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"Google Suggest" becomes default search box behavior
tedster




msg:3731006
 1:51 am on Aug 26, 2008 (gmt 0)

The announcement appeared today in the Official Google Blog [googleblog.blogspot.com]: Google Suggest is now rolling out as the default behavior for all searches on the main Google Search pages.

Fortunately, Google has added an option on the Preferences page to turn it off. I did. Yes, I'm a curmudgeon on this one. "I don't need no stinking suggestions." But it might be a somewhat interesting bit of research to turn it on from time to time and see what pops up.

 

skipfactor




msg:3732373
 1:51 pm on Aug 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

>>It's quicker to hit the down button a few times for a similar search phrase, rather then continue to type your original phrase

Even when it's slower: I find myself stuck scrolling address bars and auto-completes when typing would have been 10-times faster and would have kept me focused, hmm. Definitely some AdWords adjustments need to be made (to say the least).

SEOMike




msg:3732376
 1:54 pm on Aug 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

The suggest function doesn't work from a results page for me. It only works on the main Google homepage.

The number of results listed in the suggest box does not match the number of results in the datacenter that I'm searching. It's off by 800,000 results for the phrase I'm looking at.

In my industry it lists the plural of most phrases first. That's annoying because to this point the singular version of the phrase has been the best performer and that's where I've focused a lot of my link building efforts. The singular version is the one with the most results too. You would think that the most popular phrase with the most results would be the first suggestion.

ken_b




msg:3732462
 3:11 pm on Aug 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

OK, so my category showed up in the middle of the list.

How do I get it to number 1? :)

chewy




msg:3732467
 3:16 pm on Aug 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

Are "Suggest" results different on a per user basis based on search history, location, language, etc?

Robski




msg:3732491
 3:44 pm on Aug 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

lfgoal - "in competitive niches, everything may boil down fighting over 10 or 15 phrases."

lfgoal - "Google suggest should be renamed Web diversity killer, and filed under the death of long tail. "

Perhaps I'm being a bit pessimistic but I couldn't agree more with what lfgoal said. This is a real game changer for long tail searches. I'm surprised more people aren't talking about this rather big change. It'd be intersting to hear what real world effects people are seeing in their logs as a result of this.

icedowl




msg:3732497
 3:52 pm on Aug 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

I'm finally seeing the option in preferences. It's set to not provide suggestions so I'm going to assume that is its default and that someone would have to intentionally turn it on. Whew!

ken_b




msg:3732539
 4:48 pm on Aug 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

I'm finally seeing the option in preferences. It's set to not provide suggestions so I'm going to assume that is its default and that someone would have to intentionally turn it on. Whew!

My prefs were set (by default I guess) at

Do not provide query suggestions in the search box.

But the suggestions still show when I enter a query. Seems odd.

tobyism




msg:3732557
 4:59 pm on Aug 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

for me, I set the preference to show suggestions but it won't show on my iGoogle page, only the default main page. And if I set the preference to show it, then switch it to iGoogle again the preference will change back on its own.

ergophobe




msg:3732570
 5:19 pm on Aug 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

There is no doubt this consolidates search around a smaller number of terms, but at the same time, it encourages people to not do single-word searches. So I think it cuts off the tail, but it also spreads the top of the belly to the sides.

It also functions somewhat like StumbleUpon. If you can get something really intriguing in the suggestions for something really pedestrian, you'll probably see a crazy spike.

Examples:
1. I just started typing randomly and got as far as "ta" when it suggested "target" (the store) so I kept going with "target sh" (for shooting) and it suggested

target shaun white
target shabby chic
target shooting games

I started typing the French name "Jean" and not only got the female English name (Jean Harlow) but "jeans for genes day".

Those are all searches that would never have occurred to me. I almost quit my original search to check out jeans for genes day. I would have to call that a long tail term, but i would also have to assume that the traffic from random google stumblers will be useless.

On the plus side, I put in some terms I rank well for and looked at what it suggested and there are some that are semi-related, which I'm sure I can rank for, but for which I have nothing currently. It's not a bad tool for seeing how Google clusters searches and prioritizes them, that's for sure.

Robert Charlton




msg:3732572
 5:24 pm on Aug 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

I think that many niche phrases are clearly going to be hurt by the suggestion interface. Google is initially suggesting highly competitive general phrases over more specific phrases... just the opposite of what its refinements are doing... and I suspect that niche traffic is going to drop.

I've long been aware of the Suggest tool in beta... have used it as an adjunct to other targeting tools... but on some sites it simply wasn't appropriate to try to compete for the most general phrases, particularly if you didn't have a keyword1keyword2 domain.

In any case if your term is not showing up as a suggestion you simply keep typing and get results for what you want.

This depends very much on where in the phrase your adjectives happen to be.

It's set to not provide suggestions so I'm going to assume that is its default and that someone would have to intentionally turn it on.

The option in preferences is confusing. I began seeing the suggestions even though the radio box in preferences was apparently set to off.

I'm concerned that many users simply never go into preferences, and that they'll choose the more general phrases because they're there and they're easier. Google may well not see a drop-off in customer satisfaction because many of the large sites that come up are large enough to effectively satisfy those searchers who don't enter more specific queries.

lfgoal




msg:3732873
 11:58 pm on Aug 27, 2008 (gmt 0)

I'm concerned that many users simply never go into preferences

99 percent of all users won't even be aware of preferences.

Google may well not see a drop-off in customer satisfaction because many of the large sites that come up are large enough to effectively satisfy those searchers who don't enter more specific queries.

Yeah. Fewer choices, less diversity, more search traffic for big sites that can hammer these fewer core terms. It's really a dumbing down of the google experience.

The thing I originally liked about google years ago was that I was ABLE to find lots of niche sites that satisfied my needs. In any niche that is even slightly commercial, that may no longer be the case soon (a year maybe).

I wouldn't be surprised if the long-term effect of this is that users begin to find google "boring". Perhaps it will accelerate the use of social media like stumble, which offers me things I could never find by using google.

Google may think this is a good idea, but I seriously think they've fumbled. And just because you see this approach used by yahoo is not, to me, a quality endorsement. Yahoo provides the worst user experience as far as I'm concerned.

[edited by: tedster at 1:13 am (utc) on Aug. 28, 2008]
[edit reason] add quote boxes for clarity [/edit]

icedowl




msg:3733292
 10:18 am on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

Here's more info: I'm at work right now, not signed in to G and using an older browser (not by choice). I found that the suggest is turned on by default here. Sux.

tripleox




msg:3733729
 6:13 pm on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

This is a big change. It's not been added to .co.uk yet. It'll benefit those already ranking high for the suggest-able terms.

It'll be interesting to see how this develops search behaviour. Will the less savvy use it or ignore it and vice versa with savvy users. Or will it be more of a popular spreadable yeast extract effect... splitting searchers down the middle.

Personally i've been using suggest via the firefox search box for super fast searching. When you know what you're looking for... a few letters in.. then down arrow, enter ... bang! speedy searching.

incrediBILL




msg:3733840
 8:33 pm on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

OK, Google Suggest is about to become our worse nightmare...

I could write an entire post about how suggest easily manipulates the SEO and PPC landscape and already is doing it but there needs to be at least a week of shifts in data trends to back it up before I run on ranting and raving about it.

Anyway, I'm already seeing Google suggest change my traffic and the income that goes with that traffic because in some cases suggest shows multiple options that are very similar but it's hard to be top for all those suggestions and it's possible the PPC rates are paying highest for only one term.

Well, you guessed it, lazy people are taking the first suggestion on the list which although it may be the more popular term, wasn't the one you optimized for because of the level of competition for that term.

Now unfortunately, your 2nd or 3rd more popular term, as evidenced in Google Trends and displayed in Google Suggest in the same order, isn't getting that traffic because people are defaulting to the most popular term closest to the top of the list.

Soon, those 2nd and 3rd most popular terms won't be popular at all and will most likely fade from view in Suggest and Google trends and the money train ends if you're not optimized for the #1 most popular term.

Google Suggest is going to put the hurt on a lot of people that were willing to take a back seat and monetize the least popular terms by shaping the way lazy people search and artificially altering the face of search itself.

Let the next wave of SEO wars begin and if you're not good at it, may Google have mercy on your soul...

martinibuster




msg:3733848
 8:37 pm on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

Why isn't anyone mentioning the effect on AdWords bidding?
This may herd more queries away from lower priced longtail phrases and into more expensive competitive phrases. Ask.com has been doing this for years and we all know what champs they are at driving queries to clicks.

Ok, Bill beat me to it, but not over IM conversation last night. LOL

The impact of this may depend on how much use it gets and who is likely to use it. That Google rolled it out to the public suggests that enough users are using it.

This isn't necessarily a longtail killer
At best this should eliminate garbage traffic, people searching on short queries that need an additional search modifiers. If anything, this may help longer phrases from three words or more, which will better target search visitors to our sites via organic.

[edited by: martinibuster at 8:45 pm (utc) on Aug. 28, 2008]

incrediBILL




msg:3733851
 8:44 pm on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

Oh yeah, I forgot to add this part...

If some of the keywords start to slip in popularity, which I'm sure Suggest will do, it will also probably have unintended consequences to AdWords/AdSense revenue as well when some of these terms no longer generate as much traffic or revenue and drive up the cost of the most popular keyword to the point it's not as cost effective and sends advertisers looking elsewhere.

If Google does see a hit in their bottom line because of Suggest it would be safe to assume that the order of the terms in Suggest might be shuffled or even randomized to help spread out the traffic and maintain the revenue stream.

Therefore, if we run off and optimize to better fit with the ordering of Suggest's keywords today it's highly possible we'll find ourselves right back where we started from if Suggest makes changes for the possible reasons outlined above.

Can you imagine chasing the state of Suggest just to maintain your free traffic?

Worse yet, you can't currently run any SEO tools to fish out what Suggest is currently suggesting related to your topic but I'm sure someone is working on that as I'm typing this ;)

This could get ugly.

incrediBILL




msg:3733855
 8:46 pm on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

Dang it MartiniBuster beat me to the follow up punch there but I made some additional points so I'll leave it.

martinibuster




msg:3733858
 8:48 pm on Aug 28, 2008 (gmt 0)

If some of the keywords start to slip in popularity, which I'm sure Suggest will do, it will also probably have unintended consequences to AdWords/AdSense revenue as well when some of these terms no longer generate as much traffic or revenue and drive up the cost of the most popular keyword to the point it's not as cost effective and sends advertisers looking elsewhere.

If anything the highly competitive but often less converting two word phrases may dip in favor of competitive three word phrases that convert more reliably.

Merc




msg:3734388
 3:01 pm on Aug 29, 2008 (gmt 0)

Hi there!

I've found that my site was ranking #5 for 1 keyword (which it is included on my home URL + part of my brand name)to be now on #8 due to a desplacement made by a G.com suggestion-"box" (between 2 blue lines)saying: "Consult the results of: keyword + "a company name" and already showing in that "box" 3 pages of that company.

Why is G. including a suggestion for a specific company? I could understand a sugesstiong due to bad spelling, or lacking "a concept" word..... but sugessting a company (and displaying already more of their pages)?

The keyword is a generic term as it could be milk, bread, table...., but both our company's name are form with that "keyword" + anotherword (obviously different).

This hardly looks like "sugessting" to the user and it is looking more like "making decisions for the user"

tedster




msg:3734792
 2:26 am on Aug 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

Welcome to the forums, Merc. The blue lines you're describing are something different than the "Google Suggest" technology that this thread is focused on.

Google Suggest is a set of drop-down search terms that change dynamically as you type into the search box. What you're describing is a kind of "query disambiguation" that we sometimes see on the RESULTS page, not on the initial search interface.

That kind of suggestion we see on the results page taps into Google vast pile of search data. It particularly comes from users who quickly enter some kind of query revision - indicating that the first set of results was not in line with what they wanted.

Merc




msg:3734901
 9:17 am on Aug 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

Thanks Tester for all the good quality information that you always provide.

You're right, I was talking about how Google results gives a clear advantatge to a specific Company, when querying on a "generic" keyword. But, this particular Company name I'm talking about is presented in 5th place on the dinamic list of suggestions....(it probably happens on other searches too)

Somehow, it seems that the sugestion algo is trying to "give ideas" dinamically to the user (or present a short-cut to the lazy user so he doesn't need to type anymore) and on the result page Google is already presenting -and giving a competitive advantage- to the "most likely" result, so the user doesn't need to use his grey cells any more.

I believe that both algos analize the same, targeting "the most likely search" (the suggestion box dinamically and the results statically), but at least for the suggestion box, the user still has the control on whether to go for the suggestion or not.

So, different approaches from Google "suggesting algo" to enhance user searches.

onepointone




msg:3734903
 9:38 am on Aug 30, 2008 (gmt 0)

IMO, it's unfortunate that this suggest feature steers searchers to specific companys, not that I like the feature anyway...

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