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This 69 message thread spans 3 pages: 69 ( [1] 2 3 > >     
Five years of updates - but have results really improved?
Freedom




msg:739041
 10:22 pm on Feb 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

With all this going on, I have to ask a philosophical question: From all the famous or infamous algo changes over the years, the ups and downs, is Google really any better then it was in 2001 or 2002?

Did all these updates make a damn bit of difference in how well people find what they are looking for? Is there any improvement at all? Can we look back with hindsight and say - Google is better then it was and these algo changes and DC's made a big difference?

I really don't think we can. In fact, Google's latest algo preference has changed it's boolean search from ALL words to ANY words from "authority" sites ranking higher then pages that are actually more relevant.

I don't have an axe to grind against Google, and I don't have an anti-Google agenda to progandize - but I have slowly, not very noticable, been relying more and more on vertical search engines. And when I do use Google, I have to go the advanced search function and set up lots of paraments that I never had to use before.

From the monthly Google dances, to Florida to Brandy - and so on, the intended goal was never met, Google engineers are overpaid on a lost cause and "invented" work, and the future of search does not lay in bipolar manic depressant algorthym changes.

In the final analysis, this route that GOogle has sold itself on is a waste of time, and the Big Corporation is infested with a case of Group Think not seen since the Bay of Pigs Disaster, or the Iran Hostage Rescue fiasco.

Google is the best, the very best, at selling their brand name - which fools people into thinking they have gotten better at what they do over the last 5 years by these "Updates."

2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, and now 2006. If you look at the big picture instead of your own selfish considerations of how your site did during a given year, everything has changed - but nothing has really changed.

What was it all for? It's like an unpopular war that goes on and on and on and years later, the common folk (not the politicians or generals) ask themselves - what the hell was it all for? What good did we do?

The future, IMO, likes in vertical search engines with specialized topics, semantic text indexing, taxonomy and a much small DB of 100 million pages from hand - picked websites. Vertical search engines can offer specialized searches better then the big boys do, and can decentralize the power away from the Super Corporations who assure us they know what is best for us.

I apologize for rambling here, but I have been putting together these loose thoughts on the state of search affairs from a different perspective - and don't have all my thoughts elequently written or or thought through. This is a theory that's a work in progress.

Thanks for reading, feel free to blog my insane ramblings.

Freedom

 

tedster




msg:739042
 10:37 pm on Feb 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

One point that should be made is that Google has been under intense scrutiny and reverse engineering attempts over this time -- and the web has also grown immensely. Without the algorithm updates, Google would be under a few miles of spam by now.

I also like vertical searches, and I am sure there's a future here -- but it's just not the same creature as a general web search. I also remember the 90's before Google -- when you could get search results with 5 out of the top 10 being completely off-topic. I'm glad those days are gone.

trimmer80




msg:739043
 11:31 pm on Feb 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

As tedster mentioned, Google would probably be full of spam if not for the updates.

Google's efforts are to increase search efficiency but also keep ahead of the people that would like to exploit the serps. I think they are been very successful at both. Otherwise they would not have the market share they do today.

dazzlindonna




msg:739044
 11:48 pm on Feb 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

Google is not full of spam? Huh, could've fooled me.

And frankly, if you can't find what you are searching for, does it matter if spam exists or not?

I think Google's turn away from exact phrase matching was the first straw to bend the camel's back. From there, it was just one straw after another.

jomaxx




msg:739045
 11:49 pm on Feb 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

I also agree with tedster. It's also worth mentioning that the Web is several times larger than it was back then.

I'm really not sure if the search is better now or not, but IMO there's more diversity in the search results than there was in the early years. Back than I definitely had the feeling that I had to hit certain keyword targets and a certain page size in order to rank well. Nowadays you can find a 100K page next to a no-content splash page in the SERPs.

steveb




msg:739046
 12:06 am on Feb 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

The quality of the results are much weaker than before the original Dominic meltdown. That said, the Internet is far, far more crapola filled than back then.

You can't examine one without considering the other.

Frequent




msg:739047
 3:34 am on Feb 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

In my opinion it is harder to find specific information on nearly any topic than it was even 2 years ago. Is this Google's fault? Not entirely.

The amount of junk info on the web has grown at an astounding rate the past 2 years.

Where is Google's fault in all of this?

1) They created a very successful way to monetize junk.

2) They don't police the junk very well.

To Google's credit, they have started implimenting changes to Adwords (and therefore Adsense) that give advertisers greater control over how their money is spent. For example, we can now bid practically nothing for content clicks if we want to. We can also bid aggressively to have an ad placed on a specific site that we consider highly targetted. They are trying to track conversion and incorporate that into the system to further punish junk sites and reward performers.

The changes they are making to their PPC system will eventually slow down the growth of junk on the web. Assuming of course that all the other players start enforcing similar quality incentives (and punishments).

Freq---

Spine




msg:739048
 4:22 am on Feb 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

Results are less relevant all the time if you ask me - I far prefer MSN and Yahoo to Poohgle these days.

ZoltanTheBold




msg:739049
 11:42 am on Feb 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

As the above comments indicate it's something of a mixed bag really.

On the one hand Google appears to have been producing progressively worse results these last few years, but it's hard to say how much worse they would had they not updated their approach (I mean, look at Yahoo!).

However I think we are justified in blaming Google for the explosion in junk and spam of recent years, or at the very least contributing heavily to the problem. Providing the means for second-rate content producers to make money from crap has meant we are all wading through even more nonsense than we might have been. And don't get me started on content theft!

Ironically the relatively small amounts to be made from AdSense have themselves encouraged an even greater amount of spam. If you can make, say, $5 a day from one of these crappy little sites, then you have every incentive to make 100 sites. Meaning, of course, 100 times the spam.

Since this was a philosophical question then perhaps we should really be thinking along broader lines. Namely, has Google contributed to the lowering of quality by insufficiently cleaning up after themselves?

They invented AdSense and, frankly, haven't bothered to police it well. Before anyone flames we have to factor in the fact that Google make a huge deal out of their efficiency, their superiority (of SERPs), and their innovation. I see these factors as less and less applicable to a company that is rapidly becoming just another player in a crowded field.

So for me the real question is - Are Google yesterday's news? And I don't meant this in the usual "I'm pissed off with Google, I hope MSN beat them" kind of sense. Are we genuinely seeing, as someone above indicated, Google unable to cope and therefore entering a phase of their history where they are being exposed for what they really are - i.e. just another search engine in a time when search engines are no longer as relevant?

jomaxx




msg:739050
 4:36 pm on Feb 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

I do think it's true that Google encouraged a vast inflation in the number of web pages online, due to (a) AdSense, and (b) the fact that it became a workable strategy to auto-generate hundreds of thousands of pages and hope for just a trickle of traffic to each one.

I don't know about using the loaded term "blame", though. Should you blame them for simply becoming a runaway success? They didn't do anything unethical to get to where they are today ( la Microsoft).

All they did was build a better, larger, faster, leaner search engine at a time when all the other SE's were misguidedly trying to get into the portal business. Then they came up with an improvement to ad serving that reinvigorated online advertising. They did cause this explosion of Web spam and I'm sure the irony keeps them up at night. But I don't see why they should burn in Hell for succeeding beyond their wildest dreams.

subway




msg:739051
 5:20 pm on Feb 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

I do think it's true that Google encouraged a vast inflation in the number of web pages online

I agree, GOOG's greed, through Adsense, has killed their SERP quality. "To get everyone clicking our ads" should be their new mission statement.

earlpearl




msg:739052
 6:24 pm on Feb 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

One thing they accomplished a year ago. They gave better relevancy to local searches. They are much better now.

Dave

jomaxx




msg:739053
 6:29 pm on Feb 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

I do think it's true that Google encouraged a vast inflation in the number of web pages online

I agree, GOOG's greed, through Adsense, has killed their SERP quality.

Okay that's your opinion, but just to clarify I was more trying to say that Google's success and certain specific elements of their search engine encouraged the inflation. I don't think there's much question about that. But I certainly was not trying to imply that they wanted it to happen or are happy with this result.

BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:739054
 6:36 pm on Feb 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

Adsense was the worst thing that happened to the net. Any automated system like this is open to abuse and going to cause problems. It created a terrific incentive for people to create spammy sites and game the SEs.

It has got to the stage that (for the greater good) anyone starting a new search engine would have to consider penalties for sites carrying Adsense.

outland88




msg:739055
 6:43 pm on Feb 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

Great post Freedom. You bring many points together well.

I find most updates just solidify the rankings of certain sites and further establish those of sites that can beat the algo. The vast majority of sites will be on a continuous roller coaster because to compete they must engage in some form of SEO to exist. Once they do this the filters to control the massive spam problems (which Google to a great deal creates) will hurt even the most minimally optimized sites.

europeforvisitors




msg:739056
 6:51 pm on Feb 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

I think the question of whether Google has contributed to "Web crapola" with AdSense is completely separate from what the original poster was asking:

From all the famous or infamous algo changes over the years, the ups and downs, is Google really any better then it was in 2001 or 2002?

Did all these updates make a damn bit of difference in how well people find what they are looking for? Is there any improvement at all? Can we look back with hindsight and say - Google is better then it was and these algo changes and DC's made a big difference?


engine




msg:739057
 7:06 pm on Feb 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

Quality is in the eye of the beholder. ;)

I monitor the search engines pretty closely for generic and for specialised SERPs.

Over the years there's been a change in the type of low quality information appearing. eg. bad affiliate sites now to bad comparison sites, and bad adsense sites.

Different low quality sites still appear in the SERPs today, compared to yesteryear. So as I see it, things have moved on.

For me, one of the most important mistakes was to mis-understand the impact of the so-called "sandbox" on quality, small sites. However, a quick look at Yahoo, MSN, or Ask usually pulled up the "Google sandboxed site" elsewhere.

If you know what you're looking for, and how to use the advanced search, i've nearly always found it in G's SERPs.

Are they better than yesteryear?
Today, a general look at the SERPs and yes, they are better than they were.

We ought to be asking, how much better can it become?

jomaxx




msg:739058
 7:15 pm on Feb 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

I think the question of whether Google has contributed to "Web crapola" with AdSense is completely separate from what the original poster was asking

It's different but far from separate. For one thing, most of Google's updates seem to revolve around their efforts to keep webmasters from exploiting loopholes in Google's algorithms - mainly manipulating link patterns and vomiting vast amounts of duplicate/scraped content onto the web.

To put it another way, if Google was still using the same basic algorithm from circa 2000, then their results would almost certainly be much much worse than they are.

ulysee




msg:739059
 7:25 pm on Feb 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

No it is not, Google censors a large part of the web with it's sandbox. The sandbox eliminates black hats and many white hats, white hats simply because of a lot of white hats wont be able to afford 2 years without any substantial amount of visitors.

Google has become anti-seo, Google filters the web more and more with every new update making it's on search results less relevant every time.

Doesn't matter if your black or white hat Google penalizes you in the beginning with the sandbox and may penalize you again for being a "white hat" seo after the sandbox.

I remember the days when you could create a good site, rank quickly and have thousands of visitors to your site.
Spam back then didn't really matter to me, at least I could find what I was looking for and rank well with a content rich site.

If your rich and or have great idea to make a website with then most of the time you will do well in Google.

If your a new webmaster and you dont have that much money and want to be treated fairly then Google is not the way to go these days.

Google penalizes new and old "white hat" webmasters by sandboxing and filtering keyowrds and dropping pages (throwing the baby out with the bathwater).

Google's results have not gotten any better they have gotten worse. You cant censor the web and have better results than you did when didn't censor, you just kill the diversity of the web.

[edited by: ulysee at 7:44 pm (utc) on Feb. 27, 2006]

Glitzer




msg:739060
 7:35 pm on Feb 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

Whatever happened to the good-old human-reviewed submissions?

Recently, several big name companies (e.g., BMW) were dropped from Google and are now scrambling to get their position back. They can afford it. I can't.

We are a small business staying clean. No cloaking, no word spamming, no duplicate pages, etc. We have clean html code, child-safe everything, professional-looking site, etc. Yet, Google recently dropped our site.

It just isn't fair that I have to take days (weeks?) to remedy this and get the site back into not only Google but also the SE's that use Google (such as AOL). Meanwhile, sales are down - or not up as much as they should be.

Why are any broken links in Google at all? It seems that they can easily test and remove them from their index before penalizing us. How many legitimate sites are dropped or have their PR lowered because these nonexistent pages are taking up room?

We use a perl script to redirect 404 and other errors. Google Sitemaps doesn't like this and I have to remove it to have my site verified.

Some of you may think that I am blaming Google for spammers and other deceiving website managers. I understand what G is trying to do, but I must say, they aren't doing a good job at improvement.

If Google were to human-review the demoted and banned sites, then their own service to the user (search results) would much improve.

Many of us email Google about why our sites were demoted or banned. They can use the time to reply to us who were unjustifiably demoted or banned, and redirect those resources to reviewing the banned and demoted sites - and ban the illegitimate ones forever.

Whatever happened to creativity and individualism? It seems that soon, every successful website out there will have the same architecture as dictated by these controlling search engines.

Thank you for the podium. I feel a little better. Now, to get back to this daunting task of reading Google's mind.

Borek




msg:739061
 7:49 pm on Feb 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

Search results are not that bad. In most cases when I am looking for something I am able to find reasonable answer on the first, second page - which means in first 50, as that's the way I have configured Opera.

trimmer80




msg:739062
 9:17 pm on Feb 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

The real question should be :
"is any other search engine surpassing google in the quality of their serps?"

I would be interested in hearing examples of why people think that Google has lost or is losing its edge over competition.

Simsi




msg:739063
 9:20 pm on Feb 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

Search results are not that bad. In most cases when I am looking for something I am able to find reasonable answer on the first, second page - which means in first 50, as that's the way I have configured Opera.

I agree. However i also agree with the original post that things haven't really improved that much. And i also agree that this is largely because of the adsense beast that Google created. And finally i agree that it was one of the worst things to hit the Internet.

But there is a solution outside Google's control on that....ICANN specify a minimum charge of $500 per domain name. That would a) make people think about what went on their sites more b) get rid of the hundreds of cent-earning spam sites and c) stop domainers hoarding crappy domain names.

But lets face it, thats never gonna happen. So lets get ready for the next major update. We could name it "The Groundhog Update" :)

subway




msg:739064
 9:52 pm on Feb 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

Adsense was the worst thing that happened to the net.

Exactly, Adsense has *encouraged* webmasters / companies to create hundreds of millions of pages of absolute dribble, just to be able to stick adsense on their sites. This has killed the web. It's 90% s***** now.

Whether G did it intentionally or not they inflated the web into a gigantic crappy mess, which in turn makes their lives more difficult every update trying to sort out the enormous crappy mess they made, but at the same time getting as many people as possible to click adsense ads otherwise their share price plummets. An impossible task.

Freedom




msg:739065
 10:37 pm on Feb 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

This thread seems to boil down to a couple of points.

1.) Google would have even more spam now then they did before with these updates.

2.) That the fault of all the spam present we see now is because of Google Adsense

#1 is just speculation, that is possible, but not easily proven.

In #2, it needs to be pointed out the Adsense department and Tech department at Google are two different hands on the same switches. Each team has their own agenda.

Personally, I think there are too many off page factors invovled and the switch from "Exact Phrase" words to "Any" words coming from "authority sites, is what is really killing their search results these days.

dazzlindonna




msg:739066
 10:44 pm on Feb 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

Personally, I think there are too many off page factors invovled and the switch from "Exact Phrase" words to "Any" words coming from "authority sites, is what is really killing their search results these days.

Yep, that's what i meant when i said that G's turn away from exact phrase matching was the first straw to bend the camel's back.

BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:739067
 10:54 pm on Feb 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

I think the question of whether Google has contributed to "Web crapola" with AdSense is completely separate from what the original poster was asking

And you are entitled to your thoughts EFV but I think that Freedom is more than capable of defending his own thread.

as he said ...

I apologize for rambling here, but I have been putting together these loose thoughts on the state of search affairs from a different perspective - and don't have all my thoughts elequently written or or thought through. This is a theory that's a work in progress.

mfishy




msg:739068
 11:00 pm on Feb 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

Adsense was the worst thing that happened to the net.

Yeah, I would have to agree there. In the past the reverse engineering was focused primarily one a few concentrated areas which were ALWAYS commerce related. With adsense, everything is fair game, and yes, it it is a helluva lot harder to find the right info now.

As for g's overall improvements, I would say they have improved a bit in terms of getting complete junk out of the index, but this is one piece of the puzzle.

As for relevance and quality serps, it has suffered. Seems like along the way, every little change has hurt the BEST sites on the web. The niche authority sites, the interesting and even FUN sites.

I think many here are now programmed into thinking big, mega million dollar companies provide the most useful, interesting, or even important information when, in fact, it is mostly utter crap. And the guy who writes his arse off about a topic he KNOWS and loves gets pushed to the back in favor of cookie cutter content from semi relevant sites. Sure, many of these sites used SEO techniques that google may not like, but the final result is just worse. I would rather see the old google, even if it had a bit more clutter (not sure it did).

whew...that was tough... :)

DaveAtIFG




msg:739069
 11:21 pm on Feb 27, 2006 (gmt 0)

is Google really any better then it was in 2001 or 2002?
For searchers, it's still not as good as it once was.

Prior to the winter of '03 (when AdWords was deployed), Google seemed to read my mind and I invariably found what I sought within the first 20 results using a little common sense and a three word search phrase. Search quality declined further in the spring of '03 when AdSense was added. The fall of '03 brought us the Florida update and a significant decline in search quality that Google was been struggling to rectify ever since. They have made a good deal of progress but...

On the other hand they have built the most powerful and effective advertising system the Internet has ever seen insuring their survival for many years. How many other SEs have come and gone over the years? Clearly, it's a better business model.

Jakpot




msg:739070
 1:06 am on Feb 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

I don't have a problem with the SERPS. But I seriously
feel bad for webmasters, including myself, whose sites have gone into a black hole. Somebody is enjoying the cash flow we once had.

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