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I did the rounds to check on the state of various data updates. I'd estimate that the "0.5" (not algorithmic changes, but rather responses to various spam/porn complaints + processing reinclusion requests) should go out this weekend sometime or possibly Monday. There should be a binary push this week to improve a corner-case of CJK-related search, and that new binary should have the hooks to turn on the third set of data. Regarding finishing up the second piece of data, there's still two data centers with older data. Those data centers will probably be switched over by Monday. By Monday, 2.5 of the 3.5 things will probably be on.
GoogleGuy suggested that people might want to do that for new sites (though not necessarily for existing sites).
I agree with Japanese that there are good reasons for using relative links--especially on existing sites, where changing the links from relative to absolute might be a huge, time-consuming project that could result in errors and problems for both users and search crawlers.
with relative urls a bot has to stop and figure out..'okay, where does this thing go to?. Absolutes lets a bot crawl with all deliberate speed. As well as well written html and css. I would imagine that anything on a site that slows the bot's crawl is put in its memory and cause it to visit less frequently.
Better to put out the welcome mat for the bots and tell them...ya'll come back now...ya hear!
If it is good practice for new sites...would that not indicate it would be good practice for existing sites also?
I haven't gone over all of helleborine's pages, however I have looked at a number of pages and folks I am not seeing relative links.
steveb the real problem is multiple valid server aliases.
Now before I invoke rule 4 does Google have all of its services back up and running?
My reasoning includes these points:
1. I run 18 web sites. All are SEO'd similarly. Only one was pummelled, one seemed to receive a slight boost, the others were unaffected.
2. The SERPS I am seeing while searching are significantly more spammy than before the update.
3. The site which I lost was not spammy. It was not auto-generated. It was generated by me and `vi`. It was all content.
4. I have some somewhat spammy sites, such as a travel directory built in PHP. Guess who didn't get hit?
5. I am hearing a lot of webmasters say "I got slaughtered, and I'm not a spammer." Sure, they could ALL be lying. It's just not likely.
On the other side of the discussion, I am seeing some very poor logic:
1. "You got hit, therefore you must be a spammer."
2. "You got hit, therefore you must not understand redirects/URL's/blah blah blah other basic stuff anyone who has been doing this for more than two weeks knows."
I do not believe this is some terribly conspiracy hatched by Google to sell AdWords, increase AdSense revenue, take over the world, etc...
I would take an even money bet that the Google AdSense program has sufferred noticeably reduced revenue after this update, as the sites which seem to have been hit the hardest were the pure text information sites which are the core of AdSense click-throughs.
My theory is a simple one: Google screwed up.
with relative urls a bot has to stop and figure out..'okay, where does this thing go to?. Absolutes lets a bot crawl with all deliberate speed.
I'm not a server guru, but my understanding has always been that relative links are more efficient. (Stands to reason, since absolute links require the browser to call up the domain with every page change.)
Relative links also save bytes (albeit not many), simplify offline testing, and help to avoid broken URLs if pages or directories are moved.
I haven't seen any evidence that Google has trouble following relative links. The fact that GoogleGuy isn't suggesting that people change their relative links to absolute links indicates (to me, anyway) that there's no compelling reason to do so.
IMHO, there's a natural human tendency to look for quick solutions when things go wrong, and I know Webmasters who have rushed out and made changes that haven't proven helpful (and, in some cases, have been detrimental) just for the sake of doing something. I suspect that "change your existing relative links to absolute links" is a good example of a placebo disguised as a panacea.
And that url japanese provided when put through a header checker returns:
Status: HTTP/1.1 302
Date: Sun, 05 Jun 2005 03:57:52 GMT
Server: Apache/1.3.33 (Unix) mod_auth_passthrough/1.8 mod_log_bytes/1.2 mod_bwlimited/1.4 FrontPage/184.108.40.20635 mod_ssl/2.8.22 OpenSSL/0.9.7a PHP-CGI/0.1b
Our good buddy the 302.
All the advice I received was excellent, and will be put to good use in making a better website - for SEs, but visitors as well.
It does look like the Bourbon update processed information about my website that included a hijack.
I guess that, in all likelihood, the hijack would have caused my site to plunge into the depths of Hades no matter what the algo.
You and I and many other webmasters here know where we stand and we can defend our websites or at least have a good guess what goes on. But this is deplorable against a person that dedicates her livelyhood to online business and the mighty google deems her not worthy to be on the net.
This is not on and I am going to get the press involved unless google fixes her site and reinstates her ranking where it should justifiably be according to fair play.
helleborine's website has been hijacked and google is preventing her site from being ranked properly.
She has some odd outbound linking patterns that I suspect could possibly trigger a penalty. My guess is that that may be a more likely root cause of her issues and the apparent hijack is more of a side effect of her site having a penalty and not the main cause.
She's got a number of interlinked sites and subdomains on other sites all on the same topic and all owned (or controlled) by her. They look like they might all be connected by the same adsense account. I really don't know if that is triggering a penalty, but it it were my sites I would be hesitant to appear to have a network of interlinked domains all on the same topic like that.
[edited by: Jane_Doe at 5:34 am (utc) on June 5, 2005]
helleborine should take your points into consideration in deciding how to proceed with her sites.
However, whether her problem is a 302 hijack, or an odd pattern of outbound links or interlinking of similar sites, it doesn't change the fact that she has an interesting, attractive site that would be worth visiting by stained glass hobbyists.
So, G is applying filters in an attempt to catch spam, that also catch good content sites. Therein lies the problem.
G should let the Invisible Hand do it's ranking for it. When G had a readily understandable method of ranking sites (title, text density) qualified by the hurdle of aquiring page rank, their engine worked well.
It worked because when the playing field is relatively even and well understood, those who will benefit the most economically by promoting a site about stained glass achieved high rankings for stained glass searches.
It is possible to try to rank for every imaginable term while not really being relevant for those terms (like scrapers do) and one can make a few fractions of a cent for that kind of unqualified traffic.
But someone like helleborine, who's site is really about stained glass should be able to turn a better profit than scrapers and spammers because she draws and keeps qualified, on-topic traffic. So, if she has a reasonable understanding of how to rank in Google, and there are some hurdles (like PR) to make ranking more than simply a matter of repeating a KW term numerous times, then she has more motivation to work hard and rank well for the terms she writes about than a scraper or spammer does.
That used to work for her and she ranked well in Google. And that meant that Google worked well for folks searching for stained glass patterns. Now, all that has changed.
It's just Adam Smith's Invisible Hand at work in a new millenium. Too bad Google never realized that, or forgot it somewhere along the way.
it doesn't change the fact that she has an interesting, attractive site that would be worth visiting by stained glass hobbyists.
My guess is that the problem is that she doesn't have a site. What appears to be one site at first glance is actually a complicated network of interlinked sites all on exactly the same topic, several with identical whois info, a few with very similar format and content, and all with adsense on them.
I don't know if that is what caused her recent issues, but if her rankings don't return when the update settles, it's sure an area I'd look at cleaning up if they were my sites.
[edited by: Jane_Doe at 6:29 am (utc) on June 5, 2005]
Here is yet another example of how Google seems to be promoting spam more than fighting it these days:
Some pages of our content were scraped by the site "scrapersite.it". This site is NO LONGER ONLINE, yet it remains the top listing for some searches for which we have no listing at all despite being their source of content.(e.g. "Three Fork Restaurant Dallas Texas").
Also of interest is that this site that still has over 21,000 indexed pages (with only ONE page currently online) was running porn, trademarked content, and of course.... adsense advertising.
"My guess is that the problem is that she doesn't have a site. What appears to be one site at first glance is actually a complicated network of interlinked sites all on exactly the same topic, several with identical whois info, a few with very similar format and content, and all with adsense on them."
But even with all that, Yahoo ranks her at #1 for her best three-word KW combo. Since we do know that helleborine provides stained glass pattern content we see that Yahoo finds and ranks that content better than Google does.
You can call her site a site, or a network or whatever, but Yahoo finds the content -- and that's the whole point of the exercise as far as I can tell.
Of course, I'll readily agree that "fixing" the items you mention would probably only help her with Google in the long run. The question is whether it will hurt her in Yahoo, which is already ranking her #1.
My small site that got dumped on by Google - like, a totally innocent site that is pretty much a personal site that generates only the slightest amount of income through ad words and a small product review section seems to have been penalized by Google!:
"Sorry, no information is available for the URL www.totallyinnocentsite.com" - although Google does offer to "Find web pages from the site www.totallyinnocentsite.com"
When I search on the keywords in its title, however, the domain actually does come up somewhere around page 3.
The seriously dumb thing is this is a site for my CAT, for god's sake! It wasn't exactly getting thousands of PVs a day. Sometimes hundreds. Of course now it gets traffic in the 2 digits with Bourbon. Why in a billion years would Google penalize a silly cat site?
This is really making me quite curious!
I mean, this site doesn't even have that many pages - probably less than 75. It's anything but spammy. Google's never really been that hot on it - last I checked it was only PR4. (My main site - the "authority" site - is PR6.) But why Bourbon would bury my cat really puzzles me. This is one mystery I'd really like to solve.
And yes, I admit that I'm rather annoyed that Google has been mean to my kitty. :-)
OK........ This is for all who support google and think that google is GOD OF THE INTERNET.
You are wrong, Very wrong.
Okay...I for one never thought google was anywhere near the god of the internet.
However, you on the otherhand just may be...or goddess (not sure of your gender).
Just how did you find that scumbag the hijacked helleborine's site? Done just about every search query i know and can't find it.
Please teach us enlightened one
My cat thinks he smells a rat!
Funny thing is that the 'cat filter' hypothesis makes about as much sense as anything else regarding the methods used in the Bourbon update.
And my outgoing links are very simple. Reviews link to Amazon and (if available and appropriate) to pages about the book provided by the publisher, the author, and the Complete Review. Some subject category pages have a few links to relevant sites. And I have one "other reviewers" page.
You do violate less of the suggestions than most others but you still deliberately do something to confuse Googlebot.
"steveb the real problem is multiple valid server aliases."
helleborine's pages have many problems; a hijacking 302, boatloads of www and non-www dupes are only a start. The bottom line is still a site construction aggressively counter to what GoogleGuy suggested, and what so far no one has posted problems with (which is not to say it couldn't happen only that is makes things less likely).
"The fact that GoogleGuy isn't suggesting that people change their relative links to absolute links indicates..."
He quite clearly says changing is a good idea. Having the 301 is a positive step, but its silly to think its some massive coincidence that all these problem sites have canonical issues in common.
It's just plain right, as your own site shows. For starters, your home page links go to
In any event, the links on my site have been like that for ten years and that's never caused a problem. I think as an explanation for a 95% drop in Google referrals this is even less plausible than my wild AdSense/ODP speculations.
You could have some other problem, but ignoring a plainly obvious problem makes no sense.
(I wish I had a nickel for everytime someone complaining about the exact same dramatic drop saying "oh its not my relative links" or "what difference does that make that I like to two different urls that have the same content", yada yada.)
A search for yoursitename without the .com reveals the first result is probably causing you major problems too with all those 302s
[edited by: steveb at 8:07 am (utc) on June 5, 2005]
So ignore that this has happened to many others in the past year and that GoogleGuy directly stated that you should try to ignore this; and that the issue plagues many complaining here.
Please point me (sticky mail) at any example of a site that has index.html/non-index.html duplication, or at a statement by GoogleGuy that this is a problem.
Believe me, this is not a problem (unlike www/non-www, which certainly could be a problem). Pretty much every site on the web has external links that mix index.html and non index.html URLs.