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Google Adds "Answer Highlighting" to Serps. No Need to Visit Websites
Brett_Tabke

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



 
Msg#: 4066312 posted 2:48 pm on Jan 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

Taking another page out of the WolfRamAlpha and Bing play book, Google introduces Serps with answers. You may never need to visit any site again.

Google Press Release [izurl.com]

Answer highlighting helps you get to information more quickly by seeking out and bolding the likely answer to your question right in search results.

 

maximillianos

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4066312 posted 3:21 pm on Jan 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

This might hurt a lot of sites. Just yesterday I was searching for how to microwave apples. I figured out what I wanted without visiting the site from the snippets in the search results.

This has kind of always been an issue, but it looks like they are going to try and pull not only the query term spots into the snippet but also potential followup info. Very interesting.

Webwork

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



 
Msg#: 4066312 posted 4:07 pm on Jan 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

I'm reminded of a favorite childhood story: The Little Red Hen [en.wikipedia.org] (Feel free to substitute "publisher" for "hen", "ad revenue" for "bread", etc.)

Plot Summary

In the tale, the little red hen finds a grain of wheat, and asks for help from the other farmyard animals to plant it. However, no animal is willing to volunteer to help her.

At each further stage (harvest, threshing, milling the wheat into flour, and baking the flour into bread), the hen again asks for help from the other animals, but again she gets no assistance.

Finally, the hen has completed her task, and asks who will help her eat the bread.

(Revision) At this time the rooster eagerly volunteers and eats the bread, leaving the little hen and her chicks in a bad way.

The moral of the story is that those who show no will to contribute to an end product do not deserve to enjoy the end product . . . unless, of course, you're the rooster


BeeDeeDubbleU

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



 
Msg#: 4066312 posted 5:09 pm on Jan 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

But if people don't visit sites then they won't click ads. I am not sure of the wisdom of this.

edacsac

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4066312 posted 5:25 pm on Jan 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

They won't click the ads on the contributor pages, but they may click the ads on the search result page (since those are the only ads the visitor may see). Seems like a great move for business and consumers: less clicks to get information, and less visibility (read adsense payment) for the site owners. The more I read about google, the more I think it's time to move away from being a web developer.

zett

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4066312 posted 5:38 pm on Jan 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

You may never need to visit a website again.

Every day, I'm getting closer to banning Google bot from my sites...

Swanny007

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4066312 posted 5:49 pm on Jan 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

Wow, there is just no stopping the power of GORG. They really are trying to eliminate the need for websites that aren't on the google.com domain. I know I have a fair-sized informational site that may be threatened by this. I better keep my "answers" long and descriptive, not short and sweet... it looks like quick, specific answers are what GORG is looking for.

So that begs the question... what type of site will Google not try to eliminate in it's quest to own the Internet? If you have a fact site you're toast now. If you have a video site YouTube has probably beaten you to nothing. They have Google Sites, Friend Connect, etc., etc. So what is a safe niche or site type nowadays? Maybe I should start investing in real estate or something that Google will have a harder time competing with ;-)

Although I see Google as a partner (via AdSense), I also see them as a threat. Don't underestimate the GORG.

Eurydice

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4066312 posted 5:50 pm on Jan 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

Let's explain how Google is doing this "Answer Highlighting."

It's manual. Yep. By hand. Google has people who look at popular queries (such as "what is the height of the Empire State Building?") and then they look at sites that have the answer. They MANUALLY mark up the answer. (Google does this for a number of other current features.)

If your site has the right answer to a popular question, you'll get the highlight. Your site will be at the top of Google.

But as everyone so far has written, nobody will visit your site. Searchers will have the answer they need. Your site gets no visits, no leads, no sales, no ad revenue.

This isn't a minor issue. There are three types of searches: navigational, informational, and transactional. Informational searches make up the bulk (over 50%) of searches

(Transactional is only 15%, and that covers many types of searches, incl. searches for videos, PDFs, etc., along with searches for products.)

Google has a vast mine for informational material: Wikipedia. Answer Highlighting could exploit Wikipedia for the bulk of answers.

Answer Highlight is great for both the searcher and Google. It's very bad for websites. Google's reply? "If you want to sell something, then use Adwords. You must pay."

maximillianos

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4066312 posted 5:50 pm on Jan 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

Every day, I'm getting closer to banning Google bot from my sites...

That is the thing that stinks. You lose either way. If you ban the bot, you stop getting traffic and the next guy on the totem pole in your niche gets your traffic.

We are pretty much helpless to such tactics. Sites like ExpertExchange might be immune since the actual answers lie beneath a paid subscription model, yet the questions are still indexed.

Perhaps there is some solution there that can apply more broadly?

ChanandlerBong

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4066312 posted 6:14 pm on Jan 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

I've noticed the URL parameters "oq" and "aq" being added to certain queries (like "how tall is empire state?" for example)

is this connected?

in my query, "aq=0" and "oq=how+tall+is+the+emp" were the parameters, almost suggesting they have shorthand code for very popular questions. Interesting.

Jonesy

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4066312 posted 7:36 pm on Jan 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

Have you ever wondered why Google has yet to shift to POST, versus GET? Or, maybe I shouldn't've brought it up...

J_RaD

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4066312 posted 8:21 pm on Jan 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

this really is very bad I have nothing good to say about this and its making me dislike google even more.


Answer Highlight is great for both the searcher and Google. It's very bad for websites. Google's reply? "If you want to sell something, then use Adwords. You must pay."

"hi we are google we own the internet, want your site to be on the internet? you must pay us...hope your cpc/ sales make you money!"

they are going to kill SEO and make putting content on the web will be a PAY ONLY option or nobody will ever see you.

yet they stand on the roof tops for "net neutrality" and don't let the evil telcos harm the customers..we love you customers! WE LOVE the internet!

when really all they are doing is destroying the internet and they don't want the telcos to be able to get in their way while they do it.

remember how everyone was saying once you keep visting a social networking site for your day to day stuff you never really visit a search engine because you know the URL and have it saved in your favorites, well i guess google is trying to fix that issue by making it where you never have to visit a website and only their search engine.

And at what point does it get so bad websites start to block googlebot 100% if that happend there would be no websites for google to steal from...unless this will go the way of book scanning...we already have your content we don't need your website anymore so it won't matter if you block us.

google is trying to BECOME THE INTERNET.

pdivi

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4066312 posted 8:35 pm on Jan 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

Google is a scraper site.

skipfactor

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4066312 posted 8:36 pm on Jan 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

and to think a few weeks ago I was laughing @ Murdoch.

ChanandlerBong

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4066312 posted 8:41 pm on Jan 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

who's got the balls to block googlebot? 99% of webmasters don't. It's one of those situations where if we did it, we'd only need to do it for a week and G would come crying back to us. But it will never happen.

Rosalind

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4066312 posted 9:00 pm on Jan 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

Search engine optimisation is no longer simply about getting your site indexed and ranking. Now it's more about getting the clickthrough, and making sure that click is necessary.

I better keep my "answers" long and descriptive, not short and sweet... it looks like quick, specific answers are what GORG is looking for.

Or spread them out over several pages. But it's the prisoner's dilemma again: if doing this de-optimises your page you'll simply be replaced by the next website down. Answer de-optimisation is only going to work when you're the only one with the answer to a particular question.

J_RaD

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4066312 posted 9:54 pm on Jan 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

the answer is we shouldn't all cring and scramble under the foot of google trying to figure out what they like what will work or any other of the mysteries This is not the way things should be.

You all know how google is if you've used adwords and spend many sleepless nights trying to get your QS up to GOOD or even OK only to have google take all your hard and flush it for no apparent reason...and if you are really lucky your account gets banned and its game over.

I see a line forming in the sand, and google is the one drawing it.

TheMadScientist

WebmasterWorld Senior Member themadscientist us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4066312 posted 10:45 pm on Jan 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

Yeah, they won't ever go to 'pay for inclusion', but 'pay to be seen' is a different cup-o-tea IMO... It'll be interesting to see how profitable the 'one-right-answer' idea is, because if people don't need to visit the secondary website it defeats the purpose of the site paying for traffic, which basically decimates AdSense advertising revenue both on Google.Com and 3rd party sites. I'm sure they have a plan, but IMO the profitability of that plan will be interesting, because:

Revenue: 2008 = $21.8B; 2009 = $23.65B
Revenue for 2009 +8.62% compare to 2008
Searches for 2009 +58% compared to 2008

Looks like a colossal drop in revenue per search to me...
Right now I'd say the idea is 'pure genius', sarcastically.

How do we know the lack of profitability some highly used websites have?
Yahooooooooooooo! Do they still get more overall traffic than Google?

[edited by: TheMadScientist at 10:59 pm (utc) on Jan. 23, 2010]

tedster

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



 
Msg#: 4066312 posted 10:56 pm on Jan 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

I have already been getting "one correct answer" directly from the SERPs for many years for many types of queries - and not just from the Google SERPs either.

So I'm not in line with many of the fears expressed here, although I can appreciate why those fears come up. I can't think of a single site I've ever worked with that will have their business model threatened by this change - although I certainly do know of a few advertising-based sites with with millions of very thin "fact" pages that will be under the gun. Those businesses will probably need to re-think why they are online.

Just as "thin affiliate" sites have had to look beyond the Google SERPs for revenues, so now will other kinds of thin sites. But those sites that offer significant value should still be fine. and to my view, offering solid value is the reason to be in business.

I noticed that in the example of a Rich Snippet for "Irving Plaza", the snippet shows links to buy specific tickets. As long as those purchases go through the site itself, the Rich Snippet is actually helping by keeping website bandwidth down.

TheMadScientist

WebmasterWorld Senior Member themadscientist us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4066312 posted 11:03 pm on Jan 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

So, what do you attribute the drop in revenue per search to if not serving 'the-one-right-answer' to a larger number of visitors than they did the year before?

And, you are an expert at searching who knows how to find 'the-one-right-answer' yourself through your query, and (I'm guessing) probably clicks on an ad as much as I do, which is almost never, so there is little to no lost revenue from the searches conducted by us (or me anyway), but the more often the result(s) provide the 'one-right-answer' for the average searcher, the less clicks there are on the advertisements paying the bills, so how do you suggest they compete with that and sites depending on traffic compete? Should those running the sites all give up and get jobs in this economy?

[edited by: TheMadScientist at 11:10 pm (utc) on Jan. 23, 2010]

ken_b

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



 
Msg#: 4066312 posted 11:09 pm on Jan 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

I'd guess that this is more of a plus for websites than it is a negative.

Unless they expand the snippet to include relevant info beyond the most narrow answer to the question.

Without that expansion I suspect many questioners will click through to see what other details are available.

So then the question becomes, how to structure the info delivery on your page to encourgae the most appropriate snippet to both answer any relevant questions and at the same time encourage click throughs.

TheMadScientist

WebmasterWorld Senior Member themadscientist us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4066312 posted 11:14 pm on Jan 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

I'd guess that this is more of a plus for websites than it is a negative.

I'd like to ask the same question as I asked before, because I think it's important and gives a bit of insight into the answer of whether it's good for websites and ultimately Google itself:

What do you attribute the drop in revenue per search between 2008 and 2009 to if it's not providing the correct answer in the results, negating the need for the click on the ads on Google or the website visited?

And another one:
Do you think they will be able to continue the new search growth to overcome the per search loss in revenue indefinitely?

They only increased revenue slightly over 8% on 58% search growth... Subtract the growth and they lost an enormous amount of revenue compared to 2008. It does not scream 'healthy business model' to me...

boplicity

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4066312 posted 11:22 pm on Jan 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

Google is treading on shaky ground. These actions may be a violation of copyright law.

From Folsom v. Marsh, a landmark supreme court decision:

"[A] reviewer may fairly cite largely from the original work, if his design be really and truly to use the passages for the purposes of fair and reasonable criticism. On the other hand, it is as clear, that if he thus cites the most important parts of the work, with a view, not to criticize, but to supersede the use of the original work, and substitute the review for it, such a use will be deemed in law a piracy…"

In other words, you're not allowed to find the most important piece of information and republish it. You can't take the most important parts and publish them as your own.

If google is indeed finding the most valuable piece of information on a website, and publishing it without explicit permission, this indeed is a violation of copyright law, regardless of the length of the material being published.

Google has no respect for copyright. Their mission is to organize all of the worlds information. Which means Google does not care if you own the information. They are going to use it anyways. You'd better not get in their way.

tedster

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



 
Msg#: 4066312 posted 11:38 pm on Jan 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

What do you attribute the drop in revenue per search between 2008 and 2009 to

You're speaking of the Comscore report [webmasterworld.com] I assume. I'd have to study the Comscore sources quite closely before I even tried to answer... or was even sure that it makes mathematical sense to divide that "revenue increase" for Google by the "search increase" number.

This is especially true because Comscore is talking about search increases across the "Google Network." There are too many hidden assumptions behind those heading numbers. Lies, damned lies and statistics, you know. Leaps of reasoning are not always safe to make.

gouri

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4066312 posted 11:46 pm on Jan 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

Maybe what this means is that after the results for a search appear, people will quickly look at all the sites on a page in the SERP and click on the site that is showing their answer so even if a website is not at the top of a page in the SERP, it has a better chance of being clicked on than it does when this feature is not there.

This may reduce search time, and increase traffic to websites that provide good information.

[edited by: gouri at 12:15 am (utc) on Jan. 24, 2010]

TheMadScientist

WebmasterWorld Senior Member themadscientist us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4066312 posted 11:48 pm on Jan 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

This is especially true because Comscore is talking about search increases across the "Google Network." There are too many hidden assumptions behind those heading numbers. Lies, damned lies and statistics, you know. Leaps of reasoning are not always safe to make.

IMO If the Comscore numbers were calculated in the same manner in 2008 as in 2009 and revenue was calculated in the same manner in 2008 as it was in 2009 you have a consistency within the numbers which can reasonably be compared. IMO the most important thing is consistency in the derivation of the year-over-year numbers from the two sources, because one can reasonably conclude USE across the GoogleNet increased while REVENUE PER USE of the GoogleNet decreased...

@boplicity

WOW! Great find... Can you imagine the size of The Webmasters v Google, Inc. lawsuit if all we need to do is prove traffic to our site(s) declined because Google's use of the important parts of our work superseded the need for a visitor to visit and review our website(s)?

It almost seems like their own statements about highlighting the answers to important questions and showing them as the snipit in the results proves the case... Maybe we should all be saying thanks?

I have to think they are on a slippery slope too, because they are not entering or researching the facts themselves IOW creating an original work, but rather they are accessing the facts contained within another (hopefully) original work and by doing so are possibly eliminating the need for a visitor to review the original work themselves... I wish they would just stick with being a search engine and direct traffic to websites accordingly, but I guess I'm asking too much.

pdivi

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4066312 posted 12:12 am on Jan 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

I certainly do know of a few advertising-based sites with with millions of very thin "fact" pages that will be under the gun. Those businesses will probably need to re-think why they are online.

I know a guy who compiles original research into data for a niche industry, and he makes his money from advertising...just like any industry journal. So if you search annual sales of widgets in the US, his site is the is the one with the answer. He gathers his data manually, by calling business owners, and my guess is he's not very well compensated for this very time-consuming work. He'll probably feel the sting of G's Rich Snippets. If that happens, Google has gone from pretending to care about businesses that add value and original content to the web, to simply rolling right over them.

zeus

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



 
Msg#: 4066312 posted 12:22 am on Jan 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

i was afraid that would come someday, about banning google bot I do know a few that does so, they let the front page getting spidered and the rest of the site is blocking google bot, in a way a good idea.

On a new site of mine, I also let users choose if they want to ban google to spider there content its pretty popular that function.

Lapizuli

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4066312 posted 12:24 am on Jan 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

I think pdivi's comment about Google being a scraper site captures something quite interesting, something often forgotten. There is no such thing as a pure search engine. There is only a website that functions as a search engine. Google Search is a website. A search engine website. If it becomes an information website, then there is more to consider.

A search engine website that functions as a search engine has one primary mission: matching searchers with websites. An information website that functions as a repository of information has a different primary mission: to match searchers with answers. If it gets those answers from other websites, and the value of those websites IS the answers, then it's scraping intellectual property with value from those websites.

Yes, this has been going on for years. And it's always been a problem. But it's becoming more "highlighted" now.

Another way to think of it is that Google Search is a highway that takes travelers to destinations. It's a nice, smooth road that's well-maintained, and along the way it has signs that advertise products, with the revenue going to help support the highway. Very nice. But if the highway started nabbing hamburgers and soft drinks, cigarettes and magazines, crossword puzzles and movies from the destinations along the highway, and dropping them into the road for the general use of the travelers - in a quantity not only enough to tease, but to satisfy - that would mean the travelers would never need to exit the highway except to go to a new place being advertised. The highway would be using the property of the stores to divert and aggregate its travelers.

It feels ethically wrong.

[edited by: Lapizuli at 12:41 am (utc) on Jan. 24, 2010]

TheMadScientist

WebmasterWorld Senior Member themadscientist us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4066312 posted 12:27 am on Jan 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

@pdivi

I think one of the interesting things about this will be the negative spiral of information available to be gathered... If no one can make money by gathering and displaying information on their site the source of the information will dry up... As in the case of your friend. If no one needs to visit his site for the information, then he gets no advertising, and then he can no longer produce the information for the geeks to consume and redistribute...

Think about YellowPages.Com and other online 'information' directories. If their information is shown in the results rather than their website, then their advertising dries up for a lack of visitors and then IMO so will the source of the information. This does not just effect small sites, but could have a resounding impact on some large sites and businesses.

Should YellowPages.Com rethink why they are online too, or should Google?

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