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Big changes promised shortly at Google
Sgt_Kickaxe




msg:4263015
 7:32 am on Feb 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

Moultano, a purported Google employee, posted the following a few hours ago in response to questions about adsense spammers getting removed from the program, the decision process etc... [news.ycombinator.com...]

Question:
Even so, it may have affected resource decisions. At the organizational level, did the specter of losing tens of millions in ad revenue had something to do with why Google waited so long to start to address the problem?

Moultano answer:
At the organizational level, Google is essentially chaos. In search quality in particular, once you've demonstrated that you can do useful stuff on your own, you're pretty much free to work on whatever you think is important. I don't think there's even a mechanism for shifting priorities like that.

We've been working on this issue for a long time, and made some progress. These efforts started long before the recent spat of news articles. I've personally been working on it for over a year. The central issue is that it's very difficult to make changes that sacrifice "on-topic-ness" for "good-ness" that don't make the results in general worse. You can expect some big changes here very shortly though.


I'd be interested to hear your ideas on what "big changes" might entail. Earlier in the week Moultano also suggested that Google plans to "dramatically" change how they use links in the near future. If he's right on both counts is the website rankings landscape in for another shakedown at Google?

 

Brett_Tabke




msg:4263079
 3:53 pm on Feb 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

From that thread:

Adsense doesn't factor into it... but it should. negatively. truth is, Google has created a superb "signal" that a website is crummy: Adsense. it would be funny if it wasn't so sad. and they can't do anything about it, since it would hurt the bottom line.


Which begs the question, is there any proof that Bing devalues pages with adsense on them?

backdraft7




msg:4263092
 5:00 pm on Feb 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that if a sites primary monetization is Adsense, then they are not delivering much more than scraped, plagiarized or re-hash content in a lame attempt at covering everything with a watery coat of whitewash and surrounding it with (up to 7 on one ezinearticle site) Adsense ads.

A site that offers either tangible or intangible (digital) products or services should rank higher than those content farms. Sadly, in many cases that's not true.

One of the major "ezinearticle" sites run by C.K. (initials) just broke ground last year on a huge office building in my community. Imagine the boat load of cash they bring in daily through Adsense. Funny, I never see those sites appear in Adwords ads, so they are like the day trader who continually shorts a stock and sucks money out of a company, never investing money into that company.

This is what I would call an "unsustainable" business model. Good for Google if they can cut those massive content farms off at the knees.

buckworks




msg:4263095
 5:27 pm on Feb 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

if a sites primary monetization is Adsense, then they are not delivering much more than


That is true in some cases, but it is not true universally.

The mere presence of AdSense should not automatically be construed as a negative signal on its own.

backdraft7




msg:4263102
 6:16 pm on Feb 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

@buck - I should rephrase that to, "when it's the ONLY monetization". A site that has one paragraph of "how to" info surrounded by 3 or more Adsense and affiliate ads is universally poor. Guaranteed!

Reno




msg:4263104
 6:23 pm on Feb 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

In search quality in particular, once you've demonstrated that you can do useful stuff on your own, you're pretty much free to work on whatever you think is important.

Does that mean "work on AND implement"? if so, it explains a LOT about the erratic behavior we see in Google these days. Taken literally, it could mean dozens of employees are throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks. No wonder I feel like it's a futile effort trying to figure it all out. If an employee reaches the point in the hierarchy where they can work on their own, and they can willy-nilly insert that "useful" work into the algo, then there's no rhyme or reason any more, and without a core logic, even following all the rules won't matter, because those rules can change daily on an employee by employee basis. Personally, I find this worrisome, to say the least.

....................

dcheney




msg:4263105
 6:25 pm on Feb 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

There is a large number of mostly smaller hobby type websites that have only AdSense but tons of unique content.

outland88




msg:4263109
 7:13 pm on Feb 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

Google is essentially chaos. In search quality in particular, once you've demonstrated that you can do useful stuff on your own, you're pretty much free to work on whatever you think is important.


Thatís the way I have envisioned Google for years. Many employees just flitting from one project to the next with little thought to the repercussions they wrought. How do you supervise hundreds of eggheads each whom think heís more intelligent than the next?

Google has created a superb "signal" that a website is crummy: Adsense.


That one literally leaves you laughing because it is so true. Any company that can convince people to put Adsense right smack at the top of pages is not interested in the quality of the site nor is the owner. Itís a click scheme. Its like saying the site is junk right off the bat. Plus I would think any company who has convinced people to engage in such a scheme knows youíre dependant on the positioning for revenue. Why would they pay the vast majority, duped into this, much more than pennies?

Which begs the question, is there any proof that Bing devalues pages with adsense on them?


I think the better question is do they have a financial incentive to promote them like Google does? I see no evidence Bing is demoting them though. I do see a public that is becoming vastly aware of a built in bias that Google has in its results just by the enormous volume of Adsense sites. Will the public come to distrust sites that have Adsense on them? In other words the vast majority of the pages are strictly being created for Adsense income. Youíve got to question the messengers eventually.

tedster




msg:4263114
 7:40 pm on Feb 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

When Google first launched Adsense, I heard many early adopters say that the way to higher income was to dumb down the page. It seemed like the better the website, the lower the Adsense clicks. So the idea was make it so that visitors didn't engage and looked for a way out instead. The phrase I heard was: make it "slippery" not "sticky".

Here's another quote from moultano:

We're not blind to the fact that a lot of scummy sites run adsense, but the even scummier ones have already been kicked out of adsense and now use other ad networks or affiliate programs. "Denying spammers revenue" has been at times the explicit goal of projects that launched.

OK - but would content farms actually be treated like pure spam at Google? I doubt that very much. Just look at some of the top sites that Blekko has banned as being content farms: ehow.com, experts-exchange.com and encyclopedia.com. They're all over the Google SERPs.

Much more likely is an approach such as they are trying with scrapers - lower their ranking, but don't kick them out as pure spam.

If Google aims to organize the world's information, then they need to revisit their definition of what "information" really is. This should be an interesting and potentially wild ride.

And as added salt in Google's wound, here is the Demand Media patent application for milking Adsense: Method and System for Ranking of Keywords for Profitability [appft.uspto.gov] Doesn't that beat all - patenting your method for MFA pages!

(Thanks to mattgratt [twitter.com] for tweeting the link to this patent)

indyank




msg:4263244
 1:46 pm on Feb 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

If demand media can become an ad company of their own it will make sense.If Google is going to give them an adsense account for milking their own search engine, it would definitely look wrong to everyone. Hope google doesn't approve this.

But I am also curious to know what kind of holding google will have in Demandmedia.Ideally search engines shouldn't have an holding in companies whose primary objective revolves around this patent.

indyank




msg:4263257
 3:11 pm on Feb 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

Google might not treat content farms as spam.But content farms becoming big corporates with patent (and objectives) that explicitly has the intent to dominate search engines for profits in a "big way" should not be encouraged, as "big money" will be involved in ranking every profitable keyword. The neutrality of search engines will seriously be hampered.I don't think google conceived adsense as a program to serve big content corporates. And it should never be a program encouraging it.

But then it will be wrong to say that adsense is responsible for all spam.There are various other money making programs.If google stops adsense for all publishers then someone else will start a similar program.

The web doesn't exist for just ecommerce sites. People crying foul against adsense have other motives in doing so.There are sites which give away informational content, software, apps etc. to end users for free, while monetizing the traffic through adsense and other money making programs.I don't see anything wrong in this.Doesn't microsoft monetize its Windows messenger though ads? Isn't microsoft a big enough company to give an ad free messenger to people? But still they chose to monetize that too!The social integration stuff into messenger may have other unstated objectives.They might be gathering data from users there too. And this company that believes in extracting the max. from a free software is now saying adsense is the root of the problem.Ridiculous.

Search engines should find ways to find the good content and it should continue to work on it rather than saying that "adsense is the root of problem".

[edited by: indyank at 3:42 pm (utc) on Feb 6, 2011]

MrFewkes




msg:4263264
 3:30 pm on Feb 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

I think people need to look at it from another angle - the original topic that is "Big Changes Promised......"

The thing is - whatever they are - they will benefit google -NOT SITE OWNERS AND NOT THE SEARCHER.

The days that they could PROVE they want to enhance the search experience for the user are LONG GONE. The serps are garbage - utter rubbish and full of adsense. Sites rank which are pure and total adsense driven. Google can NO WAY claim the user experience is in any way important whatsoever - the evidence is in the serps and its clear.

The changes will have been studied to death - scrutinsed and beaten with sticks until they prove more cash is going to be the outcome.

Massively greedy people will have sat round a large table - chewing it over. Looking at ways of change which will squeeze cash out of individuals and companies.

Make no mistake - if you are hunting round for changes and speculating what they could be - I would strongly advise you apply some thought process to "utter and total google greed" - at levels you would not normally think of on a day to day basis.

It will be for them them them - and certainly not you.

It wont be a MASSIVE change - it will be yet another nudge in their favour - they rarely do MASSIVE changes as they dont want to upset too many people in one go. They creep the changes in over years and years.

[edited by: MrFewkes at 3:51 pm (utc) on Feb 6, 2011]

skweb




msg:4263268
 3:49 pm on Feb 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

I HAVE to respond to clarify some sweeping generalizations:

To somehow argue that if a website's primary or only source of monetization is Adsense it is bad website is just being ignorant. There are thousands of excellent websites, including the New York Times, that use AdSense. I run two excellent websites with six figure incomes from only AdSense. They are industry leaders, have 100% original content created by professionals. The reason that we work with Adsense is because of all the ad platforms that we have tried, AdSense has worked the best for us.

Like any other ad platform, I am sure that there are spammers and cheats using AdSense but to somehow argue that Adsense equals bad website is not fair. If the websites were so bad, Google would not have been able to create billions of dollars in revenue from AdSense.

MrFewkes




msg:4263270
 3:54 pm on Feb 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

SKWEB - you are totally missing the point - you cant address sites like YNT - you have to get your head around the fact that for every 1 SINGLE NYT site there is - there are probably a million MFA scum sites.

You are totally and 100% utterly missing the sheer scale of the issue by referring to a few good sites that use Adsense.

MrFewkes




msg:4263273
 3:56 pm on Feb 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

"If the websites were so bad, Google would not have been able to create billions of dollars in revenue from AdSense."

Its BECAUSE they are SO BAD that google makes so much money - people just cant stay on the scum sites - they click on the ads to get away from the drivel spun and re-spun text and duplicated inaccurate information. This is a very widely used technique - recognised by millions of webmasters.

:/

tedster




msg:4263274
 3:59 pm on Feb 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

I think moultano's comments are interesting because they point to a qualitatively new approach to ranking - something not measured before, or at least not measured in this particular way. If it's true, then we'll have a pretty hard time diagnosing the first set of ranking changes that come down the pike from the new approach.

indyank




msg:4263277
 4:04 pm on Feb 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

MrFewkes, Have you tried creating an adsense account recently? You will know what kind of evaluation google does these days, before approving an application, only when you apply.

You may say "there are millions of MFA scum sites" for every NYT site but don't tell me that google ranks only the scums on top.Some people say that they are seeing spam everywhere while i don't see much around me, at-least not on the scale that people are reporting these days.How could that be? The fundamental problem is we all make judgements based on whatever limited we see.

[edited by: indyank at 4:08 pm (utc) on Feb 6, 2011]

MrFewkes




msg:4263278
 4:05 pm on Feb 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

We must all dot our i's and cross our t's.

Spelling?
No adsense? (they wouldnt DARE start dropping MFA sites en-masse)
Grammar?

Those three alone would change the serps in a massive way.

MrFewkes




msg:4263282
 4:15 pm on Feb 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

Indyrank - I appreciate what you are saying - I really do (even though I only use my adsense account for promoting adult and affiliate garbage) - but i have had it about 7 years.

Anyway - sure - some markets I look at are worse than others - I am not tied to 1 market - I trawl the net over many topics. Of course - this is boosted by my own natural surfing unrelated to business.

The serps are full of junk and adsense - I dont need to prove it - I could if I had the time - I just dont. Its adsense junk site after adsense junk site all over the shop - some worse than others though - sure - which is where I appreciate where you are coming from.

On top of that - you get advertisers on adwords spewing out ads which appear to be automatically generated - like "Buy Bad Breath from Amazon" - well not sure that is real but you get the picture.

:)

Look - the internet is a mess of squabbling ads and autogenned trash from a big picture perspective. Anywhere theres $ to be made - its awash with total web dross. I new word - "Web Dross".

If I worked for google - I would clean it up thats for certain.

As a programmer - I KNOW how easy it is.

tedster




msg:4263283
 4:25 pm on Feb 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

I appreciate that you don't like what Google has done recently, MrFewkes - and I agree that there's a lot to criticize. But I don't think you really understand the scale or complexity that is involved.

MrFewkes




msg:4263296
 5:09 pm on Feb 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

Tedster - if theres adsense on a page - position = -10 unless the PR is > 5 should do it.
:)

AlyssaS




msg:4263301
 5:13 pm on Feb 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

There is a large number of mostly smaller hobby type websites that have only AdSense but tons of unique content.


Agree, and what's more they don't make much from Adsense because their content is so good - they are usually thrilled to get a check for $100 a year.

Just because you are monetised by Adsense doesn't mean the site is bad.

A better signal would be looking at the placement of Adsense on the page.

Lots of those hobby sites have Adsense in the sidebar, or a single block at the top. The New York Times, the Guardian and other news sites, put their adsense at the bottom of their article or tucked in the sidebar (usually at the bottom).

The MFA spam sites though put the Adsense within the article. You typically get a couple of paragraphs, then an Adsense block, then another couple of paragraphs, another Adsense block and so on.

Anyone looking can tell an MFA from a normal site merely monetised by Adsense - but is it possible for the bots to evaluate based on placement? I don't know enough to even begin to say how they would go about it. I suppose it depends on how Google breaks up and categorises the page.

AlyssaS




msg:4263305
 5:22 pm on Feb 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

Its BECAUSE they are SO BAD that google makes so much money - people just cant stay on the scum sites - they click on the ads to get away from the drivel spun and re-spun text and duplicated inaccurate information.


Google does NOT make most of it's money from Adsense on content sites. They make most of their money from Adwords on the search results pages themselves - I think it's three-quarters of their income is directly from the search pages. That's because a) they serve up billions of search pages every day (which dwarfs the pages loaded that have adsense on it) and b) most advertisers prefer to advertise directly on the search pages rather than the content network, because it is more targeted and they get a better quality of visitor.

Anyone who has advertised on G knows that the cost per click charged for the search pages is higher than that charged for the content pages (sometimes double).

Then there is the fact that G has an interest in display advertising (pay per impression) through Doubleclick, which draws in mainstream advertisers like Renault and others to do old fashioned brand-awareness advertising, which in the olden days used to go onto newspapers and magazines. Plus G owns an affiliate network which has plenty of big players signed up (Target etc).

The idea that they are mainly dependent on Adsense on content farms is wide off the mark.

Reno




msg:4263306
 5:23 pm on Feb 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

A better signal would be looking at the placement of Adsense on the page.

You took the words right out of my mouth Alyssa. A person can almost always take one look at a page and determine if it was built for Adsense. At the one and only website where I use it, it's tucked at the very bottom of some pages ~ which is why no doubt I only see about $100 a year. But given Skweb's posting above, I may need to move it to a considerably more prominent position ~ I'm obviously missing out.

.................

indyank




msg:4263307
 5:23 pm on Feb 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

I really don't understand why people confuse adsense with page quality.
Why should adsense on a page or its placement determine page quality? It is a javascript, just ignore it and see how good the rest of the content is...

[edited by: indyank at 5:32 pm (utc) on Feb 6, 2011]

indyank




msg:4263308
 5:29 pm on Feb 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

I am hearing a lot about MFA sites and how people readily associate them with poor quality.I really don't understand why people generalize MFA sites as bad!

We all know that it is the rest of the content that is going to determine a page's rank in the SERPs and not the adsense script.If adsense can do the trick, why don't everyone try using it?

AlyssaS




msg:4263309
 5:33 pm on Feb 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

P.S. I'd like to add that because G makes most of it's money from the search pages than the content pages, they have more to lose if people abandon their engine because they think their results are bad, than if they simply zapped the MFAs.

Reno




msg:4263311
 5:41 pm on Feb 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

I am hearing a lot about MFA sites and how people readily associate them with poor quality.

I often find exactly what I'm looking for at a site with articles written to rank well for specific keywords ~ it depends on the quality of each writer. But regarding your quote above, many of us have found that if a page layout has Adsense front & center and the content in a secondary position, then we should probably not expect too much from that site. But as I said, there are certainly exceptions, even though in my own experience the exceptions do not contradict the rule.

.......................

tedster




msg:4263312
 5:55 pm on Feb 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

If Google used anything about Adsense as a negative organic signal, then content farms would quickly move to (or even create) a different ad platform or adjust their Adsense layout. In other words, I think it would be a very temporary fix, and that's not the kind of thing Google usually does.

Somehow, Google needs to find a better heuristic to measure the quality of the content as perceived by people - and the enticing thing about moultano's posts is that he says some programmers feel they've found it.

One of the Google patents does mention the possibility of using ads as a positive metric - the idea being that a top brand would probably not advertise on a crappy site. I never had any reason to think that approach was ever put in place.

AlyssaS




msg:4263314
 6:18 pm on Feb 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

If Google used anything about Adsense as a negative organic signal, then content farms would quickly move to (or even create) a different ad platform or adjust their Adsense layout.


If publishers were forced to adjust their Adsense layout, they'd make less money. A LOT less money, so much so that a lot of players would give up. Significantly less for investors in Demand Media to take fright.

Regarding other types of advertising - display advertising doesn't pay well, in terms of EPM, it's a fraction of what you would get with Adsense - so switching to that only makes sense if you get millions of pageviews but your content is not targeted and does badly with Adsense - news sites are the best example.

Other ad networks - they have been many, many, attempts to set up ad networks to compete with Adwords/Adsense - but the problem most have is they don't have the same depth of advertisers. Google's strength is that pretty much everyone advertises with them on the search pages, so it's easy to persuade enough of these advertisers to advertise on content sites, to serve up relevant ads. If you have a small pool of advertisers, you really struggle to serve up relevant ads.

I once put Chitika on a page - and took it off within 24 hours. They were serving really bad spammy ads about weight loss, that had nothing to do with my content which was technical, and made the page look really rotton. I'm sure lots of other people have had the same experience.

I suppose the problem would be solved if Microsoft allowed content owners to sign up to it's ad network. At the moment though, they only have deals with large players in the USA. Publishers in Europe can't sign up and neither can smaller players.

But here we are getting into competition (or lack of it) amongst advertising platforms, which is a bit off topic.

P.S. I'm pretty sure that Demand Media is one of those large players that IS signed up to Microsoft's ad network. They use yieldmanager to serve up ads, and the point of yield manager is to rotate the ads between Adsense and Microsft ad network.

That might give you a clue as to why Microsoft is silent about Demand Media. They get to make money from traffic funnelled to EHow and the rest by Google.

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