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Picking the Lock of Google’s Search - NYT
walkman



 
Msg#: 4337612 posted 8:16 pm on Jul 9, 2011 (gmt 0)

[nytimes.com...]

The Haggler appreciates the challenge that Google faces. Thousands of people spend all their workdays devising novel ways to fool the world’s most popular search engine. Fighting this tech-savvy horde can’t be easy.

Yet if the example of locksmiths is any indication, the horde has the upper hand in certain service sectors, and it all but owns Google Places. Though Google is apparently already battling back. On Thursday, a search of “emergency locksmith Seattle” yielded only one Google Places result, not seven, but maybe more tinkering is needed. The site that landed on this prized perch appeared to be a lead gen operation — it’s 24/7 Emergency Locksmith, which lists its address at a U.P.S. store. The woman who answered the phone at 24/7 would say nothing about the company, or even where she was located.


Less Google Places in search is not a bad thing but if the changed it because NYT wrote about it, it's not a good thing. (companies are usually contacted for comments days before the story is published)

Tried it for my town and got only 3 Google Places, but after 2 organic search results. Hmmm....

 

Brett_Tabke

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



 
Msg#: 4337612 posted 12:06 pm on Jul 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

Wow - who ticked off the NY Times? This is not a 'local search' story - it is a story of NYT's attack on Google and SEO.

Of course - you may have to log in to see that story because some SEO advised them it was ok to trick users.

netmeg

WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4337612 posted 1:12 pm on Jul 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

Is it the same reporter for each one? Name looked familiar.

jbinbpt

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4337612 posted 1:37 pm on Jul 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

Found one running ads for "Locksmith SEO Marketing"

pageoneresults

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



 
Msg#: 4337612 posted 2:53 pm on Jul 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

I kind of like the idea of what the NYT are doing. It brings exposure to stuff that folks have been complaining about for years. And, in some instances, action is taken.

This is not a 'local search' story - it is a story of NYT's attack on Google and SEO.


From my perspective, this is all about Local Search.

Is it the same reporter for each one? Name looked familiar.


Same fella, David Segal.

[Topics.NYTimes.com...]

I'm looking forward to more exciting Google stories from the NYT.

bw100

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4337612 posted 3:11 pm on Jul 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

@ pageoneresults
If his list of articles for the NYT is any indication, his journalistic style sits well with the Times' readers and the Times' editorial staff.

@netmeg
his name rang a bell with me, too.
you might also remember him for a similarly-themed Google-related piece he wrote about florists and mother's day flowers in May 2011
[nytimes.com ]

or the one about JC Penney's ranking in search results in February 2011
[nytimes.com ]

badbadmonkey

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4337612 posted 3:48 pm on Jul 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

Aren't locksmiths accredited or associated? Seems like the obvious solution would be for Google to give weight to listings in a trusted directory.

linkbuildr



 
Msg#: 4337612 posted 4:33 pm on Jul 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

Call me paranoid, but I find it a little fishy that Digital Due Diligence is yet again mentioned and linked in the article.

Sgt_Kickaxe

WebmasterWorld Senior Member sgt_kickaxe us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time



 
Msg#: 4337612 posted 5:54 pm on Jul 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

When search gets it wrong

I just did a search for 'Seattle Locksmith' and all I see is ADS + PLACES above the fold with a map on the side and more ads under that. If that's what I wanted I would have picked up the yellow pages or gone to the yellow pages website. What I wanted to see was WEBSITES about Seattle locksmiths, not anything else Google showed me.

Google isn't the only search engine guilty of #*$!ty results however, all of them seem to think they need to spice up their results with features, like places etc, but in reality they just need to serve the spaghetti and let the user apply those spices on an OPTIONAL basis.

It's getting worse, not better.

[edited by: Sgt_Kickaxe at 6:00 pm (utc) on Jul 10, 2011]

martinibuster

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



 
Msg#: 4337612 posted 6:00 pm on Jul 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

I had noticed this a few months ago in relation to another niche, after some spammers had tried to spam one of my sites and I decided to poke around to see what they were up to. It was non-US spammers spamming on behalf of a US lead gen site targeting selected US cities.

I checked the addresses for several cities they claimed an office at and discovered via Google Maps Street View that the office space usually belonged to another business and in one case belonged to a mail drop store. I just rechecked this and it appears that this issue has been fixed. They're easy to identify so it's no surprise.

Unfortunately the one spammer I had scrutinized has spammed their way into the normal SERPs. So perhaps the Google Places team might want to share their data with Matt's team to shake out the spammers who migrated to the regular SERPs.

Lead gen sites dominate Google results for locksmiths in many cities nationwide, and in more than a few towns. And it's not just locksmiths. Other service industries, like roofing and carpeting, have a similar problem...

...the horde has the upper hand in certain service sectors, and it all but owns Google Places.

[edited by: martinibuster at 6:09 pm (utc) on Jul 10, 2011]

Sgt_Kickaxe

WebmasterWorld Senior Member sgt_kickaxe us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time



 
Msg#: 4337612 posted 6:03 pm on Jul 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

if (intended results != websites) header redirect to Google, the new yellow pages.

I really despise places, I want to find WEBSITES from Google.

UPDATE - it looks like the NY Times article linked to in the OP now ranks #10 for the term 'Seattle Locksmith' on Google.com.

It would seem that social signals are cranked up to 11 out of 10 since the NY Times are most assuredly not Seattle locksmiths but everyone is talking about the article right now.

On the bright side, since not even ONE website can be found above the fold (all places and ads) the article won't be found by regular searchers.

[edited by: Sgt_Kickaxe at 6:48 pm (utc) on Jul 10, 2011]

CainIV

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4337612 posted 7:18 pm on Jul 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

When search gets it wrong

I just did a search for 'Seattle Locksmith' and all I see is ADS + PLACES above the fold with a map on the side


If the business model is generating earnings, some might point out that this is "getting it right"

:)

Planet13

WebmasterWorld Senior Member planet13 us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4337612 posted 8:40 pm on Jul 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

In particular, lead gen sites are good at spreading their name, address and phone number — NAP, as it’s called in the search business — around the Web, which is apparently a superb way to curry favor with Google Places.


Interesting (and actionable), if true.

I would imagine if google places continues to be so vulnerable, then service recommendation sites like angies list might gain in popularity?

nomis5

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4337612 posted 8:41 pm on Jul 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'm not sure I understand all that is going on here. But has anyone knowledgeable compared the Google SERPS results with those of Bing for this query? Is Bing guilty as well or is it just Google?

Planet13

WebmasterWorld Senior Member planet13 us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4337612 posted 9:14 pm on Jul 10, 2011 (gmt 0)

But has anyone knowledgeable compared the Google SERPS results with those of Bing for this query?


I haven't, but I think they are referencing google Places specifically, as opposed to the main SERPs area of google.

At least that is my understanding.

J_RaD

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4337612 posted 11:41 pm on Jul 10, 2011 (gmt 0)


On the bright side, since not even ONE website can be found above the fold (all places and ads)


oh yea goog is really locking down local big time, its goog maps, goog ads, goog place pages. they are trying to make websites useless. You play in their pool or you are high and dry.

walkman



 
Msg#: 4337612 posted 12:18 am on Jul 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

I really despise places, I want to find WEBSITES from Google.
It's getting worse, not better.

oh yea goog is really locking down local big time, its goog maps, goog ads, goog place pages. they are trying to make websites useless. You play in their pool or you are high and dry.

Soon enough most people will see behind the Google PR and notice what this all is about. The average website makes no money for Google or nowhere near enough compare to places, brands that advertise a certain % back on Google etc. To judge if it's getting better or worse, you need to know the goals of such strategy.

It's clear to me that users are much more tolerant of not-so-perfect results, at least from Google, and if that's the case, why not use that to promote their other services and make some cash too? Will it kill you to scroll a bit to find the best match if you want to? Now everyone will add Places and once you click there you have more chances to click on Google ads. Once they corner that market, they'll remove them and promote something else.

When I search for a sentence Google books show up now too, at least in batches of two. I click and see the yellow matching color: one word up, two down, one left, one right...Looks rigged to me since it's not related to what I searched for. Then there's after-panda Blogger blogs showing in top ten quite a bit lately...but that's another story.

After you see Google as another $30 Billion a year giant and question their 'just a few geeks having fun helping people' shtick you'll get your sanity back.

By the way I posted the story because I thought (it may be true or it may not be) that Google reacted in knee-jerk fashion by dropping the places listings to 2 from 7 because of this story. Seemed very odd and unprofessional for the web's main gatekeeper.

Brett, NYT is business and looking after its own interests :). Google is hurting newspapers by taking 'their' advertising revenue and traffic /adsense is not replacing it. And Google pandalized About.com, right or wrong NYT has salaries and debt to pay.
And Huff Post, with a lot of help from Google, now gets more traffic then NYT. No doubt other Huff Posts are getting traffic that NYT thinks they deserve if Google did it right. So it's business--with a public interest angle too.

maximillianos

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4337612 posted 2:29 am on Jul 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

Last year we were hit hard by locksmith spammers. They tried every trick in the book. It was weird. They would post generic locksmith spam using local city names. Never figured out where they were going with it until now. ;-)

We eventuay banned the use of the word locksmith for a few months. They went away.

mhansen



 
Msg#: 4337612 posted 1:25 pm on Jul 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

Nothing changed on the local serps in my town...

Almost ANY term that includes a city, or includes any type of local intent, invokes the 7 pack. The ONLY time I see a 3-pack of local, is when I'm logged into "The Services", where it shows personalized results.

It would be nice if this was a choice to see more local results, versus being forced upon everyone.

Oh... try finding a website design company, or an SEO, or Internet Marketing, or just about any other term that would show your own local business... Nope, Google not too friendly to the developer community. No 7-pack there!

Maybe its just me, but the tide of the Webmaster community seems to be flowing against Google lately. I realize there is always a negative viewpoint to everything Google does, but pushback against Google domainance seems to be getting more and more frequent, and by WebmasterWorld members who have been around for longer periods of time.

walkman



 
Msg#: 4337612 posted 2:11 pm on Jul 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

@mhansen
that's a bad way to judge because the trend can be lead by members and moderators. For example, I read news on a certain political forum and it's owner has a habit of banning all that disagree on X so everyone left, either supports Y or acts as if they do.

However, people are wising up to Google master manipulator shticks. The book scanning or copyright stealing--under the guise of spreading knowledge--was the defining point. Now webmasters are seeing what Google is doing with ads, local search, youtube, forced personalized search (or spying /censoring), products ads, getting involved in every niche and see that Google is using their monopoly to squeeze average people out. Of course governments as well: Texas, US Senate, FTC and EU all have opened investigations in their tactics. Maybe the algo is being manipulated on purpose to slowly squeeze others out and to maximize their profits? Why should we trust Google when they say this and that? Because they say they're nice on their website? I wouldn't trust MSFT or Oracle, so why trust Google.

if it was about "users" they'd make "more local search" an option along with personalized search and instant search. Try disabling them and see how easy it is. It's about their profits, not 'users'

Planet13

WebmasterWorld Senior Member planet13 us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4337612 posted 5:05 pm on Jul 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

Well, one could block googlebot from indexing their site if they were really upset...

Although I think most people appreciate whatever free traffic they can get from google and the other search engines.

Panthro



 
Msg#: 4337612 posted 6:08 pm on Jul 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

boo hoo. One of the things that bothers me more than Google's shenanigans is "traditional media"'s shenanigans. They consistently spew out the most asinine content calculated to evoke a purely emotional response from its audience. NYT is one of the worst because their demographic thinks themselves educated.

Planet13

WebmasterWorld Senior Member planet13 us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4337612 posted 6:20 pm on Jul 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

They consistently spew out the most asinine content calculated to evoke a purely emotional response from its audience.


That's their job! That's what people want! :)

And non-traditional media is really good at providing asinine content to people who think they are smarter than they really are, too. And I mean really, REALLY good at it.

Panthro



 
Msg#: 4337612 posted 6:41 pm on Jul 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

lol and I'm a case in point. Well, I clicked on the link but I'm not linking to it ha.

wwconnect



 
Msg#: 4337612 posted 9:18 pm on Jul 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

I really want Google to add a link on the left hand side of the SERP, under the "everything" link, called "Web". I want to have the option to search the WEB ONLY. When you hover over the Web link a little call out will pop up that says "click here to have SERPs that return 10 website results with no Places, Maps, Products, Youtube or Images."

Or, they should reverse universal search and start re-incorporating more website results. Google's SERPs have become this constant stream of interwoven garbage which is designed to please all people at all times and thus accomplishes nothing other than appeasing the lowest common denominator.

wwconnect



 
Msg#: 4337612 posted 9:34 pm on Jul 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

I was just thinking that we are in a transitional period right now where Google is transitioning from a web search engine to an artificial intelligence. Maybe that shift from web search engine to AI began with Universal Search and integration of different vertical search engines. At some point Google will have enough information and data sources indexed(catalog the world's information) to seem omniscient, well not in a God sense, but with regard to human knowledge.
They would hope to pull the most relevant response from all information sources.

They aren't there yet by about 10 years. Until they get that good we have to deal with these #*$!ty SERPs that are no longer focused on giving us the most relevant web site results but aren't advanced enough to give us "Everything" results.

J_RaD

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4337612 posted 10:17 pm on Jul 11, 2011 (gmt 0)


"click here to have SERPs that return 10 website results with no Places, Maps, Products, Youtube or Images."


but that would go against goog's plan of making websites obsolete.

Maurice



 
Msg#: 4337612 posted 10:00 am on Jul 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

interersting the NYT conflates spamming google local with lead gen sites - that would be like me saying all Journalist are phone hacking scum ala NOTW

supercyberbob



 
Msg#: 4337612 posted 2:43 pm on Jul 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

How much would I have to pay David Segal to write a nice juicy article about Panda?

rickster123



 
Msg#: 4337612 posted 3:46 pm on Jul 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

Call me paranoid, but I find it a little fishy that Digital Due Diligence is yet again mentioned and linked in the article.


Maybe Mr Segal will next write about the incentives which journalists are given to consult and link to 'experts' who help them write hack stories.

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