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The State of the Internet (2013) - Summarised perspectives.
hitchhiker

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4583408 posted 11:11 am on Jun 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

My personal observations, and summary of information taken from a number of forums, and the personal observations of 20 or so webmasters with a combined traffic of 10s of millions of visits per day.

I've tried (my best) to summarise what I've seen in relation to this, and not editoralise too much.

Disclaimer to newer folk: Take this for what it is, a set of observations - somewhat muddied by our personal experience and expectations. We do not work for Google, we only have part of the picture.

Summary

A fairly clear pattern has emerged: The fight against spam was HUGE. At some level Google failed to react to the crossfire generated, and collateral damage. It hit widely, but no one more than UGC (User Generated Content). In part made possible by the narrowed gathering of, and seeming reluctance to consider, wider-perspective webmaster feedback.

Why all this UGC?

We are normally an order of magnitude bigger than everyone else. Things hit us first and more noticeably. Our area is 'gray', both quality and otherwise. We fight SPAM at the site level and tend to see updates before others do (due to our reach and size). In some regards, we may signal what's to come for SMEs (small and medium enterprises).

  • UGC site owners are hurting (pretty much across the board).
  • Even StackOverflow seems to have been hit in 2013 (according to alexa*)
  • "Too many updates, they're being careless." - 500 a year according to Matt.
  • WebmasterWorld (alexa* again) declining since 2011 (it's safe, don't worry, we all love it here!)
  • Reported: Perhaps a general decline in search traffic via Google (now at #2 spot on Alexa - Facebook #1)
  • Quality doesn't seem to be much of a factor. Many authorities hit hard.
  • No clear examples (so far) of older UGC that survived.
  • Examples of things like 'blank' sites, double H1, '2005 black hat SEO' making it into the top 10 (a lot of this seems to be done at the bottom of the page) Read the thread, it's quite entertaining*
  • Bing showing very different results.
  • Panda provided a boost for a lot of us UGC. I saw my traffic rise through 2011-2012. (21.5 nov 12 corrected that.)
  • (Unsure) Custom software, or updating your look may have resulted in another inadvertant penalty (*cross-fire, sticking your neck out)
  • Non-UGC: Manual adjustments for keyphrases patching and semi-correcting the problem here and there.
  • "Hard to say where traffic drops are occuring, it's just 'everywhere'"
  • Links are at the centre of this storm. UGC Webmasters forced to No-Follow everything meant organic user preference from the wider audience was lost. Hurts everyone.
  • The google product forums have unintentionally become an abysmal way to keep us from getting answers. (Our experience as we ventured in there recently to hunt down some answers)
  • Brands may not be favoured, but at this level of chaos - they're more likely to survive it.
  • According to some people: Black hat has become non-viable. If that's true, it may have been done by over-reaching on too many signal patterns.

    I've left a lot out (paid links), as I haven't personally been following it. This is just my own meandering personal perspective.

    * "Cross-fire collateral damage." In a time when bullets are flying around you, keep your head down. In web terms, that would mean blending in with the crowd. "Use traditional software, don't do anything custom-made. No-Follow every link." That's not a great situation, that hurts everyone.

    * Alexa works pretty well (in my experience) for large sites - those of us in the top 10,000

    * Some entertainment: [webmasterworld.com...]

    Fully personal opinion

    I'm a white hat SEO, for 15 years. First website made in 1994. IMHO: Good content has never been hit so hard, and to this extent. Some may argue, the current state of affairs will result in the loss of smaller deserving businesses, those without the deep pockets to survive turmoil to this degree.

    IMHO Focus on content, even now. Nothing else has a longer-term chance of survival.

    I don't believe any of this is intentional on Google's part, I believe them when they say they don't favour brands. PPC would be a better place for brands in general (they are used to that and can afford it, everyone wins). Leave organic to a fair mix of SME and brand - then the ad space used above the SERPs would be acceptable.


    Question to the community

    Do we need, as a community, to establish better dialogue with Google? If so, a proper way to do that. To keep the signal to noise ratio down. Real Googlers participating, hundreds (not 2). I believe some inside the web-spam team might agree, please speak up.

    [edited by: goodroi at 1:18 pm (utc) on Jun 12, 2013]
    [edit reason] per author's request, added question to the community [/edit]

  •  

    Saffron



     
    Msg#: 4583408 posted 7:15 am on Jun 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

    Also, a lot of people seem to prefer an internet that doesn't solely consist of 'brands'.


    Definitely. That's the beauty of the Internet, the variety.

    Martin Ice Web

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 4583408 posted 7:52 am on Jun 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

    @aakk9999

    But what we still do not know is whether the ad on the #1 would get the same percentage of clicks as if it would organic position #1 if there were no ads for the same query.


    Ask yourself three question:
    -Why should Google pave the search results with ads above the organics, if they wonīt convert?
    -Why are there more ads than 1-2 years before?
    -Why Google payed Shopping?

    The german press finally have a agreement with Google about snippets from news sites only to use one or two sentence within their news or have to pay for it.
    Before thatg Google started a great campaing against the german press because they said the german press would crop free internet-information. Ha!
    The only thing thatīs been cropped by the agreement is their income with ads on their news sites.

    Donīt get me wrong. They have to earn money, they have some great services for free. All this needs manpower and great resources of Equipment. All that has to be paid. But the current direction all cries far out that the biggest concern is how to make more money.
    -more ads
    -payed shopping
    -less diversity
    -less competition
    -prominent Placement of g* services

    g* has about 15 subsidiaries that do nothing but tracking useraction!

    Someone says internet search is changing.
    I donīt see it that way. I think say way of making cheap Shopping sites has grown tha last 3 years. Never been before it was so easy to get widget information from manufacturers. ( CSV Files, pictures ... ) . There has been an enormous growth of shopping sites. All with same Information, only differ py price and services.
    I like that this after work make silly low price shopping site operators donīt have it this easy anymore by reading a csv file into the database. UNfortunately there has been a great collateral damage by sorting this type of sites with the ones that have better and greater service ( like my site ;).
    Many MFA sites have been vanished, thatīs a good thing but unfortunately they have been replaced ba MF Amazon sites or low Content sites.
    I personally donīt like they way g* patronizes my search habit. I am a free user. When I read a book I will read the whole book and donīt wonīt the book ( if it could do it ) to Show me only passages that are similar to books that I have read.

    So, yes Internet search is changing, but ist not the user that is changing, it is Google that is making the user changing their Habits. I think the public Joe user will soon not be able to ask a qualified search because he gets it chewed out by g*.
    It is like the younger Generation is not able to read a map because of navigation in cars.
    And g* has the ability to push the user in the direction they want the user to have. What this direction might be?

    aakk9999

    WebmasterWorld Administrator 5+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 4583408 posted 9:30 am on Jun 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

    Why should Google pave the search results with ads above the organics, if they wonīt convert?

    Martin, I have no doubt that Adwords get clicks - if they don't, people would not buy the ads. What we do not know is the number and how this compares with organic.

    Whilst ColourOfSpring has posted a link to a study on clicks in one of his message ten or so posts above, showing 2:1 ratio of clicks to Adwords vs organic, it is worthwhile bearing in mind that this study is done by a company selling Adwords campaign management and Adwords management software. The study is based on their clients only, and we do not know how well their client's sites are SEO-ed and where they rank in organic for the same queries so I would be a bit cautious about their conclusions.

    With regards to the rest of your post, I do not like Google following me via their various properties either, tries to manipulate (change) my searches nor I like that organic is pushed further and further down. And I agree that Google is doing all this to make more money.

    ColourOfSpring



     
    Msg#: 4583408 posted 8:49 pm on Jun 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

    Whilst ColourOfSpring has posted a link to a study on clicks in one of his message ten or so posts above, showing 2:1 ratio of clicks to Adwords vs organic, it is worthwhile bearing in mind that this study is done by a company selling Adwords campaign management and Adwords management software. The study is based on their clients only, and we do not know how well their client's sites are SEO-ed and where they rank in organic for the same queries so I would be a bit cautious about their conclusions.


    So you ask for a study, I supply one and then you pour scorn over it because it doesn't fit with you own instinctive belief that the ads don't get that many clicks given their position (I can read that much from your posts). If that were the case, then Google are offering a terrible user experience to the vast majority of its searchers. Google aren't stupid. There's no way they would slowly introduce more and more ads if it meant they were simply getting in the way of the majority of their searchers. Clearly they're being clicked on A LOT - and the study I provided shows what I think is common sense - the top links get the most clicks. Like I say, if that is NOT the case with Google ads, then Google are offering a terrible user experience.

    diberry

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member



     
    Msg#: 4583408 posted 10:00 pm on Jun 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

    Some searchers don't realize there are ads at the top. They don't see the very slightly peachy box on their screen. So they don't even realize they'd need to scroll down a bit for the organics. And IME they are typically NOT happy when you inform them they've been clicking on ads all this time without realizing it. People don't like being tricked, and that's how they feel.

    You can bet the folks I know are just a tiny fraction of those who have never worked out that there are ads at the top. Of course they're clicking them.

    Saffron



     
    Msg#: 4583408 posted 10:28 pm on Jun 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

    I use Google when looking at how my site is performing and find the ads at the top really hard to pick. I have a pet related site with lots of medical articles on it. I am competing with advertisers such as Purina & Hills, who have enormously deep pockets. So you search for a medical term, and their sites are listed in the ad section. But it's hard to even know if they are ads or not. I use a laptop and the background looks white unless I move my screen down and then you can see the pale peach. If I, as a webmaster often don't know if it's an ad or not, then the average web surfer just looking for information certainly won't.

    I'd join Adwords myself, but Google have crippled us financially and I can't afford to :(

    Saffron



     
    Msg#: 4583408 posted 10:30 pm on Jun 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

    As an aside though, I was comparing my traffic stats and traffic from duckduckgo has increased by 2,400% in the last 30 days. A sign of things to come I hope :)

    Play_Bach

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member play_bach us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 4583408 posted 12:06 am on Jun 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

    > Some searchers don't realize there are ads at the top.

    @ diberry - A few years ago I watched over the shoulder of a friend of mine Google something. To my horror, she clicked on the ads above the organics not just once, but several times! Civilians don't have a clue.

    diberry

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member



     
    Msg#: 4583408 posted 3:03 pm on Jun 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

    Of course they don't - as Saffron says, the background is indistinguishable on some screens, especially to some eyes. That's intentional on Google's part, and the other SE's don't make their ads obvious either.

    Basically, you can either target phrases that no one buys ads on - they won't get all that much traffic, but put enough of them together AND find other traffic sources, and it can work. Or you can buy the ads. Sorry, folks, but unless there's a huge outcry from consumers and/or governments about sneaky ads, nothing will change.

    But oh, hey, there's an idea. Educate the civilians about the ads. IME, they are angry with Google when they realize they've been "tricked" all this time. One lady switched to Bing even after I cautioned her their ads were subtle, too - but now that she knew, she didn't hold it against Bing, but continued to hold it against Google. She just felt that betrayed because she'd thought Google was a different sort of company - now knowing they were just like MSN, she chose the SE with fewer ads to scroll past.

    (ETA: she also noted that maybe clicking the ads explained why Google's results had gone downhill, and told me later she preferred Bing's.)

    Saffron



     
    Msg#: 4583408 posted 9:26 pm on Jun 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

    Basically, you can either target phrases that no one buys ads on - they won't get all that much traffic, but put enough of them together AND find other traffic sources, and it can work. Or you can buy the ads. Sorry, folks, but unless there's a huge outcry from consumers and/or governments about sneaky ads, nothing will change.


    That is what I'm trying to do now. Target phrases that my competitors aren't using. But it's hard.

    As an advertiser, it would actually annoy me if people were tricked into clicking paid links because if the visitor ends up on a site lacking in the information they were searching for, they're just going to hit the back button. I've always supported making ads clear, so if the clicker wants to click on the ad, they will do. Advertisers won't advertise if they're spending money on visitors who've been tricked into visiting their site.

    ETA: she also noted that maybe clicking the ads explained why Google's results had gone downhill, and told me later she preferred Bing's


    They have gone really downhill. I was looking up a medical article a few days ago & the top result was for ebay.

    Martin Ice Web

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 4583408 posted 10:17 pm on Jun 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

    @aaak, i know i canīt offer you a statistic but try to place a google search url into google browserzise app.
    You will be astonished what will happen! And then you can make your conclusion out of it.


    Mods Note: This thread has been locked to new replies due to repeated issues. Let's considered what has already been posted and move forward in the most productive way possible.

    [edited by: goodroi at 5:52 pm (utc) on Jul 3, 2013]

    This 281 message thread spans 10 pages: < < 281 ( 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 [10]
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