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This 174 message thread spans 6 pages: 174 ( [1] 2 3 4 5 6 > >     
Google AJAX Powered Serps Kills Referals
Brett_Tabke

WebmasterWorld Administrator brett_tabke us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3841736 posted 2:56 am on Feb 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

Story on Clicky [getclicky.com] about Google testing ajax powered SERPs. I believe the finders credit goes to this story [smackdown.blogsblogsblogs.com]. I think it is a major story. It has big implications for site owners and webmasters.

About 7 years ago, in the classic "3 characters from done [webmasterworld.com]" thread we had talked about the ramifications on seo of se's switching from GET to POST'ed data. However, it never came to pass that browser programmers would allow an unchecked form "post" submission. However, the hiding or obscuring of referral data is nothing new:

March 2002: [webmasterworld.com]
Both AOL and Overture routinely encode urls and session strings. There are some meta engines and java script based forms on engines that already hide referral strings. Most of us have seen this effect from search MSN already.

I honestly don't think G is shortsighted enough to do something like that system wide for the sake of obfuscating seo efforts. Websites would have little incentive to look to Google for traffic or optimize for Google. The focus would no longer be on Google for optimization. We wouldn't know what or how to optimize for keywords - optimization would be shots in the dark. Our only option would be to look for other big sources of traffic [webmasterworld.com].

There has always been the unwritten trust between websites and search engines that they could use our data, as long as they sent us traffic. Refererless traffic pretty much breaks that unwritten but implicitly agreed upon trust and treats websites as commodities - just food for the engine.

On the other hand, we have to respect a websites - even Google's - opportunity to innovate. I think we have to see what G is doing with the Ajax before passing final judgment on it and it's intentions. I doubt that it is Googles will to break log analyzers and keyword trackers with this test. I think that is a by-product of whatever Ajax implementation google is currently testing.

On the third hand, it would probably drive alot of webmasters to look to AdWords for traffic. hmmm

 

incrediblehelp

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3841736 posted 3:10 am on Feb 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

I hope they are not doing this just to kill rank checking

mack

WebmasterWorld Administrator mack us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3841736 posted 6:01 am on Feb 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

You can bet google analytics will still find a way to work. I think if this test of ajax based results becomes the norm, Google will realy push its analytics program. Perhaps they want even more data.

Mack.

tedster

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3841736 posted 6:14 am on Feb 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

It's not just the rank checking - it's referer information about the search term that would become unavailable. I can't imagine that Google would trash that. They would lose webmaster goodwill in a heartbeat.

I also have not been able to see any AJAX SERPs. I hope this is all just "much ado about nothing".

brotherhood of LAN

WebmasterWorld Administrator brotherhood_of_lan us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 3841736 posted 7:22 am on Feb 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

I was thinking it would encourage rank checking rather than diminish its use. It would be the alternative to less useful log files about possible sources of referrals.

That, alongside the kind of traffic/popularity of queries you can get from ISP derived data (hitwise et al).

As far as I know the HTTP requests from AJAX would still be registered by ISPs for that kind of data collation.

BeeDeeDubbleU

WebmasterWorld Senior Member beedeedubbleu us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3841736 posted 8:51 am on Feb 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

They would lose webmaster goodwill in a heartbeat.

I really doubt that this will be a major concern to them but this looks like much ado about nothing.

If it is true then Mack's suggestion looks like the most likely. They may decide that if there are any analytics to be supplied then they will be the only one's supplying them.

2clean

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3841736 posted 9:27 am on Feb 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

This is massive.

whitenight

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3841736 posted 9:34 am on Feb 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

gee,
It's becoming so predictable, it isn't even fun pointing it out anymore

i seem to remember a few months back a thread where whitenight was ranting and raving aka "getting his blood pressure raised" about Google fiddling with SERPs in order to "deter automated queries"(their FUD explanation, not mine)

I seem to remember MC coming on to do "damage control"

I seem to remember that whitenight was saying it was MUCH BIGGER THAN THAT and his fellow webmasters should "LOOK BEYOND The UNOFFICIAL-OFFICIAL GOOGLE COMMENT" for a time when Google would try to ELIMINATE webmasters ability to track their OWN STATS.

I remember it VERY CLEARLY, and remember paraphrasing "you'll see soon enough WHY you should be extremely concerned about the topic"

Continue to ignore,
be passive,
keep "a cool calm head", or
whatever
about what's going on At Your Own Risk

-----------------------

I'm not posting to encourage more ranting, but i would like to see more than a FEW webmasters realize what Goog is slowly doing to YOUR individual businesses and perhaps get a little "peeved" about it.
...i do rant for a reason...

aforementioned rant
Does Google Block Web Position Gold Ranking Reports? [webmasterworld.com]

BeeDeeDubbleU

WebmasterWorld Senior Member beedeedubbleu us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3841736 posted 10:04 am on Feb 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

In the thread from last August that you mention Pageoneresults (perhaps prophetically) said ...

I have a feeling that if you want accurate analytics in the near future, Google is the one that will be giving it to us.

... and he may be right.

Regarding what Google is doing to your businesses, this reminds me of four or five years ago and the screams of anguish about big bad Google from those who had lost out every time there was an update.

The bottom line is that Google has no reponsibility to webmasters and their businesses. They are too busy running their own business for their stockholders and the advertisers who generate their revenue.

If the general public and the advertiser's are happy with Google's results then why would the anguished screams of a few webmasters bother them?

whitenight

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3841736 posted 10:16 am on Feb 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

Regarding what Google is doing to your businesses, this reminds me of four or five years ago and the screams of anguish about big bad Google from those who had lost out every time there was an update.

You've never seen nor heard ME scream a whimper. So don't know who you're referring to.

If anyone's keeping count, my predictions are HORRIBLY accurate to what Google is doing and where they are going. Both in terms of the company and the SERPs.

The bottom line is that Google has no reponsibility to webmasters and their businesses. They are too busy running their own business for their stockholders and the advertisers who generate their revenue.

Perhaps, you should read MY posts to MC in that thread. Seems to apply to your understanding of "how Goog works" as well

I've been saying since Day 1, Google DOES NOT CARE ABOUT YOU. So again, wrong person to argue to.

I have, and will, continue (if allowed) to point out why and when Google's "official pronoucements" is ultimately detrimental to the WEBMASTERS business.

(And most importantly, what webmasters SHOULD be reading into those "pronouncements")

And subtly point out how a little "public ranting" goes a LOOOOONG way to shaping what Goog does or does not do.

If the general public and the advertiser's are happy with Google's results then why would the anguished screams of a few webmasters bother them?

Again, you need to reread my posts to MC in that thread.

Goog has done a VERY EFFECTIVE MARKETING CAMPAIGN convincing webmasters that Goog controls them, when in TRUTH, like all matters, the individual masses CONTROL them.

Who's paying Google's bills?
Who's giving Google it's profits?
Ultimately?
Wake up already!

You, and others who share your beliefs, can continue to give your power away to Goog.
Suffice it to say, there a very few people on here who ARE NOT swayed by Goog's whims and stay 6-12 months ahead of them.

One's must ADMIT there's a problem and that they have ALLOWED Goog to "dupe" them, before they can see the REALITY of who should be dictating to whom.

makemetop



 
Msg#: 3841736 posted 10:25 am on Feb 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

This, if unchallenged (and it goes global) could put analytics companies (including me) out of business overnight unless Google provides an alternative (paid?) way to get the referral data.

Why paid? It would be the one way around Google being seen to gain an unfair monopoly over the analytics market. It would also restrict the organisations able to get hold of this data to only ones that adhered to Google Ts & Cs (no rank checkers etc).

Of course, browser suppliers could supply a patch to overcome this issue - and, with enough voices raised, may just do so.

whitenight

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3841736 posted 10:30 am on Feb 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

Wow, you're a bit touchy today!

lol, yes, I'm a bit testy. Don't take it personal.

Just extremely aggravated that webmasters as a GROUP have allowed this to get to this point.

And have BELIEVED Google employee's "explanations" along the way each and every time -- hook, line, and sinker.

There's still time. (see below)

This, if unchallenged (and it goes global) could put analytics companies (including me) out of business overnight unless Google provides an alternative (paid?) way to get the referral data...

and, with enough voices raised, may just do so

Yes, exactly!

Shaddows

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3841736 posted 11:09 am on Feb 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

Sorry to ask a dumb question, but does ajax NECESSARILY produce a fragmented URL (of the form www.google.com/#q=search+term), or is it a matter of implementation?

Re: Paid Vs Free analytics, surely G would be in more trouble for forcing people to BUY their product rather than use a free tool?

Whitenight, you know how I hate to disagree with you, but frankly Google only needs searchers. Eyeballs mean prime advertising space, and hence profit. If you choose to opt out of Google's index, then fine- but everyone knows thats commercial suicide.

And anyway, I'd be surprised if they didn't produce an API that worked as advertised so 3rd party analytics could continue, if only to avoid the monoloplistic abuse allegations that so tainted the MS brand. That said, its one more thing to reach for the tin foil over.

leadegroot

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3841736 posted 11:25 am on Feb 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

Would not an ajax solution be totally inaccessible?
Seems to me that someone should ask the Institute for the Blind to have a chat with Google, eh?
Google may not have to be accessible, not being a govt site (if I remember the US laws correctly?) but I doubt their shareholders would be pleased by the screams of outrage that would follow when such a large, almost monopolistic, resource stops being usable by the disabled.

BeeDeeDubbleU

WebmasterWorld Senior Member beedeedubbleu us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3841736 posted 11:37 am on Feb 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

could put analytics companies (including me) out of business overnight

True, but Google have been putting people out of business for years without batting an eyelid. Think of all the free services they offer that we once had to buy from third parties. How many people lost jobs or went out of business because of them offering free stuff like Google Earth, Google Maps, Blogger, Calendar, Gmail, Translate, Picasa and Docs. What will happen to all of we web designers if they start to really promote Google sites, their free website builder?

Sounds harsh I know, but I am afraid that in the greater scheme of things the problems of analytics companies are nothing when compared to all of the above. The problem we have is that they owe us nothing and that is a major problem. But then that's the business we have chosen to be in. :(

Brett_Tabke

WebmasterWorld Administrator brett_tabke us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3841736 posted 12:33 pm on Feb 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

> Would not an ajax solution be totally inaccessible?

I think it would be up to the browser manufacters to issue a patch to the browser to send the referal information with AJAX requests. This may in fact, be a good goose to them to get that done. I don't believe the referring page full url (after the #) is available to the website after the click. I don't think it is in the request anywhere - whether by js or http headers.

> ajax NECESSARILY produce a fragmented URL

The fragmented URL is not sent as a HTTP referer header then. So you can not track what page (query) the click came from.

For comparison:

  • We normally do about 100 referrals a day from Google that do not have a referring keyword. (Most often, these are bots, proxy bots, or browsers that specifically mask the query string in the referring url)
  • In 7 hrs from midnight, we have over 1k already that do not have any referring strings.

That means that this is more than a simple one shot test, there are millions of people getting this test.

makemetop



 
Msg#: 3841736 posted 12:53 pm on Feb 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

Google have been putting people out of business for years without batting an eyelid.

True - but the corporate world may have more than a little to say if their Omniture/Atlas etc applications suddenly went completely screwy - forcing them to use Google Analytics!

Brett_Tabke

WebmasterWorld Administrator brett_tabke us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3841736 posted 1:18 pm on Feb 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

Imagine, just mousing over a result on a serp, and having that result open up further and further - showing you more-n-more information from that site. You would never have to leave Google again. That is the kind of ajax testing Google is doing. There are all sorts of variations and testing you could do with AJAX on a serp right now.

note: please leave the personal stuff and 'g is evil' discussions for other threads, this thread is strictly about the AJAX serps test. not every thread is an ethics debate.

irr1449

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3841736 posted 1:53 pm on Feb 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

If anyone thinks that Google is going to do this and shut down all the analytics companies and other vendors who depend on the referring URL, they are crazy.

Google is on the verge of becoming "evil" in the minds of many. The last thing Google wants is to look like the next Microsoft. Whatever money Google might make from forcing webmaster to use analytics would be minuscule when compared to the good will they would lose.

Rosalind

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3841736 posted 2:34 pm on Feb 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

I expect this will break Brett's highlighting feature, which is a shame. That's just one of the implications beyond breaking all the competing analytics apps.

Has anyone actually seen what they're testing with this Ajax? Are there any screen shots?

SteveJohnston

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3841736 posted 3:06 pm on Feb 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

If it is an anti rank-checking, anti-SERPs-scraping initiative, then they'll probably just switch the data into your registered Webmaster Tools account, thereby giving the legitimate owner all the data they could want - as per link data currently - and removing it from the public domain. Wonder whether Hitwise have such contingencies in their business plan.

pageoneresults

WebmasterWorld Senior Member pageoneresults us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3841736 posted 3:21 pm on Feb 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

I've been doing some research on this Fragment Identifier thing and I'm wondering if a little bit of JavaScript will fix the problem?

var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker("UA-12345-1");
// Solution for domain level only
pageTracker._trackPageview(document.location.pathname + "/" + document.location.hash);
// If you have a path included in the URL as well
pageTracker._trackPageview(document.location.pathname + document.location.search +
"/" + document.location.hash);

Is it really the Fragment Identifier that is causing all this trouble? And yes, I realize the Fragment is dereferenced by user agents but can't you implement workarounds for this?

makemetop



 
Msg#: 3841736 posted 3:36 pm on Feb 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

but can't you implement workarounds for this?

Believe me, a lot of very bright minds are probably working on this right now! I know ours are. But, as I speak, it doesn't look good.

But who knows?

creative craig

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3841736 posted 3:55 pm on Feb 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

This sort of news makes me even more determined to be Google free (at least 75% of my traffic coming from other sources than from Google) by the end of the year on all my personal sites.

Receptional Andy



 
Msg#: 3841736 posted 3:56 pm on Feb 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

pageoneresults - the issue is that the fragment is never passed in the referrer object, so it doesn't matter what changes are made to on-site code - by that point, keyword data is already lost since it is not passed to the destination URL.

It would require a change in the way browsers handle the referrer object for analytics systems to be able to pick this up.

travelin cat

WebmasterWorld Administrator travelin_cat us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3841736 posted 4:08 pm on Feb 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

I'm seeing this now sporadically in my logs, referrer is just google.com

Shaddows

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3841736 posted 4:11 pm on Feb 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

Sorry to ask again, but...
Say Google were looking to improve their SERPs presentation, not kill referals, could they defragment the url or is is inherently fragmented by ajax?

Ajax on SERPs appears to have application beyond killing the referrer object- so is this an unfortunate byproduct than can easily be fixed (using an internal re-write for e.g.) should google choose to?

Chico_Loco

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3841736 posted 4:15 pm on Feb 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

I'm not seeing this. Back in the day someone that had entered into the test system would share their Google cookie value for all to join - anyone care to share so we can all take a look?

This certainly isn't the end of SEO, but it does look like SEO may become a lot less scientific in the not too distant future.

signor_john



 
Msg#: 3841736 posted 4:32 pm on Feb 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

True, but Google have been putting people out of business for years without batting an eyelid. Think of all the free services they offer that we once had to buy from third parties.

Back in the olden days of tailfins and rock 'n' roll, car air conditioners and seatbelts were aftermarket accessories.

Anyone who's been using personal computers for a few decades can remember when nearly everything was an add-in or add-on. (Remember Trumpet Winsock, or memory managers like QEMM and 386MAX?)

If Google determines that it can serve users better and secure or improve its market share with features that have the side effect of hurting SEOs and other third-party vendors, it would be foolish for Google to hold back simply to protect the interests of those third-party firms. (Did the car companies hold up progress just to keep manufacturers of carburetors or aftermarket air conditioners in business?)

Imagine, just mousing over a result on a serp, and having that result open up further and further - showing you more-n-more information from that site. You would never have to leave Google again.

You'd probably leave Google unless you were just looking for a quick snippet of information, once you found a search result that looked interesting.

In any case, being able to preview search results on the SERP does sound like a pretty compelling and handy feature for users. It also should create opportunities for SEO/SEM consultants who can shift their mindset from "How can I make a search engine think this page is relevant and useful?" to "How can I make searchers see that this page is relevant and useful?"

Receptional Andy



 
Msg#: 3841736 posted 4:40 pm on Feb 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

could they defragment the url or is is inherently fragmented by ajax?

AJAX retrieves content without triggering an additional "page" load, which by necessity means that the current URL doesn't change. Use of the # symbol in those instances is a workaround to make content "bookmarkable" without triggering a page load. Other implementations don't change the "URL" (plus fragment) visible in the address bar at all.

Note that you can achieve plenty of javascript trickery within SERPs without using AJAX, and you could easily have a normal results page URL with features added on. Using AJAX to retrieve the results from a search has little tangible benefit that I can see. It could make results slower to retrieve and would also suffer from AJAX's common error-handling and feedback problems.

[edited by: Receptional_Andy at 4:43 pm (utc) on Feb. 4, 2009]

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