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Google Conspiracy Theory Du Jour

wide position fluctuations based on historical adwords purchases?

     
3:15 pm on Jun 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Try this one on for size . . .

In the past two months, I've noticed that my site and several others that rank in the top ten results for the most important keyword that pertains to a niche industry have been experiencing wide fluctuations in positions. One day, right there in the top ten, and the next day, in the 90s or 100s . . . then, so far anyway, they return to (what used to be their usual) high ranks. Other sites in the top ten, generally ones that have been around for two or more years, stay where they usually have been.

I've noticed that the sites that experience these massive fluctuations are sites that have bought AdWords but may not be doing so at the moment.

My conspiracy theory is this (and yes, I acknowledge that it could be absolutely groundless) . . . Google is testing the sensitivity of Webmasters that used to be active AdWords customers, but who do not need to rely on them currently for traffic because of their top ten positions on words on which they've focused AdWords campaigns in the past. How actively are such Webmasters tracking their rankings/traffic? Is their traffic from other engines steady enough so that they are not so sensitive to huge Google shifts? Will Webmasters who see a sudden decline from their normal healthy Google traffic panic and re-activate their AdWords campaigns? It's an "interesting" approach to customer retention . . .

What are some thoughts on this idea? Anybody seeing similar parallels?

W

3:39 pm on June 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Interesting parallel in fact wooden.

Since I have absolutely no experience at all with ad words, I cannot comment, but I will observe what the others have to say about this.

Thanks for the post wooden.

It is enlightning :-)

4:37 pm on June 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Not quite the same, but sort of related....I know of at least two companies in our field whose SERP rankings have never reflected their continuous and extensive use of AdWords.
4:45 pm on June 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Why do good business practices have to be characterized as a "conspiracy theory"?

All businesses look for ways to increase profitability, why hold google to a different standard?

4:46 pm on June 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Wasn't the point that it's people who have reduced their Adwords usage after their SERPS improved?

We've always used Adwords to the Max and have always held good positions in SERPS. I thought a couple of times we'd better not drop the Adwords just in case Google plays some tricks ;)

John316 - deception isn't a good business practice, although it may be effective for a while.

4:54 pm on June 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Here is another one for you....

Google is giving exclusivity to certain adwords advertisers for keywords and keyphrases.

Also noticed instances were premium sponsors are not required to adhere to the advertising guidelines.

5:18 pm on June 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

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> deception isn't a good business practice, although it may be effective for a while.

Who said anything about deceptive? When McDonalds designs their seating to be comfortable only long enough to eat a fast meal before becoming unbearably uncomforable, is that "an evil conspiracy" or just good business?

It could actually be called good for the "user experience" in the sense that it deters loitering.

5:23 pm on June 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Everything above my post, crazy. Adwords have no affect on SERPS whatsoever.
5:24 pm on June 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

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>>>My conspiracy theory is this (and yes, I acknowledge that it could be absolutely groundless) . . . Google is testing the sensitivity of Webmasters that used to be active AdWords customers<<<

wooden:

My site has been doing the same thing since the Dominic "up_down_date". I have never bought AdWords...

It's just a temporary problem, which will hopefully be fixed after the next update.

5:33 pm on June 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I like cindyunc's rebuttal the best ("everything above this post is crazy"), but the last time I denied something wacky like this, people didn't consider the denial strong enough (?!?). So: this conspiracy theory du jour is groundless. AdWords and SERPs are independent.

[edited by: GoogleGuy at 6:07 pm (utc) on June 15, 2003]

5:33 pm on June 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

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{Owner Edit}

Yeah, what he said.

7:12 pm on June 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

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>>AdWords and SERPs are independent.

Not as far as spam reporting goes. Good advertisers definately get a hot line to the spam team.

7:32 pm on June 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I wouldn't even agree with that, SlyOldDog. From my point of view, user support, spam reports, and verifying automatically-detected spam all get at least as high priority as reports via advertisers. I also don't believe that advertising with Google gives you any special advantage for a spam report. And I've seen the spam-handling process for a while now.
7:34 pm on June 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Wooden,

I have seen exactly the same yo-yo behaviour for a few of my sites, including recently; from top 10 to nowhere and back...
The only difference is that I've never bought adwords, so I'd say that your conspiracy theory sounds a bit like a damp squib :)

Dan

7:41 pm on June 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I enjoy sitting in the plastic seats at McDonald's for hours and hours, while keeping the manager at bay with a long stick.
8:24 pm on June 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

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> I enjoy sitting in the plastic seats at McDonald's for hours and hours, while keeping the manager at bay with a long stick.

Now, *thats* wacky!

9:18 pm on June 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Not as far as spam reporting goes. GOOD ADVERTISERS definately get a hot line to the spam team.

NO,

Good advertisers KNOW how to report spam properly, via the correct channels, giving accurate information.

Good Advertisers also know that reporting competitors for spam is NO good, if they "themself" are upto NO good.

Good Advertisers also know that, Adwords or Sales team would NOT know what Googlebot was if it crawled up their leg and bit them on the backside.

Shak

(however if you want conspiracy theories, here is 1 I overheard on the bus today:)

Google are thinking of employing the butler from AskJeeves to replace GoogleGuy, reason given is the fact that The Butler knows how to dress
1:41 am on June 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Ha ha ha! Love the McDonald's bit!

With the title and basic tone of my post, I meant that my idea should be taken with a grain of salt/as somewhat tongue-in-cheek, though with the thought that it could still be a remote possibility. Just fun to pose a semi-crackpot theory for discussion's sake.

GoogleGuy, as always, thanks for your input. Your presence and participation here is invaluable!

I do believe that Google does have the good of the general Google-using public close to its heart, but I also know that some Googlefolk have a bit of a chip on their collective shoulder when it comes to Webmasters designing sites with users AND search engines in mind.

I believe what GoogleGuy is saying . . . forgive my monkey mind for veering into speculation about the possibilities of such business mischief!

W

2:20 am on June 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

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No worries, wooden. I just wanted to be clear myself--antsy webmaster are inclined to believe things that they wouldn't normally believe. :)

Although evidently, I need to get myself some nicer threads, according to Shak. :)

2:56 am on June 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Well, I'm just glad we got the monthly "wacky conspiracy thread" out of the way..who comes up with this stuff anyway?
4:31 am on June 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Actually, consider this:

Google is PR11

When you are buying adwords, your site often appears on high PR pages as a result.

When you drop adwords, you lose that position on those obviously highly ranked pages.

I wonder! :-)

(just kidding, but I figured this thread is silly enough that it could stand a silly additional theory!)

Alex

5:26 am on June 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

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>>Everything above my post, crazy.
>>So: this conspiracy theory du jour is groundless.

Really? My experience (albeit limited) makes me wonder. I hate to be a one-trick pony, as this is all I've ever posted on, but I'll do so again ...

A few months ago, I set up a very small AdWords campaign. Wasnít looking for much traffic; didnít get much. But I became somewhat familiar with the system.

Concurrently, this same little site was getting about 5 referrals per day from Google on the editorial listing side for phrases not associated with the AdWords campaign.

I let the AdWords campaign lapse on May 31. Since then, the site has received 0 referrals from Google and a search shows it is virtually nonexistent in the rankings for phrases it did well on up until May 31.

I find it hard to fathom that the last referral from Google editorial coincidentally came on the last day that an AdWords campaign ran.

6:16 am on June 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

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TrumanTiger, 3B web pages + 100K advertisers means it's almost guaranteed that someone will start/stop advertising and within a day or so Googlebot will start/stop visiting.

I understand the urge to look for meaning in a coincidence, but AdWords don't help/hurt/affect rankings. :)

zeropr

9:46 am on June 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Googlebot and adwords are not entirely seperate though. I have seen campaigns tagged with a specific URL, e.g. www.widgets.com/info/ADWORDS/foobar.html. That URL is then used by the google spider when it visits the page. The URL has never, ever been linked to, and it is spidered within days of it going live on AdWords. It has only been visited a couple of times, so it is highly improbable (read: impossible) that the URL has appeared in any sort of referer / proxy log that Google has picked up on. This makes it "kind-of" hard to keep a track of adwords traffic, if that URL then makes it into the index.
10:12 am on June 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Googlebot and adwords are not entirely seperate though. I have seen campaigns tagged with a specific URL, e.g. www.widgets.com/info/ADWORDS/foobar.html. That URL is then used by the google spider when it visits the page. The URL has never, ever been linked to, and it is spidered within days of it going live on AdWords. It has only been visited a couple of times, so it is highly improbable (read: impossible) that the URL has appeared in any sort of referer / proxy log that Google has picked up on. This makes it "kind-of" hard to keep a track of adwords traffic, if that URL then makes it into the index.

Welcome to Webmasterworld [webmasterworld.com]

Are we sure this is NOT the adwords spider checking on content of page for advertising guidelines, such as NO mad pop ups, and also allowing the back button to work properly etc etc.

just a thought...

Shak

10:47 am on June 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

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<devils advocate>
why don't you get a boost if you spend money on adwords? I mean if you're spending money then that's at least as good as a link from a site, it's most likely you have relevant content..

I guess if you did get a boost there'd be less incentive to buy more advertising?

11:19 am on June 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

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>>why don't you get a boost if you spend money on adwords? I mean if you're spending money then that's at least as good as a link from a site, it's most likely you have relevant content.. <<

because one reason behind the utility of googles main results is that you cannot pay money directly to google for any special consideration, and they try to reduce the effect of other ways of paying filthy lucre sideways (paying for PR etc)!

They want to rank sites based on their own methods relating to relevancy and link popularity rather than direct cash. Of course it takes cash to SEO too, but its not a direct payment. Paying for listings and ranking caused major problems with INK and Y! quality at one stage.

11:30 am on June 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I'd wager that within the year, Adwords are moved to a far more prominent position.

Most likely along the lines of the discontinued "Premium Sponsored Links", but they could be even more subtle - maybe only a thin line distinguishing sponsored and normal listings.

Relevancy would have to be sorted out first because most advertisers don't know what they're doing and don't use negative keywords properly (if at all).

Would be good for Google. Standard results are getting so polluted with crud that they have to do something!

11:59 am on June 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

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dmorrison, i just cant see any evidence for your theories (or statements on quality of the index as well) other than google throwing out their whole strategy and turning into an ad server.

Iid wager 1 Baht to your 1 dollar or pound anytime!