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I think the idea of reliance on 'free' SERPs is maybe a bit too black and white. My small company has a fairly generous advertising budget for offline marketing. We advertise constantly in most of the relevant UK magazines for example, and now have a fairly large and growing customer base.
The trouble is, the 'free' listings (and I hate that reference to 'free' as if we're free-loaders, why not the phrase 'legitimate SERPs' ;)
So I'll start that para again:
the trouble with the 'legitimate' SERPs being played around with to this extent is that:
a) If Google had done this 2 years ago, my growing business would never have got off the ground.
b) Unannounced, unexplained & secretive sweeping changes to the way the world's dominant SE works means that we have lost the expected revenue to develop future projects, some of which have already been partially paid for.
This isn't free-loading. All business plans assume a degree of stability. We can try to mitigate against risk, but ultimately, if sales have been at level X for the past 12 months from a certain source it is perfectly reasonable to plan ahead on that assumption - as long as a margin of error is included.
What Google has done (disgracefully in my opinion) is pull the rug entirely from beneath an awful lot of plans. A margin of error based on marketing leads from Google might reasonably be based on a +/- 30% uncertainty, but almost overnight some Internet businesses had their sales hit by 95%.
Now I expect the following posts to ensue ;)
"What do you expect from Google", "What do they owe you" etc. etc. ;)
Fair enough, I'm simply making the point that, IMO, Google has behaved irresponsively in the sweeping, and largely unsuccessful, changes it has made to its previously successful algo.
There's room in every business to have a heart - if you want a buzzword, how about 'corporate responsibility'? Google has shown no heart at all - and I think they deserve a degree of criticism for it.
And diverting the blame to the elusive 'over-SEO' has compounded the misery further..
edits: for clarification.
if sales have been at level X for the past 12 months from a certain source it is perfectly reasonable to plan ahead on that assumptionEven if you had no control over that source, were paying nothing for those leads, and had no contract with that company!? Get real ;-)
Google is a business just like yours. They do what’s right for them. It’s their call what changes they see as improvements to their business. If you ran Google, that’s what you’d say.
Claims that they lack corporate responsibility etc are a bit too emotional (and wildly inaccurate to the point of being libellious). This thread is about what it takes to get Google results today. I still maintain that msg #2 is the closest answer so far in this thread. Do you have any better suggestions?
Claims that they lack corporate responsibility etc are a bit too emotional
No, not emotional. And just my opinion. You have responded emotionally, and in exactly the way I predicted you would.
And no - I have no better suggestions; and this is precisely what many people seem unwilling to face.
Brett's suggestions for web site design are without fault in the ideal world, but they no longer work in Google in many cases.
If a webmaster needs solace, and has followed these guidelines, check how Fast etc. are treating you.
Then reflect upon Google, and then look at their SERPs. I agree it's a wrench, but who's fooling who here :)
With the greatest respect.
Those of us who manage a few hundred have seen the illogical distribution of the Google vanishing act.
When you know that you have spam AND good sites out there, and some get hit, some don't - no pattern related to their 'holiness' in Google's eyes.
I have seen sites get wiped that followed the classic Google guidelines 'to the tee' whilst the spammy hidden text site that I created (and spam-reported it myself) is still there, despite other sites for that phrase getting wiped.
I've sites get wiped that have no reciprocal links, just quality directory incoming links. For every theory you can find a site that proves the theory wrong.
Google cannot leave the results looking like they are, so why bother trying to analyse the current SERPs?
Its time to dig trenches, build new sites and focus on quality content NOT because that works on Google now, but because 'quality content' is where they have to return to once they finish playing games.
Aim to be where they want to be, not where they are now.
[edited by: 4eyes at 7:22 pm (utc) on Feb. 2, 2004]
[edited by: allanp73 at 6:38 pm (utc) on Feb. 2, 2004]
So my bottom line is to convince as many others to switch to other search engines which produce better results for me.
Absolutely, if that's how you feel - go for it. You have the right to talk people into using other search engines. For your own searches you have the right to use whatever SE you want. You even have the right to say how useless you believe Google SERPS have become. That's business, that's free enterprise, that's competition slugging it out.
But two things: 1) nobody has the right to free traffic and 2) Google does have the right to do pretty much what they please with *their* algo.
Competitive forces will judge if they called it wrong.
In the meanwhile it's back to quality content ...which Brett may have touched on ;-) It works sometimes, it doesn't work sometimes, but it's got a better chance of getting you the traffic you crave than any SEO technique.
And so far it paid to be focused on ... what?
Did I imply somewhere that this wasn't the case?
Surely Google couldn't have steered us wrong with their helpful webmaster guidelines, could they?
Surely techniques like 'PR farming', 'buying PR', 'hidden text' 'cloaking' and 'doorway pages' stopped working years ago.
Strange then, that they felt the need to modify the algo when it was obviously working so well at identifiying quality content. Strange then, that for many phrases Google now seems prepared to admit that their much vaunted quality of results was 100% wrong - some phrases have an entirely new top 100.
Quality content is still what you need to target 'long term', as that is where Google wants to be.
Short term, it was fairly easy to 'game' Google - spam reports were rarely acted upon, and you could make a packet before an algo change got anywhere near you.
Now, regardless of whether Google got this latest algo change right or not, their intent was presumably to reduce our ability to game them. Sooner or later they will get this right.
So, in the absense of any meaningful analysis, carry-on spamming if you must, but build a large 'quality' site for your retirement fund.
If you build a site that is the best resource on a topic, that users find useful, and you have a search engine that built its reputation on finding the best sites on a given topic, and you are not doing anything that Google lists as unethical, and other sites link to you...
Then, I'm sorry, you do have the right to expect your site not to be thrown out of search results and replaced by COMPLETELY irrelevant junk.
In case people haven't noticed, the internet is kind of important, and Google is kind of important on the internet. What Google has done should be a major, world-wide scandal. Where is the corporate responsibility? Where is the transparency?
As a member of the human race I think I'm entitled to expect quite a lot of things from Google, actually. That's the position they've created for themselves.
Or how about a new search engine, with a public algorithm and a public approval/comment period before every change?
Or how about one with a board, and they can set up a system of elections for the board? We could vote for representatives on the Google2 Algorith Panel, and have local rallies to determine factors we want them to rank on.
Here's my snotty comment: Wheat Thins changed their recipe, and they have some "new, improved formula!" They didn't tell me beforehand, and I was planning a big party, with wheat thins as refreshments. The new crackers were no good -- no good at all! Ruined my party. As a human being, I think I have the right to be notified before they change their recipe, especially since I was planning so heavily on it being the same.
2. There is a rather well established idea, popular in places that aren't the US, that a single corporate entity with a virtual monopoly on access to an entire form of media, does not have the right to control the public's access to information for their own unstated reasons. Some people find that scary, and I'm one of them. You're welcome to hold a different opinion.
I think we, webmasters should come together united as organization in order to have power, or all the search engines will use our only asset for free make profit, and charge us on top of that.
Google "ha muerto" long live to Vivisimo
The smug claims of some around here that "nobody has the right to free traffic" seem to me to miss the point completely.
Some people here really do seem to have forgotten that the world wide web was created as an open resource available to everyone who could connect to it, with a primary purpose of distributing information around the world. Obviously there is a lot more business running on it now, but that doesn't really change the original intention.
Google had their success because they figured out a way to give people meaningful results when they were searching for something or other. If they abandon that model, which they seem to be doing in their rush to get some kind of financial tweak going with the latest changes they've been doing, then their users will just go elsewhere, that's happened lots of times to lots of different companies in the high tech world who used to totally dominate their markets. Remember Lotus? Or Amiga? Or Apple? Apple especially is a good example since they could have totally taken over the desktop market had it not been for a series of catastrophically irreversible management decisions.
To me it's obvious that all these changes were designed not to increase results accuracy but to try to boost their profits and income before the IPO. If it's true that the IPO has been cancelled, it would seem that this maneouver failed, or is failing.
I've also noticed that googleguy isn't coming in much on these latest topics, I don't think that's a coincidence.
Google has no monopoly -- all their information, their entire database comes from crawling the web, which you, or I, or anyone in the world is more than welcome to do.
Anyone is welcome to start their own search engine, based on whatever algorithm they choose, and if it provides better results, or has a cooler logo, or gets mentioned on MTV, or whatver -- people can use it.
The problem is that even if you make a content reach site. You can be out of SERPs too.
I have a commercial site that I LOVE. I adding content regularly, writing articles and a lot more. For me it is not just a commercial site that bring me money - is a place to have a conversation with customers, to help them find a quality product for they needs. I making my site not for google only, but for the humans.
I have a strong competition in my business so as I think the best way to win is to understand the customers and try to make their life easier.
Before Florida I ranked #4 for my main keyword.
- Now Results - after Florida I was out of the SERPs for about 60% of my keywords including main.
After Austin I have just 35% of the pre-Florida keywords.
And you think this is the way how to make a successful site in 12 month
Or how about a new search engine, with a public algorithm and a public approval/comment period before every change?
Hey, that's a great idea. An "open source" search engine run by and for SEOs and their clients. Seriously--why not? If they can deliver search results that benefit the public as well as themselves, more power to them.
(Like those games with public/shared high score tables -- once somebody posts the trick to get the top score, all 50 slots have the same 2 million points or whatever, and then it becomes irrelevant.)
A compromise might be to just have a public board of algorithm directors, who announce a month in advance any changes to the algo, and maybe let a sub-tier of webmasters and others preview the new results. Then a public beta, and then the results roll live to the main search page.
"Submit spam" would be (as it is now, in Google, really) only for the purpose of helping us find sites that had found clever ways to exploit the algo, so we could incorporate new bits to fight that.
In terms of economics, this might actually be a situation in which oversight from some sort of regulatory body would benefit the public at large. We are better off having one comprehensive search directory, versus dozens of inferior competing directories. The same may be true for search engines. It should be ad free, but you may have to pay a nominal fee to compensate the reviewers... kind of like the patent or copyright office. And hey... you could get a copyright on all of your unique content at the same time!
It's not a coincidence that people coming up with outlandish and illogical conspiracy theories and excuses are ignoring Google Guy's direct statements when he makes them. What do you want, him to repeat stuff 1000 times because some folks intend to complain a 1000 times?
Google would not be Google without ecommerce and in fact Google would not be profitable without the advertising dollars of those trying to make money on the Internet.
Anyway, remember how Google was built. Google delivered more relevance than anyone else and was grown through word of mouth. On top of relevance Google gave the little guy a chance to compete with the big boys. The combination of relevance and opportunity is why we loved Google. It's the classic story of David vs. Goliath.
Regardless of how you fare today in Google, there will always be a way to search for data and goods on the web. If it's not Google it will be another company, and they will want to make money too. If we've learned anything at all from all of the SE's of days gone by it's that they wanted to make money in the end, and in almost every case a headlong rush to profits, without considering it's impact on the very people that made them great, has been their undoing.
In a way we are to blame for this. Our desire for money is what fuels Google.
They say "jump!" and we ask "how high?".
They mess with the serps, we rush to buy Adwords. We’re cattle being herded.
Only when Google sees the money going away will they listen, and that's not going to happen. So, buck up! Pull yourself up by the bootstraps and either pony up or suffer the randomness of the "legitimate serps" aka (free).
Google has no monopoly -- all their information, their entire database comes from crawling the web, which you, or I, or anyone in the world is more than welcome to do
I agree. It's not a monopoly situation. This is not a Microsoft. There are numerous other SEs around. There are options.
If the Google SERPS are really that bad - and Google's going down the pan - then the logical thing to do is to hasten the demise of Google. Take c1bernaught's suggestion and ban the googlebot. To those not happy with Google - stand by your principles. Don't just recommend a different search engine - ban this one from trawling your site! Or perhaps it's a case of "I still want your free traffic, but I'll take my search business elsewhere"?
And Google is the one that's not fair?
I followed Bretts guidelines on 12 sites.
Those with UK and Australia specific domains are, in the main, trashed, whilst those with US and Canada domains are OK. Very strange.
I am seeing the same thing as JudgeJeffries. During Florida the serps were flood with UK results for a two word keyword. This slowly abated.
With Austin this effect is much stronger and more long lasting. My take is this is a misapplication of the country filter. My hope is this too will go away with time.