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Are unstable Google rankings a sign of fundamental Google problems?
aristotle




msg:4623782
 2:55 pm on Nov 16, 2013 (gmt 0)


System: The following 5 messages were cut out of thread at: http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4623685.htm [webmasterworld.com] by robert_charlton - 10:33 am on Nov 16, 2013 (PST -8)


Unstable search results, in which rankings repeatedly undergo drastic changes, are a clear sign of fundamental problems in Google's approach. They keep claiming that the results are great, and yet keep making major changes in their ranking algorithm. If the results are so great, why would so many major changes be necessary? They seem to be forever stumbling around in the dark trying to find a solution, but most of the changes only make their results worse.

 

JD_Toims




msg:4624494
 2:39 pm on Nov 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

I think you might have convinced me just how unstable the rankings really are! ;)

Well, I would guess to some extent the externally visible stability would depend on who's looking.

If I was running a search engine and could tell you've search for the same thing 5 times a day for a couple days or more in a row [exaggeration, of the frequency for illustrative purposes, so go with the point please], for many queries I might be inclined to think either you're not finding what you're looking for in what I'm showing or you're checking results, and in either case I might be inclined to "mix things up a bit", which could have the effect of either helping find what you wanted or keeping you guessing, depending on which of what I see as the "likely options" you were actually doing [I really don't even need to know which it is, because "mixing" has the "desired effect" for either situation].

I mean I understand "widget repair" is popular/necessary in many places but how many times a day and how many days in a row does "a normal person" in New York search for "widget repair in Miami", or, for "widgeting information", followed by "widgeting tutorial", followed by "how to make widgets"?

And, how many times in a row do I really need to show someone the same thing when they make the same query before I can determine either they're either not finding what they're looking for in what I'm showing them, or, they're not really trying to find what they're searching for?

To me it seems like it must be one of the two with a fairly high degree of likelihood when someone keeps searching for the same thing(s) over and over and over, especially when they're not clicking on anything most of the time, so why would it not be "smarter" to "mix things up a bit" for them and either assist them in finding sites they haven't found previously if they're actually searching, or, to keep them guessing if they're trying to "figure out my system"?

aakk9999




msg:4624502
 3:08 pm on Nov 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

you've search for the same thing 5 times a day for a couple days or more in a row, for many queries I might be inclined to think either you're not finding what you're looking for in what I'm showing

Not necessarily. The subsequent queries may in fact be navigational queries "in disguise".

E.G.: Searcher finds what they are looking for. Later on they want to go to the same site. They do not remember the domain name. They do not remember the brand name. But they remember it was there around the #n position when they searched for "blue widgets".

Dymero




msg:4624517
 4:04 pm on Nov 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

During my time in SEO forums, I've observed that for people affected by an update, 100% of their queries have been affected.

I've seen many updates where my SERPs are completely unaffected, only to have a big shift down in the next update, and then a big shift upward two updates later.

I will agree that the amount of shifting during a given week seems to have increased in the last two years or so. Why this is I'm not sure.

superclown2




msg:4624524
 4:23 pm on Nov 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

-- And, imo, it's fallacy to think the "promoted solution" of changing browsers and searching via proxy shows you the "real results", because the "real results" are what "real people" see


I run six different computers here in the UK as well as 20 virtual machines. They all have different IP addresses, a variety of operating systems and browsers and they are used for many different purposes.

When I clear the caches and delete cookies I get identical search results for the terms I'm interested in on all of them. It may be different in the USA of course, I can only report on what I see.

Oh, and these search results have been pretty much steady as a rock with just the odd fluctuation for months now. Business is down for my sites at the moment but that's a seasonal/weather thing, nothing to do with any Google 'instability'.

JD_Toims




msg:4624611
 9:12 pm on Nov 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

Not necessarily. The subsequent queries may in fact be navigational queries "in disguise".

E.G.: Searcher finds what they are looking for. Later on they want to go to the same site. They do not remember the domain name. They do not remember the brand name. But they remember it was there around the #n position when they searched for "blue widgets".

Oh, I absolutely agree -- That's where click/non-click comes into it.

I actually do exactly what you're talking about often when I'm coding and need to remember the exact syntax of something I haven't used in a while in the language I'm working with, and I click on the same site [and the same page from the site for the same query] repeatedly.

I know it's possible to pick up on, because sometimes I don't notice how personalized my results are by B$ until for some reason they aren't [like I turn it off or clear things] and the page from the docs I'm looking for is number 2 or 3 instead of 1 like it usually is and the two sites I refuse to click on show for me [usually in the top 5]. Generally the doc result(s) move back to one within a few searches and within a couple of days of completely ignoring the other 2 they disappear again.

JD_Toims




msg:4624683
 2:54 am on Nov 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

When I clear the caches and delete cookies I get identical search results for the terms I'm interested in on all of them.

--

Oh, and these search results have been pretty much steady as a rock with just the odd fluctuation for months now. Business is down for my sites at the moment but that's a seasonal/weather thing, nothing to do with any Google 'instability'.

You completely missed one of my points, so let me try to explain better since I did ramble a tad before -- No offense intended at all, just trying to explain why what you're stating really doesn't tell you much these days.

Let me use my personalization experience with Bing as an example, since they're what I use for "day to day" searches now and I'm more familiar with the little ins-and-outs of how it works and how long it takes to kick-in, etc. -- Just play along a pretend G does essentially the same thing.

When I'm coding and make what is to me a "navigational query" looking for a specific page on one of the "official docs" and there's no personalization the docs I'm looking for usually end up somewhere in the top 4 or 5 results.

There is often one of the two sites I *refuse* to visit above or just below the doc site and there is often another site or three I visit for similar queries fairly regularly but much less often than the official sites above the official docs site.

After somewhere around 5 queries [could be 10 -- not many] and consistently clicking on the docs site [even though it's different pages on the docs site] the doc site begins to show at number one for me. [To the point where if it's not number one, sometimes I'll mis-click]

More subsequent queries when one of the two sites I refuse to visit shows above one of the others I do actually visit and I click on one of the ones I do visit a few times, rather than the ones I don't, makes it so the ones I visit show higher than the ones I don't click.

Making further queries, where I continue to refuse to click on the two I don't visit when they "get mixed in" to the top results causes those two sites disappear from my results and there's a little message at the bottom of the page stating some results have been removed -- The removed results are the sites I don't want to visit.

One of my points in my "rambling, don't buy into it" post was if you have one of those two sites, or even one of the other ones I do visit on occasion, it doesn't matter a bit that whatever you do or how you do it to get "clean, non-personalized results" works, because I either won't see your site in my results or it will show lower than the sites I most regularly visit.

So, imagine if you ran one of the two sites I refuse to click on [I'm not saying you do, this is only an example], and I'll use the "annoying one" in the example: I refuse to click because the site tries to make me sign up for something before showing me what I was looking for and doing so is a turn-off. Then think about it being not only a turn-off to me, but [still an example] also to a high percentage of other people.

When those other people who are annoyed do the same thing as I do [either won't click, or if there's an accidental click, return to the results as soon as it's realized what site was click on] then the site that "with no personalization" shows in the top 5 fairly consistently across a number or queries doesn't show for any of us.

Bottom Line: It doesn't matter how clean your cache is or how well you "hide" to get non-personalized results, because personalization doesn't change those results. Personalization "happens on the way out" [at least think of it that way, because it's much easier to grasp -- just think "algo spits out the results", then "my personalization" kicks in] and changes what real searchers actually see and what order they see it in, so neato if a site algorithmically ranks in the top 3 all-day-every-day.

When that same site "turns visitors off", once personalization "kicks in" real visitors don't see it any more, so the non-personalized results people try to get to "evaluate where they really rank" actually don't say much, except quit worrying so much about how to game the algo and concentrate on visitors if you want your site to show to visitors, because once "personalization kicks-in" the sites people don't want to see disappear or get moved lower in the results, regardless of where they rank without personalization being a factor.

kansascityseo




msg:4625505
 1:56 am on Nov 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

Anyone else think this is another Penguin update? Seems like they turned up the dial a bit on 2.1...some sites that missed the threshhold on 2.1 got hit this time around.

Erku




msg:4625589
 12:34 am on Nov 24, 2013 (gmt 0)

If you see the fluctuations do you think it's stabilizing or still fluctuating?

kushmania




msg:4625808
 2:40 pm on Nov 25, 2013 (gmt 0)

Warning: Crazy Observation Ahead

Maybe we are looking at this wrong. What Google is trying to convey here is that they believe they've made a connection between individual preference and rankings. If (and thats a big IF), they truly have... you may see fewer but more targeted traffic. What we need to evaluate is the bounce rate of who comes to the site and not how many.

Martin Ice Web




msg:4626434
 8:40 pm on Nov 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

martinibuster wrote:

Google rankings are stable
This discussion is faulty because the underlying assumption that the rankings are unstable is incorrect. The fact is that 99% of rankings are unchanged during most algorithmic changes. Go back and read the announcements. Most of the algo announcments state the changes affect single digit percentage of searches.


google never said to what ths 1% was based to!

The overall number of queries or the number of different queries?

I can make a 1% change to a keyword but if this keyword makes 50% of the daily search volume this makes a very big difference!

So never trust a statistic that you didnīt fake on your on!

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