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Feel Like a Panda Pinata - playing "guess what google is doing"
coachm




msg:4333097
 2:54 pm on Jun 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

Since I've put in more than 15 years building my websites for my business, I'm still hesitant to pack it all in, which is what I'd like to do.

What gets me is the degree to which I now HAVE to write for Google, when all along, I've been writing for visitors. When most of my longer articles receive NO referrals from google and the shorter, or even ezinearticles does better (there's only a few from there from the early days, what else is there but to guess, try, guess.

I notice Google announced a platform on which to host mobile sites. Cool, I thought, although my sites function pretty well in mobile devices. Then, Um. If I duplicate my site there for mobile, then I'll have duplicates of all my sites.

Or will I?

Another. My books are published and sold through various ways. So, it makes sense, that since I get royalties from my books, that I'd link to amazon, where they are sold. But wait. Am I being penalized because I have two links that look like affiliate links to my OWN books?

So how AM I supposed to link to my books in a way that makes it most convenient for people to buy?

No idea.

I don't see how anyone can run a business over time by trying to "guess" what's supposed to be done. I'm afraid that while Google may really want to provide the best search results, I say again that there is a point where the lack of information is going to drive businesses elsewhere.

Got a call last week from adwords rep soliciting, and I put them off due to time. Today I realized I won't give them a penny to add another guessing game from Google.

I'll go to Facebook before I use adwords again.

Closing down another site today. Decided to completely suspend new web content development on all sites. Content may be king but if nobody reads it who IS the court jester.

 

walkman




msg:4337238
 11:30 pm on Jul 8, 2011 (gmt 0)

I think that, by definition, a brand should rank high for keywords related to that brand. Why should it be any other way?


Who said otherwise? Obviously they should rank #1 for their brand name or a search that mentions them (other than when people need a review or something similar)

Did I suggest otherwise? Sorry if I did, it wasn't my intention.

Atomic




msg:4337253
 12:27 am on Jul 9, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'm not talking about their brand name.

netmeg




msg:4337266
 1:22 am on Jul 9, 2011 (gmt 0)

Of course brands moved up; they should. That's only one of many good reasons to become an authority and brand in your niche.

But if you're asking me if only BIG brands (amazon, etc) moved up, then from what I see, over the 270 or so sites I have control over, I will say abso-freakin-lutely not. My own sites are beating out main stream media and state-sponsored travel sites. I have clients competing with the likes of Amazon and Staples, and beating them for those products, because they provide a better experience. One of my clients with a keyword-rich domain and five years of experience is outranking Lowes and Home Depot in an *extremely* competitive (and dirty) niche, with just a little eight page Zen Cart ecommerce site. Because he established himself as the authority and built his brand. At Home Depot, the products are just half a dozen out of however million products Home Depot sells, but my client can tell you which products you need, exactly how to use them, and recommend others he doesn't even carry if they'll do the job right. And as much as we are able, we try to reflect that on his site. I assume it's working, because it's been ridiculously successful since we put it up in 2005 or so. And it's sailed through every algo change while competitors (and fake competitors - he has a lot of those) drop off to page 9.

Do they compete with these big stores on everything they sell? No. Do they compete with them on everything the big stores sell? No again. But they were able to carve out enough space to dominate and make a good living and even expand in the past year. There will always be some tire kickers who go to Amazon first (heck, I'm one myself) but we're not looking for that trade in the first place and in the second place, a lot of them end up coming to us anyway because they find they bought the wrong thing or it doesn't work like they thought it would or whatever. What they needed, Amazon couldn't provide.

You don't have to have a huge operation and a big name and big budget like Amazon to become a brand, but you do have to work your ass off to stand apart from all the others, do things nobody else is doing, do things better than anyone else, TELL people you're doing them, and make sure they send their friends and relatives to you as well.

If you can do all that, then you're a brand. Even if you're one person with a two page website.

netmeg




msg:4337268
 1:34 am on Jul 9, 2011 (gmt 0)

One thing I try too look for now: how many top spot organic sites also have adword ads at the same time. Especially for big money words. Just out of curiosity of course.


FWIW I run AdWords for all the most successful sites as well (client sites, not my own) I run ads on everything we are already #1 for in organics - competitive keywords and the company name. It's dirt cheap and I want as much real estate on the page as I can get. And the ads usually outrank the big stores too - because they're using DKI and running some stock ad that nine times out of ten doesn't even make sense, while our ads and our titles and our snippets are all very carefully crafted to show that WE know what we're talking about, and WE are the brand to beat.

Just to satisfy your curiosity, of course.

Atomic




msg:4337273
 2:08 am on Jul 9, 2011 (gmt 0)

If you can do all that, then you're a brand. Even if you're one person with a two page website.

Yup, you nailed it. Thanks for the great explanation.

courier




msg:4337382
 2:03 pm on Jul 9, 2011 (gmt 0)

Is Google guilty of sabotage by running Panda, if this is indeed 'sabotage' through the back door is sabotage legal?

wikipedia definition of Sabotage: Sabotage is a deliberate action aimed at weakening another entity through subversion, obstruction, disruption, or destruction. In a workplace setting, sabotage is the conscious withdrawal of efficiency generally directed at causing some change in workplace conditions. One who engages in sabotage is a saboteur. As a rule, saboteurs try to conceal their identities because of the consequences of their actions. For example, whereas an environmental pressure group might be happy to be identified with an act of sabotage, it would not want the individual identities of the perpetrators known.

MrSavage




msg:4337396
 3:12 pm on Jul 9, 2011 (gmt 0)

One side says this is a quibble about free or "organic" traffic and the people shouldn't have relied on it or expected it to last. The interesting part if that the source of the decline also has a company that can get you back that traffic through their ads program.

Additionally, who is to say the brands don't adjust what they do, since it's a lot easier for them, and simply make a shift and then squash your niche? Ah right, no worries there are ads you can use for traffic. Got it.

And that makes all this big brands thing make sense. The world is whole now. It appears to me at this point, that those evening out factors are essentially gone when it comes to competing with the brands. If you have your niche today that's great! There is some great news and optimism. But I'm more realistic to think if you're making money on what you're doing, it's the big brand business to find those areas and take them over. With Google search help in that regard, I'd have a 5 years life span on my "niche". If you can't be smart to rank, you need giant to rank.

Lastly there is the assumption that what is being done in Google search is accurate and it's correct. There is the assumption that whatever turmoil there exists in your organic traffic, THAT IT'S YOUR FAULT. You MUST have something wrong in what you're doing. It HAS TO BE your own doing and certainly not the doing of Google Panda to explain the drying up of your organic traffic.

Believe what you want to believe.

Atomic




msg:4337415
 4:18 pm on Jul 9, 2011 (gmt 0)

Believe what you want to believe.

I wish I had the inclination to beat up your straw man.

tedster




msg:4337421
 4:43 pm on Jul 9, 2011 (gmt 0)

Mr. Savage - the question isn't one of "fault" but it is one of "responsibility". I'm not buying your ideas because they take away a person's own responsibility - our "ability to respond" - and that leaves us feeling like a poor, helpless victim. That's never been a good place for me.

netmeg




msg:4337436
 6:10 pm on Jul 9, 2011 (gmt 0)

Not to mention a grave disincentive to working your butt off and achieving your brand, or becoming a big company, or even providing a search product that people really like. People don't work for free, or do these things for the good of man. If they build a better mouse trap, they want to be rewarded for it, not penalized.

tedster




msg:4337460
 7:25 pm on Jul 9, 2011 (gmt 0)

"Trying to guess what Google is doing" reads the title. Hmmmm. That definitely is a tough job.

There are some very "googley" qualities that don't belong to most other companies, and if we don't keep these in mind, we'll miss the boat.

1. Google is willing to be extremely audacious - to reach far out there just to see what's possible.

2. Google doesn't assume that any traditional way is "the way things must be." They will regularly challenge anything at all - including business process, corporate structures, whatever.

3. Google is willing to make decisions for long-term pursuit of their mission, even if that means a short term financial set-back. The board and then stockholders have been on notice about this mind-set from the beginning. This is also an area where most enterprises have an extreme aversion, so we're not used to seeing it in action.

4. Google is extremely devoted to two principles: speed and scale. New stuff launches long before other companies would be willing to call it a beta. Google prefers to launch fast, then learn and iterate. I think this need for speed sometime goes beyond the "agile development" approach - such as when the first AJAX search results broke analytics.

Panda shows each of the above characteristics, in my mind. We won't understand what they're doing if we forget these qualities.

walkman




msg:4337467
 7:37 pm on Jul 9, 2011 (gmt 0)

Just to satisfy your curiosity, of course.

Satisfied, or as much as another poster can satisfy it.

Anyway, Google found it wise this week to give the "mydomain name" search to a mega-mega-corp that spends close to $2 billion a year in ads and is around a Fortune 50 company. Searching the name on Google brings at least 4 adwords advertising their divisions. What ranks for this very generic and wide ranging keyword? One of their sub-divisions that happened to have a section with 4 links and around 4-5 sentences. Population that is best served by seeing their page #1 at any one time when looking for 'mydomain name'? Probably well under 1%, since it's very, very, very specific. Normal people would search them by name if need be. It's like ranking them for 'widgets' when all they have is GE refrigerator widgets. (It's neither GE, nor refrigerators, just used them an example)

No one links to them with 'mydomain name' nor seek them with 'mydomain name,' nor do the have 'mydomain name' beyond their very limited niche yet Google in their infinite wisdom found them more relevant to the average user. Had they given it to a competitor of mine I could have absolutely understood, since users would find them just as or even more useful, but this makes zero sense. Well, it makes lots of sense, but it shouldn't play a role in organic search.

To sum it up, Google can do a lot of things since they control the algo, but they aren't suspending my common sense to see what's going on. Or give it a low Panda score.

Maybe I need to read Amit's steps for success again or something. Uh, huh.

nomis5




msg:4337472
 8:13 pm on Jul 9, 2011 (gmt 0)

Just to register a positive, my Adsense income is up 45% on a day by day comparison with last year. That's on an average 20k impressions a day site which is 5 years old.

It's a cookery site and on some keywords beats the bbc (well into recipes), Delia, Jamie Oliver and others. Why? I have little idea other than I distinguish the site with pictures and videos which prove, in a very, very amateur fashion, that the recipes were actually cooked by a real person.

That's the distinguishing feature but how Google recognises it is a mystery for me.

I do believe this though, there are far too many swish and ultra-professional sites out there which make mine look a joke. But the public is no fool, they recognise reality as opposed to mega money-backed hocum pocum.

netmeg




msg:4337485
 8:32 pm on Jul 9, 2011 (gmt 0)

I think there is definitely something to be said for not coming off as *too* polished. I don't mean necessarily 1995 design principles, but at least looking human instead of machine generated. Fortunately my design skills are limited enough that this has not been a problem for me (ork ork)

MrSavage




msg:4337507
 9:12 pm on Jul 9, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'm not advocating giving up or that things is life are free. Persistence and hard work are ultimately what pay off. Unlike a lot of people I have experience at playing the game of trying to guess what you've done wrong in hopes of lifting a penalty or two. So if I sound a bit negative about Panda and if you've been effected by it, so be it. What I am asking though, is Panda syndrome a "penalty" or is it a "sentence". Both are not the same. As I learn that indeed what I'm facing is a "penalty" which can be corrected and result in reinstatement then fine. I'll be one happy camper. But if this is a sentence, whereby it's a result of Google's tastes changing, then I would say throw in the towel or hopes for getting back. If the criteria is that you need to be a university gradulate now to rank well and up until now you could be an Elementary student who had pensmanship talent to compete, then certainly it would be foolish to think hard work or persistence would pay off. I call that a waste of time quite frankly. So if my fate (and others) is based on the snap of Google's fingers shame on me for choosing my area of interest. Apparently it's where the giants want to be also. So please grab some humility and realize that your good fortune may also be part luck.

Perhaps we need to evaluate whether this is simply a penalty or if Panda is saying sorry buddy, for your niche, you aren't anywhere as beautiful as you once were. Sure, you can rant about what you were before, but it's in the eye of the beholder. If Panda is a penalty situation, then lets talk solutions. If it's a sentence or a "new way" then it's time to establish that if it's indeed true.

If there are doubters, I would suggest that it's possible that my niche or are of interest is this apparent 12% or whatever of searches that Panda affects. Perhaps that's the case.

Swanson




msg:4337539
 11:47 pm on Jul 9, 2011 (gmt 0)

I think the problem is that Google is now so complex that you can't go "looking for a solution" in the way we used to try to do.

If you have been hit by Panda in a way that fundamentally affects your life, income etc. then you are going to have to come up with a new strategy. Harsh facts.

I don't think it is possible to de-construct the holy grail of fixes that will get a site out of the problem, and comparing your site to other sites that haven't been affected can also be misleading due to the diverse nature of backlinks and onsite linking, content etc.

The main point for me is that you need to create a brand and offer something good for people to come back to you and be loyal.

If you are basing your online model on traffic from Google then you have to create multiple sites, have good content and accept that for some reason sometimes you just aren't going to make it.

There is more to the internet than getting traffic from Google - social media can make up for your loss in Google traffic but you have to embrace it and work out how you can make it work for you, just like you learned SEO.

Ideally a few years ago people should have been looking at a "life without Google" and building loyal users, email subscribers, facebook fans and engaging in real communication with your users. But hindsight is a great thing.

But you have to do it now.

Swanson




msg:4337540
 11:55 pm on Jul 9, 2011 (gmt 0)

I just wanted to add - a lot of people have relied on Google for their whole business for years and then now this update has pushed them over the edge.

There is a simple rule in business about relying on one supplier - if more than 50% of your business comes from that supplier then you are vulnerable.

Just look at it the other way - what would happen if Google had gone bankrupt or something similar and your traffic disappeared for that reason.

If your business relied on free organic traffic from Google then it is just not viable. There are now so many ways to get traffic and users and engage with your customers and then remarket to them that you need to start thinking like a marketer and not an SEO. But that is hard as it is a different discipline. But you need to do it.

Forbin001




msg:4337550
 2:57 am on Jul 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

The last Panda update was on June 16th. There will probably be another update in the next 7 days.

This has been a public service announcement....thank you. :D

tangor




msg:4337561
 4:29 am on Jul 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

guess what Google is doing


Making money. Their way. The infrastructure built by providing serps and free traffic, and a method by which webmasters would make some dough, is now paying off when the double down comes along. There is no mystery, kiddies. Google is in it for the money.

Think Madison Avenue (1950s-1990s) and what all that means. That's where we AS ADVERTISERS... and every webmaster is an advertiser even if you aren't using Google's products because your listing in the SERPS is your ADVERTISING. Don't like "advertisers" as a nom de plume? Company. Place. Thing... take your pick. To be listed in the Great Yellow Pages in the Sky. Google has gradually changed from White Pages (everyone is listed no matter what) to a more Yellow Pages where you're listed MORE PROMINENTLY if you pay a "small fee".

No "guessing" required. It has been headed that way since day one. The question NOW is how does "one" (meaning each website) deal with the new reality? And what kind of budget can be thrown against the wall to get a favorable SERP listing...

whatson




msg:4337795
 2:03 am on Jul 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

pay a "small fee"


What small fee? Google traffic is still as free as it ever was. The new cost is that you have to place more of the income you receive from Google back into the site and spend more time on it making it the site they want.

On the other hand, I still see old, dated, 90s looking sites with content that is years old, only 10-50 pages still ranking.

What is it we have done?

I don't think it is an arbitrary scale either, like PR, it seems you are either Panda'd or not Panda's, nothing in-between.

Sgt_Kickaxe




msg:4337826
 2:33 am on Jul 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

Has anyone noticed how INCREDIBLY hard it is for a new site to rank unless they have some gimmick that draws mass attention ? Good content is just NOT enough anymore.

tangor




msg:4337827
 3:02 am on Jul 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

What small fee? Google traffic is still as free as it ever was. The new cost is that you have to place more of the income you receive from Google back into the site and spend more time on it making it the site they want.

Case rested. As stated above, it is NOT FREE (never was)...

lucy24




msg:4337831
 3:16 am on Jul 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

My own sites are beating out main stream media and state-sponsored travel sites. I have clients competing with the likes of Amazon and Staples, and beating them for those products, because they provide a better experience. One of my clients with a keyword-rich domain and five years of experience is outranking Lowes and Home Depot in an *extremely* competitive (and dirty) niche, with just a little eight page Zen Cart ecommerce site. Because he established himself as the authority and built his brand. At Home Depot, the products are just half a dozen out of however million products Home Depot sells, but my client can tell you which products you need, exactly how to use them, and recommend others he doesn't even carry if they'll do the job right. And as much as we are able, we try to reflect that on his site.

But, but, but... But that's success in real life. Like going to the small local store instead of the big box. The question is, how does g### know that the boutique sites are better than the Big Name sites?

whatson




msg:4337849
 3:58 am on Jul 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

From backward links. If home depot has a million pages for a million products, then one site selling a dozen of these products can build and generate more links than one of the home depot pages. This is very off topic.

I also remove my previous statement about panda not being arbitrary. I have given that some more thought, and think that maybe it is, as some sites were affected a lot more severely than others.

netmeg




msg:4338028
 5:00 pm on Jul 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

From backward links.


From forward links too, I believe. One thing I noticed early about MSM sites, they hate like hell linking out to anything that's not one of their own web properties. Even when they get the info from me and are forced to attribute it to my site, they're far more likely to just publish the URL and not make it clickable. Got to keep those eyeballs on page for any potential ad click. Whereas, I link out like a mofo. And when I link out, I get links back, nice juicy ones. Win win.

Maybe some semantics play into it as well. I tend to write like I speak, for better or worse. Say what you will about me, but I do not come across as machine generated or 'rote' - even when I'm NOT ranting with expletives.

(Having a greater depth of content probably helps too. My ponds are all pretty tiny, but I am definitely the biggest fish in them.)

danny




msg:4338058
 6:04 pm on Jul 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

I've decided to keep on doing what I've always done, which is to write for my readers and for my own sense of what is right, optimise my web sites for usability and accessibility, and not worry about search engines.

If Google doesn't de-penalise my web site, then maybe I'll rethink how much work I put into writing book reviews. Referrals from google.com/search are down 90% from this time last year, and there's less incentive to put work into something vastly fewer people will ever read.

Curiously, only my book reviews are penalised, while my travelogues are doing just fine (or just as well as they ever did). I occasionally wondered about the latter, but never thought there was any risk of my reviews not being indexed properly by Google.

walkman




msg:4338068
 6:38 pm on Jul 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

If Google doesn't de-penalise my web site, then maybe I'll rethink how much work I put into writing book reviews. Referrals from google.com/search are down 90% from this time last year, and there's less incentive to put work into something vastly fewer people will ever read.
I had to look your profile to see that you're Danny the book review guy. So you kept losing, I think it was 70% last time...many here kept losing and losing with Panda. The good news, if you want to call it that, is that at some point you realize it isn't about quality or anything that depends on you, contrary to Google's public claims.

Best of luck,

Atomic




msg:4338075
 6:56 pm on Jul 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

it isn't about quality or anything that depends on you, contrary to Google's public claims.

Can you offer any proof for this claim? Call me old fashioned but I need some if I'm going to believe an assertion of that magnitude.

walkman




msg:4338080
 7:06 pm on Jul 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

it isn't about quality or anything that depends on you, contrary to Google's public claims.
Can you offer any proof for this claim? Call me old fashioned but I need some if I'm going to believe an assertion of that magnitude.

Don't believe it. Site owners that have improved their sites know if their sites are getting progressively worse, at least when compared to the competition or not. Google can call /classify anything high or low quality, doesn't mean it is so.

Atomic




msg:4338093
 7:32 pm on Jul 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

Site owners that have improved their sites know if their sites are getting progressively worse, at least when compared to the competition or not.

I've seen a lot of these "improvements" and from where I'm sitting it looks like people rearranging the deck chairs on the Tittanic. I don't think many site owners are being honest with themselves or don't see their sites for what they are.

I think Google is practicing tough love. They're forcing sites to grow up or get out. It will take substantial, actual improvement to regain lost traffic. It won't come back because the wizard behind the curtain throws a switch. At least I hope not because I like what I'm seeing. Google's mistake was not doing it sooner. It wouldn't have been as painful had they acted sooner.

Reno




msg:4338101
 7:49 pm on Jul 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

Google's mistake was not doing it sooner. It wouldn't have been as painful had they acted sooner.

Google's mistake was not announcing 6 to 9 months in advance of the first Panda release that a substantial change would be coming within the year; that the change could very possibly lower website traffic by significant amounts for people depending on Google SERPs; and that the fundamental criteria for the change would be "quality".

Finally, to make it abundantly clear what they intended, they should have provided a clear and unambiguous definition of "quality" so everyone would know the rules that Google is now playing by.

Instead, as walkman correctly pointed out, Google continued with their stupid FUD policy which allows them to "call /classify anything high or low quality". Given the impact that Google has on the income for tens of thousands of households, this level of communication was not asking too much ~ the fact that they refused to provide any advanced headsup or quality definition guidelines speaks volumes.

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

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