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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:4606448
 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.)

aakk9999




msg:4606461
 7:50 pm on Aug 31, 2013 (gmt 0)

Is there questionable material on your site from the bad old days that you haven't eliminated by now?

I don't think this situation is so unusual.

Perhaps because it still works on some pages? I am wondering how many would change the old page that does not follow the latest guidelines, but despite it ranks #1 ? It may ended up ranking #1 with changes to follow the latest guidelines, but then it may not. Many would not risk changing it.

johnhh




msg:4606472
 9:09 pm on Aug 31, 2013 (gmt 0)

Is there questionable material on your site]
No I don't think so, but as aakk9999 implied, we have some awful, almost embarrassing, thin pages that do rank well. Whilst we are always adding new content, and slowly changing each page, it is noticable that our new pages, using a more modern design, don't do as well. We just get out ranked by American brands and other sites that are worse, especially directory type sites and those with no real info where the keyword is just mentioned.

I should add that the niche we are in I was employed in since I left university, many years ago, we are a bit like a building surveyor, who knows the overview, pitfalls, and pros of the widget, but ask him to build a wall and he would be lost.

We used to like Google, and was happy to help out, now we like Bing. We actually find Google a bit of a joke to be honest.

The post above about the Panda engineer is interesting, perhaps they want to roll back and now find they cannot.

info site UK

diberry




msg:4606493
 12:18 am on Sep 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

Well, I'm not submitting anything because the bulk of my pages are ranking where they should. The problem is that somehow my Google traffic is decimated anyway. For example, one of my top search terms gets over 14,000 searches per month according to the Adwords tool, but even though I'm #1, I only get 1400 searches per month, which doesn't sound like the right distribution for the top position. It's not personalized search, either - I don't get anywhere near 14000 "not provided" per month, either. I cannot figure out what is going on, but it's not my rankings.

For me, in my niches (which may be peculiar - I haven't found others with this problem yet), it hardly matters where I'm ranking. Google traffic is just not worth chasing anymore, so I'm increasing my efforts toward other traffic sources.

spreporter




msg:4606951
 4:58 am on Sep 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

If that move of Google brings results, then wikipedia, tripadvisor, lonely planet should move way down in the travel SERPS for the reason that natives of every place and town have done better websites because they live there, know better and have done sites with tones of better information than any of those brands and in that case especially google does not need feedback because they can see manually that every widgetplace.com is obvious more informed than wiki or lp or tripadvisor.

spreporter




msg:4606954
 5:15 am on Sep 3, 2013 (gmt 0)


I think across the board, I have an answer to "what makes this website better".

It's because it's a niche website covering a subject in detail. The experts are people who know something inside and out. Those will be most if not all the small websites imo. The specialty sites. Isn't being an expert in a field better than a website that has 1% of their articles covering the same thing? The site covering 100% of that subject must know it better and have more in depth information.

Agree 100%

superclown2




msg:4606972
 7:36 am on Sep 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

I really don't see any point in this exercise. The basic problem with Google's search results is that an assumption is made that, just because a brand is authoritative for widgets it is automatically authoritative for red widgets, square widgets and green oval widgets which is certainly not the case. Solve this and there's really not much wrong with them - spam/junk is at an all time low in the subjects I'm interested in, which Google deserve a lot of credit for.

Trying to find ways of promoting worthy smaller sites is tackling the problem from the wrong end IMO. Reducing or abandoning brand bias is the way forward.

Whitey




msg:4606977
 8:25 am on Sep 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

One thing I believe is that "some content" on "some websites" should rank higher. Brands seem to be closer to ranking for "all content" on their sites.

I'd be encouraging folks to point out the surfacing of valuable content in sections of their sites as well, although I'm not sure if Google want's feedback on a granular approach , or if it's just regarding "overall website ranking" they're after.

Martin Ice Web




msg:4607000
 10:38 am on Sep 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

We managed to become one clients website to be considered as a brand. Google now shows this brand in the search suggestion by
keyword / keword / brand
This site now ranks between #1 and #10 nearly for everything that we put on the pages and for every Close/smiliar search term. It is nice to see, although we have lots of unmatched requeries.
But it is nice to see that once you are branded, the old traffic is back and get higher each week. The site is realy small with less than 50-80 pages. It is a com-domain and targets different languages. We bought about 13.000 links from one! website. I think once you are at this point, you canīt do anything wrong but deleting the website is gonna hurt.

outland88




msg:4607153
 12:53 am on Sep 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

That’s one way of doing it but Google did seem to start boosting some weaker brands or smaller sites this summer. I can’t speak for links though. I’ve seen sites with gorgeous link profiles with no traction and some with much fewer links that had good not great traction. It’s amazing to see what you can do, for lack of better words, once you’re white listed. I’ve played with content on branded and unbranded sites. An unbranded site may see drops in two days to two months with content changes where nothing scathes the brand. I haven't substituted a blank page yet to test how far it goes though.

Martin Ice Web




msg:4607173
 8:25 am on Sep 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

@outland, the links are more than 3 years old! We didnīt get hit by panda/penguin in any way. But now that this small site is branded ( whitelisted ) we can even Change sitestructure without any problems.
We have also the Content on more than 3 sites ( selling plattforms ) all are ranking in a row.
In regard of this thread: Google has to get back to the old algo. To whitelist a site is silly. Cause once you have the power you can easyly take over the first serps page.
My conclusion for Panda is: it has nothing to do with content, its all about search strings. Try to get poeple to search with adding our domain/brands name and you will soon be branded.

CaptainSalad2




msg:4607177
 9:01 am on Sep 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

Martin Ice Web, how did you become a brand in Googles eyes?

Martin Ice Web




msg:4607193
 10:04 am on Sep 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

@CS2,

we tried to make the user searching for "keyword & brand". The only thing i can say is we didnīt make any direct links to do this. Over the time Googles algo automaticaly connects the brands name to the keywords and gives it to the Suggestion. Poeple tend to believe that this suggestions is the best thing to search for.....
And the language is polish! U can bet that i donīt even can understand a word that is on the page! But we rank for everything that is on the pages.
Sideeffect is that this site is a com Domain with different languages.
Since become a brand our english site got a boost from page >#5 to page #2, too.
So a whitelist seems to effect the whole site.

The site has a very high bounce rate, because poeple need to fetch only one or two sites to get to the right widget. It is a high competitive niche.

aakk9999




msg:4607196
 10:37 am on Sep 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

But now that this small site is branded ( whitelisted )...

One should not make these assumptions. Whilst Google may see a site as a brand, it does not mean it is whitelisted. It can however be flagged as "brand" somewhere, but this is different to what whitelisting means.

I also have a site in a similar circumstances that Martin Ice Web describes. The site is targetting a particular niche in a particular geo area and it has built an online brand in it. I can rank it for almost anything conncted to this geo area. And as Martin described, there is reasonable amount of searches looking for niche-kw, geolocation-kw, site-brand-name and Google does have it in suggest box as well as offered in related searches.

Interestingly, the site is also multilingual. In fact we found out that creating a new mini site, using the same web template, and adding it to the same WMT seem to "inherit" brand signals from the main site and the new mini site will rank very quickly.

Martin Ice Web




msg:4607198
 11:05 am on Sep 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

@aakk9999, i see also that all algo updates didnīt hurt the domain in any way.
We have lots of numbers on the pages, cause its technical related, so the info-text is rare! Panda should have put his task force on it! Put it didndīt.

Template: yes, i use the very same for all languages, just replaced the translated text.
But our site is not new! We created it about 4-5 years ago. We never had good rankings before panda but with this latest efforts we did we see every week an upgoing traffic.
Interestingly we cut of adsense because it was not worth it.

outland88




msg:4607299
 4:49 pm on Sep 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

>Try to get poeple to search with adding our domain/brands name and you will soon be branded.<

I've been doing that quite a while. It certainly doesn't hurt.

I see white list and brand as just broad general terms now days with regard to Google. To me they just loosely designate Google has given the site wide latitude in the results.

econman




msg:4607319
 6:53 pm on Sep 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

If that move of Google brings results, then wikipedia, tripadvisor, lonely planet should move way down in the travel SERPS for the reason that natives of every place and town have done better websites because they live there...


This example clearly highlights the problem Google is struggling with.

The small, local and regional travel info sites have largely disappeared from Google's first page on many, many geo-specific searches.

To get a feel for the difference, just compare Google's current results for informational oriented travel related searches that include the name of an obscure destination (not Chicago or Paris) to the analogous results from Bing.

Notice how the Google results are dominated by pages from big travel information brands like wikipedia, tripadvisor, lonely planet, fodors and frommers, and to a lesser degree pages from generalist information sites like the NY Times, USA Today and the like.

Google has gone way too far in pushing up the big brands -- especially since all of those sites tend to suffer from the same weakness: because they attempt to provide information about tourist destinations all over the globe, they tend to have roughly the same superficial information about the same set of famous sites, large hotels, well known local restaurants, and so forth.

It was easy for Google to push all of the small sites down the SERPs, in their attempt to get rid of the spammy ones. What didn't turn out to be so easy was figuring out which of those small sites need to be brought back up onto the first page -- without bringing with them a whole bunch of spammy ones as well -- because Google doesn't actually know how to tell the difference between them.

google does not need feedback [from this survey] because they can see manually that every widgetplace.com is obvious[ly] more informed than wiki or lp or tripadvisor.


Sure, they can manually see the difference between a small site built by a local and a small site built by someone cranking out spam using scripts and overseas writers working for $2 an hour. But only after they find some examples to compare. The machine still can't figure out the difference, so there is no easy way to find a set of good and bad sites to compare --without forcing the humans to look at a whole lot of spam along with a sprinkling of real sites.

I suppose they could do it if they had to, but it would be very costly to have manual reviewers look for a tiny sprinkling of real sites in a sea of spam -- especially since the exercise would potentially need to be repeated for thousands of different travel destinations, and untold numbers of other topics/niches.

I think that's what this survey is all about -- they are looking for some good examples to study in depth. Of course, they will probably need more than a few hundred responses for the exercise to be successful. But, if they feel they are learning something useful from the initial data set, they could publicize the survey more widely, in order to collect more data.

mrengine




msg:4607329
 7:41 pm on Sep 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

If that move of Google brings results, then wikipedia, tripadvisor, lonely planet should move way down in the travel SERPS for the reason that natives of every place and town have done better websites because they live there...

This example clearly highlights the problem Google is struggling with.

I don't see this as Google's problem, but instead the struggle is with those webmasters who operate these small local sites and are nowhere to be found in Google. The number of people using Google search has not dropped, their revenue is still growing quite well and all is good from their perspective.

When an algorithm can't trust any signals, as is apparently the case, they load up the search results with big brands. Is that not what we are mostly seeing these days?

Saffron




msg:4607331
 8:03 pm on Sep 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

"It was easy for Google to push all of the small sites down the SERPs, in their attempt to get rid of the spammy ones. What didn't turn out to be so easy was figuring out which of those small sites need to be brought back up onto the first page -- without bringing with them a whole bunch of spammy ones as well -- because Google doesn't actually know how to tell the difference between them."

That's what happened with my topic too. They just turned up the dial wayyyyyy too high on a handful of big brands. Admittedly, the site that was almost always no. 1 is a good site. But the others just had really thin content & very general information. The results were NOT serving the general public well.

The past month they seem to have turned the love down on the "name brand" sites, and smaller sites such as mine are beginning to come back. But it's been 9 months of hell waiting for that to happen. Three of my main competitors were wiped into oblivion. You just never see them in the search results. Two of those sites were exceptional. But Google decided two paragraph articles from Discovery were better.

It was totally illogical. But I'm glad that they have started ranking smaller sites again. It's better for search results. Their love of Discovery this year was shocking. The articles just contained almost zero information. Even the comments on one of them were along the lines of "what the heck, this didn't answer the question".

EditorialGuy




msg:4607335
 8:11 pm on Sep 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

If that move of Google brings results, then wikipedia, tripadvisor, lonely planet should move way down in the travel SERPS for the reason that natives of every place and town have done better websites because they live there...


For what it's worth, I've seen a decline in TripAdvisor and Wikipedia rankings for the travel searches that I watch. The beneficiaries of changes in Google's algorithm have been About.com, newspaper and magazine archives, and location-based EMD sites (some of which are amateurish and/or clearly SEO-driven).

(BTW, the notion that "natives" who "live there" produce better travel sites than professional subject experts do is naive and easily disproven, but that's a topic for another thread and possibly another venue.)

Also, I don't believe that Google said anything about travel sites when it announced the "small sites" survey, so let's not get hung up on one subject or sector. The same algorithmic shortcomings that afflict travel results probably afflict results in other categories. too.

johnhh




msg:4607386
 11:19 pm on Sep 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

I've seen a decline in TripAdvisor and Wikipedia rankings
Really - we see the opposite
wikipedia, tripadvisor, lonely planet
odd these are all owned by American corporations -
EditorialGuy




msg:4607407
 11:50 pm on Sep 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

odd these are all owned by American corporations


Wikipedia isn't a corporation. It's a project owned by a foundation.

Lonely Planet was an Australian-based company until it was acquired by the BBC and resold (quite recently) to an American tobacco magnate. (It continues to be a multinational company with editorial offices in Australia, the U.S., and the UK.) Its new boss has been quoted as saying that Lonely Planet is "no longer in the business of content creation," so it will be interesting to see what happens to Lonelyplanet.com in the years ahead.

Mind you, none of this has much to do with the subject of "Google wants feedback on small websites you think should rank higher."

Savanadry




msg:4607497
 9:38 am on Sep 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

BTW, the notion that "natives" who "live there" produce better travel sites than professional subject experts do is naive and easily disproven,


I'm curious as to why you think this? Locals obviously do have more knowledge and cover local subjects in more depth, not just the generic stuff every travel site carries.

My mission tonight - find a great local travel / information site for my county and submit it to the engineer.

I'm quite encouraged by this request, even if it is just from one engineer, it shows google are aware of the problem. Same with the penalty videos they released fairly recently. It's good to know they know their system is not perfect.

bumpski




msg:4607504
 10:44 am on Sep 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

One reason not to submit:

Since Panda began I've watched some sites I enjoyed visiting, that were visually appealing with very good content, literally devastate themselves in an attempt to meet Google's most recent "guidelines". (These sites have obviously failed to meet the guidelines)
The content of these sites is still valuable, but otherwise they are stripped down. If I could submit a link to one of these sites as they appeared before 2011 I would.

But I can't so I won't!
That's the collateral damage of experimenting with an algorithm for more than two years, online!

EditorialGuy




msg:4607545
 3:07 pm on Sep 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

I'm curious as to why you think this? Locals obviously do have more knowledge and cover local subjects in more depth, not just the generic stuff every travel site carries.


Again, that's a topic for another thread or another venue, so I'll just say "The proof of the pudding is in the eating" while adding that the skill, experience, and hard work of the cook matter as much as (and often more than) the location of his kitchen.

bubba1986




msg:4607563
 4:02 pm on Sep 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

Since Panda began I've watched some sites I enjoyed visiting, that were visually appealing with very good content, literally devastate themselves in an attempt to meet Google's most recent "guidelines".

Ignore the "advice" Google dispenses so freely; IMO Google has no guidelines, just revenue quotas they adhere to religiously.

Knowing what I know now, the best option would have to spam away years ago. My sites are done anyway on Google, but I would have made a lot more money in the process but not listening to Google and to their promoters in the SEO world.

The question is: do you trust what Google says? I don't.

EditorialGuy




msg:4607572
 4:22 pm on Sep 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

Since Panda began I've watched some sites I enjoyed visiting, that were visually appealing with very good content, literally devastate themselves in an attempt to meet Google's most recent "guidelines".


It isn't Google's fault that the site owners had poor editorial judgment.

Usually, it's better to think intelligently than to react blindly.

bubba1986




msg:4607575
 4:29 pm on Sep 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

It isn't Google's fault that the site owners had poor editorial judgment.

Usually, it's better to think intelligently than to react blindly.

Easier said than done, especially when the business you worked for 10 years can no longer pay your rent or mortgage. Not everyone can react as cool as you supposedly can.

Plus, Google used to give useful and actionable advice once upon a time.

Saffron




msg:4607649
 8:04 pm on Sep 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

'It isn't Google's fault that the site owners had poor editorial judgment.

Usually, it's better to think intelligently than to react blindly. '

True, but people panic. We almost lost our house this year. Imagine the fear and panic of facing financial ruin, and then having Google in your ear saying "you should do this, you should do that". You end up reacting out of panic. You will do anything to try and save your home :(

In the end though, I did come to my senses & I did stop listening to what Matt Cutts (and please don't take this as an attack on him, it's not) was saying (mostly). I'd never engaged in dodgy SEO, link building, etc. The only piece of advice I ultimately followed was write the best content you can. Imagine it's going to be published in a magazine. My theory was that if Google were going to drop me, I needed to pick up "natural" links elsewhere, and to do that, I needed exceptional content. Content other sites would then want to link to. Even sites such as ehow, who knick my content, they give me links back ;)

And in the end, my site picked up, but so did a friend's site (same topic). I worked flat out for 6 months, she did nothing. The algorithm just changed in our favour again, it didn't matter what we had or hadn't done. I'm glad I worked on my site during that awful period, but seems it wasn't necessary.

ETA: One of my competitors has been decimated this year. Excellent site, but Google just doesn't rank them anymore. I've seen then go into a panic. Moving ads around, now above the fold. Worse user experience, and they may get a further battering for doing that. They were hit even harder than me.

diberry




msg:4607869
 4:30 pm on Sep 6, 2013 (gmt 0)

Google used to give useful and actionable advice once upon a time.


This is actually key to understanding why websites reacted "incorrectly" to Panda and Penguin.

Before those two, when Google issued an update and let you know what it was about, you were always wise to take steps and make appropriate changes. Google consistently reacted well when you made those changes. We all got used to saying "how high" when Google said "jump".

Then came Panda, which Google publicly stated was going to reduce content farms. As we'd all been doing for years, we looked at our content with a fresh eye to see if anything within it might look like a content farm to Google. People combined pages, got rid of "thin content" pages. Not only did those earnestly undertaken tactics not consistently work (or even seemed to get some sites in trouble), but then Ehow sailed through with their scraped thin content. Suddenly Google's stated purpose for an algo didn't bear a whole lot of resemblance to what actually happened.

Now, I'm not saying Google deliberately misled us. I'm just saying that while yes, technically, it's not Google's fault that people assumed their advice was still reliable and actionable, I can't blame site owners for taking that advice based on what a good business move it had been previously to take action based on Google's statements about what an update was targeting.

I guess now we've all learned not to rely on anything Google says?

EditorialGuy




msg:4607881
 4:54 pm on Sep 6, 2013 (gmt 0)

I guess now we've all learned not to rely on anything Google says?


Like the Google Webmaster Guidelines? Sure, ignore them. And good luck. :-)

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