| 7:47 pm on Dec 1, 2011 (gmt 0)|
|This has been a very useful exercise that allows everyone to see firsthand how Google search is currently functioning, and I thank the mods for allowing it to go forward. |
You're welcome. It is an exception to our regular policy which doesn't allow specific searches - not even in screen captures. However, in this case did seem both useful and with little downside.
|My problem was google removing the main keyword which was "dermatologist" |
And that brings up a very useful SEO question: how does Google decide the priority of query terms to drop when the initial result set seems weak. Or for that matter, what factors decide that the initial result set IS weak enough that it needs automatic revision?
This question might be addressed in a patent, and some likely candidates would be the three that Bill Slawski looked at five years ago in this article: Google Query Revision Strategies [seobythesea.com]
Think I'll be doing some digging ;)
| 8:22 pm on Dec 1, 2011 (gmt 0)|
I subscribe to the theory that because Google's algorithm has become so complex (and even more so after Panda), it is bound to become completely useless for certain queries because there are just too many variables present to provide simple results for a simple query.
A simple analogy is travelling 30 miles through a labyrinth to arrive at a destination that is only 1 mile away: Things become complicated on the way where they shouldn't.
You also have to recognize that Google used to be a search engine based on simple facts and numbers. Now, they try to 'guess' what you're looking for based on perhaps skewed data. It might be true that 30k were looking for "acme locations in calgary" over the past 6 months, but that shouldn't have effect on the query (of perhaps only 5k over 6 mo.) "halifax acme complaints".
| 5:46 am on Dec 2, 2011 (gmt 0)|
My problem is not with google showing wrong results. My problem is that I know what google is capable of and they are capable of much more than what I have been seeing lately.
In using the "33458 dermatologist sunday hours" is not a complicated query at all for google. Lets break it down:
33458 - The zip code where we are searching for. Google is well prepared to handle proximity searches as evidenced by their places/maps platform. They do a great job in finding places of businesses in your area.
Dermatologist - A dermatologist is a place of business which one would seek out locally and a reasonable distance from their residence. Coupled with the fact there is a zip code present in the search query this should instantly tell google "searcher is seeking a dermatologist in his area".
That alone should kick in the appropriate algo to find matches for this search which would be dermatologists in the 33458 and the surrounding areas.
Now sunday and hours are the least important. Even if you were to get a bunch of results for dermatologists in the correct location, you can at least browse through them and find their hours of operation page and find out that way. The way google set this up, you first have to sort through results that are not even relevant.
I know that businesses can submit hours in their places page, I know this because I have a business listed in places and I put the hours, why isnt google using this information businesses are already providing them with?
What is a shame is that this thread now shows #1 for this search term. No offense to webmasterworld, it is a great community and IMO the best webmaster related forums but it has no business ranking for this query no matter how much trust and authority it has. You would not want a dermatologist office ranking #1 for a SEO related term even if that was the best dermatologist in the world.
Maybe it is on me expecting too much from google.
TBH, I am disappointed in where search is today. Not just google, the entire industry. 5-10 years ago I would picture google being so far and above everything else. Now google is living off of reputation and not real results. If google were just released and yahoo was the big player in search, I dont think google would thrive.
If I were in charge at google, I would be embarrassed. I am not saying that to put google down, I owe a lot to them, I am able to live a great successful life because of google. They have a lot of great minds over there and they have done some amazing things over the years. There is no one size fits all algorithm that can cater to everyones needs. This does not stop at the dermatology query. This was just 1 small example of many I experience daily that I have not experienced in years past.
Google has turned into my first project which was a php website. It was so complicated and so unorganized that every time I fixed something, I broke another part of it. The more I seemed to fix the script, the more the site broke in other areas.
I think the best years of google search are behind us. I think they are too focused on new features rather than perfecting the ones they already have. I hope the caffeines and pandas will be improved before more iterations are released. It is ok to fail, but when you keep doing the same thing and expecting different results is just insane
| 10:06 am on Dec 2, 2011 (gmt 0)|
yeah its interesting that this topic is now showing at position No.1 for that phrase.
but at least that tells us one thing: onpage text is still important. why else would this topic rank? it must be the only page on the web containing that exact phrase. the context is completely wrong, but it's still risen to the top as soon as it was written
freshness might have something to do with it as well.
| 11:02 am on Dec 2, 2011 (gmt 0)|
|What is a shame is that this thread now shows #1 for this search term. |
I don't know if you had a chance to see what was happening yesterday until at least the thread got to the top 3 positions when I left. I was testing the query with quotes removing keywords etc and during the tests I could see this thread raising its pos really fast.
If you type in the same query without quotes the forum still comes up first. Same goes on verbatim. So ranking, freshness, exact match (because of the quotes placed in the first page) seem to be critical factors. Site relevancy is not as critical in this case at least, although you would expect it to be a factor more important than authority and perhaps Google hasn't managed yet to relate dermatologist to doctor or medical related sites.
If I replace the dermatologist with "skin" the results are relevant. So user feedback and habits from previous searches play a role. Perhaps this gives a signal to build content based on previously entered queries to get a higher chance pages return on popular searches.
Now if you are a doctor and you enter a description about your local services on your site you have to do this kind of research? to get a chance to find customers in your area from an online tool. And pretty much be ready to replace medical keywords you are accustomed to and studied for years. That's not very encouraging.
| 4:41 pm on Dec 2, 2011 (gmt 0)|
|but at least that tells us one thing: onpage text is still important. |
This thread & exercise has been very illuminating ~ one of the best I've seen in a while, because many members are focused on the same exact phrase, from multiple computers in multiple locations. For one thing, the fact that we are all seeing WebmasterWorld rise so quickly to the top tells us that, with a "clean" search (one which most of us have never done before), we can all see the same thing at the same time. So our personal search histories are not yet coming into play. I have a feeling that if we all started clicking on various results at random, our individual SERPs listings might be modified, but for now, we have proven that a "new" page (this thread) can almost immediately rise to the top for everyone simultaneously.
| 6:34 pm on Dec 2, 2011 (gmt 0)|
|Now if you are a doctor and you enter a description about your local services on your site you have to do this kind of research? to get a chance to find customers in your area from an online tool. And pretty much be ready to replace medical keywords you are accustomed to and studied for years. That's not very encouraging. |
But that's just it - lay people aren't going know medical keywords that the doctor has studied for years. The query is not about the doctor, it's about the USER. And what's relevant to the USER is that the doctor is available on a Sunday. And maybe the USER doesn't think to use the word dermatologist - all he knows is that he's got something going on with his SKIN.
Now, maybe I'm biased, because I'm "industry" but to me that's just common sense.
| 10:12 pm on Dec 2, 2011 (gmt 0)|
|What is dated is the surviving idea webmaster idea that keywords + links = rankings. |
Ah, now. That's not to say it still doesn't of course. I still go that route for the first few months of a new launch. Then I go a bit social and give the site more public identity. I can still get in to the top 10 of target phrases with just well written pages (code/content) and some hefty backlinks.
What annoys me most, is the weight given to larger brands. When I type something in these days (I'm in the UK) I've seen pages where there are 10 Ads surrounding the SERPS, Google News results, Google YouTube results, Google Local Results, eBay, Amazon and Wikipedia results and then maybe 1-2 actual, relevant organic results.
That's not a search engine. Bing is less like this, but still nothing like the Google of a few years ago. I got excited about Caffeine, it felt like a good move. Somebody seems to have spilted their coffee on the keyboard though.
| 10:14 pm on Dec 2, 2011 (gmt 0)|
AND WHAT'S WITH THIS "WE HAVE SEARCHED FOR" NONSENSE?!
I can spell. If I type in something, that's what I'm searching for. It keeps changing brand names, people names, product names etc. --- there was nothing wrong with "did you mean?". That was a good idea. Automatically assuming I'm a moron and can't type is simply aggravating.
| 1:50 am on Dec 3, 2011 (gmt 0)|
The "dermatologist" search is the kind of result we are seeing more and more these days. What I find interesting is that the results after the hairdresser, taco bell and TJMaxx seem to be much more useful results for the actual search. So the results Google have shown push anything organic that is relevant well below the fold, unless of course you look at the Adwords which are all on-topic.
We live in Cozumel Mexico and were searching for a "shipping company" to move some stuff back to the UK. All the Adwords results were again on-topic and every organic result was about "Cruise Ships". Shipping Company - Cruise Ships, I can see where the confusion might come from it it was being dealt with by a 5 year old with only limited English skills.
How any of this is an improvement is beyond me.
| 10:15 am on Dec 3, 2011 (gmt 0)|
|Now, maybe I'm biased, because I'm "industry" but to me that's just common sense. |
Right, so the best course as a dermatologist is to offer tacos with the consultation followed by a stylish haircut. It's inline with Google's principle "we'll give you what you want even if you don't know what you want". Who doesn't want the little extras? Also wonder if you can find anything useful searching the Google's results in the Jupiter area once this thread is done.
Seriously though if the results do not match the keywords entered there should always be a message about it.
| 1:31 pm on Dec 3, 2011 (gmt 0)|
im a bit surprised that google cant work out that the most important word in that search was "dermatologist"
"sunday hours", "sunday trading hours", "sunday opening hours" and similar phrases of that type must appear in bazillions of different searches every day, for many different subjects, and surely google must be able to recognise that it's the "other word" in the search that's the key.
it must be the zipcode that confuses it. because if you take that out and search again then the results are perfect -- they are full of dermatologists. to google, it's like there are two "other words" -- the zipcode, and dermatologist -- and because the zipcode is listed first in the search phrase, that one is taking precedence.
if you change the order of the first two "other words", and search for "dermatologist 33458 sunday hours" instead, then the results are all dermatologists.
| 2:16 pm on Dec 3, 2011 (gmt 0)|
Well if you rearrange the words and put the zipcode last again you get irrelevant results. Then I tried this:
|33458 dermatologic dermatologist sunday hours |
The results are way better showing a map and the engine seems to recognize it's about a local search. So why's the difference?
If I use other synonyms or derivatives the results differ a lot. The engine surely uses existing trends to bring up results and seems it isn't flexible enough for the time being.
Another interesting thing is although the word dermatologic is not previously listed (not before this post anyways) I can still see the results bringing up this thread to position 5 and started forming a tree. So the engine forces word derivatives but I don't know to what extend.
| 9:16 pm on Dec 3, 2011 (gmt 0)|
|it must be the zipcode that confuses it |
If you substitute jupiter fl for the zip, the results superficially look better, but you also get this note at the bottom of the page....
|Tip: These results do not include the word "sunday". Show results that include "sunday". |
You can click on the link, or you could also force inclusion of sunday by putting "sunday" in quotes. It's unforgivable, btw, for Google to put this revision advice at the bottom of the page.
Results with or w/o sunday but with the place name instead of zip probably puts the query into a different 'peer group' of pages that Google considers for its statistical matching of results.
Mostly, with the zip, I think we're seeing results influenced by a combination of zip code directory pages of different types... anything from general civic shopping directories to job directories, which chance to group dermatologists and spas and hair salons and fast food joints together by zip code, and a zip code query is unusual enough and specific enough that the zip probably distorts the results more than the town name would.
If you search [taco bell dermatologist], btw, you'll see a bunch of job directories that all have "T*co B*ll J*bs D*rm*tologist" in their titles.
Note also that searching the original query with zip and Sunday hours on Bing gives somewhat similar problems, but Bing right now is handling the priorities better than Google is, showing most but not all of the anomalies as related searches. DuckDuckGo also struggles with the query.
Re the assertion in title of this thread: "Google's main algorithm is becoming dated"... I'd say these results suggest just the opposite... that this is a new algorithm, deriving from the original algorithm but nevertheless different, driven by an artificial intelligence algo that relies on learning over time, and it hasn't had enough time to crunch through the longtail searches to get the priorities right. But this isn't the old "dated" algo at all.
Google's results also appear to have characteristics that make sense in light of phrase-based indexing and a massive amount of data. Ultimately, Google is striving after meaning and intent more than literal word matches. Google's mistakes at the longtail end of things necessarily are going to look worse (and they are) because Google is trying to do something that hasn't quite yet been done, as these queries demonstrate.
| 10:22 pm on Dec 3, 2011 (gmt 0)|
They need to modify the interface and display some useful info what they actually searched for.
If you click the advanced search for the given criteria it reads "all these words:" you would think the engine includes every single one of the keywords you entered for the search. Repeating the search from the advanced page brings the same results.
It's also confusing the selection list "Where your keywords show up:" specifying a selection other than the default, retrieves valid results whilst the default reads "anywhere in the page"
I also tried to trigger recommendations. I entered:
|33458 dermakologist sunday hours |
What is very strange is that the search string is repeated within the edit box after the engine brings up the results it reads:
|33458 dermakologist sunday hours 33458 dermatologist sunday hours |
This is not normal. Usually it corrects the keywords entered and gives a note underneath for one instance of the criteria not repeating it. So it looks like a bug.
| 12:28 am on Dec 4, 2011 (gmt 0)|
|I also tried to trigger recommendations. I entered: |
33458 dermakologist sunday hours
What is very strange is that the search string is repeated within the edit box after the engine brings up the results it reads:
33458 dermakologist sunday hours 33458 dermatologist sunday hours
This is not normal. Usually it corrects the keywords entered and gives a note underneath for one instance of the criteria not repeating it. So it looks like a bug.
When I performed that search "33458 dermakologist sunday hours" it says here are the results for "33458 dermatologist sunday hours" however they do not include the Hairdresser, Taco Bell or the clothing store. But if you click the linked text of the corrected spelling search, you then get the hairdresser, taco bell and the clothing store as the results.
| 5:46 am on Dec 4, 2011 (gmt 0)|
Everyone here is complicating the simple. Please see the OP...
Example: I am the only one in the World selling a "brand name" common product. Nothing crazy or sleazy - just a common household product. I have been selling this item for about 2 months among a few thousand products on my site (all related type of items). My site is about 1.5 years old.
Why does Amazon who has not sold this product for 3 years and other competing businesses get higher rankings in Google? The user clicks on the links but the product is "not" sold. The user clicks on my link and the product "is" sold. I'm the only one...
The answer is links - these sites have more links than me. My site is not full of gimmicks or anything like that. I'm doing nothing Google would not want me to do...
The Google algorithm is dated. Webmasters should not have to concentrate on link building. They should just create good content. Google should randomize their results more and over time the good sites "old" and "new" would compete fairly.
Old sites = more links because webmasters are lazy to take down links added years ago.
New sites = less links because webmasters are lazy to put up links (as compared to the past)
I'm not bashing Google. As someone who benefited from old links in my past business I thank them for the life I have now. Was it fair that I beat out my new competitors for approx a decade? No...it was not.
Google is still #1 in search but I hope they someday discover links are making their engine dated.
| 5:54 am on Dec 4, 2011 (gmt 0)|
And trust, and authority, and strong user behaviors, and who knows what else. Another reason is that Google doesn't do a good job with knowing whether the product referenced in a keyword is actually being offered for sale. That's a bit beyond their machine intelligence right now.
I think people are "making it complicated" because it actually IS complicated. I work with too many sites and see too much data to think that links are still the big answer that they used to be.
| 6:47 am on Dec 4, 2011 (gmt 0)|
|yeah its interesting that this topic is now showing at position No.1 for that phrase. |
What's even funnier is that it goes against everything tedster said at the beginning: "That's the way I see it, too. What is dated is the surviving idea webmaster idea that keywords + links = rankings"
Amazing thread! Not only it clearly proves that Google has lost its way with basic search, but that simple keyword stuffing by a "reputable website" does wonders, i.e. Webmaster World is now the "dermatologist sunday hours" expert website, according to Google.
Just type in dermatologist sunday hours in Google and Webmasterworld will be the top 5 returned results, no matter where you live :) How could this even be considered related?!? It's not, Webmaster World has never been about dermatologists or sunday hours, yet Google ranks this thread above many real dermatologists, based simply on links to the website and keywords in this thread.
| 7:54 am on Dec 4, 2011 (gmt 0)|
Compare what you get typing - "dermatologist Sunday hours" (no quotes) in Google and in Bing and see how Bing provides different and slightly better results.
I wonder when are regular users going to discover that Bing is slightly better.
| 8:21 am on Dec 4, 2011 (gmt 0)|
I wonder what will happen if some "dermatologist" backlinks get piggy backed to this post :), its already #2 for the "dermatologist sunday hours". Dermatologists working on sunday = webamsters discussions ..... Silly Google.
| 8:33 am on Dec 4, 2011 (gmt 0)|
In my post of a couple days ago I said that our Google searching history has not yet come into play, but now I'm rethinking that statement ~ here's why:
- We all use Google so we know Google tracks all of us;
- We all use WebmasterWorld so Google sees that as part of our history;
- We are all searching for a very unusual query, and those exact keywords can be found in posting after posting in this thread.
All that being the case, now I'm wondering if that same query was searched from a computer that had NEVER visited this forum, would WebmasterWorld still show up in the top 5?
In other words, is Google giving us what it thinks we want, based on our recent history?
Has anyone done the search from a guaranteed "clean" machine? If so, did you get the same results as your Google cookie machine?
| 9:32 am on Dec 4, 2011 (gmt 0)|
Used US proxy plus private browsing it shows #2 when regular and from CA is #5. Go figure ....
| 10:09 am on Dec 4, 2011 (gmt 0)|
maybe this dermatologist thing just shows that local results have been dialed up too much, at the expense of everything else.
google is recognising that its a local search, because of the zipcode, and thinks that the user would much rather see local businesses (of whatever type) ahead of dermatologists which are further away.
the funny thing is, though -- that google hasn't linked to any of those sites local pages either. they have listed the brand's flagship page instead. so they aren't really satisfying the user's need for local listings at all.
they could have linked to the brand's opening hours page too -- but nope. it's the homepage. maybe that shows that brands have been dialled up too much as well.
...or maybe google just didnt recognise it as a postcode?
| 10:18 am on Dec 4, 2011 (gmt 0)|
|Compare what you get typing - "dermatologist Sunday hours" (no quotes) in Google and in Bing |
Up to this point at least, Bing hasn't even seen this thread because I tried "Google's main algorithm is becoming dated" and I get nothing.
|searched from a computer that had NEVER visited this forum |
Yes it does bring pretty much the same results and I switched off jscripts/cookies repeating the search and trying from different IPs.
|Webmaster World has never been about dermatologists or sunday hours |
Ok, but after this, maybe dermatologists in jupiter should consider sponsoring webmasterworld?
| 10:27 am on Dec 4, 2011 (gmt 0)|
|...yet Google ranks this thread above many real dermatologists, based simply on links to the website and keywords in this thread. |
IMO, the reason for the ranking has more to do with the rarity of the phrase. This WebmasterWorld thread provides the only exact match for the phrase on the web.
Searching for the phrase in quotes, dupe-filter enabled, I get...
I'm not dismissing WebmasterWorld's ability to distort results... and in fact that's why I used wildcard characters in some phrases in my post above (and below)... but I don't think a chance mention here of a truly competitive phrase, one that's actually targeted by other by other sites with a reasonable amount of relevant linking, is going to produce any major upsets. This is one of the reasons, though, that we do discourage posting example searches.
In any event, you really can't have it all ways. I mean, Bing isn't skewed by this thread because it apparently hasn't indexed it yet. And when Google doesn't return an exact match, there are complaints in that direction.
What's most interesting to me about the three word [derm* sund*y h*urs] query is the difference in the way Google and Bing interpret intent. Without the local modifier, Google for the most part returns results discussing the working conditions of this particular branch of medicine, with a few large clinics (and WebmasterWorld) thrown in. Bing gives results for large offices all over the country... more of a shotgun approach... and then links to a bunch of large-brand sund*y h*urs related searches (having nothing to do with medicine) at the bottom of the page.
Both engines are at their worst when they're trying to make something out of nothing... but such situations are often a good time to observe the bare bones of the algo at work.
| 1:50 pm on Dec 4, 2011 (gmt 0)|
It is indexed by Bing... and a minor change to the query will definitely result in WW as #1.
| 6:53 pm on Dec 4, 2011 (gmt 0)|
Two other factors in this thread's current rankings could well be 1) freshness and 2) heavier user activity here compared to the other URLs in the SERP.
| 8:06 pm on Dec 4, 2011 (gmt 0)|
So soon we should expect terms as healthcare/hotels/casinos/rentals/etc to be populated #1-10 by facebook ?
| 8:22 pm on Dec 4, 2011 (gmt 0)|
|Why does Amazon who has not sold this product for 3 years and other competing businesses get higher rankings in Google? The user clicks on the links but the product is "not" sold. The user clicks on my link and the product "is" sold. I'm the only one... |
I manage an e-commerce site for a client of mine and have seen the same thing involving big name places, e.g. Walmart, as well as Amazon. They don't sell the product but appear in the top two or three results. On several occasions I have looked at the source code of their pages wondering why and find non-related keywords stuffed in the page even though they don't carry the product(s).
Bottom line - Google is not infallible.
On a side note, I still maintain, as I have in other posts, that Google is intentionally favoring big name companies in their results even if the result is not applicable. See "Ecommerce where is it going" [webmasterworld.com ] and "Google's highly profitable secret war against small businesses" [webmasterworld.com ]. All these topics are related.
Sorry if this is getting too far from the OP.
| 11:55 pm on Dec 4, 2011 (gmt 0)|
|It is indexed by Bing... and a minor change to the query will definitely result in WW as #1. |
Yes, I noticed it in Bing this morning, with the three-word search as #2. Adding the zip (as in the original search) puts WebmasterWorld at #1. Note that this thread doesn't come anywhere near ranking for [sunday hours] by itself.
Some thoughts about how Google and Bing are treating this query (and forgive the length in advance), trying to oversimplify a complicated subject...
If in a query I misspell a word in a way where the entered word is nonsense and the correct version is predominant, both Google and Bing automatically display the corrected version and ask if I really do want what I originally typed.
On queries where there simply aren't very many good results, Google will look for alternatives. If appropriate alternative results exist, I'm seeing that Google will modify my query sooner than Bing will. Even when the problem is not spelling, Google will often reach for another word with a similar spelling when it can find one within the context of the query. Going further, Google will sometimes rewrite my query to include a synonym... or sometimes even include a result that contains an antonym of my original terms... if the context is right and there's no better match.
In this search (for which there's really no satisfactory result), we're dealing with several pecking orders, one of which is vocabulary matching... another of which is context... and another of which is branding, which Google reduces to "trust, reputation, authority, and PageRank", along with social buzz signals. Google, I'm thinking, for this query felt that vocabulary matching, which here includes the zipcode, didn't produce a useful result, for reasons martinibuster has pretty well described. "Sunday hours" by itself is so incredibly general a search that the engines have got nowhere to go except for the most statistically likely companies, big brands which are what both Bing and Google suggest for 'Sunday hours' related searches.
Again, the only exact match on the web for the query as a whole is on this thread... so Google must make a choice among iffy signals to deliver results most likely to satisfy the largest number of users. I'm positing that Google added some brands into the serps that are contextually associated to the zipcode and with the term "dermatology" part of the query. These are associated statistically via phrase-based indexing, and also via links from directory pages which come close to the vocabulary of the query.
With regard to the context, my guess is that contextual matching in general on Google is currently set on the high side, and Google will often go too far afield in its suggestions, particularly on longtail queries. I'm thinking that this may be a purposeful choice, as a way of speeding machine learning along... at least I hope that's where it's going. ;)
I'm also thinking that the best indications of what Google's AI has "learned" so far are indicated by Google's autocomplete suggestions, and that one of the suggestions Google does make...
|dermatologist open on sunday jupiter fl |
...is closer to the question that brinked said he wanted to ask...
|I was looking for a dermatologist that was open on sundays |
...than what he entered into the search box...
|33458 dermatologist sunday hours |
| This 75 message thread spans 3 pages: < < 75 ( 1  3 ) > > |