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Many results from one site - Host Crowding vs Brand Authority

 7:42 pm on Jun 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

Over the last year, Google has switched from the "host crowding" method of displaying multiple results to the same site, to a system of displaying all those results on SERPs.

eg: Host Crowding was the old method of:

Site Result
--- indented 2nd site result

The new system displays all the results inline. In many cases, up to ten results can be for the same site.

The result has been (for many of us), a frustrating - if not - fatal loss of Google search relevance. The only way many of us have gotten around it, is to become very good friends with the minus operator "-" (which has also quite working at times) to remove the site from the results.

Google has not talked about this change much at all. Despite numerous people talking about the loss of relevance with the new system, Google has continued to turn up this dial.

For me, the new system has all but been a nail in the coffin of my Google usage. I can't recall a SINGLE time other than a navigation query, that I have EVER clicked on a result from a site showing 4 or more results from the same site. I had been using Google for about 20-40% of my queries (always starting at Bing) - which was actually a pretty good track record for Google if you consider that means Bing was failing for me 20-40% of the time.

The only real new thing here is that for the first time, Matt Cutts talks about the issue in a video, but never does in fact answer the question entirely. I have yet to hear any major voice say this is a plus.


Matt gives quite a few comments about whey host crowding is a plus. In fact - listen close - seems almost as if he prefers the old method like all of us do...



 10:57 pm on Jul 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

The reason why Brett was seeing all these being the same domain is because Brett's search URL had &num=100 in it, therefore showing 100 results per page.

I think it has been long around that Google moves up results from the same domain when more than one result is shown.

If you change Brett's URL to be &num=10 then you get much more varied results on the first page.

I checked google encrypted subdomain (SSL) and the ordinary google.com domain and they are pretty much the same, hence the difference is in the num parameter and not whether the search was on encrypted domain or not.


 7:53 am on Jul 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

in some searches though certain brands overpopulate the next 3-4 pages even on 10 result/page search


 5:13 pm on Jul 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

It's a bug, confirmed by Google.


 7:25 pm on Jul 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

It's a bug, confirmed by Google.

Interesting. I've been using the "Block example.com from results" a lot to get round it so I hope that doesn't contribute to any negative ranking factor for those sites affected in that case. Would be a tad unfair.


 8:10 pm on Jul 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

Onebuyone, where did you hear that?


 8:11 pm on Jul 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

google product forums


 9:03 pm on Jul 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

I've done an in-depth analysis of web sites I have that 'benefit' from host crowding - for some search terms extending over several pages. None of them show an increase in traffic as a result of this. I'm quite pleased because if there was an increase then a lot of my visitors would be going to the wrong page for the query that they'd entered - a waste of time for everyone and a potential increase in bounce rate.

What a mess. No wonder there are so many conspiracy theorists.


 12:57 am on Jul 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

Horrid results... many SERPs are just the same site over and over and over again like example.com?page=1 example.com?page=2, example.com?page=3. I search a travel destination and 30 of the top 50 results are different pages [from one particular site].

Just do a search for "adsense" the top 16 results all have the same meta title "Google AdSense Maximize revenue from your online content". I haven't seen results this bad since the days of Netscape... actually, Netscape was BETTER than this. I think the entire update should be classified as a bug.

Sorry Google, these results are just plain BAD... and annoying. Perhaps instead of "Penguin" you should call it "scorched earth" or perhaps the "throw the baby out with the bathwater" update. Thoughts of New Coke and Windows Vista are coming to mind.

I did get a free $100 coupon for AdWords. Timing could be coincidental, but...

[edited by: tedster at 5:38 pm (utc) on Jul 22, 2012]
[edit reason] no specific sites, please [/edit]


 3:39 am on Jul 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

Just do a search for "adsense" the top 16 results all have the same meta title "Google AdSense Maximize revenue from your online content".

Normally we don't publish specific query terms, but since this one is a Google product, I'm making an exception.

It's also a good case-in-point, because I do not see anything like this set of results, and I've used two computers and 4 different browsers. Also, even though I do not see many results from the same domain, what I do see is different in each case. Clearly this is an area of continued testing and the big Google wheel is still spinning.


 8:40 am on Jul 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

In many travel/hotel related results from page 2 onward Google has become a site map for the above mentioned brand by Rollo, it is really annoying and IMHO nobody will ever click for a hotel review in widgetcity if he searches for widgetcity. Wonder why Google is doing this.....


 5:48 pm on Jul 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

Perhaps instead of "Penguin" you should call it "scorched earth" or perhaps the "throw the baby out with the bathwater" update.

But this isn't a Penguin issue - it's a change in how Google handles host crowding. They used to only allow two URLs per domain and now they're trying a many-URL approach.

The Penguin Update happened in April 2012 and this multiple URL change is about a year old. Please let's not blur things, it's tough enough following all the Google changes.


 6:28 pm on Jul 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

If I search for something I want as many DIFFERENT results as possible and not results 10-23 from the same site how in the world can that be better for a searcher. Google is surely going strange ways since first of 2011


 7:46 pm on Jul 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

Sure, I shouldn't use Penguin as a catch-all for all the odd changes that have taken place recently. Instead of that label, maybe it's better to just say "recent changes to the algorithm". I haven't seen the host crowding issue I mentioned above until about the time of Penguin but now I'm seeing it often so I assumed they are related. I watched the video regarding Matt Cutts' thinking on the issue, but I'm not sure I agree that displaying numerous results from the same site represents an "evolution". If one wants multiple results for a single domain, there are already many, better ways:

1) site:example.com
2) Search or navigate inside example.com
3) Sitelinks

I really can't see any advantage to clogging up the SERPs with numerous results from the same site. All it does it take away options and will eventually stunt the growth of the web as many undercapitalized webmasters will simply give up because they can no longer connect with an audience. Similarly, users will just see the same old same old. It's a bit like shutting down 10 family-owned Italian restaurants and replacing them with 10 Olive Gardens.


 7:54 pm on Jul 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

It's a bit like shutting down 10 family-owned Italian restaurants and replacing them with 10 Olive Gardens.

Jesus does Olive Garden Suck if your in Florida try Gino's awesome and family run. Now about the serps, this aint the real world {yet!} so lets try and create "internet" brands that outrank real world brands


 6:06 am on Jul 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

@zeus there is an option though to block the offending domain (brand) if you log in to your account and go to search results....plus it gives you the option to explain why you block it!
and by the way I just had an idea how about calling host crowding /////the brandy bunch////


 7:02 am on Jul 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

As a point of clarity - "host crowding" is the name for the previous scheme, where Google "crowded" all the results from the same "host" into two results, grouped together with one indented if they both occurred on the same page of the search results.

This new kind of SERP is NOT "host crowding" at all, so if you read earlier Google communications on the topic you might get perplexed if you don't keep this in mind.


 8:22 am on Jul 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

I hope they change this; it's a terrible idea.

example: '<type of medical practitioner> <postcode>'

site in 2nd place also has positions 14 through 39, even though not one of those pages actually features the searched for term. The words that make up the term ARE in a boilerplate keyword-stuffed header one tag hidden behind their logo, so they occur on every page in the site.


 10:28 am on Jul 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

My niche has been drowned out by this single domain bunching, and if it is a bug (onebuyone), I will be very relieved - but I fear the worst, because the 3 biggest hitters in my alley seem to be the biggest beneficiaries of the change - coincidence? I think not.

The only ray of light is that the serps to a regular user...are a terrible mess. Google are taking a bit of a risk if their serps remain like this.


 10:29 am on Jul 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

Rankings of such websites should get algorithmically lowered without any action from Google. Their CTR in SERPs and usability stats must be poor.

Martin Ice Web

 11:12 am on Aug 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

Did someone notice that host crowding is active for blogs and forums but if the query is ecom related than it is host spamming ( Brand Authority )?


 11:26 am on Aug 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

Martin, that may seem to be the case - but it's also true that forums and blogs have a LOT lower brand recognition than the big e-commerce shops do.

Martin Ice Web

 12:03 pm on Aug 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

What do you mean by that?
That brands are dominating ecom but not informational queries?


 12:38 pm on Aug 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

I'm talking more about how Google measures the quality that we informally call a "brand". They don't do it by building a list of "brands" - and informational sites are a lot less likely to be the actual focus of a generic [un-branded] search.


 2:21 pm on Aug 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

Man .. that's not a bug that's a rabid weasel drinking redbull!

Serps have looked so bad at times I've really started using bing more for truly relevant results.

Martin Ice Web

 2:32 pm on Aug 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

Now I try to figure out what Matt Cutts did mean, when he said in his video that host crowding has some limits that hsot spamming does not have. Why on earth are they doing it then for forums and blogs?

Moderator Note: Google made an update to this part of the algorithm on 2012-09-14 - let's take any further discussion to the new thread: "Small Algo Change" -Domain Diversity 9/14/2012 [webmasterworld.com]

[edited by: tedster at 6:10 am (utc) on Sep 15, 2012]

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