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How or why is Google cutting traffic to many websites?
Play_Bach




msg:4484484
 2:59 am on Aug 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

I'm interested in hearing some theories on how or why Google is cutting traffic to so many websites. What is the motivation? Is this just collateral damage from their algorithm updates, or do you think there's something else going on?

 

Play_Bach




msg:4484507
 5:26 am on Aug 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

I wanted to add that a blog I ran across (with a post from 2010 no less), wondered if Google was "strangling organic SEO in its quest for profit." They speculated that Google was doing this by shifting their results to favor local and that the only way to get non local results to appear would be to buy them with AdWords. This was the first time I'd seen local and AdWords linked like this, but it seemed to make sense and made me wonder if there wasn't something to it.

jmccormac




msg:4484509
 5:58 am on Aug 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

The destruction, or at least demotion, of organic SERPs in favour of profitable SERPs is a nice conspiracy theory but with the emphasis on Google meeting stockmarket expectations, it is beginning to look like less of a conspiracy theory. But like all good conspiracy theories, it is as yet, unprovable.

The other possibility is that they have made so many modifications and tweaks to the core algorithm that they've broken the original innovation (Page Rank) that gave them an edge on almost every other search engine at the time. Like any other man-made system, it was inevitable that Page Rank was going to be exploited. As a result of this twiddling, the only thing that really seems to works well is Adwords and targeting. It is probably easier to make things work on a small scale than a large scale. Google's major initial advantage was that it was great at supplying answers. However the advent of Wikipedia has probably taken that section of the market away from Google as a generation of schoolkids are growing up using Wikipedia as their reference rather than Google.

The way that Google has been aggressively targeting competitors in local search and advertising is an indication of how much they value this market - it is probably one more market where they can be defeated (Facebook/Twitter etc have already defeated Google in Social Media).

The other aspect is that the balance of search has probably shifted towards a more localised search with less global/general searching. Google had been good at general searching but localised search requires localised knowledge to be effective. Some sites that have seen traffic reduced might be generalist type sites rather than local sites.

Regards...jmcc

BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:4484523
 7:20 am on Aug 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

One has to wonder why they have put so much into local search? There must be something in it for them. After all I never had any problems finding local businesses on Google before they started offering local results.

Widget [town name] worked fine for me for years.

jmccormac




msg:4484529
 7:50 am on Aug 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

Local search really is knowledge based and it is the kind of Search that you just cannot spoof with general search type algorithms.

Regards...jmcc

BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:4484536
 8:06 am on Aug 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

I know that but is it necessary? Most people know how to search nowadays and adding the town name to the search term worked fine for me.

I find that the results are often flawed by Google's insistence on using local results. We are not always looking for local services.

jmccormac




msg:4484548
 8:24 am on Aug 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

Sometimes I wonder if all that twiddling with its algorithm has turned Google into a sociopath search engine in that it tells you want it thinks you want to know rather than what you want to know. The whole General/Local search lines got blurred a few years ago. The local SERPs give the appearance of trying to predict what the user wants. Perhaps it is just Google trying to muscle in on local search.

Regards...jmcc

Sgt_Kickaxe




msg:4484570
 9:32 am on Aug 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

Theories abound

I've seen searches with the first eighty (80!) results being shared amongst only three(3!) sites. Id say that removes what used to be 77 other sites from the first 8 pages of results quite nicely. The three are big brand stores, all well known already, and the 77 left out in the cold... who knows.

I've seen Google muscle in on content in a growing number of verticals including local and travel and they are expanding with well branded review sites as I type this.

I've seen Google smash what it deemed to be content farms while at the same time handing the biggest content farm out there a contract to create youtube videos for it, that company was Wall st backed of course.

I've watched as Google virtually eliminated any competition from the affiliate and online shopping niches, left them all to fend for their own traffic while it promoted its own shopping portal heavily.

I've watched Google fear social, twitter and facebook so now all roads lead to G+, MySpace wasn't big enough anymore.

How and why? One word, business. The internet is for business according to Google, the business of owning it and showing ads on it. Their ads, not yours, on their pages if they can manage it.

Is Google still a good search engine? The title of this thread gives you the answer. On a scale of zero to ten I'd give the current iteration of Google search the exact same score you see in that little +1 button below.

aristotle




msg:4484586
 10:06 am on Aug 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

Google just announced that it will buy Frommer's travel guides:

Google is to buy the travel guidebooks brand Frommer's as the internet company ramps up its bid to become the premier destination for local reviews and listings online. ... The deal gives Google a vast and growing archive of digital reviews for its local listings, maps and mobile applications. It comes nearly a year after Google bought Zagat Survey, the restaurant review and ratings service


[guardian.co.uk ]

Zivush




msg:4484602
 11:38 am on Aug 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

Believe it or not, life is unfair.
Let's hope that one day Google will buy your web properties.

Leosghost




msg:4484607
 11:56 am on Aug 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

Let's hope that one day Google will buy your web properties.


When Google can and does, rip off your copyright content and display it 3 or 4 times with ads around it, before Google send the visitor to your greyed out page ( and actually have the nerve to tell others that "it may be copyright" ) with the full size ripped off by them image "in clear" superimposed over the page..

See my post in this other thread..

[webmasterworld.com...]

Why would they bother buying your web properties ? ..they already just help themselves! ..and they haven't been obeying robots.txt ( which was supposed to keep them from using what was not theirs ) too closely for over a year now..

Zivush




msg:4484634
 1:47 pm on Aug 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

Leosghost,
Many of us are making a living out of the Internet and should thank Google and other SE that give us traffic.

They still depend on us you know.
Until G smash us to dust, hopefully some years from now, we are OK (although we know it has never been a fair game).

lucy24




msg:4484778
 7:34 pm on Aug 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

<begin Boring Old Poop mode>
It is not g###'s job to send people to your site. Their job is to send people to the site they're looking for. Whether they are doing that job properly is a whole nother question.
</end B.O.P.>

jmccormac




msg:4484781
 7:42 pm on Aug 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

@lucy24 But recently Google seems to think that it is Google's job to keep users on Google's sites in a Yahooesque 1990s portal effort to monetise eyeballs. :)

Regards...jmcc

Play_Bach




msg:4484978
 11:05 am on Aug 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the replies everybody, much appreciated.

StoutFiles




msg:4485051
 2:06 pm on Aug 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

Supposedly Google is going to be deranking sites that get a lot of DMCA takedown requests. Can't wait to see how people will use this to manipulate search results for competitors.

Bewenched




msg:4485053
 2:18 pm on Aug 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

If they were really pushing all local for the organic results then why in the world would Amazon keep popping up for products when I know full well they are local places close to me.

I realize they are an "authority" site for all products; which in my opinion they are not.

diberry




msg:4485102
 4:25 pm on Aug 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

I do agree with the idea that Google arranges the SERPs in a way they feel will benefit them and their profits. Whether they believe they are delivering what users want and THAT is best for profits, or whether they have another agenda, I don't know.

I can't see how favoring brands would make Google more money. Stuffing brands down the page so they have to open up their big pockets and buy Adwords WOULD make Google more money.

I can't see how favoring localized results makes Google more money, but maybe I'm missing something there.

The only way I can see the SERPs improving Google's bottom line is if they boost Adwords/Adsense, and I think that's happening pretty transparently - more ads over the years, looking more and more like the organic results...

In the past, for every site that lost traffic from an update, another site gained. That's changed recently on many queries where one single site is given a ton of results in the first three pages. That means quite a few sites lost out and only one gained.

But unless Google's getting bribed by these brands to do that for them, I can't see how it makes more $$ for Google. And I think it would be cheaper for big brands to just buy Adsense than to bribe Google for top organic listings - especially when a competitor could just buy Adsense and top them anyway.

netmeg




msg:4485112
 4:46 pm on Aug 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

Interesting, Matt Cutts is addressing some of these issues at SESSF just as I type this. Use that hashtag if you're on the twitter (or wait for the inevitable roundups on the industry blogs) Basically he says what he's always said - Search wants to be Switzerland, not influenced by money or their own products, but the best results for users. Believe it or not as you wish, but that's the official line.

He also said that telling people not to SEO their sites was a mistake on his part, but I digress

I realize they are an "authority" site for all products; which in my opinion they are not.


Of course they're not. But they are a big brand, the biggest ecommerce brand there is. And the more I study on it, the more it seems to me that Google serves up a big brand like Amazon first *NOT* just because they're a big brand, but because they haven't been able to identify a better authority for the query. That doesn't mean there isn't one, it means that for whatever reason, Google hasn't figured it out.

For example, I just did a search on a particular type of large power tool. Amazon came up first. Then Wikipedia, then a popular DIY blog. Big brand sites started at position #4.

Now clearly Amazon is not an authority site for buying this power tool, and my query was vague enough that Google offers me both transactional and information options (Wiki & blog). But still, I went and looked at the big brand pages that came up for that same query (starting with result #4) and they were beyond lame. The "buying guide" one put out looked like it was written by a one of those article spinning programs. Its competitors sites are all just as bad. And these are some pretty huge nationwide brands you'd all recognize. I would consider any or all of them as potentially authority sites, but they sure don't give off the signals. Probably the only reason they were ranking as high as they were was the fact that they were honking big brands. So the brand part gets you *some* benefit of the doubt, but not enough. After all, the DIY blog outranked the Big Brands, it just couldn't quite make it past Amazon.

You have to BE the authority for whatever it is your doing, and then you have to make sure you LOOK like the authority. Otherwise, Amazon wins every time.

Play_Bach




msg:4485131
 5:12 pm on Aug 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

> Search wants to be Switzerland, not influenced by money or their own products, but the best results for users.

Then why did they move the ads from the sidebar to above the organics? Before Froogle came along six years ago with the brown shopping bag icons [webmasterworld.com...] there was what I like to refer to as a clear line between church and state - Marissa Mayer even went on TV defending how Google separated their ads from the search results, hoping to quash the rampant criticism at the time that companies were simply buying their way to the top using AdWords. At least as far as the layout goes, that separation no longer exists and with all due respect to Mr. Cutts, the decision to move the ads from the sidebar to above the organics must have been an economic one. Why else would they do it?

netmeg




msg:4485151
 5:57 pm on Aug 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

When I first started in PPC, Google had ads above the organics, but average Joe or Jane couldn't get in there - they cost more or they were only offered to the big guys - I don't even remember. But I do remember, as an advertiser, that my clients and everyone else's clients *really* wanted to be up there. I'm not saying that's the only reason Google did it, but I bet it was a factor.

Play_Bach




msg:4485161
 6:17 pm on Aug 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

Interesting netmeg, thanks. What I remember is Google before they even had advertising. When Google finally did figure out how to monetize their site with AdWords, I don't recall seeing ads above the organics, but just in the sidebar. In addition to companies buying their way to the top, another criticism at the time (just like today) was that the ads looked nearly identical to the results and I recall Google was getting a lot of bad press about it, hence the Marissa Mayer TV spots. I don't remember seeing ads above the organics until after the Froogle push in 2006, but maybe they were and just not for any of my searches?

netmeg




msg:4485164
 6:34 pm on Aug 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

I dunno, I opened my first account for a client in 2002.

Martin Ice Web




msg:4485172
 6:51 pm on Aug 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

I can't see how favoring brands would make Google more money. Stuffing brands down the page so they have to open up their big pockets and buy Adwords WOULD make Google more money.

I can't see how favoring localized results makes Google more money, but maybe I'm missing something there.


Bute they changed the results/algo, not because the serps were bad or to get rid of the scrappers ( they would have been able to do that without killing half of the sites ).
What I know is I only change my good running website only to get more users and to grow my conversions. I would not put much work in it, when I donīt think it would get me more income. Not of all when I am the leader in business.
google is like a seo company. SEOs try to make a website better to get more users/conversions, google SEO changed their algos to get more...

Panthro




msg:4485174
 6:58 pm on Aug 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

Re the OP's original question - by "cutting traffic" are you referring to the "traffic throttling" phenomena that some people claim to be experiencing? [webmasterworld.com ]

It doesn't sound like it, but just checking.

Leosghost




msg:4485186
 7:21 pm on Aug 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

I don't remember seeing ads above the organics until after the Froogle push in 2006

Was in late 2005 IIRC..I posted about it at the time, cant get to my HD archives to pull the saved page to tell you exactly when, may have been even been early 2006..

First reference I can find on the net to it is on seochat..sept 2006..someone asking how to get there ..thread there.. references a thread here in 2004 which doesn't mention adwords above serps..

backdraft7




msg:4485189
 7:37 pm on Aug 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

For one actual search term, I have discovered a result that now displays the same site for the top SEVEN consecutive positions. Is that quality or a bug? It pushed me from #1 to page 2...ONE SITE!
Where are those quality algo's when we need them?

This particular Palo Alto based site has seen a meteoric rise from alexa -20,000,000 to about 1000 in less than two years and appears to be getting the red carpet organic service from Google. That would be a good site to dissect to see why it's so loved by G.

[edited by: tedster at 7:58 pm (utc) on Aug 15, 2012]

tedster




msg:4485198
 8:01 pm on Aug 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

It would be, but the dissection needs to be private. Ever since the Overstock.com fiasco last year, we need to be very strict here about open analysis of other websites.

If they were really pushing all local for the organic results

I don't think that's what their doing - but on a search that has local intent, they are really pushing hard with a different approach. I think it's ultimately the rise of mobile that is behind what Google is doing with local results, but I also think they have not found a good balance so far.

jmccormac




msg:4485209
 8:28 pm on Aug 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

@tedster The Overstock.com fiasco? Was that when Overstock.com decided to rebrand as o.co and people still kept going to overstock.com?

Regards...jmcc

crobb305




msg:4485214
 8:53 pm on Aug 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

I do agree with the idea that Google arranges the SERPs in a way they feel will benefit them and their profits.


and as others have noted, for a lot of commercial queries, Google is promoting their own products positioned at the top of the search results, just below the "Sponsored Ads" section, with a big box around it. So despite consistent/good rankings, traffic to businesses is being cut in favor of Google's own self promotion, abusing the fact that they have search dominance. I wish the feds would take a closer look at this.

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