gets confused by all those links and clicks on income generating adsense links.

Bard




msg:714849
 8:15 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Observations:

Google is designed to give you a list of valuable links about specific topics.

Third party directories are just recycling the same idea Google is trying to proliferate.

Yahoo's new update is scraper city... I thought Yahoo was finding resources for me not finding scraper directories about resources that lead to similar scrapers or directories in traffic loops to oblivion. I want to find the resources not more links to the resources that lead to more links but never the actual resource. At least Google is on a better track in my opnion by limiting directories and their ability to water down listings.

Questions:

Do you really want to go to a search engine and search for a list of links that leads to a list of links about a resource? This list could link to another list of links and so on....

Wouldn't you rather find the resource itself?

LastDuaL




msg:714850
 8:18 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Of course. We don't need more dmoz scrappers, but niche directories are a welcome and helpful resource in the SERPs.

I can count many instances where small dirctories specific to a subject have helped me find good websites that I would have never stumbled across on page 20+ of the SERPs. Also, niche directories tend to be more comprehensive and more up-to-date than large general directories.

I understand that it can be annoying to go from a search engine to just another page of links, but it seems to me that directories are not really the problem here. With most of them, you can tell the content from the title and description, and the vast majority of link-spam I see in the current SERPs is not directories at all, but auto-generated adsense pages.

LastDuaL




msg:714851
 8:26 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Just to elaborate a little further, this shouldn't even be an issue.

We're talking about whether directories should be *in* the SERPs, not whether they should rank well. If Google is doing their job, the top results should be what people want to see, and as such a directory should not appear unless enough people out there find it an important resource. There should not be any need to ban them from the index if Google's alogorithm is actually working.

Oh well, I for one have searched on many occasions for "widget links" in Google, hoping to find a site with a link directory from which I could find more relevant results than the actual SERPs were giving me. My point is that I was glad I could turn up some decent directories and link pages.

BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:714852
 8:34 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Webdude and NealW there are no doubt some good niche directories but in my experience they probably account for less that 1%. Just about all of the directories I find are useless. Yours may not be but Google probably looks at the loss of your sites as acceptable collateral damage.

2by4




msg:714853
 8:34 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

"they probably account for less that 1%"

At most I'd say, probably a lot less.

Lastdual, I agree, the real question is why google chose the radical option of banning the directory sites instead of just downgrading the directory pages themselves. I suspect they may backtrack on this at some point, but it's interesting to speculate on just why they did this. I think theBear's question (msg 27)was actually more to the point than I'd suspected at first.

Bard




msg:714854
 9:04 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

The point I was trying to make regardless of the directory site and it's niche purpose and usefulness is pretty simple.

Google wants to be the list of relevant links as a search engine.

When presenting third party niche directory link sites as authorities instead of itself. Google is not necessarily helping itself.

Instead it is listing some other link resource which looks very much like the link results Google attempts to present in relation to any given topic.

It is a conflict of interest in a round about sort of way.

I'm not against directory sites because they have helped me on many occasions. I'm just trying to point out the reasoning behind these changes.

ken_b




msg:714855
 9:26 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Wouldn't you rather find the resource itself?

Yes I would.

Now if only the webmasters of [some of] those pages had a clue about how to make their sites rank on their own, maybe I, would find their site instead of a niche resource or directory page that links to it.

But guess what, a good number of "webmasters" couldn't find their way out of a paper bag when it comes to ranking, or even building a site, let alone getting it to the top of page one.

I can understand that, when a site is built by someone who is doing it out of passion for their hobby or such. Look how many of us here at WW have to struggle for rankings.

On top of that, a good many surfers have no idea how to make search work for them. They find those resource/directory pages as much because of a poorly structured search as anything else. That isn't the resource/directory webmasters fault. If the surfer knew how to effectively search, they might have found the desired page themselves. That's probably not going to change anytime soon.

Effectively using search is how I found many, if not most, of the sites listed on my resource pages. Even so I can spend hours hunting down sites with unusual information. And pretty often I find the stuff through some obscure links page with a hundred links on it. There is little chance that the average user would find some of these sites on their own.

Enough rambling.... my real point is that their is plenty of "blame" to go around for this stuff. It's not only the fault of some directory owners, or Google.

So in conclusion:

Should Google Panelize Resources Pages with lots of Outbound links?

Not on a wholesale basis.

BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:714856
 9:53 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Should Google Panelize Resources Pages with lots of Outbound links?

I am sorry but we cannot get away from the fact that a very high percentage of these "resource" sites are not resource sites at all. They are scraper sites plain and simple. As I said earlier Google knows this. They probably decided that the net effect of a tiny percentage of really useful "resource" sites being removed along with all the junk would be a vast improvement in the quality of the SERPs.

Logically it is very hard to disagree with this.

theBear




msg:714857
 10:53 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

We were talking about resource pages not sites.

Every site should be a resource.

However to answer the question about filtering/banning/penalizing a resource page you must first define what a resource page is.

In the legal filing world there are cites and footnotes all over the place and if you look at those you'll quickly come to understand that they equate to offsite links.

You have the same thing in other published works.

We cite reasearch sources, once again offsite links.

Google answers does as well and we are cited by them.

Wikipedia does and we are cited by them.

Now about the mom and pop sites, if I remember correctly Google speaks to that situation as well when it says to build sites for the visitor, not the search engines.

In other words don't SEO.

Now what is a resource page?

2by4




msg:714858
 12:14 am on Aug 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

"you must first define what a resource page is."

I think what you have to figure out is what the algo that is being used to filter out those sites thinks a link directory looks like. The question isn't what a resource page is, it's how google is processing and filtering pages to determine if they match what they have decided is a profile for a directory page.

Since it appears that if enough pages match this filter in a site, the site itself is being punished, not individual pages, there would also be a component that decides if more than x number of pages fit that profile, the site itself will be downgraded.

Some tools google would use in this process I think would be simple: aquire all the major directory producing scripts out there, then determine the page structure that they generate. That's the easiest one, and catches almost most automated directory sites. Then there's more generic things, like looking for alphabetized navigation that leads to templated or templated looking pages, filled with outbound links. Then also I'd guess certain typical things directories use, like 'add your site to our directory'.

Whatever specifics they are using, the most useful thing to see would be examples of sites with directories that have not been penalized. What is the structure of those directories? Clearly not all sites of this type have been removed.

Google has a fondness for fully automated solutions, those solutions tend to be somewhat predictable since they are automated. Then again, maybe Google is actually using its eval teams to feed the algo in question data about the format of pages that have been determined to be directory type pages. Whatever they are doing, there is a line which a site crosses to trigger the penalty, the trick is to find out what that line looks like.

For example, in the case you mentioned, legal references, are those types of pages being dropped, with the site? It's not really a theoretical question, it's fairly easy to see the answer. In this case, most posters I've read on this topic do in fact seem to have been running straight ahead directories of some type, in which case the fine tuned gray areas you're talking about aren't really what's in question.

theBear




msg:714859
 1:56 am on Aug 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

2by4,

I haven't seen any of these so called resource pages that have been hit.

I have seen a lot of sites having major duplicate content problems, which seem to take forever to get cleaned up.

I've seen Google create some of the duplicate content and also cross link sites.

It may be that Google has seen the same condition last for too long a period of time and is wiping affected sites out. Not that Google even knows what a site is, it just follows links that resolve to some software saying 200 at the end of the chain.

What looks like one thing to an automated system may in fact not be.

That is why I tossed out msg #27.

For example, if we cite ten sources on the page for article 101 and they are all off site links, and then Google does a deindex of the site did it think we were a scraper? I don't know

Say, we have 1900 of such articles and Google doesn't deindex us does that make us not a scraper?

Someone talks about a resource page, I just ask the question what's that?

europeforvisitors




msg:714860
 2:00 am on Aug 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

Google wants to be the list of relevant links as a search engine. When presenting third party niche directory link sites as authorities instead of itself. Google is not necessarily helping itself....It is a conflict of interest in a round about sort of way.

Google apparently doesn't see it that way, because they haven't purged all directories from their search results--they've removed only some directories. This suggests that:

1) Some banned directories may have been whacked unintentionally ("collateral damage"); and/or...

2) As The Contractor has told us repeatedly (and convincingly), not of the banned directories are as useful as their owners believe or pretend.

2by4




msg:714861
 2:23 am on Aug 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

"Someone talks about a resource page, I just ask the question what's that?"

I think in this context, in 99.9% of the times it's mentioned, it's some form of totally standard directory page-/s, a series of links with maybe a short blurb after it. I've seen sites that have been delisted, and they were directories, and those directories were not 'resources' in any meaningful sense of the word. I've seen so many of these, the format is totally predictable, it's generic. I suspect some of the more legitimate sites dropped may have duplicated this format since it's so common, seems almost to be a defacto standard.

Nothing is easier to spot than a scraper, it's totally automated, they simply return the top sites, with a blurb scraped off the relevant page, so any page with numerous links to a site where the text close to that link matches exactly some text on the linked to page is a scraper, I'd guess that is fairly easy to detect. And I'd agree with banning the entire site in that case, there is no legitimate reason to have such scraped content, good riddance if that's what g was after.

Again, the real question isn't theoretical, if you've seen say a legal site lose it's ranking due to having legal links above some number per page, it would be interesting to hear about, but I can't speculate to that degree, it's a waste of time.

I think google is treating sites as sites in some circumstances, it's the sites as a whole that were penalized, not the pages.

I think part of the problem is that creating 'resource' pages, aka link directories, had become a relatively common practice, not done to create a resource, but to create a link directory. I make resource pages, they are real, but they aren't big link directories, they are just unique pages, not part of a larger sequence of resource pages. Needless to say, none of these sites had any troubles. I would guess that the legal pages you refer to are seen the same way. In other words, if you have a legal article, then that links to a page of references, that's not a link directory, it's just a single page with some resources on it, a resource page in other words. Now if you string 100 of those together, that's a directory, that's my guess anyway.

There were definite SEO advantages to creating these large collections of links/resources, but in terms of value added content, the ones I've seen had about 0 value. Obviously there are exceptions to this, but I strongly suspect that most searchers are not looking to land on a link directory, hard as that may be for some people to believe. I've hated that weakness on google's part for years, it was especially bad in 2004 if I remember right, to the degree that I had to start using yahoo for some searches.

"not all of the banned directories are as useful as their owners believe or pretend."

Without seeing them, it's not possible to be 100% certain on a claim like this, but from reading the postings, it definitely sounds like this is probably quite true. Not to say some aren't really well done, the problem is that I think in terms of an algo, a well done directory just isn't something you can determine, it's a completely subjective judgement, so if google targetted directories, I can easily see how the relative quality of the directory simply could not be automatically determined, thus the few dropped sites that actually did offer something of value. However, I seriously doubt these represent anything but a miniscule percentage of the total numbers.

ken_b




msg:714862
 3:19 am on Aug 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

What is a "resource" page? Good question. I think discusions like this often get lost in the details like definitions.

If we aren't using the terms in the same way, are we really having a discussion?

To me, in the context of this conversation, a resource page has carefully selected links to sites that are directly related to the host site theme.

I've got maybe 50 "resource" pages, and 1,400+ "content" pages on my site.

If the numbers where the other way around I'd call my site a directory.

BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:714863
 3:51 pm on Aug 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

What is a "resource" page?

In this context my definition or your definition is of no consequence. If Google is trying to ban "resource" pages then they will define them. We don't have any input.

webdude




msg:714864
 6:49 pm on Aug 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

BeeDeeDubbleU,

Webdude and NealW there are no doubt some good niche directories but in my experience they probably account for less that 1%. Just about all of the directories I find are useless. Yours may not be but Google probably looks at the loss of your sites as acceptable collateral damage.

First off, my directory has actually gone up in the SERPs. For a fairly competative keyphrase, it went from #5 to #3. It uses "resources" and "directory" in the title. I consider the directory a niche directory that is valuable to the user. It is a non-profit site and does not use adsense.

Just to set the record straight. :-)

Another thing is that the directory is just a small part of the overall site. The site has a lot of other stuff including several forums, user submitted pics, articles, user submitted stories, etc. - all on theme with the subject. The site is not there as just a directory.

2by4




msg:714865
 9:03 pm on Aug 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

webdude, that's the kind of counter example that I'm interested in. It's much more useful in figuring this one out to see what types of directories were not affected.

webdude




msg:714866
 12:04 pm on Aug 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

I have no idea why I was not affected. I have been following threads like this closely because, of course, I am concerned. I think that off-the-shelf directory builders may be a problem, especially the php stuff. Remember all the ballyhoo about the php software and the redirect problem? A lot of those rely on redirects on the outgoing links. This may be an attempt on Gs part to clean that up. Just guessing here folks and I may be wrong.

But here is a rundown on my directory. Some of this may or may not be relative. But for those having problems, you might want to note differences.

1. It has links to it called "mytopic resource directory" It ranks in the first 5 for that key phrase.

2. The title of the page is "mytopic directory and resources."

3. All incoming links have the word "directory" or "resource: as the link text.

4. It is very Yahoo like with categories and sub categories. Users submit their sites and are included after a review (to make sure it is on-topic). They choose their own categories and their categories are changed if there is a better category, much like DMOZ.

5. The whole thing runs on a template and database with all metatags, pages/ directories and other info being loaded.

6. I ask for a reciprocal link, but it is not neccessary to get into the directory.

7. I link directly out. No redirects.

8. The scripts that run the directory were written by me - no off the shelf stuff.

9. No adsense on the site.

10. No cgi-bin or those type directories.

11. No ratings.

12. I do not not rent, sell, or buy ROS links.

13. The site is non-profit. In other words, it generates no income. It is there just for the fun of it.

14. It does not have a directory structure. In other words, it does not really have directories. All data is called from a database. There is no "http://mysite.com/mainsubject/sububject/moredefinedsubject/link. This keeps everything at the upper most level.

webdude




msg:714867
 12:09 pm on Aug 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

I just checked and the site is now #1 today. If using keywords "directory" and "resources" in the title degrades a site, I am just not seeing it.

reseller




msg:714868
 8:37 pm on Aug 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

I´m just wondering. In a site which covers several other contents (for example ;articles, reviews, forums etc..) in addition to resource pages, could it be that Google isn´ panelizing the resource pages alone but the whole site?

2by4




msg:714869
 9:26 pm on Aug 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

Sounds like a good site webdude, and sounds like you deserve your position, that's refreshing to see, I respect people who don't rely on canned solutions, but actually do create the whole thing, nice going. I haven't been able to pinpoint a truly unique penalizing factor yet, I'm starting to think this was at least partially a manual process. One top site for a keyword I'm watching uses the same directory software as a site that was dropped uses, this isn't as automated as I first thought.

reseller




msg:714870
 4:41 am on Aug 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

Hi Folks

Received from Google a reply including these words:

"....it's possible that your site will resume its previous position after the next crawl."

What the folks at google mean by next crawl?

Does it mean next update, next tweaking, next reshuffling or something else?

FYI, Googlebot keeps visiting my site once/twice aday as usual.

ScottD




msg:714871
 1:46 pm on Aug 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

What the folks at google mean by next crawl?

Sounds like an automatic reply - like something they would say if your site had seemingly fallen out of the cache, and probably not relevant in your case. In any case I'm sure they mean crawl - as in next time the spiders visit you - rather than suggesting another algo change is on its way.

runboy




msg:714872
 2:14 pm on Aug 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

"....it's possible that your site will resume its previous position after the next crawl."

What the folks at google mean by next crawl?

Could it be a way to make you stop emailing them? :)

Hopefully not - I know how you feel.

reseller




msg:714873
 8:05 pm on Aug 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

ScottD

Thanks. All things seems normal for my site including fresh cache mostly (10 August 2005). And as I mentioned, Googlebot visit my site once/twice a day.

Hopefully one of the coming weekends something might happen. Google folks love working in weekends as I have noticed ;-)

reseller




msg:714874
 8:08 pm on Aug 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

runboy

>>Could it be a way to make you stop emailing them? :) <<

Could be ;-)

However, I have only exchanged with them few emails and they have been speedy and kind in reply.

Green_Widge




msg:714875
 5:27 am on Aug 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

Interesting discussion...

So, what I'm hearing is that I may have cut my own throat with adsense? I have a site that sells "stuff", I added some adsense and found I could make more money with the adsense than I could when I actually sold some "stuff", so I papered my website in adsense. (OH Yea, I papered it baby! LOL)

On July 16, 2005 every page on my site was moved back 40-50 places in the serps. It was a huge site wide penalty and I'm waiting for the next update to see if it was the ads (Which are now the only things supporting my sorry ***, cause I didn't take them down.) Or, if it was some of the other little things I've found that I did wrong.

Whatever it ends up being, I'm not pulling down the adsense, untill I've tried everything else first.

I'll let you know...

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