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Google No longer Relevant?
The continuing changes have weakened the SERPS
RichTC




msg:3240615
 1:08 pm on Feb 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

Over the last few months we have seen this extra push on googles behalf to expand on its semantics theme and increase the number of sites it damages with what I can only describe as it’s hard hitting 950+ Over Optimization Penalty rolled out.

The net effect of this is that Google has in my opinion thrown the baby out with the bath water. As discussed in many of these threads recently the serps are now sort of in the ball park but not 100% on target.

I now believe that the serps are worse than ever as a result of the changes.

Many results that are 100% specific to the search term are no longer listed – a lot of the time its because this new OOP has been triggered by either the site being knocked down for simply having the keywords in say the title or the meta description or some other combination it thinks is bad for the serps, density to high, too much mention of the keyword yada, yada yada - what ever the case the serps are now not as relevant with longer tail searches producing junk in a number of examples.

Today I was looking for information on a business but couldn’t remember its website, I remembered that at the start of November I had gone to Google and typed the name of a staff member that had a profile on the site and a division name that was part of the company in the example we shall say the search was “Tedster Ted forum site” and im looking for webmasterworld.

The result I wanted was no where to be seen – the serps were for “Tedster widget widget Forum” “Widget Site widget Tedster” etc etc etc – various permutations of the keywords in results but nothing on target. At first I thought perhaps the page was taken off the site but a quick search on Yahoo had the page I wanted at 1 in the serps.

Over the last few weeks more and more search strings I do in Google have been like this and im now using Yahoo more than Google for the first time in five years! – Is anyone seeing similar and having to go elsewhere for what they now want (a lot more than previously) or is it just the types of search requests I do?

I think that Google may only in fact notice and do something about the serps relevancy quality if Q1 results come in worse than expected. I think that we could be seeing a slow migration from Google which will take a while to show in googles results.

At the end of the day whilst Google needs to increase adwords sales and revenues quarter on quarter it must not lose sight of the fact that users go to Google for specific search information and its that accuracy that helped Google gain the pole position that it currently enjoys – the point im making here is that on the face of it I think that the accuracy is no longer on target and the search engine is now not as relevant hence it could start losing market share if its not careful.

 

dataguy




msg:3246755
 8:18 pm on Feb 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

I agree.... there are some pages that I access a few times a month for tutorial and statistical information. I never took the time to bookmark them because I could type in a few words into the toolbar, hit enter, and I could find the exact pages I was looking for immediately.

Now none of them can be found for any terms I can think of.

I sure hope people keep coming to Google for the 'cool' factor 'cause it sure isn't for the search results any more...

trinorthlighting




msg:3246770
 8:30 pm on Feb 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

I have to disagree, I am actually liking the index better now.

I think google is serving up better results. I like the recent downgrading of the affiliates that were clogging up the serps....

One downfall though, ebay and amazon auctions. They have pushed to the top because most of them have unique content which will be the flavor of 2007, but as soon as webmasters figure that out those ebay and amazon auctions will be gone..

vikram lashkari




msg:3246830
 9:47 pm on Feb 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

hi all,
I 200% agree with fact that google no longer give relevant results as it used to give few months back, infact i m not using yahoo but i found msn good.

Hope google take this negative trend seriously and starts looking into fixing its +950 or MSSA penalty .

thanks
lashkari

RichTC




msg:3248162
 1:27 am on Feb 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

trinorth

The on page density is so low that we see a number of serps results that are not even in the ball park now.

I did a search earlier for information on "red yellow widgets" and the second result was a page absolutely nothing to do with the search, the only thing about it was that the page had the word "yellow" on it and "widgets" on it but both were not related to each other on the page and the "yellow" bit was someones name which matched with the search term but had nothing to do with the search if you follow.

Whilst we can all find search requests that dont match up, it was very rare for me to see this with google in the past, i always found their serps very much on target and 99% of the time bang on 100% relevent. Now i dont have the same experience with google and im having to use other search engines to get what i want - Fact.

Time will tell anyway, but currently i think the serps are very poor and google could lose ground as a result of this

Beachboy




msg:3248182
 1:58 am on Feb 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

I find myself using Yahoo search more often than I used to. I find MSN search to be pathetic.

I don't find Google's SERPs to be particularly bad, but knowing Google as well as I do, I know their results are certainly incomplete, or useful sites are basically penalized for being new, etc. So to get a better picture of what's out there that I need, Yahoo is the one.

"Stale" comes to mind with Google.

RandomOne




msg:3249968
 11:59 am on Feb 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

Yahoo rocks - Google never seems to get it right.

ubuntuguy




msg:3249977
 12:08 pm on Feb 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

"I like the recent downgrading of the affiliates that were clogging up the serps...."

can someone explain this? is it affiliate websites with duplicate or similar content?

glitterball




msg:3250219
 4:58 pm on Feb 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

I think that some of the more commercial areas have been cleaned up, but to the detriment of some technical areas.

I am finding it much harder to find answers to technical questions in Google.

tedster




msg:3250247
 5:16 pm on Feb 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

can someone explain this? is it affiliate websites with duplicate or similar content?

A good part of the explanation is here:
Avoiding penalties against "thin affiliate" pages [webmasterworld.com]

kidder




msg:3250768
 2:06 am on Feb 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

When I look at Yahoo results in our primary vertical it looks to me like how Google once looked. The main guys are all present and accounted for, you know who your competition is and why they rank where they rank. Cream on top crap down the bottom.

Google on the other hand looks mixed up and inconsitant and what is worse is that it is a different kind of mess every few days. You can't imagine Joe Average surfer does not notice this.

AndyA




msg:3250814
 2:56 am on Feb 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

I've got to agree that Yahoo has more relevant results than Google recently. I've even used Live Search since it's built in to IE7, and it hasn't let me down. I've been mostly pleased with the results.

Google is just a contrast to the other SEs right now. How can everyone else be irrelevant and Google is the only one that got it right? Especially when searchers can find what they want elsewhere, but not on Google.

Unless they go to the bottom of the results. That's where Google seems to hide some of the best URLs lately.

night707




msg:3251037
 9:04 am on Feb 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

Sites with lower PR and with no relevant content have pushed our main url from Google page 1 to page 2. Funnily enough, one site with also a löwer PR is sitting on top since ages even with 2 urls and without offering anything real.

One site on Google page 1 is even producing browser crashes due to some poor programming :-)

piatkow




msg:3251115
 11:44 am on Feb 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

For my site results have improved dramatically since last autumn. When it comes to the crunch it is Joe Public's perception of "relevance" that counts, not ours. I am seeing a few more MSN searches coming in but G still seems to be the punter's search engine of choice.

RichTC




msg:3253925
 12:32 am on Feb 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

"G still seems to be the punter's search engine of choice"

That it is...however, when the punter needs to use Yahoo search to find what they want because google doesnt deliver its a short matter of time before the punter cuts google out and goes directly to where they get the most relevent answers.

After all, was it not AltaVisa that lost the search race to google in the first place due to Google delivering at the time better and more relevent serps?

Now we see the trend reversing. Googles serps are less relevent and msn and Yahoo are gaining.

I think google need to act quick on this relevancy issue, they need to act now rather than after major ground has been lost, otherwise it could be to late to reverse the problem and they might not get it back.

MSN and Yahoo now have a real chance to take market share as google have well and truely dropped the ball which is something i never thought would happen thats for sure

Beachboy




msg:3253944
 1:04 am on Feb 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

Yes Yahoo and MSN do have the opportunity to take advantage of Google's faltering SERPs, but you know what? They aren't. They should aggressively promote their search engines, and as part of that marketing effort, should target and exploit Google's weaknesses. But they don't. I'm sitting here, rolling my eyes, thinking.... "If I were in charge of search engine marketing at Yahoo, I'd do this...and this...and this." But they are not. Dumb, if you ask me. But you didn't ask me. lol

annej




msg:3253959
 1:33 am on Feb 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

The on page density is so low that we see a number of serps results that are not even in the ball park now.

What drives me nuts is when a comprehensive article is lost in the 900s and instead sitting at in the top 5 results is a page on my site that is only related because there is a link to the page in the navigation or the topic is mentioned just once in the article. So it might bring people to my site but I suspect most don't look far enough to find the real page on the topic.

>added<

I just serched for one page with several phrases that used to bring the page up in the top 5. Instead it brings up a page I have of links to outstanding sites on the topic. You would think that would look more like a scraper than an extensive article on the topic. <sigh>

I may just put noindex metas on the directory pages. There are no ads on them and they are really just for my visitor's use.

ageingguy




msg:3254246
 9:49 am on Feb 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

Personally, I feel their results have degredaded recently but not because my site is listed or not.

[edited by: tedster at 9:53 am (utc) on Feb. 16, 2007]

RichTC




msg:3254253
 10:10 am on Feb 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

annej

Thats the point.

Im seeing dedicated pages fall back to 900+ whilst some directory site that contains a paragraph of text from the page and a link to it ranks at the top or some site with minimal content is ranking.

In addition in almost every case Google delivers pages that are not on target, for what ever reason but either contain a link or a minimal bit of information about the subject matter. Its like they want weak serps?

They need to roll the whole lot back to September when the serps were relevent. All this tinkering has not improved the serps one bit in any way but has made them less relevent.

Perhaps the smell of increased revenue last quarter has encouraged them to work on the basis that if the serps are entire junk more affiliate adverts will be clicked - in the short term thats paying off for them. Long term, users will drift away.

kevsh




msg:3254270
 11:02 am on Feb 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

My issue with results now (trying to be objective here) is that the obvious "pushing down" of non-trusted sites is moving good sites and pages to the back of the SERPs, not based on lack of quality or relevance but because they are unfortunate enough not to have trusted sites linking to them.

The balance has clearly shifted - more and more you must have high-quality links or be lost in supplemental hell ... and hence no rankings, no traffic.

I don't think what makes a site relevant for a keyword/phrase is how many trusted sites link to it. I know it can be important but honestly, isn't this concept being exploited? This is the age of SEO. Getting a link from a truly trusted site is not easy unless you have SEO skills or can hire them. So for the regular joe who has made a very, very good site on explaining widgets has zero chance of top position because companies making money off widgets are paying SEOs and getting links, one way or another, from trusted sites, marketing efforts, etc.

So if joe isn't looking to make big coin, why is he going to spend hours and hours trying to get trusted links? So, his very good site gets buried and corporate-owned sites with deep pockets get the top spots.

followgreg




msg:3254277
 11:15 am on Feb 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

I could not agree more than what is writen above.
SERP's are really not relevant, I don't bookmark sites either so I use to type specific keywords to retrieve my favorite site, now I am totally lost, can't find them at all.

But hey...must work well for adwords. huh, $50 per click anyone? :)?!

I don't think that increasing ppc profits was the point of all this but it doesn't make it right. Hard to believe that SERP's will stick in the like of what they currently are, I feel like back in 1998 seriously.
Ok maybe not 1998, but looks like an old algorithm from 4 years back in time rolled out in 2007 or something.

IN THE MEANTIME I still see the same OBVIOUS textlink buyers ranking better than ever (or just steady). Isn't it supposed to be more important for Google to address these issues? Buying natural rankings works better than ever.
In addition, chasing link buyers would indirectly increase adwords profits.

Well anyway, nobody is perfect, Google certainly isn't but they could do much better than that.

.....

AndyA




msg:3254389
 1:12 pm on Feb 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

I've had several people express frustration over the "Here today, gone tomorrow" SERPs at Google. As already mentioned, many (incredibly enough!) will not bookmark sites, but will just use the search phrase they typed in the search box over and over again to find a site, kind of like the people who do searches for the domain name - what is that about? Maybe they don't know if it's a .com, .org, etc. This works fine as long as the same pages are generally at the top, but when a URL is #5 today, and #600, or #950 tomorrow, it creates confusion and frustration.

I just can't see too many instances where such a large churn in the results would be necessary, and certainly not on the frequency it currently is. I can understand sites dropping over time as new sites come online, other sites are updated, etc., but it would seem that should be a gradual drop over time, not hundreds of positions at a time.

vincevincevince




msg:3254577
 4:08 pm on Feb 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

The growth of keyword clusters instead of keywords has really transformed the SERPs to the point where sites which are likely to be useful but don't even mention the search term will outrank those which have targetted the specific keyword but don't rank well on other parameters.

europeforvisitors




msg:3254582
 4:15 pm on Feb 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

I have to disagree, I am actually liking the index better now.

I can't complain, either. I've been doing a lot of searches lately on things that have nothing to do with my topic, and for the most part, I've been happy with the results.

Of course, there are times when results get a bit mixed up because a keyword or keyphrase can have different meanings. For example, when I was searching for information on a certain type of bathroom floor tile, I searched on "[name] hex tile" and found a mixture of results: some on the brand of floor tile that interested on me, and others from forum threads about computer graphics that involved the [name] (also the name of a movie and a game, apparently) and graphics-related usages of "hex" and "tile." All of the results were legitimate; and none were spam, even though the computer-graphics results obviously weren't as useful to me as the bathroom-tile results were. (The results would have been better, of course, if I'd thought to include "bathroom" or "floor" in my search string.)

madmatt69




msg:3254655
 5:18 pm on Feb 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

Dissapointed on my part - I did a sarch today where several of the top 10 results were placeholder pages. Like "Coming soon" and then the keywords I was searching for. I find I often have to dig to the third or fourth page to find more relevant results.

Hit and miss. Mostly miss.

braap




msg:3254760
 6:45 pm on Feb 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

I think that for certain searches Google is as good, if not better, than it has ever been. Our sites have done very well lately, completely white hat, and have only increased our rankings over the past 6 months.

But, what I have noticed is Google seems to be placing way too much weight on the age of a domain. I constantly see sites that have zero optimization, 1 or 2 backlinks, haven't been updated in years and are horrible sites that offer little value to a searcher, rank very high for some competitive keywords. The common factor appears to be the age of the domains. It’s almost laughable, these sites look so out of place compared to the surrounding sites in the SERPS.

netmeg




msg:3254803
 7:35 pm on Feb 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

All I know is that I accidentally typed the word search into Google today, and they came up second behind one of their competitors.

Gack.

lfgoal




msg:3254876
 8:25 pm on Feb 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

"What drives me nuts is when a comprehensive article is lost in the 900s and instead sitting at in the top 5 results is a page on my site that is only related because there is a link to the page in the navigation or the topic is mentioned just once in the article."

I have to agree. All too often, pages that render exhaustive, expert, and truly useful information on a subject are completely buried in the serps under reams of other sites that A. have more links, B. are better optimized, and C. have more pagerank.

Google, overall, does it better than the other engines, but, really, their vaunted algos know nothing about quality of content. As I tell my wife, Google knows nothing about everything. All they know about is ranking. And ranking and quality of content are very often exclusive of each other.

Strangely enough, though I don't like the appearance of MSN, I increasingly find them a useful alternative to google. Not enough to make them my primary, but definitely worth using as a backup when all I find on google is adsense-spam and pages in the serps that should not be there.

lfgoal




msg:3254878
 8:28 pm on Feb 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

Oh, and I concur with some of the others. The constantly shifting serps are getting a little tiring. And I don't mean from a website publisher's point of view, but, rather, from a web user's point of view. I've also heard similar complaints from people I know who have nothing to do with web stuff.

mattg3




msg:3254888
 8:41 pm on Feb 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

The up and down is getting on my nerves. as a webmaster and a user. Tried to find something today which was yesterday on page one, today i had to use extensive searching to find it again. This obviously is in Google's favour as people doing more searches then tend to click on more ads, I guess. I doubt it is planned as such, but once you are the dominant force things play in your way. Maybe I should use this technique too. ;)

Confuse and distract with the ads the stable force. :)

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