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Is Google invading your content yet by provider the answer?
MrSavage




msg:4682139
 11:13 pm on Jun 23, 2014 (gmt 0)

This isn't a typical search and answer. This is a "mind blown" scenario and should be quite alarming to well, pretty much anyone and everyone who has a stake in providing a website. Isn't that all of us?

So, today I decided to search this: (insert popular video game name) create account

Based on those terms, I was provided a box listing those steps in creating that account. At the end of the bullet list of about 5 steps, in grey (not a link) it says "1 more item".
Yes, there is a link within that box at the bottom.

To be clear, this for me is different. It's unnerving. It makes me realize one thing. Apparently no search is safe. I can understand sports scores, world cup scores, movie times, restaurant menus, etc being on Google pages, but this one today takes the cake.

This indicates to me how invasive this is becoming. It's quite clear that this trend will evolve until the point of human intervention. In other words, until your content or information is stripped off your own pages you will ignore the situation. It won't be until mass amounts of people start seeing their content or information being used in a way which cuts you out. You're going to become the middle man. Only needed as a reference link, and your information becomes the king for somebody else to eat and enjoy.

Maybe the "wow" moment hasn't come for you. Today, the "wow" moment just happened. It's not just Google of course, but since I use them for search, it's the first time I've seen such an abstract search show up with the information on Google's url rather than proving me a link. Nice for me, but I know what's fair, ethical and proper. This will come to a head, but perhaps not in my lifetime.

Get ready to be trampled.

 

webcentric




msg:4682165
 1:18 am on Jun 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

As others have mentioned, don't bet the farm on Google. We've all seen entire image galleries stripped off sites and displayed on Google as if the content belonged to them in the first place. The way things are going, knowledge graphs are probably going to entirely replace SERPs as we once knew them and it's not just Google on this bandwagon. It's happening on Bing too. The real question you raise in my mind is when does it stop being my website and start becoming Google's property? Oh, and how does an algorithm know when it's committing copyright infringement?

Metatag information is one thing. That's designed for machines. Content on the page is something entirely different IMHO. When I got into courting the SE's years ago, it was about Title, Description and Keywords. Keywords are a thing of the past and G is now skipping over the other metadata in favor of images, videos and copyrighted text. What was once used to classify a page is now being stripped, reformatted and injected into G's own revenue engine. Disturbing indeed! Where are the humans in all of this? You know, the one's we elected. I don't fixate on this much but from time to time the circumstances remind me of the target of a not-yet-filed anti-trust lawsuit which is a nice way of referring to a possible remedy to corporate greed. Do no harm, my ass! Theft is not a victimless crime and how this isn't theft is way beyond my ability to comprehend.

EditorialGuy




msg:4682172
 1:39 am on Jun 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

How do the people at the videogame site feel about this? If they want account registrations, it may be something they like or even encourage. (Why not ask them and share their reaction with us? I assume the site has a contact address.)

brotherhood of LAN




msg:4682173
 1:43 am on Jun 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

Did you see how Google may have deduced the steps by itself. Particular markup?

MrSavage




msg:4682177
 1:54 am on Jun 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

I've had a couple hours to digest the above scenario which I encountered today. No question I've been monitoring this type of movement with on page answers and how invasive it really is. As in, the stages of growth (erosion you could also a possible description) in comparison to a short time ago.

I would suggest that this is like AI. It's not really a debate. The AI ability to take information from your site or any source of information is going to improve. It's clear to me at least that there are essentially no boundaries to where this is going.

I could analyze the markup etc, but the overall point is that information ultimately doesn't seem safe from this take over. Go ahead, write the book but I will publish the parts of the book on my website to answer specific questions and inquires. I'll put a link at the bottom of the said article as "good will" to you. I need your information to provide the answer, but outside of that, there is no consideration.

This isn't Wikipedia we're talking about. If you question what I'm saying as a "big picture" conversation, that's fine. I'm sure the day will come when you have a similar situation. It will be one of those occasions when you search something, and boom, there on the SERPS or on your device is the answer. No doubt it will be some obscure search phrase which is the reason for concern.

I know some folks are banking on outsmarting AI or that your information is more correct that say Siri or Google will provide on their page. Do you believe in that over the long term? Good luck with that. If the information is off, don't worry. Computers and programmers are darn smart. Just think too that this is just the start of a new era. It's like saying that 20 year old computer couldn't do this or that. Computers and technology really don't have limitations do they? At some point they can do what we thought impossible.

If anything it should be a real good reality check for people who want to walk around with open eyes. If you can't really relate to what I'm saying, then just give it time. You will no doubt type in a Google search and get the answer. This could lead you to ask how that relates to what your website and how whether that could be you.

That's where I'm at today. And by the way, this is certainly not the first time I got an answer for an obscure search. This was however the most disturbing. This gave me a gut reaction and was outside of what I would expect. It gave me the sense of insecurity of everything that I think I'm providing via my websites. It appears that they are going to answer pretty much everything at some point until there is serious intervention. I won't make a prediction here, but I can see where this is headed. I always go back to my example of a upselling. You can't upsell if you don't get people on your site. If they can't see those "specials" or "discount days" then you're losing. If I get your store hours from Google pages, am I seeing your specials? It's a slippery slope but so long as Google, Microsoft and Apple do it together in unison, then prepare for more and more and more erosion.

EditorialGuy




msg:4682188
 2:40 am on Jun 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

I could analyze the markup etc, but the overall point is that information ultimately doesn't seem safe from this take over.


But if we knew about the markup (or the lack thereof), we might know if the videogame site wanted its form to be featured on search engines' results pages.


Is this an "information takeover," or it is simply a case of a search engine's making appropriate use of the site owner's markup?

MrSavage




msg:4682189
 2:41 am on Jun 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

I should add that perhaps it's not surprising that some obscure searches are being answered. If for example Google or Siri started telling us what the best laptop is, then I would think Cnet might take issue with that. I could be wrong, maybe it will cease with wikipedia and more government based information. You could even look at something as simple as weather and say that Google, Microsoft and Apple don't employ meteorologists so how can they possibly have that information? I've heard of "not for commercial use" before, but when you can build an answer machine isn't that commercial? It's going to get muddy. It just depends who gets stepped on. I'm sure FIFA hasn't noticed a dip in visitors or cares less about the number of their visitors. That said, who needs the FIFA site? I sure don't. Thanks Goog!

MrSavage




msg:4682192
 2:48 am on Jun 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

On the point of mark up, the site being "utilized" or should I just say scraped? Whatever. The point is it's not like the official website being referenced.

This is how it's playing out at least for me. Today I'm visiting one less site to get my NHL scores. Tomorrow it's one less site I'm visiting to convert my grams to pounds. I can now visit one less site to get my movie listings. It's all about inching forward. If I can learn how to create an account without visiting a website? Heck, at some point, unless there is some people going hang on a second here, then it's all going to be about convenience. The end users don't give a rats A about my site and information. Ethics from end users means nothing. If your shoes were $10 to buy in the store do you think the end consumer would care if they were made by people in despicable working conditions? I would however think that similar minded webmasters might take issue with information takeovers since well, websites exist to provide information. RIGHT?

brotherhood of LAN




msg:4682193
 2:51 am on Jun 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

So, are we discussing specifics regarding the Google algorithm and how search engine results are spidered/indexed/displayed/ordered, or just the general concept of where Google is heading. If it's the latter, I'll move the thread.

webcentric




msg:4682194
 3:26 am on Jun 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

OK, so forget where all this is headed because how to get indexed in the future apparently isn't relevant. Let's talk about how to get a click out of the SERPS that exist right now.

Example: I was trying to figure out what county a certain city in a certain state is in the other day. A search for the city and state plus the word county in Google gave me the answer without having to read past the first result. Good for me. Bad for the poor schmucks on page one who build a website to share that and other related information on the topic.

So, the question becomes, how to get a click-through? Perhaps the answer lies in thinking beyond the original question to the next step in the searcher's though process. How do you get at least part of another answer into the same result that returned a complete answer for the original question. How, when there is no control over the description portion of the listing or the way it's linked (if at all), is it possible to shape a search result to do anything but answer a simple question like mentioned above? How is it possible to get someone to want more when you just gave them all they asked for and only what they asked for.

Forget the copyright issues, how do you shape data to induce a click when the data is the answer in the first place and G can shape it any way it wants?

Added: Frankly, I think the only answer to this is to build a great User Experience on your site and diversify your traffic sources. Because if someone wants your Oscar Wilde quote of the day, they're gonna get it straight out of a Knowledge Graph long before they every find your site. Best to be ready to fight to keep them there if they ever get there.

MrSavage




msg:4682196
 3:45 am on Jun 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

I thought we were talking about SERPS. What subjects are safe from being answered, if any, etc. If it's about how do I get my instructions for a task listed on the knowledge graph then I don't see how that's beneficial. This is about an experience using Google search and how it might affect my organic search today, tomorrow and the day after that. I'm not sure where a discussion about knowledge graph 2.0 really belongs. I haven't seen this type of answer before and so to me, it's a real game changer in terms of affecting organic traffic strategy moving forward.

If this isn't the place to discuss the evolution of the answering machine/knowledge graph then where? Today I saw an evolution of it, but perhaps that message is muddy.

brotherhood of LAN




msg:4682197
 3:53 am on Jun 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

It belongs here as long as it's specifically about the results, stuff about future Google in general belong in the G policy forum. Hope that clarifies it.

I think you should look at the markup and see whether it's vanilla HTML or something more structured is there for spiders. Knowledge graph 'stuff' like bacon numbers can appear fancy but ultimately is based on structured data rather than less structured HTML pages.

netmeg




msg:4682341
 12:02 pm on Jun 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

The writing has been on the wall for this stuff for some time. Google's been telling everyone they're a knowledge engine and not a search engine for at least a couple years, and most users (of whom we are NOT representative) love it. This is why Q&A sites do so well - or at least, they used to.

I've seen it creeping into my events in the past few months. Sometimes I'm the answer in the box, and sometimes Google uses a different source. Often they list an event from last year, which is pretty weird. I expect they'll fix that - maybe they just don't react quickly enough yet.

So far, it hasn't adversely affected my traffic on any of my sites, in fact my traffic on all of them is way way up (even the one that I suspected was Panda'd up until last month)

What to do about it - in the short term, I'll work on my page titles and meta descriptions in order to entice the click, because I'll have better and more information if they come to my site. (Yes I know Google can rewrite that at will, but I'm not thinking they'd do it just to keep the click) And since I am the authority in my niche, I expect I will show up more and more in the box as Google tightens up its freshness.

My long term solution is to make sure my business model doesn't depend on single answers to single questions. There's obviously no future in it.

EditorialGuy




msg:4682346
 12:20 pm on Jun 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

My long term solution is to make sure my business model doesn't depend on single answers to single questions.


Bingo. Facts are a dime a dozen (and are in the public domain).

Back to the original topic: If we don't know the videogame site's intentions (was the form marked up for search engines?), we're just blowing hot air.

webcentric




msg:4682361
 1:06 pm on Jun 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

My long term solution is to make sure my business model doesn't depend on single answers to single questions.


Knowledge graphs are going way beyond single answers to single questions already and are now providing rather detailed summaries of many topics (competing with the likes of Wikipedia by summarizing not just a single answer but hitting on a variety of major related tidbits of information). In that sense, the SE's are working to compile general public knowledge facts into mini-articles that answer a variety of questions (making it more likely that the user doesn't need to leave the page).

And there is definitely a slippery slope involved so I agree that it's impossible to avoid that slope when having a conversation like this. Public knowledge is becoming Google's knowledge but how do you survive in that ever involving environment? That's the long-term question.

Ficticious Example: I write an article about some local swimming hole known only to locals. It's a real gem and everyone calls it the Hole. "See you at the Hole," they all say.

It's a unique article because no one else on the Internet has covered the topic and I'm hoping it'll bring in some traffic based on people looking for local swimming holes when visiting my area. And guess what? It works...for awhile but then, out of the blue, a summary of that local swimming hole shows up in a knowledge graph along with a map and driving directions (which probably dwarfs any link that might be there to the full article on my site). Hey, my strategy worked for awhile but in the blink of an eye, it's rendered impotent. This has already happened to the single answer question.

So, I can talk about how to get my stuff ranking in the SERPS or how to get my stuff into a Knowledge Graph but the question will always remain, are my efforts helping me or harming me in the long run? Will a strategy for ranking (as laid out today) be relevant tomorrow? Will the SERPS even exist tomorrow? Reacting to today's environment is like a dog chasing it's tail. Conversations like this must necessarily look into the future, at the evolutionary trends, where the tea leaves take us because any grand scheme devised for dealing with today's environment is sure to be obsolete tomorrow.

So yes, back to the original topic. How would you mark up your video game page to get full access to your own Knowledge Graph? I don't mind asking the question but I also can't ask it without wondering about the eventual consequences of courting such attention.

brotherhood of LAN




msg:4682383
 2:11 pm on Jun 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

It's a unique article because no one else on the Internet has covered the topic and I'm hoping it'll bring in some traffic based on people looking for local swimming holes when visiting my area. And guess what? It works...for awhile but then, out of the blue, a summary of that local swimming hole shows up in a knowledge graph along with a map and driving directions (which probably dwarfs any link that might be there to the full article on my site). Hey, my strategy worked for awhile but in the blink of an eye, it's rendered impotent. This has already happened to the single answer question.


You have a secret that you eventually share, and invite a search engine spider to index it. No surprises that the search engine (and others who care to write about it in future) become new sources of information. Even if you blocked Google, the secret is still out and someone else would write about it instead. Perhaps you can leave an indelible mark by making sure your message includes the fact you were the first to find it. If you discover something interesting then people will talk/share/reference it elsewhere too.

Regarding long-term Google, I just wanted to highlight the fact that SEO and Google's search engine results are a big enough topic in itself, and this is the forum for it. There's a separate Google business forum to discuss Google's strategy as a business. IMHO the conversation should focus on the concept of information, its facets, how Google can use them and how you can use that to your advantage, rather than looking at Google as a black hole. It seems like the former could be a very interesting an useful conversation while the latter just has us up in arms and powerless from the content marketer/business POV. It's easy for the conversation to slip into the latter which gets tiring to read, so I just wanted to clarify that up there ^.

EditorialGuy




msg:4682385
 2:39 pm on Jun 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

I don't mind asking the question but I also can't ask it without wondering about the eventual consequences of courting such attention.


More registrations, maybe?

Let's take another hypothetical example: Wendy's Widgets has a newsletter-registration form. A search on "wendys widget newsletter registration" produces a knowledge box with the form fields. If the searcher fills in the blanks, Wendy gets a new subscriber for her e-mail newsletter. For Wendy, this isn't a loss, it's a win.

Ditto for brick-and-mortar businesses that mark up their pages with hours of operation, street addresses, phone numbers, etc. in the hope that they'll be displayed on a Google SERP. Dr. Dave of Dr. Dave's Veterinary Clinic is less interested in Web traffic than in foot and phone traffic. Ditto for Donna Dunn of the Widgetville Widget Museum or Lyman Lehman, manager of the Applebee's in Appleton. For these businesses or organizations, "answer boxes" on Google SERPs aren't an "information invasion," they're a useful service (not just for them, but also for their customers or patrons).

webcentric




msg:4682387
 2:56 pm on Jun 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

It's easy for the conversation to slip into the latter which gets tiring to read, so I just wanted to clarify that up there ^.


Understood and appreciated. Just pointing out that the game is changing and what may be a relevant strategy today, may be useless (or even detrimental to your interests) tomorrow.

I'd be very interested in the markup related to the original question and attempting to deduce (from the structured data or whatever) if the info wound up in the knowledge graph by intent or implied intent of the author or if it was simply Google taking liberal license with a random piece of content it pulled off the web. It does have bearing on how and what information I choose to publish in the future (even if only in consideration of how it will be indexed).

Remember when indexing meant title and description (metadata). Who would have thought that process would lead to images being reproduced on a SE's own pages? What am I giving Google permission to index these days. Or is indexing now the act of republishing? What is my relationship to the data Google publishes and how do I control how my content is presented (or is that purely a pipe dream and an illusion).

webcentric




msg:4682389
 3:10 pm on Jun 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

Can't argue with what you're saying Editorial Guy. This is a double edged sword with both good and bad consequences depending on your perspective. I think it gets most sensitive though, where publishers of original content and localized information are concerned. Google is starting to get a real grasp on "local" and that leaves a lot of information resources struggling with how to stay relevant.

brotherhood of LAN




msg:4682415
 5:07 pm on Jun 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

OP stickied their example; minecraft create account [google.ca]

- Looks like vanilla HTML <li> tags.
- The variant "create minecraft account" doesn't return the same info box.
- The first sentence of each bullet point is shown in the info box
- The same information is on a couple of other documents [google.ca], notably books.google.com and a PDF.

I think I've seen previous examples of <li> lists being shown in info boxes, but can't recall where else.

webcentric




msg:4682423
 5:32 pm on Jun 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

Interesting that <li> tags are being used like that. Hmmmm. Step-by-step kind of stuff. There's a progression involved (note the original site is using an ordered list <ol>) even though it's rendered as a bullet list in the graph. So, sequences and progressions seem to be attractive to Google in this context. Makes me think of things like instructions, recipes, how-to's, etc. That's not a bad link position for the article poster and may bring more sign-ups for the game-maker. Hard to say it's a bad thing until you put your "slippery-slope hat" on.

It's definitely a summary of some of the information found on the original page. What's interesting is that the "1 more item" text indicates and leads the viewer to the link below. Not all the information available is in the graph. It seems to function more as a teaser.

netmeg




msg:4682441
 7:56 pm on Jun 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

I think I've seen previous examples of <li> lists being shown in info boxes, but can't recall where else.


They're all over recipes - try "how to cook a turkey"

Interesting though; this is a case where they took from the right site, but they took the wrong set of info - i.e. the instructions shown are for a turkey breast, and most people (I think) would be looking for instructions on how to cook the whole thing.

tangor




msg:4682457
 9:06 pm on Jun 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

Kiddies, this has all already been thrashed out by the courts way back when the print media giants sued Google for "publishing" their news articles in the serps. Google won on Fair Use... so, welcome to the end game. If the big players couldn't prevail, how do you guys expect to? Other than roboting G out of your sites, that is.

netmeg




msg:4682460
 9:11 pm on Jun 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

I don't expect to. Google's not going to adapt to me, so I need to adapt to whatever it is they're doing, or find something else to do.

Ultimately, the KG is probably what Joe User prefers, too.

brotherhood of LAN




msg:4682464
 9:23 pm on Jun 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

>They're all over recipes - try "how to cook a turkey"

I don't get that on google.ca but do on google.com, it does seem that this way of extracting/displaying info is tentative at best.

webcentric




msg:4682465
 9:23 pm on Jun 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

Not to drag this discussion back towards policy and business practices but I'd love to see the published decision in that case so I can understand what it actually says. I'd also like to know if it gave Google the right to syndicate all content on the web or if there are actual limitations to its "powers." Or did this all just get settled in a back room somewhere?

Back on topic, the question remains how to take advantage of these info-snippets (if we're going with the flow that is) or if that's even possible. G doesn't guarantee anything where it's decision on how to list content is concerned. Guess I could try poking some detailed ordered lists in its direction and see what happens. It's the age old adage turned into a question...

if you can't beat 'em, how do you join 'em?

Structured data is a step in that direction (and lists are a form of structured data) but what else is triggering the inclusion of content into said info boxes and knowledge graphs?

I'm still not sure I want to go down this road but what the heck. Couldn't hurt to know either way.

Added: Is the game really evolving from "How do I get on page one in the SERPS" to "How do I get my own Info Box at the top of the page"?

Added: I'd bet today's Adsense earnings (which aren't bad) that "Authority" or the appearance of authority, factors heavily into any plausible answer to the above question.

graeme_p




msg:4682631
 7:36 am on Jun 25, 2014 (gmt 0)

Facts are a dime a dozen (and are in the public domain).


Clear explanations and good writing are not. If we want Google traffic we have to focus on stuff that is not easy to summarise.

@tangor, fair use has strict limits. This is different from publishing a single snippet from an article so the law may treat it differently.

webcentric




msg:4682698
 12:30 pm on Jun 25, 2014 (gmt 0)

Clear explanations and good writing...If we want Google traffic we have to focus on stuff that is not easy to summarise.


Writing something clearly only makes it easier to summarize. Perhaps, writing in some incomprehensible, un-parsable, non-nonsensical fashion can protect uniqueness but would it get you a better ranking? Maybe G means you should make your content easily digestible by an algorithm when they say, "improve the quality of your site and your content." Is Google simply rewarding what the algorithm can most easily chew on and convert from the old format (SERPS) to the new (kG)? Could that be the key to the seemingly incomprehensible behavior of the SERPs these days?

EditorialGuy




msg:4682735
 2:15 pm on Jun 25, 2014 (gmt 0)

If we want Google traffic we have to focus on stuff that is not easy to summarise.


Bing traffic, too.

There's no divine law that says search engines have to limit themselves to "10 blue links." A lot of people tend to forget that.

Just as important, it's hard to distinguish yourself from the competition if you're providing exactly the same information they are with no "value add." (Does the world really need another site that answers questions like "What's the capital of South Dakota?" or supplies generic flight-status data for airline passengers?)

simplo




msg:4682778
 5:02 pm on Jun 25, 2014 (gmt 0)

This isn't going to affect anyone that has deep content. Sure, the knowledge graph is cool, it provides you with very basic information, but anyone that wants to really study something like a recipe will look at 10, 20 different recipes and pick the one that suits them best.

Google has been telling us for years that we need to have meaningful content. Knowledge graph is something to open your eyes and see the type of generic content you should avoid.

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