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Google algo moves away from links, towards traffic patterns

11:11 pm on Apr 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Does anyone else think that Google's actions over the last few years indicate a gradual change in the importance of traffic patterns over inbound links?

Think about it... the Google Toolbar, Google Analytics and click monitoring on the SERPs give Google an incredible picture of where people are going, what pages they stay on, what sites they frequently return to and where they go when they leave.

We know that Google is pushing the toolbar onto consumers. They're paying Dell a billion dollars to install it onto 100 million consumer PC's. Imagine what the behavior patterns of 100 million Internet users could tell Google about a particular site's value.

What scares me is that this will push the blackhats from link spamming over to the busy spyware world. Imagine if I could pay some shady company to have the web browsers of 100,000 pc's randomly click on my #10 ranked link and stay on my site until Google decides that I should be #1. Who cares if these users buy anything on my site. I just want Google to THINK that they're using it. Will Google start bundling anti-spyware with the toolbar to stop this?

Am I on to something, or has this been going on for years?

[edited by: tedster at 8:38 pm (utc) on April 6, 2006]

12:22 am on Apr 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

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You forgot to mention AdSense ads which also give Google information about how visitors traverse a site, and to which site they leave.

It is the next step in the battle to get relevant SERPs.

  • First search engines trusted the webmasters of a site, until the webmasters started stuffing their sites full of keywords.
  • Then search engines trused other webmasters. Pagerank was the ultimate way to calculate the importance of a site, until webmasters started exchanging and buying links to artificially increase their rankings.
  • Now the only source left to be trusted is the visitor. To make this functional, Google first had to introduce tools which make it possible to communicate information from the visitor back to Google. And yes, webmasters will find ways to abuse this system also, although it will be more difficult than with the previous two systems.
3:32 pm on Apr 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I'support your ideas. This morning I saw google advertise for the tolbar on its mainpage. I have the impression that all this big-daddy thing was about adding such traffic-based algos to the mainly pr-based core.

For me the beginning of the end of SEO insofar as we will never gain any insights into that data. So stick to googles law#1: Concentrate on the user.

3:57 pm on Apr 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

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This will make it virtually impossible for the little guy to succeed. The top 10 results will be based on the well established sites.

Just because a site is well establishied does not mean that it provides the best price, selection or customer service.

Popularity feedback loops are dangerous things.

3:59 pm on Apr 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Sounds like the 3 Laws of i-Robot. The laws cannot be broken! :)
4:15 pm on Apr 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Spyware companies are getting sued in the United States. Some other countries do not have aggressive consumer advocates like Eliot Spitzer. That's why I threw in the "overseas" comment.
4:17 pm on Apr 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Blackhat SEO is shady US as much as anything

Count me out!

4:27 pm on Apr 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I wonder til how long before congress steps in and puts a stop to "spyware" being installed at the manufacturer level.
The google toolbar is no more than that. If companies purchase pc's from dell with this feature, the opportunities for industrial espionage would be gigantic and how well can google guard such information.

Since most people find sites thru search engines, then it would be google chasing it's own search tale anyway. As for people that find sites by following links, google already uses link popularity.

4:35 pm on Apr 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I really think you guys credit Google with more sophistication than they really have.

Check the facts and the track record of the last year, they seem unable to fix even the bugs in the system as is, let alone introducing more complications.

Google's algo/index has reached saturation point and now they are just running around trying to keep it afloat.

Yes, user data they have, megaloads of it, traffic paterns and who knows what else.

They may even come out with something mind blowing in the future, but first they have to fix and manage the system they have now before they can move on. IMHO.

4:50 pm on Apr 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Careful what you say Cleanup.. you may find your Adsense (if you have it) mysterioulsy banned for "invalid clicks"..

I for one, welcome our new overlords..

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