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But you are pointing out an inherenet dilemma. How does ANY algorithmic engine serve the most relevant results and not be wide open to manipulation?
I am finding that my site showing up for topics I am researching, but these topics are really not about the theme of my site, it's just that the keyword may appear once or twice on a specific page.
Basically, my site doesn't rank for any keywords that are substantially relevant, but ranks for key words that are not relevant. The only traffic we are getting from Google is for people looking for information that we do not have, they back out as soon as the page loads and they see they are on an irrelevant site.
I find more and more often that when I am researching, Google is giving the worst results of any engine. On Google I may have to dig 4 or 5 pages deep to find anything close to what I am looking for, while MSN and yahoo have several choices on the first page that are helpful.
I am not searching for hotels or travel, I am researching various environmental and scientific topics, though the same holds true for searches done to troubleshoot computer problems and errors. Last week I was searching Google for a windows error to see if there were known resolutions, All I found were sites linking to windows media player, msn pages advertising their mediaplayer, and other unrelated pages. One quick search on yahoo yielded 5 or 6 pages about the exact error message.
Several of my friends and family members (non-computer-geeks) have asked me "what's the problem with google?" I reply "what do you mean?" and they say, they can hardley ever find what they are looking for anymore, they used to just type in what they wanted and there was a list from which to choose, now they have to search several pages and wade through pages of junk. Many have said they have started using yahoo and think it is much better.
I tell them "Google has so many problems right now, I'll be surprised if they ever get it right." I'm not trying to bash Google or give them bad word of mouth, but I really doubt that relevancy problems are limited to just those who have lost rankings in google.
I'm sure there are some areas where results are more relevant. I sent a spam report last week about a brand name search that yeailded over 70 pages in a row that were duplicated on subdomains and completely unrelated to the search, they are still showing.
No other search engine is having problems with www vs. non-www - no other search engine is listing %20 or tracking urls - no other search engine is listing pages that were removed more than a year ago - the list goes on and on.
The same here, I was looking for info on server problems at Google with no luck. I did the same search at Yahoo! and get the info I needed on the first page. Somethings wrong at Google.
From the site owner's point of view, the list you started is only the beginning -- but the public's love affair with Google has shown few signs of abating. They still push the serious traffic, and the last metrics I saw this summer showed Google actually improving, even while some webmasters were yelling loudly.
This thread started with the thought that the filters and penalties have become so thick that too many good pages are not getting through. I know that something is wonky. For example, I have clients who are one of maybe 2 or 3 real authorities in their field. While all the authority sites are in the first two pages for most searches, there is a lot of flotsam and jetsam ranked too highly.
I hope that G can fix it, I really do. It does no good for the industry to have this kind of trouble. But their main metric is going to be end user satisfaction.
I read in one of these forums that google keeps irrelevent results where they have paid advertising so that the people click on the paid ads instead of the search results.
Google seems to me just another company that has a monopoly on an industry, and thus they are able to do whatever the heck they want to do no matter what is right, no matter what dissention there may be, as long as they make their money and people keep going to them.
Which means relevent search results are s*** out of luck.
You see, I was a big fan of altavista and hotbot (boy am I old). They way I found my way around the net was with the advanced search and various filters.
Then I saw a little blurb on ZDTV (see, I am old...) about a nifty new search engine called Google, so I gave it a shot, and what do you know, with just a couple of keywords, bang, out popped what I was looking for. No entering in stop words in the advanced section, just search and go.
Now jump to the present...
When I need to find something now, I have to enter in whole paragraphs, complete with: "key phrase" -keyword +keyword to find what I'm looking for.
So to make a long story short, I'm right back where I started, it's just as hard to find stuff now as it was when the internet was in its infancy.
That just plain blows monkey butt.
What can Google do about it, hell, if I knew the answer to that I'd write my own search engine, make a few billion dollars and it would be crap in 7 years too.
Maybe Yahoo! had it right all along (when they first started anyway), hand edited search engines.
"I read in one of these forums that google keeps irrelevent results where they have paid advertising so that the people click on the paid ads instead of the search results."
A user does a search and the ideal page with the information they want is listed at #1, plus over there on the right, is a PPC add which also has the information the person wants, which link do you think they will click? How much money has Google made from this users search?
A user does a search and there is nothing listed on the first page of the SERPS to suit, but there is a long list of PPC adds on the right that do suit. How many SERPS pages will the user scroll through looking for the information they want before they click on a PPC add? How much money has Google made from this users search?
After all, what is Google trying to do? It's not like they are providing a Search Engine for the greater good of humanity. Maximum return to the shareholders is the first, last, and only reason for their existence now as it is with all listed companies.
They must get as many people as possible that use their search engine to click on the adds.
Imagine what would happen to their revenue stream if every search done actually produced good results. Who would still click on those tiny little adds?
Sound ridiculous?...so do all the penalties Google keeps implimenting for this and for that....that most webmasters have absolutely ZERO control over.
Sound like I'm p'offed? Yes I am, we try over and over to fix whatever is prickling Google's hairs this month, and then next month something else comes along that trips some
new filter, that we have, I SAY AGAIN, ZERO control over.
They need to re-focus and get in touch with real people who use the internet and not the bunch of webmasters here and elsewhere who are always clamoring for their attention. It has totally thrown them off course, and when being honest, we are not the best source of information for relevant results. Every single one of us is EXTREMELY biased.
So if Google wants to find out how they are doing with relevancy go out and talk to random people who are interested in dog-collars, not people who make websites about dog-collars.
You are assuming that Google is suffering from diminishing relevance. While many webmasters may be saying something like this, most of the people I talk to in the general population have no such perception. If anything, they are going to Google even more.
Sorry, but I disagree. I have had quite a few people, not Webmasters and not what I would call internet savvy, ask me why Google seems to be "hosed up" lately.
Picture soccer moms with mini-vans wanting to buy some whimsical doo dad for their house, and not being able to find it on Google. That's what I'm talking about.
These conversations started right after the first of the year, so it was being noticed during the holidays last year. Usually they tell me they're able to find it on Yahoo, MSN, or Ask Jeeves right away. This is not good for Google.
Google is collapsing under it's own weight. It sucks, and probably would and will happen to any search engine that becomes so popular that legions of people are deriving their entire livelihoods based on its results.
other search engine is listing pages that were removed more than a year agoActually MSN and Yahoo have this problem as well.
I read in one of these forums that google keeps irrelevent results where they have paid advertising so that the people click on the paid ads instead of the search results.I find this hard to believe. The number one reason people visit Google is for the search results, if the search results get real bad people will just leave.
I am showing up (top 5 and top 10) for search terms that have very little to do with my website!
1. I sell a specific type scientific instruments
2. These instruments can be plugged into a specialized type of computer system.
3. I only mention the computer system type on a few pages, nothing in-depth, just a mention that these instruments can plug into them and how that can be useful.
4. There are plenty of sites out there that sell, service, program and configure these types of computers. Whole businesses dedicated to these specific types of systems.
My internal product page, with only a handful of internal backlinks - outranks them all!
I don't rank for any of the keyphrases that have to do with my market or my products - but I rank highly for popular search terms that have very little to with my products or business.
Now, no matter how biased I may be, how can search results be relevant?
For my keyphrases - adsense pages, fake directories and blatant spam is ranking, along with a list of pages that link to myself and my competitors.
For Unrelated keyphrases - I rank highly, but the companies who are the experts, cannot be found.
I don't care who you are - this all adds up to one thing - IRRELEVANT RESULTS!
Now some are worried if changing fonts will cause a penalty...?
It's funny that you say that because just at this last little mini update I had changed my fonts from arial to verdana and all of a sudden my rankings dropped. I went from #2 for my main keyword and dropped to page six. The only thing I changed was my font.
Of course, I am joking, but I can see a post like this from someone somewhere in the future, can't you?
I had some pages that I hadn't bothered to correct that had lists in the form of:
ascii special char 149 <url>
ascii special char 149 <url>
yeah, I know you should avoid ascii special chars but NO bot ever had a problem reading it INCLUDING Googlebot until recently so I left it.
Now Googlebot can't deciper it and strings all the urls into one long, unfollowable url.
This is not a guess or suspicion. I noticed the failure on my logs recently, went back to old ones and saw Googlebot used to index them fine.
then next month something else comes along that trips some new filter
Right, and I don't think Google understands how often webmasters are simply clueless as to what "rule" has been broken. There is black hat stuff they should penalize, but I think now there are tons of pages that are filtered for reasons only Google knows.
I'm upset that they are so reluctant to share info about site specifics that would be helpful and hope they expand the current program to help sites identify their problems with Google.
The argument I hear from many here at WebmasterWorld that says "they can't because then the black hat SEOs will manipulate things" is weak - transparency of rules leads to stronger, better, less manipulated systems (e.g. democracy vs autocracy). Google should implement a site review process. If they feel it would be expensive than they could charge sites for review as Yahoo does.
You may want to check for improperly indexed "pages" such as dynamic pages, old pages, scripted directory listings, etc.
We had pages that had been 301 redirected for many months yet the index was showing both those old and new pages and then (I think) hitting us with dupe content filter - though I remain TOTALLY confused and frustrated about duplicate content filtering which I think has ravaged the relevance of many Google SERPs.
With sitemaps we now appear to be getting indexed properly but remain filtered into obscurity for all but a tiny handful of Google searches.
This site used to be page 1 for hundreds of phrases and generated 10,000 hits from G everyday. Now I get drips of 1 or 2 referals a day.
Google's problem, not mine.
Much happier and more profitable since I realized that...
The argument I hear from many here at WebmasterWorld that says "they can't because then the black hat SEOs will manipulate things" is weak - transparency of rules leads to stronger, better, less manipulated systems...
I have said this for years. The age-old argument that Google would just help spammers spam them better by laying out clear, concise do's and don'ts is simply rediculous.
The black hats will always be on the cutting edge regardless of what Google does. IMO they would be much better off to establish a clear, concise set of rules and publish them for all to see. If a webmaster breaks one of the rules he's out of Google for good - every domain he/she owns, now and in the future.
In short, they should draw a clear line in the sand and let it be well known that crossing it means incurring severe, permanent penalties. Most webmasters would be so afraid of crossing the line they'll back off a bit not wanting to risk it. Of course the black hats will continue to risk it, but they already do with apparent success. Only this way they'll incur a permanent ban. SE spam can only decrease under this scenario unless I'm missing something. Am I?
establish a clear, concise set of rules and publish them for all to see
Good points birdstuff. I agree with you emphatically that publishing more specific guidelines and penalty criteria would CUT WAY DOWN on spam due to the fear factor and the fact that most of us doing this would prefer to simply create content rather than spend so much time second guessing other sites and the search engines.
Most honored Googledudes - "do things that users would like" is NOT a clear guideline. Some users hate things other users love. You are filtering good stuff out of the index in mysterious ways - take out the mystery and all will live happily every after"
[edited by: joeduck at 1:33 am (utc) on Oct. 11, 2005]
It is scary though, you can get caught in seme penalties totally innocently.
Other sites will fill in
True, but they'll be less relevant due to the problematic filtering. I think the penalty filters are killing a LOT of good content, especially for very obscure searches *where relevance is hardest to obtain*.
I actually think Google knows this well and is probably trying hard to find ways to minimize the collateral damage.
A GOOD WAY is to create more specific guidelines and site reviews and webmaster help so that the content creation can trump the SE strategics.