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Philosophical Question Regarding G

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5:31 pm on Jun 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

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So, I often need pepto when G changes their algo, and pr updates cause bouts on insomnia, just like everyone else. But this most recent update, algo switch, whatever it is, got me thinking.

Are top 10 - 20 results in organic search a right or a privilege.

The reason I ask, is because for a long time, I felt it was a right. My site has tons of links, great optimization, good structure and content etc... And up till BD, I was #1 - #3 on ALL of my kw's in SERPS. And well deserved...

Now, everyday is a crapshoot, and I'm pretty tired of being reactionary to every minor control change to G.

I have a great site, converts well etc, so why should I care.

Now, the purpose of this rant:

Is G trying to tell us, especially since FL/Bourbon updates, that top positioning and natural traffic is a privilege they can take away at any time?

Seems to me the answer is yes. G is a publicly traded company now and natural search is for the user, and for G, the profits on the ppc on that page.

Thus, rotating natural to find the best permeations of clickable traffic would be a wise move.

Are we all trying to control something, that has far exceeded our control?

3:46 am on June 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Are top 10 - 20 results in organic search a right or a privilege.

Being spidered, indexed, and featured in SE serps is a privilege.

4:07 am on June 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Hi Phil,

IMHO Google could do more to lessen the impact of the top 10 - 20 stress by simply making the first search page that returns from a query a compulsory top 50 list. This would immediately quieten down the majority of people who have been hurt by constant fluctuations and also make a few more people happy by their new found inclusion in the 1st page.

IMHO Google a bunch of mildly sadistic, money grabbers who enjoy the marketing gains that the the top 10 phenomena has created. I imagine that they get far more searches from webmasters checking their listing positions than they ever receive from real visitors wanting information. Their internet advertisers only use them because they are the 'biggest' and get far more hits than the other big guns ... so it's not in their interest to help quell the anxiety in the webmaster community ... if they did, we might all find out that Google is just another average search engine.

All the Best

Col :-)

4:17 am on June 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

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It has gotten to the point that I tell all my clients and everyone I come into contact with NOT to use Google because it yields incomplete and inconsistent information. I know of MANY good sites that are there one day and not the next, then reappear a day or two later, then disappear again.

This is NOT the signature of a good search engine. Rather it is a sign of a pooly designed system and/or poor system management. Whomever is making the decision at Google to do these "dance" sessions are doing a great dis-service to everyone involved, including the Google name.

12:48 pm on June 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

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A right or a privilege? A privilege, or so it would seem. Who knows what the answer is when it comes to G.

It would be nice though if a search for "blue widget pub" brought up www.bluewidgetpub.com first, instead of pages of scraped content, booking agents, MFAs, directories and other crap before www.bluewidgetpub.com finally appears on page 10.

Like many others, I've given up using G. If I want to be fairly sure of finding the official site for "blue widget pub" I go look on MSN. 99 times out of 100 it'll be the first result shown.

1:01 pm on June 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Google has a major problem. We (webmasters and SEO persons) have figured it out. The general public has not. The general public still thinks that the way to find everything and anything of value is to "google it".
1:31 pm on June 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

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To me, Yahoo (more so than MSN) and MSN have relevant search paramters without as much "dancing".

It would seem to me, that you can trust that content and those returns more so than you can on G.

G, as WE know, has created a sub-market industry in regards to search marketing. Its how many people on this board make a living, but the basis for that living is being compromised by the utter lack of control that G provides the general webmaster population.

The very industry they spearheaded (or at least made it what it is today) they are threatening killing.

I'm not a webmaster, I'm a VP of Marketing that fired my consulting company because all they did was subscribe to these forums and be very reactionary to G updates. After FL, our results became very erratic and they could not control it anymore, thus the firing.

I'm doing no better, or worse than they were but I'm saving a lot of money.

Sooner or later, more and more client side officers will do the same and this will impact the earnings of many on this board unles G can stabilize results and make sense of these endless constant updates.

I guess the question I want answered is, do they even want to?

1:51 pm on June 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

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The general public still thinks that the way to find everything and anything of value is to "google it".

That's a very good point. Joe Surfer tends to use G. In fact the term "to google" really ought to be an official verb!

What does Joe do when faced with pages of crap, irrelevant results? Does he perhaps click on a "sponsored link" which makes money for G and might just take surfer Joe to what he was looking for?

unless G can stabilize results ... I guess the question I want answered is, do they even want to?

So does G want stable, relevant results? Maybe it doesn't, because otherwise, Joe Surfer and his mates might be less inclined to click on sponsored links if what they want is returned in the ordinary results = less money for G.

2:58 pm on June 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Is G trying to tell us, especially since FL/Bourbon updates, that top positioning and natural traffic is a privilege they can take away at any time?

No, Google is just trying to deliver the most relevant and natural search results according to its own criteria. If site owners and SEOs find a hidden message in the search results, that's fine, but they (not Google) are the authors of that subtext.

3:00 pm on June 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

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It is neither. It is just something that happens. And if you are lucky, then you are on top.
Personally, I think Google has made so many mistakes in BigDaddy, they don't even know what they are doing. Everything seems to need fixing.
From their statements of "we are full" to "we have to fix trailing slash to we are working on the supplementals and have fixed those prior to June 05 and on and on...
Check it out folks. Google is just plain messed up.
As far as using google as a verb..I did have a friend mention he had "googled that on msn and saw some interesting results". I almost fell out of my chair laughing.
3:44 pm on June 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

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To me, Yahoo (more so than MSN) and MSN have relevant search parameters without as much "dancing".

Funny that you mention that. We (me and the wife) had a couple friends over for a BBQ today and then later we went on to discussing the holiday in December and that maybe we should look up a few places over the internet and check prices etc. so we can all book and go together.

He's a builder she's a house wife, no special internet knowledge except for the basic know how...search, book, shop online etc.

So naturally, I loaded google and we started looking for places up north...after a few searches she stoped me saying....forget Google go to MSN they have a much larger selection, we always search MSN when we are looking to book a holiday .

Well I just smiled and typed MSN.com......i would have normally start to explain that Google is the best, largest DB etc.....not anymore, i just said, yea you are probably right. We can't find what we are looking for on Google...lets move on MSN.com.

(My) Lesson learnt....i was under the impression that only we, webmasters are noticing the slow degradation of search quality on Google...well guess what, Joe public see it too.

4:43 pm on June 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

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<<Google is just trying to deliver the most relevant and natural search results according to its own criteria>>

I would agree with statement, except I would be tempted to change the word 'criteria' for 'agenda'.

IMHO - Google Flux & insecurity = 50% more searches from webmasters. The visitor numbers are being sold to the business advertiser as legitimate visitors, looking to buy. This could be interpreted as fraud, if people at the top knew it was happening.

As for top ten listings being a right or a privilege, I think that Google should consider their visitors in the same way. If every time we search McDar, we activate 56 searches for the same, usually competitive keyphrase ... then we're bulk buyers and should be treated with respect.

All the Best

Col ;-)

5:07 pm on June 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

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<<Google is just trying to deliver the most relevant and natural search results according to its own criteria>>

I would agree with statement, except I would be tempted to change the word 'criteria' for 'agenda'.

And the agenda? To make money.

Come off it EFV. If G is truly trying to deliver the most relevant and natural search results, then its "criteria" must be very seriously out of whack, because it doesn't. Nine times out of ten, as I mentioned in message #5, the results are not for the "official" company, but for everything else besides.

If there's any "hidden message" to site owners and SEOs in the spammy, MFA rubbish that comes up first in G's results, then it's the message that playing by the rules and following G's webmaster guidelines is for suckers.

Personally, I don't believe in black hat techniques and playing outside the rules, but I can quite understand why some webmasters would follow this route when Google's results invariably rank "bad guys" higher than "good guys".

5:19 pm on June 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I don't have a problem with Google making a few pounds, dollars or even Chinese yuan. The thing that bugs me is that they do it with that 'holier than thou', we are the best, because we don't hurt anyone publicity. I think it's time that the public open their eyes to what's on their screen ... and on google listings it's SPAM mainly ;)

Love to all, come to my house for tea.

5:21 pm on June 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

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According to my stat Google is not loosing its searchers and until it will which I don't mind I want some of that honey Google is giving for free. The days where you did not have to be so smart (or lucky) to be on top ten are over, and I am not surprised since it is to crowded out there with every he and she claiming of being an expert SEO.

When I was first introduced to the Internet I had to spend $60.000 for a website and lots of working hours to be on top of search, now you can get started with $200 in your pocket and you will still have change for a cup of coffee but to be on top of the serps you need to be really devoted it is not a simple game as it used to be.

So I am happy the weeds will be gone and me and my websites since we are devoted will flourish again once I will finally understand what Google wants for me.

5:23 pm on June 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Personally, I don't believe in black hat techniques and playing outside the rules, but I can quite understand why some webmasters would follow this route when Google's results invariably rank "bad guys" higher than "good guys".

Huh? Just this morning, I was searching on several well-known medical conditions and drug brands, and the top results were all legitimate and useful. (They certainly were far more useful than they were in the days when affiliate pages would have predominated.) Travel searches are mostly pretty decent, too, at least for the terms that I search on, and I find adequate to good results when I search on things like digital cameras and notebook PCs.

The statement that "bad guys" invariably rank higher than "good guys" is demonstrably false, although I'll concede that "bad guys" or "not so good guys" sometimes do better than they deserve to. (I'm thinking specifically of keyword-driven, computer-generated pages that contain little real content and which, in some cases, use a Creative Commons License to exploit Google's possible fondness for "open-source" sites.)

6:41 pm on June 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

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So it is a privilege to make another company (GOOG) money? No, it is a mutually beneficial relationship. Both parties get paid. By providing the best site on a topic, and being listed in the top 10, YOU are giving Google customers what they came to look for. Without content, Google is nothing. No ad revenue. Nothing.
7:22 pm on June 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

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A right screwed by black hat SEO's and MFA to privelege. one of the reason for yahoo and msn to be more relevant today is that not many SEO's target those search engines. the day, average user will shift to those search engines even they'll become target of massive crap bombarding by SEO's and MFA's and will start giving irrelevant results
7:54 pm on June 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Travel searches are mostly pretty decent too, at least for the terms that I search on

Depends what the search terms are. A generalised search for "holidays in Elbonia" may turn up a few sites in the top 10 with genuinely useful information, as opposed to scraped content such as "we've found the 10 best Elbonia holiday sites".

A more specialised search, such as the example I used in message #5, tends not to return "decent" results. I'm fed up of "book the Blue Widget here" and "great discounts on the Blue Widget" sites when all I want to do is find out, from the horse's mouth, what the Blue Widget is about or I want to link to it.

Whereas I will persevere until I do find the actual site I want, most surfers won't. They'll just get lost in the mire of ads, directories of scraped content and MFAs.

one of the reason for yahoo and msn to be more relevant today is that not many SEO's target those search engines.

Agreed. And I for one would be willing to bet that once Yahoo! and MSN roll out their versions of Adsense on a global basis, they'll suddenly be filled with crap as well.

8:31 pm on June 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

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"I have a great site, converts well etc, so why should I care."

Because beeing ranked high you will get more quality traffic and more sales,sint it obvious?

If you have enough traffic to not care about SE ranking then you are lucky.

8:38 pm on June 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Depends what the search terms are.

Of course. That's always been true, and it always will be (at least with general-purpose search engines).

10:19 pm on June 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Could it be that Google is worried its free SERPs might become too good? If that did happen, then there would be little point in clicking Google ads.

Obviously Google are far from being too good, but I can't escape the feeling that it's all deliberate. When you search for something at different times of the day you tend to get different results. The only parts of the page that are similar or the same are the logo and the adverts. If people do value consistency then this will surely sell adverts better?

That said, I'm not sure I credit Google with the skill to pull this off. They're not that good and perhaps all we're seeing is the reality outstripping the hype. It's one thing to brag to the general public, but it's quite another to fool skilled, educated, motivated people like the SEO/webmaster community.

With so many of their attempts at breaking into new markets failing perhaps all we're seeing is a young inexperienced company who once had a good idea that was well executed, but made the classic small business mistake of expanding too quickly.

By far the biggest problem IMHO is we all have too much faith in them. There is ample evidence to suggest they are out of their depth. If true it will inevitably be reflected in SERPs. With so many complaining about things now it's getting harder to explain it all as some devious masterplan cooked up by the PhDs to stay ahead of the pack. On the contrary, they're increasingly looking like just another average company.

10:48 pm on June 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Could it be that Google is worried its free SERPs might become too good? If that did happen, then there would be little point in clicking Google ads.

We hear that argument here all the time. It's hard to take seriously, because it's based on assumption that:

1) Google could afford to risk being overtaken by competitors;

2) 100% of Google's programmers and software engineers could be trusted not to spill the beans;

3) All of the sites that searchers really want to see can justify the expense of buying AdWords.

The argument also reveals a misunderstanding about how advertising works. If advertising worked best when surrounded by irrelevant, low-quality content, then savvy media buyers wouldn't pay a premium for quality targeted media.

2:04 am on June 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

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IMHO Google could do more to lessen the impact of the top 10 - 20 stress by simply making the first search page that returns from a query a compulsory top 50 list. This would immediately quieten down the majority of people who have been hurt by constant fluctuations and also make a few more people happy by their new found inclusion in the 1st page.

I doubt G would do something to so seriously affect the default user experience. But even if they did, it wouldn't solve the general problem. People who bounce back and forth between results 1-50 and 51-100 would complain the same as people complain now when they're not in the first two results pages.

1:23 pm on June 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

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The argument also reveals a misunderstanding about how advertising works. If advertising worked best when surrounded by irrelevant, low-quality content, then savvy media buyers wouldn't pay a premium for quality targeted media.

EFV, you're missing the original point. Its less about the search being "low-quality" and more about stabilized results.

Here's a perfect example:

My wife searched for dog beds in G. She clicks on a few and finally finds one she likes, but does not bookmark the site, nor does she buy at that moment.

When she is ready to buy (usually a few days later as the MRS has a 4 day shopping cycle), she goes back to G types the same search but sees a slightly different set of results. She can't remember the site and now is surfing through G, up to 4 or 5 pages deep.

G just incredibly increased their ad revenue in this example by forcing my wife to search longer and further into the site, thus displaying a ton more ads WHILE keeping her in G longer.

It's a nice business case.

2:11 pm on June 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Phil_AM, the trouble with that example is that your wife's experience (whether hypothetical or real) isn't universal. In my own experience, Google's search results aren't wildly inconsistent, even for commercial searches such as "[modifier] hotels." It seems to me that, if Google were to mix up its search results to encourage ad sales, it would be more consistent in its inconsistency. :-)
5:49 pm on June 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

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G just incredibly increased their ad revenue in this example by forcing my wife to search longer and further into the site, thus displaying a ton more ads WHILE keeping her in G longer.

It's a nice business case.

Actually, this is an excellent example of "supermarket psychology".

A store never has the milk at the front, it's always at the back, forcing the customer to walk through the shop and thus be exposed to all the other products before he reaches what he wants. And in the process, the customer might just spend more than he intended.

By displaying a few gems among a mountain of crap, Google is adopting a similar tactic. So maybe, Phil-AM, that is the answer to your question! Irrelevant results keep people longer, exposes them to more ads, more chance they'll click, more revenue for Google.

5:57 pm on June 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

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EFV said:
Phil_AM, the trouble with that example is that your wife's experience (whether hypothetical or real) isn't universal.

I disagree. Phil_AM's description of his wife's experience and that of the way she uses the internet (whether hypothetical or not), is a very universal description of how average Joe (or Josephine!) uses the internet and Google. Go and observe any "how to use the internet" class, and you'll see this is an accurate description of a typical user.

You're forgetting you're not an average user ;)

5:57 pm on June 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

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By displaying a few gems among a mountain of crap, Google is adopting a similar tactic.

If I search on [digital camera model], the top 10 results are for the manufacturer and reviews from authoritative review sites? Those results certainly aren't a "mountain of crap," except possibly to the camera dealers and affiliates who are unhappy about not being in the top 10 for [digital camera model].

And yes, Google probably makes money off ads on those manufacturer and review results than it would from a list of affiliate pages, but that doesn't mean Google is skewing the results to promote advertising. It just means that Google profits from delivering what its readers are looking for.

6:03 pm on June 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Top 10 organics are good. Top 5 PPC are even better. You are asking for trouble creating a business model that relies on organic traffic ... the proof is in the pudding. It has and always will be in some sort of flux. Get used to it and move on to a model that does not depend on this traffic, but also depends on other forms of traffic, specifically PPC.

On public perception, I agree! I can't wait to short some GOOG as soon as I see the tides turning in the public forum, which is not too far away! Good luck everyone.

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