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have you been on holiday?
Hopefully he has had a nice holiday recently :-)
I haven't had a holiday, been through all the Google dance threads, and bought the T-shirts, but I do agree with ScottM.
Many webmasters spend too much of time optimising their sites for Google, tweaking, exchanging links, worrying about the latest algo changes. For those who rely on their sites for a living that's a perfectly valid and understandable activity.
Imagine for a moment someone who doesn't NEED traffic. I know it's difficult, but bear with me here. Imagine someone who likes a subject enough to built a website around it. He does his meta tags etc but doesn't worry about keyword density, anchor text, PR, or H1 tags. He just writes his articles and posts them. Over time he has accumulated a thousand pages of good content. Other sites link to his articles because they believe it's good stuff. But he still doesn't worry about Google.
These are the sites that are least affected by the Floridas and Austins and Londons and Sydneys. *Most* of them go down a bit in one dance and up a lot in the next one... continuing to show a net result of large growth over the year.
It's always pot luck but it may be the case that in the long run pot luck will be in your favour if you don't try to out-guess the algo. That may not be an option for most webmasters, but NOT making major (optimisation) changes may be the best long term plan for others.
[edited by: Macro at 9:19 pm (utc) on Feb. 1, 2004]
But at least Google keep trying. Either they are 1) doctoring the results to affect commercial sites... or 2) they are not. If they are doctoring the SERPS *unfairly* they will be long term losers as customers will desert them. I'm not talking the odd thread here saying: "I hate Google. I'm going to tell all my friends to use AV". I'm talking long term. If customers desert Google, those customers will need to find another SE and they'll find one that delivers the results for them. That SE will need some criteria to base their SERPS on and hopefully they won't make the same mistakes.
Option 2: they are not doctoring the results and are just trying to improve quality. If that's the case - which I believe it is - Google may take a hit or two at one dance on some subjects/type of sites and make some corrections for the next dance. And try again. And again. As long as they are trying to improve results we've got to appreciate that not all webmasters will be happy with the change. It takes probably only 5% of WW members to be unhappy ... and you'll get threads as long as the Florida ones! :-)
[edited by: Macro at 9:30 pm (utc) on Feb. 1, 2004]
Same as it's been for a long time:
I disagree. I've been following those guidelines for a while, have a number of content-heavy information sites.
This isn't a whinge: most of my pages escaped Austin unscathed. However a few, seemingly randomly, have just disappeared and the new SERPS show less than useful pages instead.
How many others might disappear next time?
Why go to the effort building quality pages when Google seems to randomly dump on some?
I don't know what the key to the new Google algorithm is but it certainly isn't quality of content.
Florida didn't touch me at all (that I noticed), possibly because I've got nothing to do with very high commercial terms like real estate, hotels, casinos, whatever.
A bit of "reshuffling" in SERPS is expected and acceptable. To go from page one to nowhere is not.
Like I say, I haven't been hit too badly yet. However the fact that some of my content has - for no discernible reason - been trashed means I can't trust Google any more. Who knows what will happen next time?
Trust is a bit like virginity, there's no getting it back.
Google are well and truly... well, you can guess the rest.
I realize that some people have dropped in position, and I'm not trying to be insensitive, just pointing out what works for not only one site, but several sites.
There is a reason why some sites stay rock solid and others bounce around and Brett's primer is the best advice I've found.
a) You've over SEOd, or,
b) you haven't followed Brett's guidelines ;)
I have a top performing site (probably an 'authority' in the technical sense in its own small way) because I've used no tricks, and built it along the same good solid lines that Brett has famously laid out. But this doesn't explain why it now doesn't perform for certain keywords, or indeed why it is thrashed in the SERPs for certain highly relevant searches by PR0 sites selling an entirely different product. (On one search term the other week, my own CV was ranking higher than my site! Surely people want to learn about or buy the product, not read the CV of someone in the industry!) The SERPs in my sector are dreadful today: this is not really an opinion, any sane person looking at them would agree with me. So enough of the chastising please ;)
[edited by: Chelsea at 10:45 pm (utc) on Feb. 1, 2004]
The problem is that if you have expectations of free traffic, whether from the amount of SEO, or historic levels of free traffic, then you are more likely to be disappointed or elated at some pages going up or down in SERPS each time Google changes algo.
The problem is this expectation some webmasters have that they are *entitled* to free traffic.
I haven't analysed my keywords and haven't kept records of how they fared through the dances. Looking at the logs for one of my sites now I find that after Florida some really good pages seem to have dropped 50% in amount of Google traffic. About 40 other pages dropped in Google post Austin. BUT, overall my traffic from Google for the last week is 140% of what it was last year this time - like for like. I didn't realise it till I just checked. Traffic may drop at the next algo change, it may go up... just as long as Google's *intention* with each algo change is to improve the quality of the SERPS.
Good for you... but I was talking to someone else about something else. Theres one way to stay on the first page regardless of serps, and it involves money. Im glad things are good for you now... but G doesnt care.
Theres one way to stay on the first page regardless of serps, and it involves money.
Oh, I understand what you meant now. Yep, you are right. My apologies. I thought you meant that paying for AdWords get's you a better position in the Serps on Google...and that isn't true. But now I realize you meant to pay for AdWords. And THAT gets you on the front page, but not a ranking increase in the SERPs
Sorry about that misunderstanding!
About me? Yes, you are correct. About the quality of their product? I beg to differ.
The topic of this thread is "..what are the latest Google guidelines". AdWords is another subject altogether.
What would be a step in the wrong direction is if most of the pages that have moved up in SERPS are from spammy or price comparison type sites. If in some subject areas that is the case then hopefully Google will correct it in the next dance. They don't have a choice. If spam takes over Google, Google will ultimately cease to exist.
There are some spam sites still in SERPS. I get them now as I used to before, I get them in my subject areas and when I'm generally looking for information outside the subects areas of my sites. They do not seem to be dominating the SERPS though. Since yesterday I've done some more research on my logs. I've got plenty to complain about both on Florida and Austin as many, many pages seem to be getting less traffic from Google. But the *overall* picture over all my white hat sites (some NOT optimised at all) is one of substantially more traffic from G SERPS.
ScottM's msg #2 is still the best answer to the original question.
My advice is simple: make your website for your visitors by adding big and great content. Think human. The robots wants to see this content made for the end-user. Don't think in algos, think with the user in mind. "Don't buther be the best cause you'll die like the rest...". Be a nice webmaster, not a raving SEO.
It's still gratifying though when someone e-mails and says "I really liked your site." Doesn't put food in the oven though if 'the world's finest search engine' has decided you're far too good for the masses and has put you into 'stealth mode' :)
Doesn't put food in the oven though
Perhaps if they weren't any SEOs Google had to fight against, if they weren't millions of sites devoting a lot of resources to manipulating/influencing SERPS, if they weren't black hat/grey hat/dunce hat webmasters they had to cope with... then Google'd be able to do a better job of giving Joe Surfer the relevant results he seeks. And we'd all have less of the algo experimenting and tweaking that sometimes comes up with irrelevant results for everybody.