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|Brands - it's now getting silly|
I'm now seeing repeated examples of major websites that are market leaders for their products, with pages crammed with information, outranked by 'bigger brands' who actually act as affiliates for that same market leader, and who have just a single page of 200-ish word plain vanilla information about the product.
I am finding it more and more difficult, if not virtually impossible, to find information about many products I am interested in because content sites have disappeared and the 'big brands' have taken over, even in small specialist niches.
I well remember the small shops being pushed out of the crowded High Street by the big chains, in the same way. Many of those High Streets here in the UK are now full of shuttered up stores as the shoppers have gone elsewhere, bored by the sameness of it all and the big chains are going broke with monotonous regularity. Is Google taking the Internet down the same path?
I'd say that Google has just lost the plot and is desparately searching for a clue. Panda is sheer muppetry on a global scale by trying to out-Bing Bing.
The problem with Google, as I see it, is that it just does not have any innovative ideas because the kind of people it employs are not innovative. It is the same thing that happened to Microsoft - innovative founders who knew how to run a business followed by massive expansion and the hiring of what were academically the best graduates. People are innovative. Hire too many academic vegetables and it kills the meat of innovation.
For the record, I don't think you sound arrogant, as a know-it-all or as a troll.
|We've had these posts before and all that comes from it is that I appear arrogant and condescending. Shrug. |
As far as business models, the best one is to have a backup job waiting, just in case. IMO, Google wants a cut of the transactions and they'll get it, one way or another.
I need to survive for another year and then I can do without Google.
|The problem with Google, as I see it, is that it just does not have any innovative ideas because the kind of people it employs are not innovative. It is the same thing that happened to Microsoft - innovative founders who knew how to run a business followed by massive expansion and the hiring of what were academically the best graduates. People are innovative. Hire too many academic vegetables and it kills the meat of innovation. |
Google hires almost only math people, they can be tone deaf to day-day to day problems :). They see numbers: your site has less x than NYT? Your site must suck. Google's last innovation was...Pagerank. And improving on Bill Gross' link ads...and buying Android that stole wholesale from others.
I have changed my mind about Microsoft, Oracle and IBM. They are workhorses that chug along as Google tries to fool the public with cuteness. It's all a show. Think of how many real products Msft has and compare that to Google. Or IBM. They spend billions on R&D each year.
|Not going to happen - I'm not going to get panda'd Sorry, you don't want to hear it,but it's true. I built my site with an eye to being algo proof. I have diverse but relevant backlinks and strong content.Everyone gets whiney about that, but it's true. And it's working, which seems like it's great for me, but somehow some people seem to take as bad for them. |
Haha. Saying you're algo-proof is just silly. You might not get Panda'd, but the writing is on the wall for future updates. Unless people are searching for your site exactly, the future of keywords will go to big sites first, then small ones.
This is the order for ambiguous words, wait till all words start to work this way. Small businesses are getting destroyed, if you think you're immune you're kidding yourself. Each update is solidifying this.
Large brand, company web sites rank higher in the results now than they did in the past; the transformation just in the past 12 months has been dramatic. Five years ago in our niche, most of them were lucky to crack the third page, they weren't even in the game.
Google thought about the types of signals sites that like give off, and then adjusted their algorithm accordingly. Google wants it that way, and have been fairly clear about it, (cleaning up the "cesspool" ).
These types of sites rank higher than they used to; it wasn't an accidental algorithmic byproduct and it wasn't because they all opened up their seo tool boxes and fixed a few things.
The thing to think about is what are these signals that Google uses to bestow such kindness on.
|Five years ago in our niche, most of them were lucky to crack the third page, they weren't even in the game. |
Five years ago, barely anyone had heard of SEO. It wasn't in the WSJ or the NYT.
IMHO, Google's made algo changes, sure, but more importantly the competition has become much more fierce. Big brands aren't stupid about online marketing like they used to be.
Heck, SEO is still a huge afterthought to most major brands. Imagine what it will be like in 5 years when it will be central to their efforts, built in at the platform level, the same way that email marketing and loyalty programs are central to their efforts now?
When you have big brands engaging in the sort of HUGE link campaigns that make the newspaper you can tell that the entire industry is changing.
I explain to non web marketing folk that running a small e-com shop online is really no different than running a small restaurant somewhere. There's a few components to success:
1. Have unique food you can't get at mcdonald's or the keg, ie lebanese (webspeak: sell things that are hard to find at, or know more about your products than, amazon)
2. Have an amazing ambiance (webspeak: have an amazing website, usually through technology)
3. Have a great location (webspeak: have a good type-in domain, have a good logistics outfit that can get product anywhere in the US within 24 hours by ground)
4. Make your customers your biggest fans (webspeak: same... there are certain shops on the web where you actually feel like your business is wanted and you couldn't *dream* of going anywhere else)
I love thinking about business in terms of restaurants, because there is so much to learn. That is an industry where they grow or die very quickly, usually within 6 months.
It's not hard to still do well in the SERPs as a small player... you just have to run your business like you're trying to be successful at business.
|Haha. Saying you're algo-proof is just silly. You might not get Panda'd, but the writing is on the wall for future updates. |
Baloney. There is no writing on the wall as long as Google is serving organic results. Google may not do that in the future, but until then, it's not that difficult to be algo proof.
I build my site and my backlinks so that they are what Google wants to see, so that I can pass a hand check, so that if Google looks at my site, they are going to use my profile as an example of the type of site they want to rank - a strong authority site that doesn't do SEO.
I don't build my site and my backlinks using techniques that have been shown to increase rankings. I'll do that stuff on secondary test sites, but not my main one.
That's not going to change - every day Google has thousands of people that are way smarter than me trying to figure out how to get my site to rank higher. THAT'S what makes me algo proof. Google wants me to rank. The only way I don't get ranked is if Google screws up.
I don't play smart, I don't try to outwit Google. I work very hard at giving them maybe not what the want today, but what they are trying to achieve.
A quote from Matt Cutts:
MC: If we think you’re relatively high quality, Panda will have a smaller impact. If you’re expert enough and no one else has the good content, even if you’ve been hit by Panda that page can still rank.
(my comment: and no one else has the good content? yikes that's not promising. if you're up against sites with pro writing staff, good luck with your organic traffic)
If this big brands is the "new way" at Google, then what will happen? I can't compete because the ranking factors changed to the point where my interest isn't sustainable when up against giants. So that means? Your nice niche is about to see an onslaught of nerds going for a piece of your pie. It's called the big scramble. Up until now Google didn't operate its search like the "real world" or its rankings. Any idiot could say even 10 years ago that the best sites, the most trusted sites are the brands, the official sites, the sites with the professional teams of news writers and insiders. However, Google wasn't built on brand names showing up in the search results. They didn't grow on showing the big brands that are now everywhere. So to suggest that this is the way it was meant to be is complete crap (sorry to swear). Google was built on interesting unique results, not the big brands that we see today. If Bing's usage continues to grow I think we have our answer to what people want.
The Panda effect regarding brand names is going to affect you whether you believe that or not. You have a great site? Excellent. A lot of people getting the pinch from Panda and realizing that their stories can't compete with professional writers, are going to find your niche. The dispersal will result in your "safe" sites finding a whole lot more competition. People here are smart enough to battle through that, but the push will soon be on.
In closing I think for a lot of people with diminishing organic traffic, their only failure was being in the wrong place at the wrong time. In the same subject/content as the giant sites aka brands? You pretty much are seeing what the solution is. Just read the quote at the top of this post. You're failure was thinking the ranking you have had was just and deserved. Perhaps you were just a bit too smart and it was all just a facade aka illusion.
[edited by: MrSavage at 8:52 pm (utc) on Jul 14, 2011]
|Google wasn't built on brand names showing up in the search results |
They were built on being the first search engine that didn't use on page factors as the sole method of ranking websites... at least that's what I remember.
It could be argued that smaller sites, managed by more savvy types caught on to this fact earlier and maybe that's why Google looked different ten years ago. Even five years ago.
Back when Florida hit people were talking about Hilltop and saying Google was preferring big brands and the end of the world was coming, swearing off using Google forever, etc.
Then automated blogspamming started to get big and link buying started and everyone forgot about Florida because they could rank #1 again within 24 hours.
Then the sandbox hit, and everyone was crying and yelling and screaming. Then people started buying expired domains and everyone forgot about the sandbox because they could rank #1 again within 24 hours.
It's just a big cycle.
@bakedjake, I was late to the online party and wasn't really in the loop regarding Florida. In that sense I'm a newb. Indeed, hopefully this is just a big cycle.
When many people aside from myself are commenting about big brands pushed to the top of many searches, I know it's not my imagination. I would like to think it's a cycle but the lack of logic keeps me coming back to the same thing. I could be clever and get organic traffic vs CNET as an example. It's not about clever, it's about prestige now. But I would argue that just because I am more clever doesn't mean that my site sucks. There is a real difference and the question is whether Panda will ever distinguish the two.
No, the change not your imagination. But the ability to rank well by gaming Google has been diminished - bakedjake has the history spot on.
Google guidelines have not changed - they long published what they want to rank and what they don't want. Some people continued to look for ways to dummy it up, no matter what. Some approaches worked for years and years, some got turned into e-books and infomercials.
But Google never said it was a good idea to do all that "creative" link building, for instance. So any business that depends on trying to evade Google's expressed purpose shouldn't be surprised that the temporary value starts to evaporate.
And the junk that's floating up to the top of some SERPs is also not a long term approach.
But here's the bottom line: anyone in business anywhere is competing against "brands" or building a brand, right? Of course as the web matures the same pattern is most likely to emerge. It takes a lot to convince me to buy from a non-brand outlet, offline or online. That's the world.
|There is a real difference and the question is whether Panda will ever distinguish the two. |
Yeah, I'm not trying to downplay the damage that Panda has done to individual business owners. It sucks. I've been hit with the Google hammer more than once. It really, really sucks, and I sympathize.
But you'll find a way out of it if you look hard enough. There's always a way out. Remember though, that the arms race is not a key to long term success (unless the arms race IS your business model, but that's a different post).
|But here's the bottom line: anyone in business anywhere is competing against "brands" or building a brand, right? Of course as the web matures the same pattern is most likely to emerge. It takes a lot to convince me to buy from a non-brand outlet, offline or online. That's the world. |
That's right, and back to my restaurant analogy; most restaurants, other than brands, that serve the same thing for 10 years without changing go broke and die. Regardless of how good their food was.
|A lot of people getting the pinch from Panda and realizing that their stories can't compete with professional writers, are going to find your niche. |
See, again, people are taking the wrong approach IMO.
You think professional writers can write better content than me, in my niche? Not a chance. My own competitors can't write content as good as me. If someone wants to use professional writers to compete, I say bring it. Because it's not about grammar. It's about subject knowledge. People have commented that I write articles like I speak - I'm no pro writer. But I receive favorable comments on my content nonetheless.
As for the 'real' professional writers in my niche, many of them use me as a source in their articles. So good for me if their articles start to rank, I've got citatation links.
And I guess a post like this is why I seem condescending. What I'm trying to say is not that 'I' write better than others. I'm suggesting that YOU know your industry and should be writing articles and content that is head and shoulders above what anyone else can do.
Google did not make an algo change, they have manually pushed the brands up in the SERPs.
That's way too strong a statement for me, Rlilly. How can you back that up, especially given that Google hates to make manual changes at all.
The only thing I've ever read is that Google (Matt Cutts own words) can push a site down but it cannot push a site up. Truth.
|But Google never said it was a good idea to do all that "creative" link building, for instance. So any business that depends on trying to evade Google's expressed purpose shouldn't be surprised that the temporary value starts to evaporate. |
Tedster, we're talking a major, major efforts here to push brands. We're not talking about Google discounting, say footer links or whatever, so you move a bit up or down. For many its starts with a 60-70% drop and it keeps going down. All because Google says so, all of the sudden.
|And the junk that's floating up to the top of some SERPs is also not a long term approach. |
True, but a bunch screws you one month, another bunch the next and so on...as Google engineers post scuba-diving pictures on Google+. How many such hits can a a normal business can take?
I understand your analogy. However, in the web there's nothing to stop another restaurant chain, er, Amazon or Walmart or Sears...or Ace Hardware from adding your 'food,' and they will especially since Google assumes that anything that comes out of their kitchen is better, regardless of taste or price. When the find out that they rank, they will add them.
And then you have the private highway cop closing your exit and directing people to the other restaurants simply because they bought a large/r billboard add. It's not the only highway, but about 70-95% of people pass through there and if they block you are severely disadvantaged, to the point of not being able to compete. Interestingly enough the highway owners started as well meaning people and changed the rules after users and business owners got hooked on that highway.
So whatever we have to do to adapt to greedy Google's changes, doesn't mean that what they're doing isn't slimy. I hope FTC eventually forces them to separate search from advertising, in two different companies. This has consequences for consumers as well: If Sears ranks #1 for "refrigerators" they might have less of an incentive to compete on prices, enough will buy it anyway thanks to the clicks. It will come too late to many, but still. We shouldn't pay the price for Google lack of innovation and their need to milk their only milk cow, search.
@Tedster I was waiting for that -:) I dont have hard evidence, but its plainly obvious! Guts and instinct is not SEO but its my strong feeling they have manually increased the dial for top level brands.
They manually are making multiple listings from a domain show up in the SERPs. Sometimes as many as he first 8 listings. These domains are almost all big brands.
I watch my niche very closely, in fact almost hourly. For example, a year ago for a specific keyword, we where 6th, now we 12th. Who has gone ahead of us, only big brand businesses i.e. Walmart, Best Buy, Target, Staples and on an on. Yet our site online for over 10 years has a backlink profile much more related to our niche than CVS pharmacy or any others ahead of us now. Its manual manipulation period!
They used to tedster. Matt Cutts admitted that curating happens now quite a bit. They say because of spam and relevancy, but...as Google founders said, money does wonders:
|That's way too strong a statement for me, Rlilly. How can you back that up, especially given that Google hates to make manual changes at all. |
Currently, the predominant business model for commercial search engines is advertising. The goals of the advertising business model do not always correspond to providing quality search to users.
@walkman, perhaps it's because I agree with you, but that was a fantastic post and your explanation seems quite real. I really enjoy the reading here thanks.
So what can we make of this:
|Vanessa Fox: Many people don't believe that there is a wall between the organic search people and everything else at Google... There is this protectiveness around organic search, which enables those engineers to focus on the search experience. They don't have to think about AdWords, they don't have to think about how Google is making money, or what the CPMs are. They don't have to think about any of those things and are able to concentrate on making the best search experience. |
A Holostic Look At Panda with Vanessa Fox [stonetemple.com]
Is Vanessa just backing up her old co-workers and lying, baldface? No way, as far as I'm concerned.
I also recognize that many of our currently active members took a beating in Panda. I don't want to rub salt in those wounds. Still, how long can this complaint mode go on? Google will go ahead with Panda, and we will either succeed in the new environment it or not. We will not be able to make Google change what they're doing to please us.
One reason I defend Vanessa here is that I've heard the same, in-person, from maybe 20 different Google employees. And never one hint of a differing opinion from their employees, present or former. With so many people expressing doubts about this, if there were any truth to advertising pressures affecting organic search, we would have heard about it./
"So what can we make of this"
Hmm, let's see. Someone above the average engineer's pay grade decides the theme of search. And it's not done by looking at how much they spend on Google but based on other criteria that strongly correlates with that, like brand recognition, 'trust,' etc etc. They are many ways to achieve that goal without saying or doing it deliberately. So the average engineer is not manipulating results, he /she's just making sure that sites with stronger brand recognition, trust, higher number of employees (?), social media mentions...etc get higher rankings. All "they" have to say is "Why shouldn't brands rank higher?"
Someone sits down and decides which way to take the search, how far to turn the knob that way or this way, what criteria to use for this algo and for the other, how long to leave it for etc etc. It doesn't just happen. Only Google blames the algo for everything, when it's convenient. So they are many ways of doing it. It's possible that's just a coincidence of course.
Now I understand that short of a video tape showing a meeting of Goog executives it remains a suspicion and eventually we have to accept it and close shop or play the game. But Google isn't above intervening in special circumstances, as they did in Panda, or to give private advice to HubPages CEO, that just so happened to write an editorial against Google:
|HubPages has seen a negative impact from this change, but so far YouTube has not (Search Metrics Winners). One presumes Google isn’t treating its own affiliated sites differently than any other site, but YouTube’s open publishing environment makes low-quality content as prevalent as on any other moderated open publishing platform. Google shows over 13 million indexed videos on YouTube for lose weight (known spammy area) and over 10 million for forex (another spammy area). Apparently, Google’s Panda update has been punitive only to platforms other than Google’s. |
Tedster, do you think that:
eHow, Mahalo, Hubpages etc would have lasted as long on top SERPS if they had used Bing 'Adwords'?
A new algo that could hurt Google's rankings for the quarter would not be reversed (especially considering how many changes they make)?
No one from search execs is clued to earnings and projections, that a company like must know down to the last dollar at any second?
Wall Street firms had a wall too between research and other parts :)
I don't think most people here want to engage with me, and I understand. However this is all pretty basic. It's about theories. It's not about conspiracy.
Organic traffic (water) is the lifeblood of 95% of websites and webmasters. Pretend my percentage is accurate. It's pretty logical to assume that if you cutoff some of that water (organic traffic) people will slowly die off. Not unless of course there is another option. And in fact there is another option!
Big brands is the classic, "this was the way it was meant to be", "we should have started this from the beginning", "this is the way the real business world works", etc. Having those prestigious, well financed and well staffed website giants can pump it out daily and with terrific quality. So I'm talking about the CNET's of the world when I'm saying brand also.
It boils down to this. The algo can be tweaked to such a level, say at the level it is right now, and those organic dependent sites will start to decay, wilt, wither, die. Open the tap a bit and lower those standards? A few more of those Pandalized sites get a bit more water. Without the organic traffic, you simply need ads for getting traffic or you do as a select few have done here, and find alternatives to search engines for traffic and income. That's great if you did that all along and weren't sucked into trust.
So for me it's simple. There is no collusion between the ad department and the algo team.
And yes I realize for all these theories and complaints going on about Panda there is the fallback answer. You can answer every whine about lost organic traffic with the exact same reply. Make a point about how bad Panda is? Same reply. Don't like how competitive it is to get top rankings? Can't compete with those brands at the top of the search now?
"Increase your site traffic with Adwords". (or become a brand overnight to survive or wait for that Panda recovery playbook)
It's just that simple folks! It's the fallback and undeniable response that anyone here can throw back. What's all the fuss? You're complaining about "free" traffic and I'm a fool for basing my business on that model.
Added: I said this before, but don't expect Matt Cutts to get his bum spanked by the Adwords department if there is a mass loss of organic traffic to folks who depended on it. I'm not suggesting high 5's, but perhaps a smirk to each other while passing in the hallway?
"Increase your site traffic with Adwords". (or become a brand overnight to survive or wait for that Panda recovery playbook)
This may or may not be relevant but I find it interesting. I have around a dozen sites chasing a particular keyphrase. What used to be the top one, no 1 for at least two years and a large site devoted to that keyphrase, with mega genuine backlinks, is now nowhere. The only one performing well is a tiny site I put together on a spare afternoon; but for about six months I promoted it through adwords before it was kicked out over some new guideline or other. It is probably the worst site I have for that keyphrase but it still manages to generate good business from G.
Why? Surely the fact that it is the only site I promoted through adwords had no effect: or did it? Is using adwords part of the formula which decides which site is a 'brand' and which is not, I wonder?
superclown2, don't be silly. Seriously. Google cannot do them on a one to one basis even they wanted to rig the system.
It's possible and likely (IMO) that Google picked the advertising /brand signals and gave them credit.
All conspiracies aside, if we just look at the search results it's painfully obvious that large sites are taking over the serps, especially Google's own content. An easy way to clean up the cesspool is moving down all the smaller sites, just makes sense.
I won't engage in any "small businesses are doomed! DOOMED!" street corning ravings, but...
|wheel wrote: |
Nobody at a large company with a 9-5 job is going to network with every player in the industry, call them all every six months and maybe beg for some links. [...]
Nobody at a large company is going to spend 2 weeks doing absolutely mindnumbing labor just to get a 1/2 dozen super quality links. If the companies large enough, they probably couldn't even initiate a task like that even if they wanted to. [...]
Not specifically, no, but large companies do spend a lot of time and money on something that's at least as effective: traditional advertising. Even offline advertising carries over to the digital world in the form of searches, at the very least. Aside from that, large companies have their own, significant gravity. Where an individual or small, online business has to actively solicit links from quality sources, large companies just need a presence on the web; the links will come to them for the most part.
|Rlilly wrote: |
@Wheel but its highly suspected that there is manual intervention which helps the Brands. I think 100% they artificially push the big brands up.
|Guts and instinct is not SEO but its my strong feeling they have manually increased the dial for top level brands. |
I can't see them being so direct about it. At worst, they probably classify "big brands" in a way that gives them more leniency on certain signals, and that may not even be a manual classification (whose job is it define "big brand" and monitor the web for sites that fall into that definition?).
|tedster wrote: |
Is Vanessa just backing up her old co-workers and lying, baldface? No way, as far as I'm concerned.
I have to agree. The Panda update did a pretty good job of highlighting the disconnect between the Search team and the AdSense team. A number of people here complained about their AdSense reps giving advice that seemed to fly in the face of suggestions made by the Search team in the aftermath of Panda. I suspect it's a similar situation between Search and other groups at Google.
In the link building world, a lot of people are saying that linkless citations are playing an increasingly important role in ranking. Mentioning of a brand name having your brand name mentioned on blogs would thus be a big advantage.
I somehow get the feeling that many of the brands are simply reaping the rewards of having so many people mention them (even without links) on their sites.
Re the 'wall between the organic search people and everything else at Google'. This is not consistent with the evidence or with common sense.
Is it really the case that the search engineers think youtube are the only videos that should count in the results, and should appear on pretty much every first page?
Or that google places pages are better than anyone else's places pages?
That three identical pages from the same site but different tlds should be shown as the first three results?
That a google map is the best response to any place related query regardless of whether the person mentioned maps?
The actual 'plain vanilla' search results might be up left up to the engineers but there is a lot of other stuff gets added in and around the results specifically to increase google income.
ps compare their share of the search market with a year ago, then compare their profits with a year ago if you doubt this is the case
The search team doesn't decide what goes on the templates I think.
Otherwise I agree with you. They know Goog's financial situation as good as anyone else, and they are major stockholders as well, in addition to having their check thanks to Adword profits. What's separate is "The [insert name] site lost its traffic. Please restore it, he spent $5 million last year." Or it's suppose to be since nothing stops engineers from talking to each other informally and many are friends.
I sincerely doubt that the heads of the search team don't get updates on how the earnings are going, even if it's as a passing comment at lunch time. They know exactly what helps Goog's earnings, no need for memos.
They should admit it, that's all.
One thing that got sort of overlooked in this thread is something someone said awhile back.
The advantage small business owners have over big brands is their ability to make decisions faster.
That is true. Actually, I'd say on the internet that is their ONLY advantage.
For example... how many big corporate sites have added the Google + button yet? I'd say almost none.
I added mine on day one.
To me this is the ONLY advantage I have over big brands. I have to try and stay on the cutting edge of the web. I can't sit around and be content that I'm getting good traffic from Google search, or Facebook, or whatever. I always have to be looking for the NEXT thing and be ready to jump on it immediately because as a small business owner I know that somewhere behind me the big brands are lurking, and whenever they finally wake up and jump on it too, I will be pushed out.
That is what has been happening with Google for awhile.
Someone also mentioned in this thread that people started complaining about big brands being pushed to the top with Florida...
Well they're right. That was the START of what is happening now, this is the next step and it's going to continue.
As a small business owner you have to look for the next thing. It's not a fair competition. Big brands will always be there to push you out, and to survive you have to be ahead of them, ready to move on to the next thing when they take your current thing away from you. It's awful, I don't like it, it's anti-competition and frankly un-American. But that's the reality we live in. It has been that way for at least a decade.
In some cases, there's just no way to get out ahead of the big brands.
One example I look at is podcasts. Look at a list of the most popular podcasts. All of the top 25 - 50 are big brands. The most popular, non-big brand podcast in the world doesn't even enter into the discussion. Podcasts have been completely taken over by big brands. Entirely. No one else has a chance and frankly, I think unless you're backed by a big brand, you'd be a fool to invest money in a podcast right now.
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