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Should Google just switch back to pre-Florida?

     
1:08 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Lots of comments in recent threads along the lines of:

"quality of SERPs has dropped"
"need to be an eBay store to get to the top"
"Google has lost its 'cool' tag"
"increase in visitors from MSN, AV etc."

Google thinks its SERPs have improved but are there really many areas that have genuinely benefited from less spam in the last three months?

If not, should Google just assign recent changes to the dustbin of history and reload the pre-Florida algorithm, then go from there?

It strikes me that, if those quotes really do represent the true state of affairs, perhaps spam in certain areas where people usually expect spam might be better for the Google image than poor results across the board, especially in areas where 'normal' web users are starting to notice, such as looking for information.

A thread for objective analysis of SERPs you follow as a user, not SERPs you follow as a website owner... :)

8:29 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

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m2c1r said: "Spam in my mind is trying to get top listings for anything, relevant or not, optimization is trying to get top listings for relevance."

Good point... but I would refine this definition a bit. Most spammy sites that I have seen have very little interest in providing quality content. To me, there is a difference between a site that provides quality, unique content, and a site that is only trying to get more traffic in order to sell something. I'm guessing that most searches on Google or other search engines are not due to someone looking to buy something.

8:45 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

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If most internet users wouldn't notice a change in the SERPS, then tell me one thing - Why did people ever move away from AltaVista and go to Google?!?!

Answer: Because the SERPS were more relevant. If they become unrelevant then history will repeat - people will find something else!

Don't doubt the end user - their not SEO's, but when they search for something, they can easily judge the quality of the results, it's human intuition, not a computer literacy issue. It's like reading a paper, if the headline says one thing and by the end of the 1st paragraph the story is different, you'll go and change the page .. you don't need to be an english professor to do that!

8:59 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

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"Should Google just switch back to pre-Florida?"

Should a multi-billion dollar business abandon a quest for quality and base search results 95% on volume of anchor text pointing to pages?

The fact that some people suggest this is just so not sensible that words can't describe it.

Google is in large part responsible for the mess the Internet has become because for six months they abandoned authority and quality and embraced an addiction to the most simple-to-create spam there is. They now have begun cleaning up the mess they are largely responsible for creating. And, in some cases the improvement is astonishing. They certainly aren't "done", but I'm afraid many people simply have no idea of the problem. Google needs to keep going forward with the basic emphasis of florida and particularly Austin. People with sites that don't offer quality original information will whine about it, but that is music to the ears of people who do create content.

Google kicked its anchor text addiction just in time. Some areas were finally completely overun with anchor text spam in early fall. Google is far, far better today because they are *trying* to be better. If you look around the various datacenters, including the regionals like .it and .fr, you see examples of where mistakes are corrected in some places but where the fundamental changes remain in place. This is where Google is heading for and where they should go.

Google should move ahead in the direction they are heading, but they should just get better at it.

9:00 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Customers really do know.
And now their is big difference between altavista and google. Google screwed a lot of people on these new updates and they need to get their plan in stone and stick with it. Quit screwing with peoples lives they have family's to feed and company's have employees to paid (if they still even work).

I have already made the switch and recommend everyone else to do the same. Or at least give it a try.
Take a trip to altavista, excite, or msn.

I prefer AV.

9:18 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Google could randomly boot out 50% of the index, and John Q wouldn't know, notice, or care.

What they care about? John Q is more interested in when Google is going to change the logo, than they are the serps.

such arrogance is not only distasteful but dangerous too

9:42 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I agree with steveb. The weighting of anchor text made the game far too easy to beat. They are looking for something and, for their sake, I hope they find it. The Florida serps were more spam filled than the current ones that I have looked at are. I lost a little traffic with Austin but most of that traffic was created by manipulating anchor text. Now I can go back to not knowing any shortcuts and just build my sites.
9:44 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

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If this truly is Local rank then linking schemes are history. I'm not going to criticize the results anymore. I'll let this new algo settle and then if garbage is still at the top then it's on.
9:47 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

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It's hard to have a nice conversation about G in this forum without being censored by the editors that moderate these forums. I'll see you in spider food where we can have a real discussions about what's going on without fear of being edited...

mikeymikey

10:20 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

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It is very difficult to find what you're looking for at the present time. They sure need to do something as far as relevancy is concerned.
10:40 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Aside from that - no one anywhere outside of the 'webmaster world' even knows that anything happened on Google in the last year.

I have to think you came to that conclusion because all of your time is spent in contact with webmasters. My experience has been 180 degrees opposite. Out of all the updates I've been through, Florida was the first one that caused many people in my non-webmaster cirlce of friends and family (including my Mother)to ask me questions about what was wrong with Google.

These were all people who I introduced Google to. Now that doesn't necessarily mean that they will leave to another engine. Most probably won't because they came to the web when Google was already the #1 search site, so they are really unaware of the fact that there are alternatives.

But they did notice. And I think that when they start seeing huge media campaigns coming from well know brands like Yahoo, they will be open to switching.

10:43 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

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yes they should if they want to save their IPO
10:51 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

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yup, agreed. The computer illiterate cant find stuff they used to find. Now you have teach them how to search which kinda is like the tail chasing the head!..i think i got that right anyway...in other words people now have to search how google want them to search....like my 'widgets' site gets better rankings for widget and my 'widget' site gets better rankings for widgets...i mean u can argue all day long whether there is more or less spam now.....the fact is the serps are trying to be too clever for its own good....if search for two words i want serps returned that have the two words together, i dont want to have to stick them in inverted commas all the time.....if i tell my girl friend i love her i dont expect her to phone her analyst to see if he can think of what my inner self is really trying to say..i love you means i love..and thats singular...i dont want her saying well maybe that means he loves everyone! google singular is singular plural is plural.....honest..it really is!
11:03 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Another thing I've noticed...

Pre Austin one of my sites had over 210 pages listed on google... now its down to 130 or so. So it has 'lost' them?

Wierd.

H

11:10 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

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<sure - by those that got the boot or hook.
Aside from that - no one anywhere outside of the 'webmaster world' even knows that anything happened on Google in the last year. >

First posting for me for quite a while.
Quite agree with WebGuerrilla :)and cannot agree at all with Brett:(.

Have had many calls from friends and business acquaintances, some web savvy some not, regarding Google.
All have mentioned that the results THEY are seeing are not giving the results they require.
I have advised then to use AV or Yahoo Directory or MSN.

EW

11:30 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Stemming: Google's version of Microsoft's 'Office Assistant'.
Yet when the latter is annoying enough, at least you can turn it off and it doesn't mix in with your own typing.

Google switched from the sharp relevance of a dictionairy to the vague quality of an encyclopedia. You know, one of those things people sell from door to door.

I'm sure they're still petting each other on the back in the Googleplex at their brilliant idea to turn a search engine into an online encyclopedia.

Yes, it will boost your adwords for a while. But that's because people can't find what they want in the regular serps. Why else would people start to click on advertisements all of a sudden?

Oraqref

11:37 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

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<Should a multi-billion dollar business abandon a quest for quality and base search results 95% on volume of anchor text pointing to pages? >

If this is a quest for quality it's way off. You can't use Google for a basic search anymore. If people wan't to shop at ebay, they go to ebay.com. When they search with Google, John Q does not want e-bay results.

The 50% results they could throw out are the e-bay/Amazon results.

wellzy

11:41 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

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<Should a multi-billion dollar business abandon a quest for quality and base search results 95% on volume of anchor text pointing to pages?>

A Quest for Quality? Why don't you take your hobbit-ears off for a brief moment and try understand what's really at stake here: it's a search engine that tries to read your mind rather than look at the signs next to the road.

Oraqref

11:50 pm on Jan 30, 2004 (gmt 0)

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They need to do something, my own listings haven't really been hit but I am tired of searching for simple keywords for things that I want to find only to be met with page after page of junk.

Reminds me exactly of what happened to Altavista years ago - crap results = a new main search engine soon for the majority of surfers.

12:11 am on Jan 31, 2004 (gmt 0)

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<Should Google just switch back to pre-Florida?>

No... they can't and won't. I'm not bitter, just a little puzzled in some areas right now. They got to where they are today by inovation and being privately owned and who knows what they are up to except that in the long run (could be a good long time) they will still be on top.
Some of my SERPS have suffered also but due to folowing the carrots that are held in front of me. Maybe we'll have fewer carrots in the future but they will taste better.
BTW, GG is conspicuious by absence. How about a tasty carrot?

12:13 am on Jan 31, 2004 (gmt 0)

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" no one anywhere outside of the 'webmaster world' even knows that anything happened on Google in the last year"

I can't imagine that to be true.

The google bombing articles are just the start of the criticism. It's just a matter of time before the big news agencies and newspapers start doing articles about how broad matching is really bad matching. Once Google goes public, the scrutiny will be very high, and I'm sure the algorithm in use today will be scrapped.

12:15 am on Jan 31, 2004 (gmt 0)

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For all the carping I've done about the poor SERP's post Florida, I understand and even agree with the notion of trying to clean up the mess that steveb rightly points out G largely caused to begin with.

What G should have done is to launch this new algo/filter when it was closer to being ready for prime time. Why? Because the damage and alienation they've caused (not just to newbie webmasters, but seniors too, and innocents, etc,) may be unforgiveable.

Florida/Austin wasn't just a technical disaster, it was a PR disaster. Made worse by the fact that what little comment that followed from the 'Plex reinforced a perception that G had gone truly corporate (read, "cold hearted, disconnected, uncaring). Also read: not the cool trusted brand it once was.

If G is to prevent this from becoming a perma-disaster (I'm not smart enough to know if that's still possible, but I'd guess that it is), they must make some sort of dramatic public acknowledgement. They cannot say, "Ooops, sorry"...but they can make a move that signals their understanding of the mistake. It could be a rollback, or perhaps an announcement that they understand that some good sites have "temporarily" dispappeared and they are working feverishly to get those sites back. Whatever. Something that shows they are still more human at their core, and well intentioned.

However, doing nothing other than extending the damage to more kw's (Austin) is proabably corporate suicide.

G can't afford these SERP's, any more than an airline company can afford to suffer a few commuter plane crashes by explaining to the public that they are doing 'real world testing' for a new design that will *someday* be the best ever.

12:25 am on Jan 31, 2004 (gmt 0)

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>Google could randomly boot out 50% of the index, and John Q wouldn't know, notice, or care.
What they care about? John Q is more interested in when Google is going to change the logo, than they are the serps.

If that were true, would it still make for better results? Would it be the right thing to do? If I were too stupid to realize someone was selling me an apple when I wanted an orange, does that make the guy selling me the apple correct?

>Should Google just switch back to pre-Florida?
No, they should iron out the buggy results and keep the improvements.

1:52 am on Jan 31, 2004 (gmt 0)

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The problem with post florida Google seems to be the filters. A rollback is not necessary - all they have to do is scrap or fix the filters.

Kaled.

2:07 am on Jan 31, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Well, pre Florida I had lots of customers and they never returned merchandise. Now Florida and Austin
comes along and in effect tells those customers they were wrong in buying from my site and oh by the way here are sites you should have made your purchases from. And of course all my sites left the premises.

The Googleplex has lost its focus by applying the theories of its PhDs to the internet marketplace. Their schemes are grand but impractical and should stay on the shelves where other PhDs can access them and yak about them over latte and crumpets.

Of course pre Florida is my recommendation.

Google can declare a victory and withdraw with grace.

3:28 am on Jan 31, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Wellzy said: The 50% results they could throw out are the e-bay/Amazon results.

Good post! In my view, there are too many sites that are pure affiliate sites... no real unique content at all. These sites just try to attract traffic so they can drop a cookie on their visitors, in the hopes that their visitors end up buying from Amazon or E-bay... or dozens of other vendors that sell through affiliates. I'm not saying all sites that are affiliate marketers are bad... but far too many offer nothing unique.

What if Google had a filter that caused any page that linked out to a real vendor to be penalized? If your site has lots of real unique content, all of those pages would have good pagerank, and good results. But any page that tries to sell you something that you are not really the vendor for gets a penalty. This would beat the "over-optimization" penalty in my view... which seems to have thrown the baby out with the bathwater.

5:18 am on Jan 31, 2004 (gmt 0)

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From what they know, if you go to Google and type in "www.hotmail.com" or "www.yahoo.com"

I'll alter the query a little
[google.com...]
now try
[altavista.com...]

If he looks past number 1, I think Joe Surfer would notice (unless he's fluent in Japanese and his browser can gain entry to #4 and #5).

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