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July Update?

     
12:59 am on Jul 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Is it me or does it look like a significant update is going on at google. I am noticing a number of SERP changes for a few of my sites and they've been fluctuating for the past few days.

Anyone else noticing any major changes?

6:44 pm on July 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

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>Even if that were true, why would it be a bad thing for Google or users? It would be in keeping with Google's stated mission of "organizing the Web's information and making it universally accessible." <

That makes no sense to me. Are you saying that most commerce sites don't contain good or accurate information about what they sell? And if the commerce site contains information why isn't it being treatly like every other site. What you need to realize is Adword commerce sites can't provide revenue streams to Adsense totally from those Adword campaigns or Froogle while and at the same time be relegated lower in the serps. It takes a combination. Few sites can go strictly the Adwords route.

I was trying to purchase some computer supplies today and again I had wade through a plethora of sites (link sites, doorway pages) on Google to find a commerce site selling the products. I donít want to see a picture of the product and a link to a site selling it. I want to buy as quickly as possible. The commerce sites give me all the information I need about the product. I donít need to see a page optimized for click throughs or Adsense calling itself an information site.

6:54 pm on July 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I don't know if anyone else has noticed the same, but in my case the number of links has gone up (%wise dramatically), but all of the sites that are showing now are ones that have linked to my site very recently or are brand new low-ranked internal pages that have only recently been entered into Google.
Not saying anything - just an observation.
8:18 pm on July 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Same here. Google is showing prominently the most recent backlinks it has discovered to my site.

I requested a Google webalert for backlinks to my front page. One arrived this morning. It lists backlinks that I already knew about, but which must be new discoveries by Googlebot. These backlinks are also listed in the same order on the the first two pages of backlinks that Google shows with the link: command. (Some other links are mixed in with them, mainly internal.)

8:41 pm on July 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I have checked again and yes, my backlinks are up, but know, verified links from high-quality sites with good PR are now missing and only links from pages with the lowest PR show. Also, I was checking the backlinks on some very spammy pages and they show many, many backlinks from pahes named guestbook.html, which I thought were dead meat these days. I agree with Marcia's wisdom, that this is NOT a glitch. To my mind the remaining question is "Why would G do something this stupid?"
8:59 pm on July 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

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>Also, I was checking the backlinks on some very spammy pages and they show many, many backlinks from pahes named guestbook.html, which I thought were dead meat these days. I agree with Marcia's wisdom, that this is NOT a glitch. To my mind the remaining question is "Why would G do something this stupid?"

Dead meat doesnt mean that Google doesnt know about them.

Marcia is dead on. This is not a glitch. IMO this is also not stupid on Google's part.

Google has stated many times over that gaming the system with links is a problem that they have in their sites. Confusing the hell out of webmasters, SEOs and PR/link brokers about which links are of value is a good start. Of course they could just eliminate the PR part of the toolbar, but that wouldn't give them near as much pleasure.

9:56 pm on July 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

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They aren't confusing experienced SEOs. They will confuse novices and those who don't understand SEO very well. So if they are targeting this group, it's almost a mean-spirited thing to do.

One thing a fairly accurate backlink command does is help webmasters avoid bad neighborhoods. This is something Google suggests webmasters do, and now has mostly taken away the best tool to gauge that. yes, some super spammy sites now show tons of guestbook links that make them easier to see as bad neighborhood residents, but so many PR4 and PR5 pages show between zero and two backlinks now that you can't judge anything at all about them (unless of course you use Yahoo or other means to see the backlinks).

This is fundementally two things. First, Google deliberately shows inaccurate results for a search. This is no small thing, even if it is an obscure, webmaster-only search. The results are low quality. Google completely sucks and is an embarrassment as a backlink search engine. Then second, this is basically a betrayal of their own guidelines and public comments to webmasters.

Hey Googleplex, if you say people should avoid bad neighborhoods, don't lie to them and make it harder to do (for no good reason since again this info can be found elsewhere with a little extra work).

9:58 pm on July 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I can't see why content is more important than ecommerce.

The inherent value of content or e-commerce isn't at issue. My point was simply that, according to Google's mission statement, Google's role is to organize information and make it universally accessible to users. Google has never claimed to be a shopping engine, so it would be well within its rights to filter out order pages or pages that use boilerplate catalog or affiliate content. (I'm not saying it should do that, although that certainly would reduce a lot of clutter in the SERPs.)

In any case, the discussion is academic because there's no evidence that Google really is filtering out e-commerce or affiliate pages per se. It may tweaking its algorithm to favor "organic" sites over those that practice aggressive SEO, and it may be attempting (without much success) to filter out boilerplate duplicate content, but that isn't the same thing as filtering out commercial pages.

10:07 pm on July 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I came late to this thread and was briefly in shock when I checked my own backlinks which seem to have decreased by 5/6. Then I read the posts regarding the flip flopping of shown links. Sure enough, all my pr 6 and pr7 links are now nowhere to be seen. I still see some of the pr 5 but not nearly as many as before. It does seem as though the crap links are the ones that are now showing up in abundance. But my rankings seem to be the same and toolbar PR seems to be the same, so no harm done apparently...does make going after higher pr backlinks a bit different I will admit.
10:16 pm on July 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

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They should just get rid of the link: command. It wasn't that useful before, and now...
Still have that nagging feeling that G has major marketing plans for the PR toolbar though...
10:47 pm on July 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I've always found it quite useful.
11:31 pm on July 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

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The link command was very useful, in obvious ways to find related sites (much much better than the "similar pages" way), but also to avoid bad neighborhoods.

This information can be found other ways, even if it is more time consuming and generally less accurate, but both these tasks (related sites; avoid bad neighborhoods) are vital tasks and if you haven't been doing them one way or the other then you are missing the boat.

Same old song, the girl who can't dance says the band can't play.

11:33 pm on July 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

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You're right Kirby. Sorry. I didn't mean to imply that G doesn't "see" them but rather that they (pages ending in "guestbook.html")are given no weight, as for some time now I haven't seen pages with that name show as backlinks.
11:54 pm on July 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Okay, I apologize. Yes, the link function was working spectacularly before. And No, I can't dance..
12:38 am on July 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

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oaktown... are you seeing the current Google dance where guestbook.html links and similar are everywhere?
1:17 am on July 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

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The new #1 result for many of the top phrases in my industry is now a 404 page for a site that does not exist anymore.

Most of the competitors in my area that actually had good relevant content are now gone. I saw a few missing a couple days ago, now I find a few more that are gone.

I expect this week to be good for me, since my website is one of only 4 websites in the top 20 that is relevant.

5:12 am on July 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

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steveb, Agreed about the pro SEOs, I just dont think the majority of self-professed SEOs are pros. I also dont understand what you mean by an accurate backlink command. It is accurate, just not comprehensive. Now they simply show the low end as opposed to a hodge-podge compilation of PR4+ links.

How are you judging bad neighborhoods? Just based on backlinks? I've seen link farm links as backlinks when the link farm page is nowhere to be found in the index.

I guess you also have a point here, but perhaps its Google's way to alter our thinking. If we are concerned about who we link to but cant use links to judge, then maybe our outbound links should now be based on the value of the content of the page we link to (vote for) instead of its perceived value as a reciprocal link.

6:17 am on July 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

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It looks like G has reverted its backlink report to the previous ones. I think the backlink results in the past couple of days might not be a temporary glitch, but more or less a half-cooked results. Interestingly, it helps to reveal the trend what G's backlinks will be.
8:18 am on July 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Google write the rules for the game that we play.

Learn the new rules and keep playing.

It gets a bit boring otherwise : )

8:46 am on July 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

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"It is accurate, just not comprehensive."

Google commonly returns about 1000 results for searches, or all available results, less "omitted results".

The link command is a search, and it fails to return anything close to accurate results when the universe is less than 1000 results. Yes, with over 1000 results they could plausibly show anything. But now (when their are under 1000 possible results) they are choosing to show results that are not the most accurate, relevant, correct and useful results.

Yes it's just a goofy webmaster search, but it is still a case of a search engine deliberately serving up poor results for a search.

10:35 am on July 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I am, in a small way, a sci-fi buff. One thing that always amazes me is that some people read far more meaning into irrelevant details than is reasonable. They will assume that everything in the script has been thought through perfectly - there are no mistakes. Anything that appears to be a mistake is simply there to baffle us.

WRONG.....

If Google didn't want us to use the link command, they would have withdrawn it. Turning it into a junk command simply makes them look stupid and amateurish - not something they would do intentionally.

Kaled.

10:52 am on July 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

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As stated earlier, Google seems to be trying to filter out ecommerce sites and concentrating on information sites

Seems like people are starting to see the wood and the trees.....

which is a bad thing

I've said this a hundred times lately - Google need to monetise their product.

Whether or not it's a bad thing depends on your point of view, but it doesn't change facts.

TJ

12:06 pm on July 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I don't get the impression google is deliberately favoring information "sites" over commmerces sites. I do think that they favor sites with more information, though. And there's simply no reason why a commerce site can't find a way to work more information into it's pages.
12:18 pm on July 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

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If Google didn't want us to use the link command, they would have withdrawn it. Turning it into a junk command simply makes them look stupid and amateurish - not something they would do intentionally.

The link command as always been flawed ..it never showed links from sites pr3 and below

DaveN

12:34 pm on July 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Ownerrim - think about it from Google's point of view, not as a webmaster.

Personally, rather than putting content into a commerce site, I prefer a model of two sites, one content, one store.

The content site is SEO'd to do well in google free SERPS, then driving traffic through to the store.

The store site doesn't require any SEO at all (beyond the basics) and is rounded off with an AdWords campaign.

TJ

1:20 pm on July 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I don't know why there should be a distinction between e-commerce and information sites, because almost every site has something to do with ecommerce. If i'am searching for a radio, i want to know the specs etc. And maybe i also want the opportunity to buy one. I am not looking for all detailed technical information. I just want some simple specs, prices etc..

So why should all ecoimmerce sites be filtered out.

2:18 pm on July 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

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The idea that Google is filtering out e-commerce sites is plain nonsense.

For any remotely e-commerce based search I do I get back a variety of e-commerce results on the first page - some good, some bad - most with something to do with the search.

Google is monetising its product - its called Adwords - and it requires good (as in relevent) first page results to ensure that people keep coming back.

Infact, the people most likely to click through an Adword advert are those looking to buy product - if those people thought that Google was not going to return product type pages for a product type search they wouldn't use Google - Adwords revenue would suffer.

2:21 pm on July 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I don't know why there should be a distinction between e-commerce and information sites

Google doesn't index sites. It indexes pages. So, even if it were filtering e-commerce results, it wouldn't be filtering out all widgets.com pages--it would be filtering out widgets.com/order.htm or widgets.com/duplicate-content-catalog-page.htm. Pages like widgets.com/how-to-buy-a-widget.htm or widgets.com/how-our-widgets-are-built.htm would almost certainly remain.

For that matter, Google might not even filter out such pages--it just might give them less weight in the SERPs, so that (for example) a search on "hotel widget plaza" wouldn't yield 50 nearly identical affiliate pages in the first five pages of search results.

Also, I suspect that a lot of the e-commerce pages that allegedly are being "filtered" out of Google's search results now are really being hurt because of aggressive SEO techniques. As Google becomes better at distinguishing between "organic" and artificial keyword patterns, linking patterns, etc., it may well seek to neutralize the effects of any artificial search-engine optimization by making compensatory adjustments with its algorithm. Such adjustments wouldn't be penalties; they'd merely attempt to level the playing field so that search results wouldn't be influenced unduly by SEO techniques that aren't specifically encouraged by the Google Webmaster Guidelines.

Google is monetising its product - its called Adwords - and it requires good (as in relevent) first page results to ensure that people keep coming back.

Precisely, and that's why the clutter of boilerplate product pages or affiliate pages needs to be removed from the top search results--especially for "information" searches ("widgetville travel") and searches that can be either "information" or "commercial," depending on the user's intent ("widgetville hotels"). IMHO, if Google can do a better job of ranking pages with boilerplate content and artificial SEO patterns lower in the SERPs, search quality will improve for information and commercial searches.

2:54 pm on July 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

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So why should all ecommerce sites be filtered out.

$$

TJ

2:57 pm on July 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Filtering out duplicate or near-duplicate content does not equate to filtering out e-commerce pages. And such a filter can be applied equally to information pages and e-commerce pages.
3:21 pm on July 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I'm not saying google are doing it now (if they are, I'm not seeing it), I'm just surprised that people are surprised about the possibility.
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