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Google SEO longterm?



8:57 am on Nov 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I had a site, SEO was done, was in top rankings for about 2 months then overnight for no reason site was positioned way down the rankings. All practices were ethical and it seemed no point or logic to this what happend to me.

If you speak to all the best Internet Marketing Pros they tell you SEO is a waste of time longterm, everyone in the industry has lost their position at somepoint from what I gather - or am I wrong?

I want to hear from anyone who has had long term success with SEO say for 6 months or longer....


7:40 pm on Nov 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

Why does ecommerce get such a bad rap...? I would venture to guess that the majority of people running a business on the web, and using Google for traffic, want the same things Google does. We don't like competeing with spammers, redirectors, etc..

I don't think e-commerce gets a bad rap per se. But because there are so many, many sites selling the same products and services, the SERPs become cluttered with thousands of virtually identical pages, most of which are constructed with boilerplate content. This is frustrating to users, whether or not the Webmasters of those e-commerce sites are pushing the SEO envelope. It's like trying to find information in an index comprised of The Magazine Index, the Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature, Books in Print, and every Yellow Pages directory in the world.

The clutter problem would be bad enough if merchants were the only people selling things, but there are also thousands (tens of thousands? hundreds of thousands?) of affiliates selling the same things, often with the same vendor-supplied advertising copy. So you end up with a situation where you search for the Hotel Whatsit in Shelbyville and you can't find its Web page without digging half a dozen pages down into the search results.

Some people might say "Well, that's the free market, and may the merchant or affiliate site with the best SEO win." That may be a valid point of view if you're a businessperson or an economist, but it isn't a point of view that Google can afford to share. Why? Because Google's stated mission is to "organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful." Simply delivering hundreds or thousands of virtually identical search results in what, to a user, appears to be random order isn't good enough. I don't know what the solution is, but I suspect that it won't be found by continuing to rely on one massive, all-inclusive, undifferentiated index. There has to be a way to channel users into the types of search results they're actually looking for.


7:41 pm on Nov 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

No...this "change" is too widespread to be the result of manual penalties. GoogleGuy has also denied this.

Also, the examples I've looked at include sites that no one could possibly complain about, and no human at the Googleplex could possibly find objectionable. For every big site that deserved to be hit, I think three or four little guys were hit. Yes, they were "optimized" in the sense that they are dependent on a couple of keywords to sell their widgets, and these keywords show up in the usual places you'd expect, and in several backlinks, and perhaps in directory or filenames. But I'd call it "common sense optimization" -- certainly nothing like a link farm, or hidden text, or anything even close to that. Maybe one or two reciprocal link pages at most. It's nothing that heavy.

No one -- neither SEOs in forums nor Google itself -- has ever warned that this level of optimization would be targeted. It makes me feel sad that sites like this may well go out of business. Many of these sites cannot wait around for a month after de-optimizing -- even assuming that de-optimizing is a sure thing. Right now, we cannot even be sure that de-optimizing will work at all.


7:44 pm on Nov 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

In my area I see page upon page of listings for .edu, .gov, and .org sites. Typically it is an institutional order form of some type or a document that makes a passing reference to the word.

Longterm online marketing now involves bold new partnerships such as pop-unders on the Montana Dept. of Agriculture widget order form.


7:47 pm on Nov 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Perhaps G should simply split the shopping sites and information sites.
As the internet grows, if you try to put all the files in one drawer without any kind of divisions, it becomes unsearchable.


7:48 pm on Nov 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

>>>>>Now hang on a moment. Say I want to buy inkjet cartridges. I couldn't give a left potato about incredible content. I am simply looking for a quick, easy, cheap deal.

Use Froogle :)


7:48 pm on Nov 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Additional tabs for google?

Commercial and Information

They have to do something quickly, the SERPS suck


7:52 pm on Nov 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Yahoo has a great opportunity here. My guess is people dissatisifed with Google results would try Yahoo next. The last thing Yahoo needs is to be showing these same results when they could use it as a chance to grab back market share.


7:54 pm on Nov 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

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

layer8, in your "Google SEO longterm?" question you mentioned that "if you speak to all the best Internet Marketing Pros they tell you SEO is a waste of time longterm".

Hopefullly this thread has demonstrated that there are Internet marketing types who are pretty happy with their long term experience. So perhaps we could take the "Google SEO longterm?" question and reply "Yes, for longterm Google SEO"?

By the way, I've "heard" that some Internet marketing types (the long term ones) get paid quite a lot to convince people some of GoogleGuy's points in this thread. We can't convince Google to become a shopping engine, or to stop being wary of SEO. We can take account of what Google like and help their software to like our sites.


7:56 pm on Nov 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

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

We want search results to be relevant for both info seekers and product seekers, and everything in between. If there's a search that you consider less relevant than before, send it to us at webmaster [at] google.com with the keywords floridaupdate or floridaquality. Emails like "where is my site" probably won't get the same weight as "I did a search for X. The industry leaders in this space are A, B, and C. A & B are fine, but C dropped to the second page. In addition, new page D is less topical or relevant because ..." That's the sort of email that would be the most helpful for us to get. I'll ask a user support person to collect (constructive) emails to the webmaster address so that folks inside Google see them.


7:57 pm on Nov 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Google Guy,

Thank you for taking the time to shed some light on the philisophy and goals that Google is trying to implement. I completely agree with the Google philosophy of trying to provide good quality content/information for users first, and trying to filter out sites that are just sell, sell, sell...

I agreed with this philosophy a long time ago (prior to Florida), and was attempting to implement this philosophy on my 'commercial' website.

Because you mentioned insurance in a previous post, I hope you don't mind me using insurance as an example (this is my niche market). It is difficult to explain concepts without using examples. I think my specific example will reflect a lot of what other webmasters are experiencing...We may sell 'cheeseburgers', but we have also tried to provide recipes, nutritional info charts, types of beef, and other helpful info as a service to our customers.

My website provides online insurance for people traveling to a certain country... but my website also provides multiple pages of important content about traveling to that country (road maps and city info, customs info, is the water safe?, laws, what to look for in insurance coverage, safety tips, places to stay, numbers to the US consulate in that country, and more). I have had hundreds of happy customers call me and tell me that they purchased their insurance from us because we had such a helpful website that also answered many of their non-insurance related questions as well. Isn't this what Google wants?
Sorry for being 'commercial', but many people also use my site for it's content and don't buy my insurance...I'm happy to provide that extra service.

The frustrating thing about florida is that all of the new top 10-20 sites are still 'commercial' insurance sites! Instead of being home pages, the top 10 sites are now just 1 page advertisement pages on directory sites for the same old 'commercial' websites (usually of with less content). Just for this example, let's use Iraq as the country example:

Pre-Florida results:

#1 insuranceforiraq.com sells insurance and good travel content too!
#2 driveiraq.com - sells and good content

#3-#10 were all decent sites specializing in selling Iraq insurance, and provided some type of content.

Current results:

#1 www.allaboutiraq.com/bargain-iraq-insurance.html - this is a 1 page insurance ad for this company that links to that company's home page...and once you link to that home page, it may not be a very content rich site..just sell, sell, sell.

#2 - #20 all seem to be 1 page ads on Iraq information directories, and these ads don't really give any helpful info except 'buy from us'!

Also the #4 postion is a spammy site for auto insurance for the US and doesn't mention 'Iraq' once.

I understand Google's intent, but it just doesn't seem like the method is producing what the philosphy's goal is.

For the cheeseburger example:
Instead of getting qualityburgers.com, superburgers.com, and burgersandrecipes.com (pre-florida) you are now getting commercial ads for Billy Bob's possum burgers on allaboutmeat.com/billybobs-possum-burgers.html Then when you link to billybob.com, the whole site just says, "Buy 10lbs of ground possum, 20lbs of ground possum, or 2 tons of ground possum....there are no recipes and hardly any content.

At least this has been the result in my niche....I'm not complaining, I'm just trying to give feedback with the intent of helping.


8:00 pm on Nov 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

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

EFV, agree almost universally with what you say.

But the current SERP's were not the solution, especially when dropped like an atom bomb.

As I stated elsewhere, I only have one site that was hit in this way; I manage many others of the type Brett has been espousing and they are doing fine, just as one would hope.

What bugs me so much about this is not the intent, but the specific solution and the way it was handled. Very harsh; not well thought through, not balanced, not elegant.

Like large companies, it is often not the goal that's the problem, but the execution...a particularly appropriate term in this case. Too many well intentioned, clean sites blown away with seemingly little or no acknowledgement.

E-commerce is not all bad, and in fact the best business practitioners understand that fairness must be at the core of any good relationship, whether b2b or b2c. G did not play fair this time. That was never the case before. Hope this is very temporary, and not the 'new Google'...

Balance, grasshopper.


8:01 pm on Nov 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

That was my point too - G wants to be useful for both types of user (info/shopper), but on the whole appears to be neither of those.


8:03 pm on Nov 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

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

GG, just as a general pointer your user support guys & gals would be wise to run some searches at the various country specific Google's. It seems the relative lack of web pages magnify's the quality problem, makes it much easier to see.


8:04 pm on Nov 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


I'm not sure I can completely agree with you. I agree that clutter can be a problem. However, there are only so many brands and so many models of products...

The real problem, and challenge, for Google is all of the spammy sites... they are easy to see using human eyes, but difficult for the filters to catch for some reason.... This update is no different... I see just as much spam as I always have... get rid of these and you have hundreds of thousands less pages to deal with... then it's a battle of who is the best...

Back to the issue I was talking about in my first paragraph: If I want to sell "freds blue widgets" and you want to sell the same, there are only so many ways to differentiate our sites... color schemes, amount of information, marketing knowledge, etc...

Generally the only difference between what we sell is in the "deal" we are making. It's not so different from buying products in the bricks and morter world. However, in the bricks and morter world no one can tell you that there are too many gas stations, or shoe stores or whatever then reshuffle your shopping district... as a consumer you shop... get a deal and purchase a product...

This Christmas I'll probably visit 3 or 4 large electronics retailers... they all carry the same brands and models... I'll buy from whichever does the best sales job.... period..

If you sell a product on the web you not only have to rank well, you have to do a good job of selling the product...

miss understood

8:07 pm on Nov 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Hi GoogleGuy,

Your reply on my "penalty" question was extremely helpful; thank you!

I notice that you keep mentioning good quality *sites* rather than good quality *pages*. Does the content/popularity of the *entire site* now affect a single page's ranking in the SERPs? Or can a single page still stand on its own?

The reason I ask is because I have a page with a very informative article on "blue hairy widgets" on a small niche website. It used to rank #1 for a "blue hairy widgets" search, but post-Florida is nowhere to be found. From your reply, I gather it's not being penalized for having "blue hairy widgets" in the title or linking to a store that sells "blue hairy widgets". So I suspect that the relevancy of the *page itself* is no longer sufficient to merit high ranking; the entire site must be deemed "high quality."

In my industry, sites that are barely relevant for "blue hairy widgets", but are authoritative (about.com), directories, or immensely large and popular (ebay, amazon) for "hairy widgets" (or just widgets for that matter) are dominating the SERPs with a single mention of a "blue hairy widget". The small, niche mom-and-pop sites focusing exclusively on "blue hairy widgets" are now off the map.

This long-winded post boils down to two questions:

1. Popularity vs. Relevancy: Is site popularity (as determined by outside votes, like links, visits, or some sort of popularity tracking) more important than specific content (particularly for popular or "big money" keyphrases)?
Example: Is it Google's intention for Huge Popular Widget Store (with a few blue hairy widgets for sale), Huge Widget Directory (with one blue hairy widget link), or Huge News Site (with an article mentioning blue hairy widgets) to rank high, while the small but spot-on relevant Blue Hairy Widget Store has disappeared?

2. Site vs. Single Page: Is a single page's ranking affected by the popularity/content of the entire site? Example: Is Huge News Site's article mentioning blue hairy widgets a better quality result than Small Niche Site's article exclusively on blue hairy widgets?

Thanks again in advance for your guidance! :-)


8:08 pm on Nov 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I can understand sites changing around in an update but then why if relevance is such a factor in the 1st 10 results you get index page, site map page and back end page from same site.

This gives a consumer even less choice, with two other sites having been wiped out. It is definately the big players who in the most part have stayed to the detriment of the smaller operators, It is just like the High Street, the choice to the consumer is going, since smaller operators cannot compete with the spiraling Adword costs either. This is not as has been said earlier therefore a poor business model it is just that if a large player has infinite funds they WILL be top for Adwords, Overture etc whoever and have the advantage of now being top 10 of Googles new look with the new algo switched on.

It is a sharp movement of monies and I think many smaller organisations esp those with perhaps 1-5 staff will start to disappear in next few months if things stay as they are.

There are just so many examples across the board that Google will become inundated.


8:09 pm on Nov 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

A couple effects Google did not anticipate.

#1 Ex top dogs will go to Oveture (you can not mess with a person and expect them to pay you) Thus Oveture will now become even bigger.(with Inkomi inches away this is bad bad bad for google).

#2 If people can not find what they are looking for on Google they will leave google. (decreased sales of Adwords).

Another way of putting it, look in a magazine about Widgets, now of course they sell widgets in their too. A lot of people buy the magazine just to find where to buy good widgets cheap.

Now you take all the ad's out of that magazine except a few high priced retailers. The Magazine just committed suicide. Its been said before, hopefully the last time it needs to be said, but if these serps continue Google just committed suicide.


8:14 pm on Nov 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I completely agree with Miss Understood. We too have niche sites for specific products all gone in favour of larger operators in the main part offering an enormous seletion including our niche product.

The small specialist sites who only have 1 product to talk about in its content have been penalised through specialization.

What I also notice is that sites where our product is primary and theirs it is secondry have zipped into top listings, since many specialist sites are gone.


8:19 pm on Nov 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

I'm willing to concede that Google had good intentions. I don't think they are organized enough to have evil intentions. This is my new opinion after reading the Fortune top story that was posted today at www.fortune.com (it will be in their Dec 8 issue). It's based on a lot of interviews at the Googleplex over the last four months.

Okay -- good intentions, but horrible execution. Now that it is clear that Google needs to fix the problem, we'll find out in very short order just how organized Google can become when they need to get organized really fast. If they can't fix this, or -- short of that -- decide that it should be withdrawn until such time that they can come up with something that works better, then I think the writing is on the wall for Google.

Unfortunately, a lot of us might go down with them.


8:19 pm on Nov 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Firstly, I do not believe that penalties have not been applied. Why else would my site and others go from number one or top ten to nowhere overnight. It doesn't make sense.

Also, how do you define content? How many pages or words is considered good, quality content? I might think my three pages are good enough but what does Google think?


8:22 pm on Nov 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

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


I don't know. The site I run that was trashed in this update was a combo of affiliate and ad revenues in nature (in case no one guessed ;-) ), but it is clean, useful and in the past very well trafficked, including repeat users...always a good sign. I refused to implement those stupid "keyword keyword keyword" links all over the place, even when the spammier competitors were hurting me.

That said, when I wanted to travel to Florida earlier this year (the state) and I picked a destination and typed in "destination hotels" I thought I was going to gag. Nothing but spam. Useful spam I'll admit but *only* spam. (Useful spam meaning that all the site provided good info, but there was nothing else to choose from.)

I don't think this is an easy problem. One senior poster said recently, to paraphrase, "I don't care if you thin out the affiliate sites, as long as you don't lose mine...". There ya go. G lost his, and everyone else's to, and all the little mom and pops, etc. Now I see .gov's, .org's, news sites, and to Miop's and others' points, most of the listings are almost certainly not what the user was seaching for in this case.

Hard problem. But again, that's why they hire all those mind-bendingly smart folks at the plex, isn't it?


8:25 pm on Nov 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

>If they can't fix this, or -- short of that -- decide that it should be withdrawn until such time that they can come up with something that works better, then I think the writing is on the wall for Google.

Couldnt agree more, odly enough we had the busiest day from Google for a while but that makes no odds if in general the results are merde, users will go elsewhere


8:26 pm on Nov 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

The industry leaders in this space are A, B, and C. A & B are fine, but C dropped to the second page. In addition, new page D is less topical or relevant because ..."


"Industry leaders" aren't necessarily the most relevent to a particular search. In my particular field, there are two types of sites ranking well:

1. Those so-called industry leaders who are older than water and have some good content but seem to be surviving on sheer longevity and momentum.

2. Seemingly randomly-choosen sites that have some relevence to the term but are what 2 weeks ago I would have called "poorly-optimized."

Now, without either going back in time and starting my site in 1994 or deoptimizing my site and waiting for the next update, I don't see how I can compete with these sites. A large portion of my optimization actually makes my site more user-friendly. Things like relevent URLs, use of alt tags, etc.

Am I supposed to take that back a notch or two just to regain what very little is left of my SERPs?

I believe I should be able to reasonably compete with industry leaders and industry followers without having to compromise user-centric design and logical navigation. It seems to me that's what Google has been trying to promote, even if indirectly, for the past few years.

So now in the fourth quarter of a recession year, Google decides to turn their SERPs into a big steaming pile of contradictions and hypocrisy. BTW, I've never spent a cent on AdWords and never intend to.

Google underestimates their responsibility and their power. They need to understand that "commercial terms" aren't evil and optimization can serve both the user and the webmaster.

Q4 2003 isn't going to wait, and PPC won't pick up the slack. Before I had some trepidation about MSN's entry into the SE market...now I'll welcome it.


8:27 pm on Nov 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Thanks Brett, Marcia, NFFC and GoogleGuy for putting this thing into perspective.


8:27 pm on Nov 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

There must be a reason Yahoo is holding onto a week old index.

I feel they have the same oppinion we do, "What are these Serps?" "And who do they benefit?"


8:29 pm on Nov 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Probably save yourself a lot email raeding time if you just asked the engineers to add this to the queries by default:



8:30 pm on Nov 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

Thanks for your thoughtful responses.
What's this whole Florida thing anyway?


8:36 pm on Nov 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Don't start with something ultracompetitive--look for a fringe or niche or related area where you can present something new, esp. if it's new or useful information that users can't find elsewhere. 4) Once you have a good handle on your niche, expand your horizons. Now that every knows to come to you for reviews/info/analysis about fuzzy used widgets, you can set your sights on just used widgets in general.

Not all sites are purely informational, and that doesn't make them less relevent to a search term. If a user is searching for "widget management software", why is a site that offers information about widget management software any more relevent than a site that DOES offer widget management software?.

Many of the users coming to google to find widget management software are actually trying to find widget management software, not to be directed to a place that lets them do more searching for it.


8:39 pm on Nov 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Reading this thread is very much like listening to shell shock victims, I know I am one. My commercial site got bombed, My non-commercial deep content site fine and fact doing better every day, ten times the traffic of the commercial even when it was top ten, but that site don’t put the groceries on the Table.

The only sites left in my commercial area are rather heavy turgid information sites which are top and you would need a degree from Stanford to understand them. Some shopping portals nothing to with the subject. Couple of nonsense sites and one created in word.

Do you see similar? Well I have decided that looks to me like an opportunity,

If content is the name of the game then fine I will give them shed loads. Even though no buyers will read it. But at least it can be a route to the meat and potatoes.

I am put in mind of the “Vicar of Bray”

Hey if the programs changed I need to get with the program - be like that Vicar

But I am not 100% sure of the program quite yet but I intend to understand it.

So what have I done so far? Why joined the others on the right hand side fighting over the ads. It feels very odd. I am in business so time to adjust those margins.


8:43 pm on Nov 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Google as everbody says doesn't owe us anything but when an organisation reaches the size it is and accounts for XX% of the searches some responsibility must be shown. A similarity to this is the employing of staff, you can still run your business as you like but at times some thoughts must be to the staff regarding the consequences of your actions.

Google knows that it has the "current" monopoly for searches, peoples livelihoods are dependant on this. Surely a responsible route would be to filter changes in gradually. We can all appreciate that spam must be dealt with, similar to credit card fraud they are always 1 step ahead of most, and as seems to be the case here the knob was turned a number of notches too much, leaving the goody two shoes sites nowhere.

Google must appreciate that sites haven't just moved down a few pages, but have been wiped off the board.

Would it not be a responsible action to respond publically to us regarding this update. I am also a user of Google and use it for no end of searches but today I did need to use other engines to find what I needed.

This can't be progression

This 408 message thread spans 14 pages: 408

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