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Google to Target Overly SEOd Sites
graeme_p




msg:4429949
 3:03 pm on Mar 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

Matt Cutts says:

What about the people optimizing really hard and doing a lot of SEO. We don't normally pre-announce changes but there is something we are working in the last few months and hope to release it in the next months or few weeks. We are trying to level the playing field a bit. All those people doing, for lack of a better word, over optimization or overly SEO - versus those making great content and great site. We are trying to make GoogleBot smarter, make our relevance better, and we are also looking for those who abuse it, like too many keywords on a page, or exchange way too many links or go well beyond what you normally expect. We have several engineers on my team working on this right now.


Article here:

[seroundtable.com ]

Any guesses on what it likely to change?

 

garyr_h




msg:4430045
 5:53 pm on Mar 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

@pontifex I've actually been seeing that already in some searches. Having the keywords back to back doesn't seem that important anymore and then synonyms are being ranked high/higher than the first word used and causing weirdo duplicate content stuff for some sites.

Frankly, the synonym filter that they are using is horrible. Just because a word is a synonym to another doesn't mean they are the same thing. A widget isn't always the same thing as a thingy even if they are synonyms. And a big thingy isn't the same thing as a giant thingy.

SnowMan68




msg:4430046
 5:54 pm on Mar 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

@ pontifex

That makes a lot of sense to me on the semantics portion. Especially after listening to Matt Cutts describe what the supposed update would be doing. To help people who are not as great at optimizing their sites rank better. If you don't include all of the related keywords to your sites, google will be able to do this for you. To me it seems like they are already doing this though by switching sites title tags.

My big question is what will they consider over optimizing? Is it a bad thing now to do keyword research and include those keywords in your Title Tags, URL Structure and Content? Or is it going to be obvious offender with 30 percent or more of their copy being the keywords they are trying to rank for?

outland88




msg:4430051
 6:11 pm on Mar 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

Google always had a solution which was “Give Us Feedback”. The problem was it was almost totally ignored except in rare instances. Maybe their new solution will include some advanced OCR that reads the complaints, stores them, and then totally ignores them.

UK_Web_Guy




msg:4430056
 6:20 pm on Mar 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

Look at this the other way, "level the playing field" - maybe they are going to try and boost the lesser seo'd sites - not actually change how they penalise overly seo'd sites.

As others have said, i think they already penalise people who over do it and I've been seeing more of this the past weeks in my industry, perhaps they are going to give more weight to non seo'd sites.....

edit: just listened to the audio - I feel even more now that this change might be the reverse of what people are thinking - talk about misleading reporting from that original article!

Planet13




msg:4430067
 6:46 pm on Mar 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

I worry about the reciprocal links part.

I link out to a lot of sites first. Often, by whatever reason, they end up linking back to me.

So should I delete those links to people whom I've already linked out to if they link back to me?

What about badges? We have some reviews and we encourage people to mention that their site is reviewed on our site. Should we tell them not to link to us after all?

greenleaves




msg:4430074
 7:11 pm on Mar 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

How to catch people actively gaming the algos:

1- Announce an algo change to certain things.

2- See who tones down their sites

3- Catch the evil SEOs

What I can't figure is why on earth you'd take your enemy's word at face value!

tedster




msg:4430076
 7:17 pm on Mar 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

If you think of Google as EITHER enemy or friend, then you are at a major disadvantage. They are a business and their purposes are not yours, true - but that does not mean they are your enemy, unless YOU make it so.

In game theory, this is called a "competitive-cooperative" environment. It's very important not to get lopsided here and focus on just one of those qualities. Both are true.

netmeg




msg:4430078
 7:24 pm on Mar 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

I worry about the reciprocal links part.


Don't. It sounds like what you are doing is entirely natural. It's exactly the same thing I've done on all my sites, and I've never had a problem - I link to sites that are of use to my users, and some of em link back to me; most don't. That's the way it's supposed to work.

zeus




msg:4430079
 7:32 pm on Mar 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

linkexchange could be a point hmm over 50 would to me not look natural

reseller




msg:4430083
 7:55 pm on Mar 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

@tedster

Do you agree with me that this whole announcement is just a publicity stunt stating what has been obvious for years; Google penalize sites for over optimization?

Thanks.

tedster




msg:4430093
 8:25 pm on Mar 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

No, I definitely do not agree. In my opinion, this is an honest heads-up to webmasters that another significant shake-up is coming.

Whitey




msg:4430094
 8:33 pm on Mar 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

@reseller - well the next few weeks are full of speculation.

Thanks Google for giving us notice of the impending disruption and destruction.

Folks in highly competitive verticals better take note, where over optimisation excel. There may be nothing left but brands - boring, predictable SERP's, where you really don't need to visit Google anymore to find your answer.

Hadn't this thread be better focused on the priority elements for SEO's to address, in this period of notice. What's the list of things that are needed to be dumbed down, or are you all just going to sit and wait to see what happens and then act. What's the strategy?

Here's my panic watch / "dumb down list" :

- Remove all variations of internal repetitive keyword elements e.g. if you use "red widget" , "green widget" consider just "red" or "green"
- Review all external interlinking methods , and dumb down
- Review all instances of repetitive in content keywords and dumb them down
- Any more ?

If the dial is going to be turned up, i think it's time to be urgently productive and focused with substantive commentary in how we communicate here in the community.

We won't get any further explanations from Google, much like Panda .... it's down to us. C'mon , let's take a stab at some focused facts instead of "what's new" responses.

What's new is that Matt has given us notice. Now let's see some on topic responses.

Sgt_Kickaxe




msg:4430105
 8:59 pm on Mar 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

Trying to level the playing field by negating my hard work to be the best webmaster I can be?

like too many keywords on a page

Darned if you do, darned if you don't.

I REALLY don't see how lowering the bar makes a better internet.

[edited by: Sgt_Kickaxe at 9:06 pm (utc) on Mar 16, 2012]

zeus




msg:4430112
 9:04 pm on Mar 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

Yep I also think something will happen, but I do think they will look for extremes, not the normal seo, which also come with a lot of cms software

reseller




msg:4430115
 9:10 pm on Mar 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

@Whitey

@reseller - well the next few weeks are full of speculation.


And here is my speculation. I think the reason for the current announcement is the decline of quality of Google SERPs and the pressure from people at Google top to see urgent actions to resolve the problem.

I think the problem of over optimization is a minor issue. Keeping in mind that Google webspam team has already been dealing with the said issue for years.

Its therefore I think that Matt Cutts current announcement isn´t aimed to solve a big issue rather is a panic action to meet the pressure from Google top.

[edited by: reseller at 9:13 pm (utc) on Mar 16, 2012]

Sgt_Kickaxe




msg:4430116
 9:10 pm on Mar 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

I don't like the sounds of this part of the Matt Cutts quote...
and we are also looking for those who abuse it


Should I stop posting on WW because it's likely to get trolled?

[edited by: Sgt_Kickaxe at 9:26 pm (utc) on Mar 16, 2012]

ken_b




msg:4430118
 9:21 pm on Mar 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

If these actions on Googles part only affected web spammers negatively it would be fine with me.

But they don't. All kinds of non-spamming webmasters will now drive themselves further into web-frustration, some nearing web-insanity trying to dodge a bullet that was probably never intended for them and about which they can probably do little if anything.

In the meantime, Google will barely, if at all, acknowledge that their actions might have unintended consequences, forget apologizing to, or taking corrective action on behalf of those innocent webmasters who get nailed as collateral damage.

The spammers are probably already hard at work devising a work-around and not debating the issue in a public thread like this. They'll be fine.

I may be getting a bit cynical.

.

Sgt_Kickaxe




msg:4430123
 9:27 pm on Mar 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

Google's job, if it has one besides ranking sites, is to EDUCATE those who need it, not punish those who don't. Crazy!

I'll quit writing now because I'm just a little ticked to have to wonder what's going to happen to rankings again, targeting the most knowledgeable is bass ackwards.

Web_speed




msg:4430126
 9:30 pm on Mar 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

Matt Cutts says:

What about the people optimizing really hard and doing a lot of SEO. We don't normally pre-announce changes but there is something we are working in the last few months and hope to release it in the next months or few weeks. We are trying to level the playing field a bit. All those people doing, for lack of a better word, over optimization or overly SEO - versus those making great content and great site. We are trying to make GoogleBot smarter, make our relevance better, and we are also looking for those who abuse it, like too many keywords on a page, or exchange way too many links or go well beyond what you normally expect. We have several engineers on my team working on this right now.


To me this sound like a PR stunt aimed at replying concerns of worried higher management. The time limits and the mentioning of "several engineers currently working on it" clearly gives this out. And management should damn right be concerned... very concerned!

jmccormac




msg:4430128
 9:34 pm on Mar 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

Sometimes I wonder why the good people in Google don't just spider Wikipedia and leave it at that. The least they could do would be to get people who understand the web to help with the algorithms.

Regards...jmcc

Whitey




msg:4430136
 10:13 pm on Mar 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

There's a bit of speculation from RustyBrick that this thread may point to some pre release testing by Google in the traffic variations being experienced : [webmasterworld.com...]

With the knowledge of an upcoming update, maybe we'll get some keener observations of what seems to be happening - if indeed it is connected.

nomis5




msg:4430145
 10:48 pm on Mar 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

It means they are going to stuff more of their own ads at the top of their SERPS than the already inordinately large number now.

Any change has always come down to that and this one will be no different.

Folks, don't let Google kid you. They announce an algo change, and yes, some change probably occurs. But in reality, they are anouncing that behind the smoke screen, they are quietly, very efficiently increasingly shafting all website owners other than the overbloated mega names.

whatson




msg:4430147
 11:06 pm on Mar 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

Well it is about the same time of the year as panda 2.0 was released, so I guess this is the Panda of 2012.

Whitey




msg:4430159
 11:50 pm on Mar 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

Maybe testing in play ?

@streetshirts - In the UK we've seen major ranking changes today, dropping us from page 2 to 4.

Brands up, independents down. [webmasterworld.com...]

Just sensing that brand sites will get a free ride in this update - many don't rely on heavy SEO, and old style gaming practices [ heavy internal linking , interlinking / exchanges , and of course the poor quality content that Panda was targeting ].

By default brands are Google's chief digital income targets, suck them in and then make them pay. The small guys and small intermediaries can't afford to keep up or pay the big dollars - that's going to be sent to Google places for eventual subscription revenue and the other Google management media assets. More direct business is the goal i think, split into levels, as it pays more. The big guys - like airlines will be channeled via Google's assets, the small guys , like he business listings will be channeled via it's listings. Google wants to own every listing - this is the aim. Search quality is a by product of this .

Participation was the interim step. Now Google says we don't want you, and dresses it up as an update. In defence of Google they will get better quality sites and remove those they don't want to participate with.

I think this is all part of a strategy to clear the decks. Like all updates i doubt if it will be as idealistic as the PR likes to convey.

@whatson - financial reporting season is not far off. But i'm a perpetual conspiracy theorist and strong believer that nothing occurs in isolation in this universe, let alone the digital world and engineered human activity, or indeed the Google organisation which is fast approaching an all encompassing status.

shoreline




msg:4430173
 12:54 am on Mar 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

I think you are close in your reference to the WSJ Achean...

Under the shift, people who search for "Lake Tahoe" will see key "attributes" that the search engine knows about the lake, such as its location, altitude, average temperature or salt content. - WSJ


Should read...

Under the shift, people who search for "Lake Tahoe" will see something similar to Wikipedia, which has become far too popular.


Well, I'm off to deoptimize all my sites! :)

BaseballGuy




msg:4430193
 2:25 am on Mar 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

This whole "build the site for your visitors" always has been a load of crap. I know plenty of sites that "build for your visitors" and they don't rank nearly as well as big brand names which in my opinion, dominate the SERPS.

econman




msg:4430195
 2:29 am on Mar 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

In my opinion, this is an honest heads-up to webmasters that another significant shake-up is coming.


Totally agree

brinked




msg:4430230
 4:44 am on Mar 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

Ok so this is right up my alley. When I first seriously got into SEO (and coming on these boards and pretty much reading every post by tedster) I was hitting a brick wall with all of my efforts. I would taste some great success real fast and then get slapped down. Oh what a horrible feeling that was. One day my site was performing, making enough money per day that it could pay my rent and bills and I can relax and focus on taking it to the next level.

But no, one day, all traffic gone. I experienced this over and over. Something needed to be done. I was doing something wrong, but what? Do I wait it out? Do I do something and fear messing up my situation even worse? Time to read every SEO forum and book I can find. Refreshing google every 10 minutes to see if my rankings returned. I became obsessive. I started drinking and became very depressed. My entire life focused on getting my rankings back.

I go back to the webpage that I learned SEO from. It was more of a list of "the most important elements for SEO". It was a list that pretty much said your keywords should be in the page title, meta description, meta keywords, h1 tags, bold tags links etc etc. So I did just that. I put Blue widgets in all those key areas. The site did have unique and original content and by all means looking back today it should have ranked!

That is when I was desperate. The script I was running was joomla. I logged in to admin and optimized the site. I remove SEO friendly URL's I mixed up the title tag and everything else. I had nothing to lose, I needed to do something.

2 weeks later I wake up and my rankings return. It was without a doubt the single most happiest day of my life. My rankings did not fully return, but more like 80%. It did not matter. The money did not matter. The fact that my hard work paid off. I had learned something that day and I was proud of myself.

This was the day that I realized that google felt I was over optimizing my site. This was also the best thing that happened to me because it forced me to learn. It forced me on these forums to read every thread I could even if I felt it didn't relate to my problem. I grew an attachment to tedster because out of everyone on all the other SEO forums his words made the most sense. So I made it my priority to read every single thing he wrote on these forums.

Anyway, that is how I got started with google and over optimization. I stated many times that "deoptimization is the new optimization" and that looks to be even more true very soon. I always run into sites that are over optimized both on site and off site and I scratch my head and ask myself "why?" why does that site get a pass and my site back in the day didn't?

I am much smarter today than I was back then. I can point out every single over optimization a site has even ones that google lets slide.

This goes back to what google has always said, "Make a quality site with great content and we will worry about the rest". And it looks like they want to further enforce that statement. I dont mind this, I dont mind this at all but here is where I have a problem...

My site back in the day was over optimized. But the thing is...my site was awesome! My site had tools that no other site had. Google did not know that, they just knew that it was over optimized. In today's search world, everything is SEO. Every webmaster knows they need SEO even if they dont have a clue what it is. Most hire companies who will usually over optimize their sites and that is where I have a problem.

Google, Do NOT punish a site for being over optimized. You want to punish a site for having 0 unique content, offering 0 value, then fine, you do just that. Do not fault webmasters for not fully understanding. They are over optimizing their sites because they feel like that's what they must do to succeed in this industry.

This can be a really good move if they do it right. But instead of punishing over optimized sites, lets reward sites with great content and those with the best content will be the winners. Isn't that what panda was supposed to do?

tedster




msg:4430232
 4:59 am on Mar 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

edit: just listened to the audio - I feel even more now that this change might be the reverse of what people are thinking - talk about misleading reporting from that original article!

Excellent - that comment really needs to be emphasized. Please, do not jump in with all kinds of comment unless you have actually listened to the recording.

If you do listen, you'll discover that this was an answer to a direct question from an attendee webmaster at SXSW - this was not a Google press conference. You'll also pick up a lot of nuance about what to expect when this change is rolled out live. And indeed, the most important part is helping the excellent site without the resources to spend big bucks on SEO. And, secondarily, SEO that is way over the top but still ranking well will probably take a hit.

Dear Google & Bing: Help Me Rank Better! [schedule.sxsw.com]

CainIV




msg:4430245
 5:56 am on Mar 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

In a perfect world the message would mean that great content, without being overly optimized, can take on lesser quality content that is overly optimized.

And indeed, the most important part is helping the excellent site without the resources to spend big bucks on SEO


The issue is that SEO is all about manpower and competition, regardless of tactic. If well optimized websites are about quality content and link baiting, or social media, then the largest websites shift budgets to meet that goal either way.

So SEO - for what it is or becomes - still remains further and further out of reach and eliminates websites from providing high quality content unless they can organize and generate revenue from it - enough to build manpower and compete.

My personal opinion is this is just a prelude, albeit an early one, to more updates coming that will heavily focus on quality of website by stripping away traditional factors / signals that are no longer as relevant in determining quality.

reseller




msg:4430249
 6:40 am on Mar 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

@Web_speed

To me this sound like a PR stunt aimed at replying concerns of worried higher management.

Agree.

And I think we as SEOes and webmasters shouldn´t consider all what Google´s employees say as "The Whole Truth and Nothing But the Truth! So Help Me God!" :-)

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