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Google's Wobbles

Or Maybe: The Rise and Fall of Search Engines



6:46 am on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

The problems reported are actually becoming far more rational and trends are emerging.

That bus which GoogleGuy was talking about in the earlier -SJ update thread, when urging webmasters not to worry about each bump on route.... it could well be starting to stray from the road... and in full view of the searching public.

Is the Plex loosing its grip? Consider the following:

a) This thread: [webmasterworld.com...] Sorry.... a few may gloss over or apply positive spin... but this is a real mess. That cannot be hidden any more, as the scale is wide and actually seems to be growing as the forum posts become more rational. Yes, in some sectors the searching public WILL notice.

b) The geolocation fiasco. Wrong decision, no warning at all to the searching public, and certainly alienation of some. Another real mess.

c) Unfair penalties. Anyone getting a human response on these? I bought a new domain in January. Worked for ages on it, and... PR0. Why? Someone had previously owned it in Sept 2001 and got a penalty. Emails explaining and begging for common sense over a month ago ignored. I'm not the only one.

And yes there are other bits and pieces demonstrating this trend.

The impression from all this is not good. Individually these sorts of issues do cause damage and potentially any one could backfire into substantial adverse publicity, loss of customer/searcher support, etc.

Collectively, the story is getting bigger than the sum of its parts.

I make no bones about being a Google fan, so for me, the above is of great concern. More than any reason because I have seen it before, as have others. This sort of... well it looks like sloppiness or lack of correct focus... was evident when Alta Vista started it's rapid decline.

Maybe over confidence is the cause, or lack of hierarchical control, or just bad judgment. Who knows. But here's a point: when a search engine has fallen previously the first group to have drifted away have been webmasters. That's why I have asked on a different thread: "What the hell is going on".

C'mon Google.... sort it. This is shakey ground and I'm beginning to wonder what is next. It's doing no-one any favors, least of all Google.


5:51 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

>>>I bet the adwords revenue is hitting all time highs as Webmasters try to keep up the traffic during this storm.

Amen! I believe that's what this completely shaken-up index is all about. Take the sites that have plenty of free traffic down so they will jump on Adwords.

Hopefully I'm wrong about this but I don't see how else so many quality sites can be drivin into oblivion when, by Google's standards, they were tops for so long.

The site I care about most will be brought to it's knees if/when this new index sticks. What can you do? Join Adwords? Makes me wonder what the ulterior motive is here.



5:54 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I did not mean to bring up any further paranoia, there is plenty here already. One of my favorite KW is ranking #1, right ahead of the manufacter of the product, where it has been for quite some time. They have been #2 for ages, now they are gone. Right above it, in the Adwords Premium slot, is there listing now.


5:59 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Adwords are making a big push...just received a hard piece of mail that offered me $100 of free adword money to sign up a new account. Had a $100 promo code on it.

Set it up under a different site and viola, there it is and it's up at the top for those keywords....

They're gonna push adwords hard apparently.



6:06 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

could this be a move to increase revenues in preparation for an upcoming IPO?

*ducks and runs far far away*


6:12 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member googleguy is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Elvis (love the nickname!), I think anyone is welcome to roam into any forum. I've ventured into the AlltheWeb forum a few times and people are always nice over there. Anyway, welcome to WebmasterWorld, and I hope you don't leave the building. :)

Elvis Presley

6:15 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the welcome googleguy...you'll find that if i ever do leave the building people will swear that im still here even years later! :-)


6:23 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member googleguy is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Elvis leaves a long shadow behind him. :)

Added: Wow. What if Elvis were alive and he was doing SEO? Boggles the mind..


6:25 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I think we are just now finally seeing the man behind the Page Rank curtain. The initial purpose and and application of page rank wowed the world with hopes of a mighty and purposeful leader in SE. Sadly like most great ideas the devil is in the details and the plex right now is staring straight into the devils nostrils at this point it seems to me.


6:27 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

>It's hard to believe that good valuable sites that play by the rules will end up shafted after being well recognized by Google in the past.

That is exactly what happened at Altavista.

When useful, meaningful sites stopped showing up first in the SERPs people who needed real information stopped using it.


6:27 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I'm new to this forum, but my friends have told me what their problems are.

And my bottom line reaction to reading this forum is two-fold.

1) Why is google putting this self-described incomplete index out to the public in the first place? Just to see if the public doesn't notice? It's one thing to beta test amongst those that are in a forum such as this, but public dispersal seems stupid, whether the public notices or not. The general public doesn't know a spammed site from any other.

2) Google via "googleguy" seem to have a head buried in the sand approach to the legitimate complaints, most referring to the above public showing of an index that still has “weeks” to be completed. Just saying “sj looks great to us” or “sj is a better index than before” doesn’t make it so to all of those in this forum. If you want to say “sj will be better” or “sj doesn’t look pretty yet, but it will when…” that would be better. Any thing else is insulting to those honest web designers or SEOs, who just want to know what the playing field looks like. No athlete would play blindfolded, wo why should we be left in the dark.

Overall, the tone I get from google is that of “we’re number one now, so we can be arrogant”. I guess it’s true that “power corrupts”.


6:27 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member trillianjedi is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Set it up under a different site and viola, there it is and it's up at the top for those keywords....

Um, that needs a little clarifying - top of the SERPS or at the top of the adwords column.....?



6:29 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


Google’s algo was nearly perfect if you look back at say early to mid-2002. The results were great and almost spam-free. The problem was that at this time people started to buy Page Rank and anchortext links, and spam started appearing everywhere.

Now you are trying to improve a basically perfect algo simply because it is so easy to manipulate, and more and more people are doing it. In the process of trying to “clean up” the index you are bringing down many relevant web sites and people get upset. Throwing the baby out with the bathwater may be the only solution left when every webmaster in the world knows how to get to the top of Google, but I don't think we are there yet, (although we are inching closer every day). If you remove the green bar from the toolbar tomorrow, and give less relevance to the anchortext in incoming links than to on-page factors for a couple of months to get everyone a bit confused :), I think you could basically keep this algo forever.

I understand the public relations disaster that you probably fear if you were to remove the page rank bar. But if you replaced it with some other cool feature, and motivated the move by saying that you have improved your algo so much that PR is no longer the best way of displaying the relevance of a site, no one would question it.

In regards to sending spam reports on the –sj results. I don’t think that spam is the main problem on -sj, but rather that many good web sites have seen dramatic drops that are not explainable by algo changes alone, and has to be due to some sort of new penalty. For me it is no big deal since only one of my sites has been dropped. I would just prefer that you keep doing the really clever stuff without flaunting it, instead of trying to clean up the mess when everyone has learnt how to get to the top of Google.


6:30 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

"How do other members feel about the tone of WebmasterWorld over the past few months? Same, different?"

Different. Not so easy for folks to listen, to much unfounded fear. Problems that relate to a few being transfered to many.. who may have no cause to worry at all.

A general tone of negative coming into being which is just my feeling in general...


6:37 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

hahaha. GG if elvis were alive today, and doing SEO, what is happening right now on Google, no offense, would put him back in his grave....


6:37 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Throwing the baby out with the bathwater may be the only solution left when every webmaster in the world knows how to get to the top of Google

I disagree with this thought since there can only be 5 listings in the top 5 and 10 listings in the top 10. Obviously, if I figure out a way to get listed ahead of you, then you need to figure out how to make your site more relevent that phrase than ME or you haven't figured out how to get to the top.

For every webmaster that KNOWS HOW to get to the top, then ALL the others for that keyword apparently DON'T know how.

Patience is the underlying theme to everything GG has said and, in reality, to every job funtion of a web designer.

* and to clarify my "top of the listings" - it was top of adwords...but this wasn't a company I had planned on spending adwords on but Google's offer of $100 was too good to pass up. Now...just a little traffic will encourage me to spend more when the $100 is gone....DOH....their mailing worked!



6:51 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

How do other members feel about the tone of WebmasterWorld over the past few months? Same, different?

Alright GG, I take back the suggestion that some people are acting like organ-grinder monkeys. It seems to have stuck in your craw... Apologies. I don't know how you manage to handle the barrage of complaints. Respect.

I'm not seeing any personal attacks to speak of, just frustration coming out. The price of freedom of speech is sometimes having to listen to things you don't like.

(And I'm sticking with the Stockholm Syndrome theory because it's a good one).

Kumbaya, my lord, kumbaya......


7:05 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

Hi everybody,
I'm new to this forum and can't help but think I must be a bit smarter than most complainers out there!
Starting as a novice two years ago I now am practically always either number one in search results or failing that at least among the first ten.
Now, Google is still my favourite engine but I do not rely on it. My results are just as good with any major search engine out there.A search done with only two relevant words will do the trick.
This in the fairly competitive world of finance. I also have a casino site. Results here are not as good, but hey,
what do you expect if the search returns >500.000 results!
It is just like this convention that people attended in order to become the best salesperson selling cars.
All of a sudden you find yourself in a hall with another
2000 hopefuls. How much chance do have have to become number one? Right-one in two thousand.
What I am getting at is this.
If only 25 people in the word would have a site about G.W.Bush Junior,only one would be number one.
Now, say 2.500.000 people have such a site. Draw your own conclusion. We all now these things so why get upset
if it does not go your way?
And, quite frankly I think it is not at all difficult to get a good place in the results.
It's the old KISS system.
KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID. I do and it works for me.


7:10 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

500 000 is not really competitive....2000 case dismissed


7:42 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I don't think anyone is predicting Google's demise. Still "wobble" if a fair way of referring to this update. G. has always been fairly solid so when they appear to stumble people take notice.

Email feedback: people just change the channel, they probably are not going to email Google. Also Google does not have a stellar reputation for answering emails. Many webmasters will not bother.


8:05 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

Yeah my thoughts, google feedback is very poor, that is not a complaint but a fact.
But then again they do not owe me anything whatsoever, and I also owe them nothing.

Long may it stay that way, -;


8:27 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Napoleon seems to have struck a nerve with Googleguy. His post seemed a little un-characteristically harsh and bordering on defensive.Hmmmmm All of a sudden it's not a problem Google has, it's webmasterworld's problem. yeah that's the problem.

Maybe people are the same as they've always been and the only thing that has changed is the old timers realize that you talk more and say less than most and getting any real answer to questions isn't going to happen. All the vague, non-answers in the world can't hide clay feet forever. There comes a time when straight talk and straight answers are called for and when they are not forthcoming people are going to make up their own answers and it may not be the ones you wanted them to have.

It is a moot point anyway because whether WebmasterWorld has changed or whether Google really does have some problems and WebmasterWorld has just had the audacity to see it and speak about it, Google still has a problem either way. I think that was all Napoleon was saying.


8:37 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I think it might have helped to give the webmasters in this forum a little "heads up" prior to this change in the algorithm. Webmasters noticed that the SJ index was changed to something radically different, and it took a little while before this change was acknowledged to be the start of something real. A fair warning would have helped those who depend so heavily on Googles free SERPS to implement some alternative plans to bring in their visitors.

I'm not suggesting that Google needs to reveal confidential plans or algorithm details, or that Google owes anybody anything... but the nature of the beast is that there is a symbiotic relationship between Google and the webmasters and SEOs of the world, and big disruptions are not good for either party.

We definitely appreciate the feedback that GG has provided... above and beyond the call of duty. It's a tough audience - lately resembling thousands of Monday Morning Quarterbacks. Google has every right to change their systems, and they have every right to develop their systems confidentially. But there is no getting around the fact that they are the Internet's #1 search engine, and that any small ripple in the algorithm, the data in the index, or the timing and method of updates can cause tidal waves with the livelihood of many individuals and companies.


8:42 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Re: the expired domain penalty.

Even when you are able to get back in (PR1 from PR0), its still a pretty tough road to get into the good graces of Google. If they (Google) can figure out that a certain domain expired at a certain date and was then re-registered, surely they can simply "lock out" all incoming links that were spidered prior to the re-registration date. I don't see the point of a perm ban when all you want to do is discourage transfer of backlinks and the associated PR.


8:43 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


your posts may become prophetic someday, or they may not. it will be interesting to watch things unfold.

this could ulimately be the beginning of a downard trend for Google, or the start of something good getting better.

as a webmaster, i am going to wait until GG gives somekind of indication, or we see some indication, that things are settling down, before drawing conclusions as a webmaster.

if Google were public, and i was investor who also happened to follow all this stuff, you can be sure i wouldn't be calling my broker just yet to sell the stock. not close.


9:19 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member steveb is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

I sent in a spam report, but honest to God, I first didn't because there is simply too much to say, too many problems, even if the examples are easy to point to.

The real problems though are two things that can't be dealt with in a spam report.
1) The failure of the deepcrawls. What can anybody say about that? The March deepcrawl was a disaster. One can only conclude that the April one was as bad or worse, and they have revereted to February just like a crashed computer: "last known good configuration."
2) The wrong headed idea that new is better than quality. When I search for something Google fails me if it puts up a page created yesterday... and they *tried* to do that. I want a page that answers my query, that gives me correct information, that is useful. (Google News is different, obviously new matters there.)

Google's current failure appears to be a combination of bad technology and bad philosophy. What can be said about that except that?


9:42 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Google may or may not suffer a hit to market share. It's just conjecture since we don't really know the ambiguous timeframe that google is operating under. You know "weeks instead of days".

What's not conjecture is that if this process starts to take to long and happens over and over, then results and reputation will suffer. They can ignore the fact that they aren't generating any goodwill by not, more specifically, addressing the complaints generated in this forum.

You can only say "relax" and "be patient" for so long before your credibility erodes.

And any sycophants that want to continue to bolster google, by saying that google is still the best and are doing a great job, are missing the point.

It's not google's greatness as a search engine that's really in question, it's their PR (Public Relations not Page Rank) amongst this forum that remains cryptic and ineffectual due to their desire for secrecy about a very publicly released product.


10:03 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Welcome aboard taos47.

Believe me, I'm not a Google sycophant and the changes are disturbing, but if this forum gets to the point where it's non-stop rants, no matter how justified and sincere, all the good stuff at WW will disappear into a fog of white-noise. Try checking threads that might have info on problems similar to your own and see if you can help figure out what's going on. Use the site search lots, it's a very good resource.

Mea culpa on my own rants... trying to make up for it a little.


10:30 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

From a searchers perspective I'm not seeing too many problems with the SJ index. But then again searchers only see problems with poor sites showing up. A searcher more than likely will never know that a top industry site is missing from the SERPS... They only see poor pages as poor results...

From a webmaster perspective I'm seeing sites disapear. But the good news is I'm not seeing SPAMMY sites replace them.

I see what google is trying to do and "throwing the baby out with the bath water" seems like a good analogy. But I do find it interesting that I'm seeing front pages drop, while internal pages are holding their positions. I'm also seeing some outdated pages, poor duplicate poor merging going on in the index...

If google wants me to fill out a spam report, what am I going to report. That I see a couple quality sites fall in the SERPS? I don't see SPAM, I see missing pages. And searching unfamiliar terms, I don't know if a site is missing or not... I'm not about to say hey google my front page disapeared from the serps, put it back!


10:38 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

With power comes priviledge, responsibility, and increased scrutiny.

G and GG fit this mold.

I sometimes feel that G is trying to play both cards - you know... the G of today 2002/2003 and the G of 1998-2001. When in fact, there couldn't be a starker contrast.

Everything has changed. And with power...


10:40 pm on May 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member googleguy is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Hey nipear, I would feel free to say "hey, this good site doesn't seem to be in the result set" if you happen to know about a niche. I'd love to see reports like that. Stefan, I appreciate those comments. I take feedback from non-dancing folks just as seriously or more seriously--promise.

Okay, back to my compile..

This 187 message thread spans 7 pages: 187

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