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Matt Cutts and Amit Singhal Share Insider Detail on Panda Update
tedster

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



 
Msg#: 4276279 posted 10:54 pm on Mar 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

Senior member g1smd pointed out this link in another thread - and it's a juicy one. The Panda That Hates Farms [wired.com]

Wired Magazine interviewed both Matt Cutts and Amit Singhal and in the process got some helpful insight into the Farm Update. I note that some of the speculation we've had at WebmasterWorld is confirmed:

Outside quality raters were involved at the beginning
...we used our standard evaluation system that we've developed, where we basically sent out documents to outside testers. Then we asked the raters questions like: "Would you be comfortable giving this site your credit card? Would you be comfortable giving medicine prescribed by this site to your kids?"


Excessive ads were part of the early definition
There was an engineer who came up with a rigorous set of questions, everything from. "Do you consider this site to be authoritative? Would it be okay if this was in a magazine? Does this site have excessive ads?"


The update is algorithmic, not manual
...we actually came up with a classifier to say, okay, IRS or Wikipedia or New York Times is over on this side, and the low-quality sites are over on this side. And you can really see mathematical reasons.

 

marketingmagic

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4276279 posted 11:29 am on Mar 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

Does anyone have any news on when this update will be applied on Google.ca and other countries?

valex



 
Msg#: 4276279 posted 11:37 am on Mar 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

As an advertising company, Google cannot have any interest to drive free traffic to any website who sells advertisement outside the Google ecosystem.

If you use Adsense to monetize your site you will get the left-overs that Google cannot (yet) monetize themselve.

It is only a matter of time until Google stops to distribute traffic for free.


I just want to share some thoughts - this is what's happened here:
One day I receive a 50 AdWords gift card and the next day Google buried my site (together with it's AdSense units) This is the 5th gift card I've received for the last 2 years and their 5th attempt to make me use AdWords - something I will never do! It's pretty simple from my point of view - I can not earn from Google's FREE traffic and I HAVE to pay the guys if I want any visitors at all. Otherwise my site has no place in the top 10 (where it used to be for more than an year without spending a penny for links or adwords). I've got no other explanation why is this happening and how all of a sudden my site drops 180 positions. I agree - it might be not perfect, but if it's been No1 for so long does it mean that Google has been blind the entire time and just now my site has been placed where it's supposed to be all this time?!?! If it's so bad what did I do right to get all the traffic and what did I do to lose it over night? Now a site with just this on it's home page
Welcome to hhu Sites. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging! Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment. Search for: ... is ranking better than me! Well there's no other explanation for me and I can not accept that my serp drop has got anything to do with my site's content, design, code etc. The only reason is not paying Google for my traffic.
Petrogold

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4276279 posted 12:35 pm on Mar 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

Google having DOUBLE satandards, are losing huge sums on the table. They do not want to share their income with you, at all, is a bad intention,they got to change,but it will be too late, by that time, with the entry of new players. Do you agree?

sailorjwd

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4276279 posted 1:03 pm on Mar 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

Search vs Adsense.

My site got hit by about 20% lower visitors.
Years ago I was resistant to Adsense recommendations and only had 1 ad per page. Over the last couple of years I've started to implement their suggestions:

1) put your ads in the visual hot spot - done
2) you don't have enough ads per page - ok now 3-4 ads
3) enable image, animated ads - turned 1/2 ads to image

Now we are going to use the George Castanza philosophy with Adsense suggestions (do the opposite).
1) move ads to just below the visual hotspot.
2) reduce ads to one text block and one adlink
3) use primarily text ads

The adsense income was nice but we need visitors to run a consulting biz!

robert76

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4276279 posted 1:16 pm on Mar 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

The very act of including these criteria may have created an e-commerce friendly algorithm.


From everything I've read and experienced, this algorithm is very un-e-commerce friendly.

indyank

WebmasterWorld Senior Member



 
Msg#: 4276279 posted 2:32 pm on Mar 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

I really don't get this.How can pages go down 4 or 5 or more pages due to this new algo change?

Google say that this isn't a penalty but a new way to rank pages. From their explanation, they have introduced a new document classifier as part of this algo change.

Now, can a document classifier do away all other factors that google had been using all these days?

Google fellows often boast of using several signals to rank a page.Now can a few additional signals introduced by this algo, demote pages so low?

Were you ranking these pages higher all these days based on 1000 or more wrong signals?

And are you saying that you have now found a few new signals to counter those 1000 or more existing signals?

I can understand a fall by a few positions but not a fall by 20 or 3 positions! Google could better call this a penalty rather than claiming it to be an algo change, as it definitely sitewide and not just restricted to a few pages.

browsee



 
Msg#: 4276279 posted 3:17 pm on Mar 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

In a recent interview with Bloomberg, Vivek Wadhwa was not happy with G's algo changes, he said "G could be what Altavista used to be". [bloomberg.com...]

Wake up G...

smithaa02

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4276279 posted 3:51 pm on Mar 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

To Robert76...yeah the farm/panda change is unfriendly to smaller more independent ecommerce sites but the big boys gained hugely from this.

Here are the top ten gainers (according to one website) from Panda Farm:

Amazon.com
eHow.com
NexTag.com
Wikipedia.com
Walmart.com
Target.com
Etsy.com
Answers.Yahoo.com
Sears.com
bestonlinecoupons.com

Which is to me is absolutely revolting... Only wikipedia and answers.yahoo.com are somewhat legit in my opinion for non-e-commerce searches that I and most people do, and both of those sites do have issues.

chrisv1963

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4276279 posted 3:58 pm on Mar 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

In a recent interview with Bloomberg, Vivek Wadhwa was not happy with G's algo changes, he said "G could be what Altavista used to be".


Great interview!
Did you notice how the female reporter said "Bing returns far less spam"? I think that - and certainly with this algo change - we came to a point where Bing is better than Google. Google is losing the battle. It took them one year to prepare an algo change that doesn't work. What really makes me angry is that they are too arrogant to realize how bad this algo change is. Some of the search team engineers didn't test the algo properly before releasing it and are damaging the reputation of the company. I've seen people get fired for less.

smithaa02

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4276279 posted 4:10 pm on Mar 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

You know...it would be nice if google would allow users to choose the type of search they would want to do. So after say the search box there would be a dropdown describing the type of search they were trying to do. Perhaps choices like, "I'm trying to buy something", "I'm trying to discover something new", "I prefer name-brand/government sites", "I prefer independent sites", "I only want cutting edge information", "I prefer sites that don't have ads","I'm not looking to buy something", "I don't want sites that made Chrome's site blocker list", "I want to hear about what people on forums think is important", "I don't mind facebook results"....that type of thing, so users could choose their own algorithm recipe.

Recently had been doing a lot of research on certain authors (not to buy their books per say but to get personal background info on them) and was getting very frustrated as shopping cart site after shopping cart site (with no reviews or descriptive verbiage about the author) would be appearing far ahead of sites that actually had author/book reviews or even the author's own website that was filled with good information. In the good old days things like verbiage and content were actually considered a GOOD thing which create a great incentive for webmasters to provide these for users...yes there were abusers, but the good outweighed the bad.

Really think the financial side of things are starting to slant google's engineers on a subconscious level :(

browsee



 
Msg#: 4276279 posted 4:11 pm on Mar 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

I've changed my default to Bing. I know it is not perfect, but there is a good chance for it to become the next best thing in search.

Buzzillions added a comment in G forums and they explained how bad G results are now. Scroll bottom and check [google.com...]

browsee



 
Msg#: 4276279 posted 4:18 pm on Mar 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

What really makes me angry is that they are too arrogant to realize how bad this algo change is.


Did you see how Matt Cutts responded to Wired about Suite101, pure arrogance.

tedster

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



 
Msg#: 4276279 posted 4:19 pm on Mar 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

I can not accept that my serp drop has got anything to do with my site's content, design, code etc. The only reason is not paying Google for my traffic.

It's very easy to have that reaction when your site loses traffic. Webmasters began "taking it personally" in this way pretty much since the Adwords program was launched.

My experience tells me that it's just not true - the various departments in Google do not coordinate in this way. In fact, they sometimes accidentally work at counter purposes, for instance when the organic search team first tried Ajax results and broke the tracking that Google Analytics depends on.

But more than that, any short term gains that this kind of "muscle" would generate would hurt Google in the long term. Google prefers long term thinking more than most companies do. Organic search is the key to Google's current success, and they don't sacrifice that for short term gain.

My current take is that we have a new algo that IS misfiring in many cases - more than we've seen in any update I can remember. Google apparently knows that, too. They are asking for examples of false positives [webmasterworld.com] - a rather public admission that the new algo has problems.

-----------

I've worked with a lot of websites. There's not one that couldn't use some more work. This is a good time to hone your skills at analysis and tune up your site - even as you hope that "layer 2" of this new algo gives you back your traffic.

pageoneresults

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



 
Msg#: 4276279 posted 4:48 pm on Mar 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

They are asking for examples of false positives - a rather public admission that the new algo has problems.


Wow! Take a gander at some of those sites that people are reporting losses for. Go ahead and drill down to the MFA pages. I visited more than a few, all of them would have failed my initial sniff tests. Some of those folks have definitely stretched the limits of AdSense.

If you've got AdSense units and they make up more than 50% of the area above the fold, you probably got whacked, huh? Some of those examples they are discussing at Google have 75-100% AdSense above the fold. Those are what I call click traps for the average surfer.

I'm reading lots of discussions about this and there is a commonality amongst most of the sites that took a hit. It is the number of ad units and the placement thereof when the page is immediately viewed, you know, that above the fold stuff.

I don't see how many of those folks over there at Google could complain, one look at those sites and you can "visibly" see what the challenges are. Who the heck wants to land on a page that has 75-100% ad units filling the viewport? What are these folks thinking? These aren't Content Farms, they're AdSense Farms.

Note: Google hasn't helped this issue any with their incessant emails about placing more ad units, etc. First they promote it - then they demote it. Go figure...

tedster

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



 
Msg#: 4276279 posted 5:01 pm on Mar 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

Looks like many people cannot be objective about their own site. If I had a site like that (never built one) and it got whacked, I think I'd just say "looks like my free handout days are over." I mean, Google never said they were going to offer a money machine to all takers - even if that is how many people thought of their project.

First things first - if you want a successful web business, then it needs to be an actual business and not just a bunch of HTML and CSS. To quote Bobbie Zimmerman, "You've got to serve somebody."

browsee



 
Msg#: 4276279 posted 5:03 pm on Mar 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

@pageoneresults, you may need to use different pair of eyes. I can see some good sites like EnvironmentalLeader, Buzzillions, UniverseToday etc.

walkman



 
Msg#: 4276279 posted 5:09 pm on Mar 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

Funny, they actually targeted mostly Google ad sites. Image ads almost blend with the site, Adsense gives the site the mfa /spammy look.

Way to go Google!

pageoneresults

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



 
Msg#: 4276279 posted 5:33 pm on Mar 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

You may need to use different pair of eyes.


You know, I could use a new pair these days. ;)

While those three sites appear to be outside the AdSense discussion, there are a variety of "other factors" as to why those three may have lost traffic. One of them is inaccessible, another is a UGC Reviews Site (dime a dozen), and the other has a host of potentially fatal HTML errors along with other "visible" user challenges.

I look at some of those sites and there is "just too much going on" for the user. Things are flashing, stuff is moving, and I just might find the entire experience a bit too much. Content overload.

indyank

WebmasterWorld Senior Member



 
Msg#: 4276279 posted 5:33 pm on Mar 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

But P1R and Tedster, why is one team from google asking people to have more ads on a page while the other is working an algo against it? How can they expect people to know that these two teams never sync up? Are they trying to prove that they are independent teams through this algo change?

It isn't good when one team sends mails and calls up people to increase the no. of ads, while another team wants to filter them out for looking like adsense farms.

Believe me or not, I know a few people who had been called by a team to up the no. of ads, just a few days before this update. They were told that their sites are good and they do a good job.

These innocent folks had just one ad block on the home page and they were asked to increase it to the max.

Within a couple of days the new algo rolled out and they got whacked.

what is going on within google? Is it really cold in google HQ?

[edited by: indyank at 5:50 pm (utc) on Mar 5, 2011]

tedster

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



 
Msg#: 4276279 posted 5:49 pm on Mar 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

I know some webmasters have been confused by the timing of those Adsense emails - but Google is not "a person". It's a big group of persons, collected into several sub-groups.

A lot of misunderstanding is avoided if we stop thinking about any company as "one thing". And in this case, the two teams barely speak to each other and have very different mandates. Adsense wants to sell more ads, and organic search wants end users to like the organic search results.

I don't think the two teams are "trying" to prove they are independent. I think think we're just seeing evidence that, yes, they really are independent teams whose actions are not coordinated by any master plan.

universetoday

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4276279 posted 5:54 pm on Mar 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

I can confirm that my Adsense rep continually pushes me to be more agressive with my advertising. I've got 3 Adsense blocks on my pages, but I'm not using adlinks, and I'm not putting the search box as prominently as they'd like.

That said, I'm sure there are things I can do to clean up the site. Better author bios, research references, etc. I'm going to delete articles which are thin on content, like site announcements, etc.

TheMadScientist

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



 
Msg#: 4276279 posted 6:16 pm on Mar 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

To paraphrase a line from the movie 'Behind Enemy Lines'

Think more; Less Emotion; You'll Rank Longer...

ergophobe

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



 
Msg#: 4276279 posted 6:38 pm on Mar 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

This whole things just makes me laugh.

I wrote an ezinearticles article with a good, appropriate, but very unique title. The title is long, and even individual pieces of it are unique. So I can do multiple completely reasonable searches for real stuff that people might be interested in (health and fitness topic) and have unique results.

It was published just after this update and within two hours of going live, it was in the Google index at #4, below absolute garbage scraper pages that excerpted a about 50-100 words and then hit you with massive AdSense blocks.

Within a couple of days, the spinners had hit. So the title word "Training" becomes "Instruction" or "Teaching". These automated spins often turn the title into absolute gibberish, but by searching on different pieces of the title, I can still get hits that, before my article, would have shown zero results, and catch my article (of course) but also spinners who have changed part of the title only.

So now my page sits at #2-4, surrounded by 40-100 results of spun and scraped MFA sites.

Furthermore, mixed in with the spam sites are Twitter threads which use URL shorteners and send you to the spun, scraped spam on their site. So even sites which themselves can't rank are able to get themselves on page 1 of the SERPs for their Twitter feed and count on a double click through.

So overall, I find this idea that somehow Google has done anything about spammers, scrapers, content farms or any other form of low-quality content is just laughable.

What they have done, is create a PR event designed to make people believe that the SERPS have improved.

The problem with this, is the one Matt Cutts pointed out originally: they have raised expectations. I used to expect anything I wrote to be stolen and scraped and to have people willing to comment spam outrank me. Now, I do not expect it and it suddenly bothers me a LOT more.

So for me the effect of this has been to LOWER my OPINION of the Google results, even if it has made a modest improvement in the results themselves.

dickbaker

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4276279 posted 6:49 pm on Mar 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

To quote Bobbie Zimmerman, "You've got to serve somebody."


Bob Dylan builds websites? ;)

I don't run Adsense on my site, but I do run a banner ad on top and one on the right side of most pages. The content is still visible, and I'm not certain that the ads themselves are causing the demotion of the site, but they could be a factor.

In looking carefully at all of the pages, it's obvious that the product pages contain content that's very, very similar to what the manufacturers have or did have on their sites. If you're going to provide specifications for a product, it's generally a good idea to use the same specifications that the manufacturer does. Nobody wants a widget described as 12" long when it's really 25".

I generally provide more information about a particular product than do the ecommerce sites that sell them, even though I'm starting with manufacturer info to write the content. I'm pre-selling these products for the retailers who advertise on my site. So, I'm not really certain what to do with that content.

The product pages were popular with Google and with users, as I see a lot of people on discussion forums linking to the pages when they talk about something they want to buy or have bought.

Now Google (I think) is considering these to be duplicate content, and I'm not sure what to do about that. I could buy one of each of the ~2000 products featured at hundreds of dollars each and do in-depth reviews, I suppose, but the ROI wouldn't be there.

tedster

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



 
Msg#: 4276279 posted 7:11 pm on Mar 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

So overall, I find this idea that somehow Google has done anything about spammers, scrapers, content farms or any other form of low-quality content is just laughable.

It's certainly not working well... so far. I think the main point is that they built a new part for their machine - and they will continue to develop it and let it grow. It may have been rushed into production, or maybe it needs to get plugged in live in order to have the machine start learning for real.

So rather than a failure or a mere PR stunt, I think the Panda Farm is more like a toddler taking its first steps. Just wait until it hits the "terrible twos" ;)

Freedom

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4276279 posted 7:19 pm on Mar 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

Does anyone think a correction of this FUBAR is coming? Or is this the new normal.

vordmeister

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4276279 posted 7:21 pm on Mar 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

One thing that has been mentioned before is it feels like a penalty. Looks like the algo is de-favouring sites rather than working out what it really wants to see in the serps and favouring those sites. I could be wrong. They might just really like everything ehow has to say.

It's been happening a while. I'm on a .co.uk which worked perfectly well in google.com when I launched, but in 2009 they decided the content couldn't possibly be interesting to anyone in the USA so they ranked it down -20. Their loss and their US visitors' loss. Not my loss as they bumped me up in the UK at the same time.

It feels to me that sites are just being demoted with all these algo changes and the serps are being filled with whatever is left. The idea presumably being to knock the remaining sites they don't like with a later update.

These guys have PhDs so I'm not going to be able to argue with them on an intellectual level. I would note that a lot of people I've met with PhDs have had no common sense at all.

tedster

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



 
Msg#: 4276279 posted 7:29 pm on Mar 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

Does anyone think a correction of this FUBAR is coming? Or is this the new normal.

Yep, it's coming. Google called it "a new layer" [webmasterworld.com...] That's why they asked for input about good sites incorrectly affected - to build an intial training set for their machine to learn from.

...it feels like a penalty. Looks like the algo is de-favouring sites rather than working out what it really wants to see in the serps and favouring those sites.

It's supposed to be working both ways, but I agree that the de-favouring is more visible - or maybe just getting more buzz. The big losers dropped dramatically, but the winners grew by a lot less - and from what I can see the wins are spread across a lot more sites, too.

TheMadScientist

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



 
Msg#: 4276279 posted 7:30 pm on Mar 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

It feels to me that sites are just being demoted with all these algo changes and the serps are being filled with whatever is left.

Rotate 'em through the top?

A little time in the spotlight on Google probably sends quite a few 'relative user behavior' signals to the toddler tedster keeps posting about...

Freedom

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4276279 posted 7:46 pm on Mar 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

That's why they asked for input about good sites incorrectly affected - to build an intial training set for their machine to learn from.


Well, I feel like my content was unfairly punished and I use annotated bibliographies with minimum 10 to to maximum 70 sources per article. That's one thing they should look at, whether or not the page has a bibliography with outbound, dofollow links.

Just my opinion that nobody asked for. :-)

c41lum

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4276279 posted 7:52 pm on Mar 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

Hi Everyone, has anyone on here noticed the following scenario for news publishers.

1st. Dropped from Google News.
2nd. Wiped out by the farmer update.

If this scenario is happening in the US it might help other countries where the 'farmer' update hasn't happened yet to spot a pattern and make changes before it hits.

I know lots of sites were dropped in November,December and January from Google News. It would be interesting to find out if these same sites have been smashed by this latest update.

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