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

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4605576 posted 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

WebmasterWorld Senior Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4605576 posted 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?

atlrus

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4605576 posted 2:51 pm on Aug 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

Lot's of Google cheerleaders here, don't know why.

1. It's a "survey", sort of. It doesn't mean that submitting a small site will give it a chance to rank better. "To be clear, we're just collecting feedback at this point; for example, don't expect this survey to affect any site's ranking." - clear as day to me.

2. It's not really a survey, nothing could statistically be determined by the answers, since they are all arbitrary (and by all, I mean the one and only). I don't even know why the title of the page is "Small website survey", makes no sense.

3. Feedback, which has been available both through the main Google website and WMT, has been ignored for years. What makes you think this will be any different? Especially considering the childish look the survey page has?

4. Has there been any talk about an actual plan for the survey? What exactly is Google trying to achieve? Is there any point to it?
If a guy showed at your doorsteps today and asked "please, answer these questions for me" - what would be your first response? I know mine would be "why?"

5. Aren't you tired of wasting your time?!?

EditorialGuy

WebmasterWorld Senior Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4605576 posted 4:23 pm on Aug 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

5. Aren't you tired of wasting your time?!?


How much time does it take to submit a URL and a short statement? Anyone who can spare the time to vent on this forum should be able to spare a couple of minutes for the survey.

jmccormac

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4605576 posted 4:36 pm on Aug 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

@EditorialGuy
Maybe people just don't trust Google anymore. Some of these people might not have drunk the Google koolaid and have seen their sites and businesses decimated by the Animal Farm twiddling.

Regards...jmcc

EditorialGuy

WebmasterWorld Senior Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4605576 posted 5:04 pm on Aug 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

Maybe people just don't trust Google anymore. Some of these people might not have drunk the Google koolaid and have seen their sites and businesses decimated by the Animal Farm twiddling.


It isn't about "drinking the Google koolaid." It's about pragmatism and self-interest. If there's even the slightest chance that Google's survey could lead to search results that are kinder to the independent site owner, won't the ROI from completing a two-minute survey be higher than the ROI from chronic venting on this forum?

mihomes

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4605576 posted 5:09 pm on Aug 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

Maybe people just don't trust Google anymore


Maybe THAT is the reason for it. In other words they have some predetermined number of webmasters who think would fill it out and compare that to how many actually do.

Or maybe just to stir the pot and read comments on forums like this one. They want to know if the webmaster community feels like they can be trusted or not.

taberstruths



 
Msg#: 4605576 posted 5:50 pm on Aug 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

For me it was a pretty simple decision. I weighed the risks vs. rewards. 2 minutes of my time vs. the possibility I might get a review and my site increase.

Also we all know that G is not ever going to admit they screwed up. However this is a possible sign that they are realizing that they have. If enough webmasters submit sites that are quality sites that are now nowhere to be found, it has the potential to stick their nose in the doo doo and make them smell their mess and maybe things will change.

atlrus

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4605576 posted 6:21 pm on Aug 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

How much time does it take to submit a URL and a short statement? Anyone who can spare the time to vent on this forum should be able to spare a couple of minutes for the survey.


It doesn't matter how long it takes.
How many times have YOU submitted feedback to Google? ( It takes even less time, since the regular feedback form has only one field :) ) How many times have you reported spam in the results? How many times has Google EVER taken your feedback into any kind of consideration?!? Pleeeeeease
If someone wants to waste their time - be my guest. Just don't try to convince me that this half-baked pathetic excuse of a survey is The Game Changer small websites have been waiting for...

the possibility I might get a review and my site increase.


Yup, is this kind of disregard of plain English that gets you...They tell you clearly that it will not affect your ranking in any way, yet the hope still burns deep down there, don'it?

taberstruths



 
Msg#: 4605576 posted 6:27 pm on Aug 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

LOL Plain English huh? "To be clear, we're just collecting feedback at this point; for example, don't expect this survey to affect any site's ranking."

It did not clearly say it will not affect your rankings in any way.

EditorialGuy

WebmasterWorld Senior Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4605576 posted 6:54 pm on Aug 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

They tell you clearly that it will not affect your ranking in any way, yet the hope still burns deep down there, don'it?


The survey won't affect your ranking directly, but the machine learning that makes use of samples chosen from the survey results could influence rankings in the future.

Mind you, the survey will be a double-edged sword for some: Not all site owners want to risk a manual review or even a quick evaluation that might lead to a closer look. (And that's a good thing, if it means less spam and other junk for the search team to wade through when they're doing triage on survey submissions.)

trinorthlighting

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4605576 posted 7:33 pm on Aug 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

This issue is about why a small site should outrank Amazon and eBay and all the big corporations that are taking up all the prime real estate. Its a battle of big business vs. the small guy. What makes the small guy better? Right now looking at Googleís results favor big business and they are hearing a lot of small guys complaining who have been around since the beginning.

Honestly, most of us can show examples of certain search terms where Amazon, EBay and other very large sites are taking 4-8 positions on the first page of search results and it is making the small guy very upset.

Remember, it was the small guy who helped Google in the beginning for those of you who were around at the beginning. We promoted the neat search engine. We were here before the eBay, before Amazon, etc... If they lose the small guy, then who is to say they will not be replaced by the next upstart search engine who is on the side of the small guy. So they in a way are being forced to consider their options.

[edited by: trinorthlighting at 7:48 pm (utc) on Aug 30, 2013]

jrs79



 
Msg#: 4605576 posted 7:47 pm on Aug 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

I would actually submit a site if I knew of one to submit. I would never submit my own or a client's site, because I know that I would not be objective and that it wouldn't be very helpful to the survey or their machine learning.

Maybe I will try to find a site to submit this weekend.

EditorialGuy

WebmasterWorld Senior Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4605576 posted 8:07 pm on Aug 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

I would never submit my own or a client's site, because I know that I would not be objective and that it wouldn't be very helpful to the survey or their machine learning.


Google is unlikely to care if you're biased. In fact, it probably expects most of the submitters to be biased, in the same way that applicants for a job, candidates for an award, or authors submitting manuscripts to publishers are likely to be biased. So don't be afraid to blow your own horn--or your client's--if you think there's a decent chance that Google will like the music.

econman

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4605576 posted 8:40 pm on Aug 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

the survey will be a double-edged sword for some: Not all site owners want to risk a manual review or even a quick evaluation that might lead to a closer look.



Google is unlikely to care if you're biased. In fact, it probably expects most of the submitters to be biased


The first point and associated FUD will help keep the sample somewhat clean from the gitgo. The second point is key -- if in fact their plan is to use their internal raters to cull through the responses, they will throw out sites that don't appear to be legitimate submissions.

All that matters is that they end up with a reasonably large, clean list of sites that someone truly believes is ought to show up more frequently on the first page for topic-appropriate searches.

Note the survey doesn't ask about specific search terms or keywords -- that is something Google can analyze itself. The focus here is on finding small, legitimate sites that someone cares about, and believes should be more visible.

Google knows every parent thinks their kid is wonderful. What's important is to find some real, live parents who love their kid, and ask they what's special about their kid? One person will say their kid has a great sense of humour, another will say their kid can say the multiplication tables backwards, another will say their kid is real tall for their age, and has a great jump shot, and so forth.

I think Google won't stop there -- they will study this clean data set very carefully, using a second team of raters to evaluate and confirm the "why" comments -- does the kid have good jump shot or not? how tall are they actually?

I think Google is trying to build a list of example sites that aren't ranking very well, and identify specific reasons why someone (even if its just the owner) believes the site deserves to be ranking higher.

The resulting data set (list of verified sites with specific/standardized reasons) will be the actual survey submitted into the analytical process (not the initial unfiltered set of submissions).

We can only guess at what they will do with this data set, but the sites could easily be analyzed with reference to click through rates, link history, how frequently the pages are updated, whether the owner uses WMT, and so forth and so on -- any and all of the huge data sets Google has assembled, allowing it to look for patterns that would enable it to improve their results, to better detect the true difference between real sites and fakes, or between truly "good" small sites and mediocre ones, or both.

Robert Charlton

WebmasterWorld Administrator robert_charlton us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4605576 posted 8:59 pm on Aug 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

Keep in mind the kinds of questions Google presented when it discussed quality guidelines. I mentioned some of them early on in this thread.

Some big sites are very vulnerable with regard to these questions (certain content farms come to mind), and it's very possible that Google might pay attention, particularly if the content farm articles paraphrase your original content and then give you a nofollow link as acknowledgement.

Here are three such criteria from my list (selected from Google's sample list)...

- Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?
- Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
- Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites donít get as much attention or care?

This cuts both ways, though. Where did you get your information, say, about maintaining your widget? Did you go beyond the manufacturer's documentation and commonly available articles?

If you are a longtime expert in widgets, did additional research or did hands-on testing, and your article added extra value... and then a writing student working for content farm borrowed your insights... this is probably your best shot at making a case.

johnhh

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4605576 posted 9:17 pm on Aug 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

Not all site owners want to risk a manual review or even a quick evaluation that might lead to a closer look.


The churn and burn people will not mind, and are more likely to submit this form.

The website owner that has spent decades on their sites, and we are getting close to this, and been hit by the animals would not want to risk it.

I don't think the sites submitted will get much of a look at, and I am afraid feedback to site owner will be zero. In the 'old days' when Google asked for help we got an email address from googleguy and what to put in the subject line, and I am pretty sure everyone was looked at. Hey, we didn't mind doing it either to help them along, today it's a different ballgame.

Google only have to look at the results to see whats wrong, I don't think we need to tell them. The telling thing is, they don't seem to care.

econman

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4605576 posted 9:36 pm on Aug 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

The churn and burn people will not mind, and are more likely to submit this form.


Why would they bother crafting an explanation of why this particular instance of their junk is wonderful for such and such a reason?

But, regardless, the Google reviewers will be able to figure out which sites were churned out and designed to be burned, so that won't bother Google, aside from creating some noise and increasing the cost of the exercise.

As well, perhaps Google will find some interesting patterns (e.g. domain ownership data) in the churn and burn examples that are submitted that Google will benefit from as well -- data patterns they can use to speed up the burning process. Nice little side benefit if you are right and the churn and burn people decide to submit the form for a few thousand examples of their churning efforts.

EditorialGuy

WebmasterWorld Senior Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4605576 posted 9:42 pm on Aug 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

The second point is key -- if in fact their plan is to use their internal raters to cull through the responses, they will throw out sites that don't appear to be legitimate submissions.


A submission doesn't have to be from a third party to be legitimate. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and it takes only a nibble to tell if a submission should be tossed out or passed along to the next round of judging.

Robert_Charlton wrote:

This cuts both ways, though. Where did you get your information, say, about maintaining your widget? Did you go beyond the manufacturer's documentation and commonly available articles?


Let's not forget that many (most?) sites aren't retail or B2B commerce sites. The Google criteria that were mentioned seem to be directed mostly toward information sites:

- Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?
- Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
- Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites donít get as much attention or care?


If Google thinks those criteria are important, what does that say about the future of UGC-based information sites and content farms in Google Web Search? (Right now, megasites in both categories seem to be doing okay--or, in some cases, better than okay. Is that a bug or a feature? Does Google's "small site" survey suggest that Google wants this to change?)

johnhh

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4605576 posted 10:18 pm on Aug 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

the Google reviewers will be able to figure out

Um depends on who they are - cheap labour with limited knowledge on topic...

Robert Charlton

WebmasterWorld Administrator robert_charlton us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4605576 posted 11:54 pm on Aug 30, 2013 (gmt 0)

If Google thinks those criteria are important, what does that say about the future of UGC-based information sites and content farms in Google Web Search?

Dani Horowitz of DaniWeb brought up this very point in a video interview on WebProNews about steps she took to help her forum recover after its Panda hit. (UGC sites are one of the things I had in mind when I selected the points I did. Not wanting to encourage discussion of specific sites here, I'll nevertheless refer to this widely discussed case)...

DaniWeb Speaks out on Recovering from Google Panda
trt 19:24 - May 31, 2011
[videos.webpronews.com...]

The question Dani raises is a knotty one, as she characterizes the issue of UGC and forum discussions where the people giving the answers are 'real experts' with deep knowledge of their fields, but also not always native English speakers, so their answers might have 'lots of grammar and spelling mistakes'... this vs articles from sites with 'teams of staff writers' without special interest or expertise in a field, but churning out polished 'three to five paragraph articles'.

Dani acknowledges that it's going to be very hard for Google to sort out that difference. Comments to the video also suggest that other forum models might have an advantage.

This is where, if you have a UGC site and think you're serving users better than a staff-written site, I believe that some thoughtful feedback, with well chosen examples, might help Google to look at this more carefully.

(I'm sorry I can't pin-point the exact spot in the video... it has no running time indication... but judging on the time-line and measuring the video progress bar, where Dani makes these points is between 60% to two-thirds into the video.)

Saffron



 
Msg#: 4605576 posted 2:16 am on Aug 31, 2013 (gmt 0)

I raised that issue a few months ago when I stumbled upon a site for a rare disease. It was owned and written by a world authority on the condition, but English wasn't his native language & there were spelling/grammar mistakes. Plus it was a home built site and probably not the prettiest/most functional.

So, should he be penalised for an unattractive site & less than perfect grammar, even though he's the leading expert on the topic?

This is a tricky one for Google, but I don't think polished articles on beautiful sites are always the best.

diberry

WebmasterWorld Senior Member



 
Msg#: 4605576 posted 5:44 am on Aug 31, 2013 (gmt 0)

It's interesting that Google didn't put this where regular searchers are likely to respond. They could put voting buttons alongside each entry in the SERPs if they wanted to make sure the general public is okay with Amazon et al dominating the way they do.

Instead, they're essentially asking webmasters. They must already know they'll get a resounding, "Yes, and here is my site that should be doing better" response for the vast majority. What are they hoping to get from that?

Maybe they already agree brand/authority/trust is too dominant in relation to relevance, but feel there's some good reason why they can't simply dial it down a little... and they're hoping our responses will reveal a few areas where they could tweak the algo to counterbalance brand dominance, so they don't have to dial it down but can still get better results?

jmccormac

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4605576 posted 6:42 am on Aug 31, 2013 (gmt 0)

@Robert Charlton
Here are three such criteria from my list (selected from Google's sample list)...
- Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?
- Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
- Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites donít get as much attention or care?

You know my opinion on that particular article from Google. And it remains unchanged. The article is describing an academic essay rather than the reality of the web's diversity.

The Daniweb video is quite interesting as it highlights the flaws of Panda. I think that I read somewhere that Google claimed that Panda was named after a Google engineer and that he had returned to his own country. (Not sure if my recollection is 100% on this matter but it might have been a nice way of saying that he was removed from the search business.) The RSS issue in that video is one that still hasn't been mentioned here (I think) in the context of small websites. The most popular tools for building small websites, based on the TLD web usage surveys that I run, seem to be Wordpress and Joomla. Would turning off feeds unless they are really required benefit small websites that may be having their content scraped? Perhaps the rise of small websites using blogging software as CMSes has further confused Google as to what is original and what is a clone.

Regards...jmcc

CaptainSalad2



 
Msg#: 4605576 posted 7:34 am on Aug 31, 2013 (gmt 0)

IMO The better solution would be for google to ask for examples of search terms which throw bad page one results and ask for an explanation of why we feel the particular SERP is not good for the user/wrong. This would take away bias for peoples own sites and give google a clear picture of how bad most of the serps are now.

I can easily provide search queries to local services that deliver 10 directories on page one, no independent sites until mid-page 2, obviously because these directories are brands.

diberry

WebmasterWorld Senior Member



 
Msg#: 4605576 posted 2:26 pm on Aug 31, 2013 (gmt 0)

CaptainSalad2, I agree... IF Google's aim with this is to discover whether people are unhappy with the SERPs. But that's exactly why I think they're past that - I think they already know giving so many results to Amazon et al is a bad move, but they're trying to find a factor that will counterbalance "brand" in the algo. If we highlight why our sites should be higher, they might note a pattern, something many of those sites had in common. And then they could work that factor into the SERPs.

Otherwise, this is just kind of pointless. They KNOW we're just going to submit our own sites and try to construct cogent arguments why we should be doing better. That's not information they need UNLESS they want the arguments themselves.

I hope everyone who's being outranked by people who scraped them reports! That's definitely one of the most irritating things I've heard about. Google has said that sometimes people want to hear a news story from a more trusted source than the original, and that's okay if we're talking a press release that's meant to be copied at dozens of sites. But when one not-particularly-branded site is just stealing content from another so they don't have to make their own, that just hurts webmasters without benefiting searchers in any way.

mihomes

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4605576 posted 2:39 pm on Aug 31, 2013 (gmt 0)

The website owner that has spent decades on their sites, and we are getting close to this, and been hit by the animals would not want to risk it.


Just curious, but why would a legit, older, site which should have some authority and name rec after all these years be scared of being manually reviewed?

Majority of my main sites are over a decade old and I would have ZERO problem with Google looking at them manually. Yes, there is always that underlying doubt of 'what bs won't they like or misinterpret this time', but myself and I believe most of us that frequent this forum have done loads of research as to what Google likes, wants, and does not. Especially those who have seen a traffic change after some of their recent changes.

EditorialGuy

WebmasterWorld Senior Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4605576 posted 3:17 pm on Aug 31, 2013 (gmt 0)

You know my opinion on that particular article from Google. And it remains unchanged. The article is describing an academic essay rather than the reality of the web's diversity.


Not at all. If I'm looking for a Web article to help me decide between a gasoline or diesel engine in my next Volkswagen, or get from JFK to Midtown Manhattan by public transit, or understand the different types of fishing reels, I'd like to see ranking preference given to pages of substance by people who know what they're talking about.

IMHO, the stated goals of Panda were fine. The execution was imperfect (to put it mildly). As a searcher--not just as an author and publisher--I'm happy to see that Google's engineers are smart enough to realize that their job isn't over and they still have work to do in achieving Panda's stated goals.

Just curious, but why would a legit, older, site which should have some authority and name rec after all these years be scared of being manually reviewed?


Exactly. I'd love a manual review by someone who's in a position to use it as a positive example for training an algorithmic "black box."

EditorialGuy

WebmasterWorld Senior Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4605576 posted 3:38 pm on Aug 31, 2013 (gmt 0)

Back to the original topic (Google's survey):

I just ran across an article on SearchEngineWatch <with Matt Cutts comments> about the survey. I hope it's okay to share the URL here:

Why Google Wants to Know About Small Websites That Aren't Ranking Well
[searchenginewatch.com...]

The story (which iinks to a Twitter conversation between Matt Cutts and our own netmeg) includes an interesting factoid: As of two days ago, the survey had attracted only a few hundred submissions.
.

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 10:13 pm (utc) on Aug 31, 2013]

superclown2

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4605576 posted 4:43 pm on Aug 31, 2013 (gmt 0)

Just curious, but why would a legit, older, site which should have some authority and name rec after all these years be scared of being manually reviewed?


Most of us who had successful sites ten years ago used promotional methods which were quite normal and acceptable then, but which could get them banned outright now. Hence a lot of old, well established and authoritative sites now outranked by upstarts.

Ask for someone from Google to manually review my older sites, packed full of information and still doing OK? No way. Paranoid? Maybe, but I've been in business a long time and learned not to look for trouble.

johnhh

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4605576 posted 6:21 pm on Aug 31, 2013 (gmt 0)

@superclown2
You said it for me !

EditorialGuy

WebmasterWorld Senior Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4605576 posted 6:38 pm on Aug 31, 2013 (gmt 0)

Most of us who had successful sites ten years ago used promotional methods which were quite normal and acceptable then, but which could get them banned outright now.


Are you continuing to use those methods? Is there questionable material on your site from the bad old days that you haven't eliminated by now? If not, why do you feel that you'd be "looking for trouble" if you invited Google to look at your site? (I'm not cross-examining you, I'm just curious.)

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