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Google wants feedback on small websites you think should rank higher
patc




msg:4605563
 11:18 pm on Aug 28, 2013 (gmt 0)


System: The following 2 messages were cut out of thread at: http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4598423.htm [webmasterworld.com] by robert_charlton - 3:58 pm on Aug 28, 2013 (PST -8)


Matt Cutts just tweeted this, from Twitter:
https://twitter.com/mattcutts/status/372801217727979520 [twitter.com]

If there's a small website that you think should be doing better in Google, tell us more here:
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1Czwk15Yc_-zcnnlvqTuspEnz2Sn3Aw2JxhkWvoVxVS4/viewform [docs.google.com]

This forum often goes down the road of brands vs small, quality sites, so I guess this is a chance for us all to at least submit some sample URLs directly to Google.

Who knows, maybe some metric or other which has been killing some of us will be softened or something.
.

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 12:36 am (utc) on Aug 29, 2013]
[edit reason] made links clickable, adjusted post because of move [/edit]

 

EditorialGuy




msg:4605811
 4:10 pm on Aug 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

This is really awkward for Google. It makes me less confident they know what they are doing


How so? Companies solicit feedback all the time. I flew Delta Air Lines last week, and when I got home, I found a survey in my inbox asking me to rate various aspects of my flight experience. Should I interpret that to mean that I'll be risking my life if I fly with Delta again?

Soliciting feedback is a good thing. Try it. You might find that it can improve your Web site and search rankings.

randle




msg:4605816
 4:22 pm on Aug 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

No downside to this - think its a positive thing.

I entered a small, strictly informational hobby site that was a very useful resource to people who were restoring the same thing I was. EMD update sent it to the deep depths - After that I lost interest and wasn't posting as much on new projects as I didn't get the usual feed back and interaction from people that were really helped by it.

Sending this site to oblivion wasn't that big of a deal to me; I was a little bummed out but it didn't make money or anything like that. I did enjoy the fact I was helping people who were faced with the same uphill battles I was. Its kind of sinful for someone needing this information not to find it. They are not finding it because Google felt they knew better than the searcher about the worthiness of the site. (as is their right)

Sometimes Google punishes the wrong group - they should consider their users more, and focus less on the site builders, i.e. their behaviors, practices, brand or not, ect..

If the site is the most relevant to the query, and useful to the searcher - it should rank high and all the punitive algorithmic machinations they keep injecting into the equation should be left out.

reseller




msg:4605820
 4:40 pm on Aug 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

Google would like to hear feedback about small but high-quality websites ...


Just how small is a "small website"?

Ralph_Slate




msg:4605822
 4:46 pm on Aug 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

randle, I think that where Google is falling down is in the massively punitive nature of its algorithmic penalties. I don't know the nature of your penalty, but I can tell you that an algorithmic penalty I incurred from April 2012 to October 2012 resulted in my pages being pushed down below irrelevant results. That shouldn't happen unless someone is blatantly and actively trying to game Google, and such a death sentence should have a manual review process. This shouldn't stem from a Panda penalty or a Penguin penalty or an EMD penalty.

Having been penalized, and having seen what the SERPS look like both during and after my penalty, and having the benefit of being in a very tiny niche, it seems pretty clear to me that Google just puts its thumb on the scale, pushing certain my pages down the stack. In some cases this manifested itself as a "-10" penalty - instead of being #1, I was #11. Now I'm #1 again. Problem is, there were only 2 sites marginally relevant to the query, so being #11 out of 2 is a horrible result for both me and Google.

If Google had a penalty that wasn't so ham-handed, I doubt they'd get much flack. I'd have been pushed from #1 to #3, I wouldn't have questioned this too much. But being pushed behind sites that didn't even have the words in the term in proximity to each other was a signal that the SERPS were blatantly bad due to their unappealable algorithmic penalty.

patc




msg:4605824
 4:55 pm on Aug 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

I think that where Google is falling down is in the massively punitive nature of its algorithmic penalties.


I can't help completely agreeing with this. All of my sites in the space of a month have been zapped into oblivion. It's happened to one of them before for several months and there was seemingly no reason in the end, and they stuck it beyond visible results during that time. No emails, nothing. I know we all sound like moaners, but it doesn't half hurt when it happens to you. A softer 'slow slide' would at least make life a bit more bareable.

This time for me, overnight, with my safety net gone, they blew the last remaining site away which effectively is game over. Unless they roll out something miraculous in the next couple of days.

Reliance on organic traffic is a bad idea. I obviously knew that all along, but if you play with fire you'll get burned in the end.

EditorialGuy




msg:4605828
 4:59 pm on Aug 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

Just how small is a "small website"?


I'm reminded of the old WHAT'S MY LINE question: "Is it bigger than a breadbox?"

My take: Unless you think your site is huge, go ahead and submit its URL (assuming that you believe it should be ranking better than it does in Google). If the person who's vetting the submissions for Google doesn't think your site is small enough to meet the first-round selection criteria, you'll have wasted only a few minutes of your time.

mrengine




msg:4605835
 5:46 pm on Aug 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

What Ralph_Slate posted pretty much sums up my opinion. Relevance has taken a backseat to brands and penalties. The reason why brands are so predominate in the SERPS? Possibly because Google has penalized everything that has not been whitelisted!

reseller




msg:4605837
 6:17 pm on Aug 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

After killing 1000s of quality small websites by Panda and Penguin algos and hereby destroy 1000s of small business on the internet, we see the same Google Search Quality Team asking SEOes and webmasters to submit what they see as small quality websites. The reason behind such a move could be:

- Panda and Penguin algos have removed most of the small quality websites from top of Google SERPs.

- It seems the minds of Google Search Quality Team have been poisoned by Panda and Penguin algos and the team is unable anymore to identify small quality websites.

- Google raters are a bunch of amateurs who are unable to see the different between a quality small website and spam farm.

Very strange to see Google Search Quality Team asking among others, the victims of Panda and Penguin for help to identify quality small websites ;-)

Shepherd




msg:4605839
 6:40 pm on Aug 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

Very strange to see Google Search Quality Team asking among others, the victims of Panda and Penguin for help to identify quality small websites ;-)


Picture if you will, widgets.com. A good site with lots of relevant, on topic, unique content specific to widgets. It's an eCommerce site with lots of information. It sells widgets.
widgets.com hired an seo company and that company built 10,000 crappy links pointing at widgets.com all with the anchor text "widgets".
As a result widgets.com got nailed by penguin/manual action bad links penalty and no longer ranks for the term "widgets".
Widgets.com is still a good site, probably the most relevant for widgets out there.
The penalty worked as it was supposed to but the end result is not a desirable outcome for google or the website.

econman




msg:4605844
 6:59 pm on Aug 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

The reason behind such a move could be:

- Panda and Penguin algos have removed the small quality websites from top of Google SERPs.

- It seems the minds of Google Search Quality Team have been poisoned by Panda and Penguin algos and unable anymore to identify small quality websites.

- Google raters are a bunch of amateurs who are unable to see the different between a quality small website and spam farm.


My theory:

1. The last few years' of "improvements" have successfully pushed millions of poor quality, heavily SEO'd sites far down the SERPS.

But,

2. The same "improvements' have pushed most of the small, high quality websites down the SERPs along with them -- including the ones that have never engaged in link building, and done little or no SEO work.

3. This leaves the big "trusted" websites to dominate the top of the SERPs to an extent that goes far beyond Google's intent or its own long term best interest.

4. Google (as always) wants to find a fully automated/algorithmic solution to this problem.

5. It isn't easy to find a seed set of truly "good" quality small sites in a sea of junky small sites, since they often appear the same to the non-expert eye. In many niches, most of the sites were created by savvy folks using scripts and overseas outsourcers working for $2 an hour, who simply copy the information on the "real" sites, and focus their efforts on SEO, building links, creating social media "signals of quality" and so forth.

6. Turning thousands of quality raters loose on the problem has probably been tried already, and it isn't working. It isn't all that easy to figure out the difference between "real" sites, made by "real" experts when dealing with thousands of different niches. The submissions being collected in this effort will provide them with a relatively clean data set to study, but the really important element is the information provided in response to the second question: Why does this small site deserve to be ranked higher?

I would guess their plan is to use their internal raters to cull through the responses, to throw out the junk, and to keep responses the rater thinks look legitimate. They will then study this clean data set very carefully, using a second team of raters to evaluate and confirm the "why" comments, and use the resulting data set like a survey sample that can then be compared to "signals" that might be present in the huge data sets Google has at its disposal that will allow it to better detect the true difference between real sites and fakes, or between truly "good" sites and mediocre ones, or both.

This would be consistent with what we know about how Google likes to work (mining data for patterns then applying those patterns to huge data sets), and in any event, they don't have anything to lose by trying it.

getcooking




msg:4605845
 7:02 pm on Aug 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

How is this form really different than what they've asked for previously? (aside from specifying "small" sites)

When Panda 1.0 rolled out they asked people to post in their forum if they thought they were wrongly hit. When Penguin came out, they had a form to fill out. I'm curious why this form now.

And isn't it only going to be site owners filling it out? It's not like the average user a) follows Matt Cutts on Twitter, and b) really knows if their favorite website is ranking well or not. Everyone thinks their site should rank so I can't imagine the deluge of responses they are going to get.

I wasn't going to fill it out at first. But, frankly, I decided I've already lost so much (like 80% of my income) so what else is there to lose. I think I put in a well thought out response. Hopefully someone will actually read it - and I mean, read the words not just skim it. I really tried to look at it from Google's perspective and point out things about my site that might matter to them (and that HAVE mattered to our users) in a clear, factual way.

EditorialGuy




msg:4605852
 7:04 pm on Aug 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

Great summary, econman! I think you've nailed it.

+1

johnhh




msg:4605856
 7:31 pm on Aug 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

Nice Post @econman
Google (as always) wants to find a fully automated/algorithmic solution to this problem


One solution is fairly easy - stop having multiple listings of the same domain on a page - no use to anyone. That would push up a lot of smaller sites. Assuming that Google are happy with the general order of sites in results.

Time to programme that in - um not long I think.

netmeg




msg:4605865
 7:50 pm on Aug 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

They're reading them. But I think they probably will stop the sample (if they haven't already) at a few thousand sites, to start.

JS_Harris




msg:4605868
 7:59 pm on Aug 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

Or in short - can they really trust this data they collect?


No, they can't, but that's not the point. They want to discuss how they can improve so if you can think of a good example where a smaller site may be a better result than a larger site tell them why you think that.

I suspect Google is nearly done with small sites but at least they have open ears. Personally I have very little use for today's incarnation of Google because I already know about ebay, Amazon, Wikipedia and the other typical top results. When I search Google it's to find little sites I don't know about.

Ralph_Slate




msg:4605873
 8:18 pm on Aug 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

I've been using my experience with Google Search for my business site as a lens to look at Google when I search in general. I see some issues.

First, a lot of the sites returned are in fact thinly-veiled affiliate sites. The information is crappy, generic, and does not appear trustworthy. It doesn't seem to matter what the topic, I get a lot of questionable results back. It seems the internet is becoming less good in general.

I wonder how much of that is due to Wikipedia itself? Wikipedia cannibalizes informational sites by culling the best information from all of them. It couldn't exist without those other sites existing first, but it will eventually kill its hosts because it is a trusted source versus other unknowns. Then, ironically, it seems that other sites crop up and repackage the Wikipedia information.

I can see it from Google's perspective. There is a TON of crap out there. I Googled a particular nostalgic but obscure widget, and was surprised that there were pages upon pages of references to it. Most were not well-done. A lot were written by bloggers and newspapers who need to churn out a steady diet of content. I'm sure that there were probably some good pages buried on the 5th page. The top spots were held by:

1) Youtube (commercial for the widget)

2) Wikipedia (a mediocre article on the widget, not very detailed, no external references),

3) EMD site that appears to be operated in an official capacity by someone who acquired the trademark. Not much content on it though.

3a) Google Images bar. Relevant images.

4) eBay, which appeared as a category, but seems to only be one based on common keywords. In other words, it was like a category that eBay created for search.

5) Facebook page devoted to the widget.

6) A widget category history site. Nice design, but light content though. Probably a leader in its category overall.

7) Blog article on a nostalgia site (not specializing in widgets categories). Probably one of the best articles on the widget.

8) Blog article on Yahoo, not a nostalgia site, just a random article which included this widget in nostalgic look back at the category of widgets. Not much specific on this widget.

9) Site that pulled together the YouTube video commercial with the Wikipedia content. Nostalgic slant to the site, but didn't add much.

10) Article about the creator of the widget passing away.

** Page 2 **

11) Retro blog with thin article about widget.

12) Generic blog with thin article about widget.

13) Retro history site with thin, but unique (i.e. not included in above sites) content about widget.

14) A thread on Topix about the widget.

15) A random website, not quite a blog, that had a page on the widget. Not much more than personal musings though.

16) Dailymotion with the same commercial.

17) URL Blocked by my company's firewall.

18) Thin nostalgia site with a page on the widget.

19) Music lyric site with commercial lyrics.

20) Post on a political blog about the widget.

The rest of the listings beyond that were more rehashes of those above sites, mostly blogs with a "hey, does anyone remember..." story about it or top-10 lists of "forgotten widgets".

Are those results particularly bad? Not especially. YouTube perhaps shouldn't be #1. Wikipedia is ranked a few positions higher than the quality of its article. Arguably, the top 2 sites should have been the ones ranked #7 and then #6. Are there other, better sites out there? I have no idea - I checked Bing, and their results were actually a bit worse because they had 2 eBay results, 2 widget category history results, and 2 Flickr results on the first page. Nothing different that really stood out. A few different pages, but no clear winners, just more variations of runners-up.

I do feel like the Google results are better than they were last year at this time. Maybe that's just because my penalty is gone and I'm no longer angry. I do think that the quality out there is not as good as it used to be though. Must be the recession.

Edit: P.S. I should admit that I'm guilty of doing what I have criticized others for, which is using the amount of content on a page to determine if something is "thin". When I made reference to thin pages above, it was mostly because they had less words than other pages. Although the correlation is high between volume and quality, it obviously isn't absolute.

dvduval




msg:4605875
 8:22 pm on Aug 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

Take a search like "payday loans"
1. It is dominated by ads
2. There is no information to help consumers from getting screwed.

I think a better question would be:
What are examples where smaller sites should be seen HIGHER on the page, just higher in the organic search results.

I'm beginning to wonder if the Google Spam Team is becoming obsolete just like the small businesses that are pushed out by paid ads. Why bother even having a conversation on this topic if we fail to talk about the spam in the ad results?

trinorthlighting




msg:4605912
 9:35 pm on Aug 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

Reseller hit the nail right on the head. Good to see a lot of the old members here come out of the woodwork on this thread. If Google wants an easy answer how to fix this issue and get back on the side of small business here it is:

-50 all publically traded corporations unless their business name is used in the query. After all, these big corporations are doing fine and will continue to do fine without Google giving them all the free traffic. These companies have their own following that go directly to their website and make purchases. These big companies can afford to advertise anyways in Google if they feel the need to do so. If Google did the -50 I would say it will boost small business and actually have an impact on the economy because small business drives the economy in most countries. After all, did Google not once pride itself on being a different search engine on the side of smaller businesses? Did they not pride themselves on serving alternative results verses the everyday average item you can find at Walmart and Amazon?

Someday when Matt leaves I feel the corporate giant will lose touch. I guess we will all have to see if Google can fix this before the Holiday season kicks in otherwise I am sure more internet small business will continue to shut their doors.

netmeg




msg:4605934
 10:38 pm on Aug 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

-50 all publically traded corporations unless their business name is used in the query. After all, these big corporations are doing fine and will continue to do fine without Google giving them all the free traffic. These companies have their own following that go directly to their website and make purchases. These big companies can afford to advertise anyways in Google if they feel the need to do so. If Google did the -50 I would say it will boost small business and actually have an impact on the economy because small business drives the economy in most countries.


Fortunately, there's no chance of that ever happening.

(ZOMG)

muzza64




msg:4605943
 11:00 pm on Aug 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

This is google saying put up or shut up. If you really, really believe your site is better than or equally as good as the best ranking sites, now is your chance to make your case.

It's the acid test of quality. Do you, the owner, believe your site is high quality, better than the big brands. Speak now or forever hold your peace.

Or they might just be curious to see if they have overlooked something and are checking just in case.

Either way, it's a good test that might force a lot of webmasters to finally admit to themselves their sites need to be much better.

jrs79




msg:4605968
 12:58 am on Aug 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

They are trying to add a little hope to all the FUD. They still need webmasters to believe that they do care about them, but algorithms have no feelings.

netmeg




msg:4605981
 3:03 am on Aug 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

Yet another post trashed into Google bashing. Good job.

Robert Charlton




msg:4606000
 3:46 am on Aug 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

Mod's note: Thanks, netmeg.

I've just removed a bunch of off-topic, anti-Google rants. This thread is about the feedback form and how to make best use of it.

Please respect other members who are here to discuss that. Thanks.

Kendo




msg:4606027
 5:56 am on Aug 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

If anyone seems to rant, perhaps they are trying to explain that you are wasting your time assuming anything that Google claims is true.

There is a huge difference between rant and factual report!

mihomes




msg:4606028
 6:09 am on Aug 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

This whole thing makes no sense. The only people who will ever see Cutts' Twitter account, this forum post, or anywhere else this is mentioned are people who own websites, do seo for their own or other peoples sites, etc, etc.

There is obviously going to be a huge portion of the responses which are totally biased and skewed. What exactly does Google want to get out of this? It is not like they are asking the general public as only people on the 'inside' are going to know about this form.

Do they really think all these webmasters responding are going to submit a form for a site they use that is not theirs, owned by their employer, a friends site, or there is no connection other than they like it. If so, why would someone pay any attention at all to the sites ranking?

I love webmasterworld, but I do not check on its se rankings or am worried about it lol. Not the WebmasterWorld is small or anything just an example.

superclown2




msg:4606029
 6:59 am on Aug 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

I reckon that anyone filling out the form should point out that the problem is not that small sites have fallen in the SERPs but that in too many verticals the big brands have used their privileges to spam out pages aimed at search terms promoting products or services outside their usual offerings. As a result it is common to find a whole stack of them dominating the top positions acting as affiliates for the same company whilst that company's own website - packed full of information -languishes on page two. This is not good for searchers, Google themselves, or the Internet in general. Take away brandspam and Google's SERPs are really not bad at all IMO.

Zivush




msg:4606095
 10:27 am on Aug 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

I'd call it "Google's new Wailing Wall"

turbocharged




msg:4606099
 10:38 am on Aug 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

If anyone seems to rant, perhaps they are trying to explain that you are wasting your time assuming anything that Google claims is true.

There is a huge difference between rant and factual report!

Agreed. Unfortunately it's easier for some to label facts as rants in an effort to protect the Google establishment.

To win any argument for small websites to rank better, one must also argue why places like Amazon do not deserve 2, 3 and even 8 listings in a row to make room for some small sites. This should be easy to accomplish under normal circumstances, but these times are not normal. Everyone, including Google is entrenched in their positions and profiting from their relationships. Meanwhile opposing views to the establishment's current business model are muted.

Have a good weekend everyone, and a happy labor day to those in the USA!

reseller




msg:4606134
 1:54 pm on Aug 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

By asking for feedback on small websites you think should rank higher, In fact Matt Cutts has been asking SEOes and webmasters to submit "Unofficial Reconsideration Request" for sites which have been affected by Panda and/or Penguin algorithms.

Now why would Matt Cutts suddenly do something like that? any qualified guess?

jmccormac




msg:4606135
 2:00 pm on Aug 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

Now why would Matt Cutts suddenly do something like that? any qualified guess?
Google realised that it has screwed up?

Traffic to Bing is up?

Yahoo is back and this time Marissa intends to make it work?

Regards...jmcc

EditorialGuy




msg:4606142
 2:36 pm on Aug 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

Let's cut to the chase:

If you think your site deserves to rank better than it does and you aren't worried about what Google's search team will find when they take a closer look, why wouldn't you be pleased to have this opportunity?

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