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Let me tackle a really good issue that sagerock raised: "What could we do for you, to ultimately make a better web site? What can we do to make our industry a friend of your industry?" I'll take a stab with a piece of low-level advice and something a little bigger.
Here's a piece of concrete advice that's pretty common-sense. Make sure that every page on your site can be reached from text (and ideally static) links. If you can't browse your entire site in a text browser like Lynx, you're probably losing several spiders. Googlebot can crawl through some weird stuff, but not every spider can. Make it easy on users (and spiders) to navigate your site.
As far as how we can all get along better, ask yourself this question before you try something new: "Is this going to help my users?" Google really does want to return the best site for users--it's that simple. If you go back to basics, pretend to be a user, and try to make that experience better than any other site, your site will gain traffic on its own. At some point, I'll try to post some more specific guidelines, but the "is this good for users?" test is a good start.
Suggestion 1: News only search. Sometimes, I just want to see news articles on a certain subject. I don't want to dig through everything else. Just the news. And I want to see *recent* articles.(As in the last two weeks...)
Suggestion 2: Location based searches for both WAP and web content.
Reason best explained by example: So when my uncle is custom cutting* in the middle of God's country USA and has a break down, he can access the nearest tractor/ ag parts dealership on his WAP device and see if the part he needs is available.
<added>*'Custom cutting' refers to the act of harvesting grain/ crops for other farmers. Many custom cutters start harvesting wheat, for example, in Texas in May and travel all the way into Canada by fall. They literally spend most of the year on the road. When a 'break down' or equipment failure occurs, finding parts to fix it can really be a task since you probably don't know the area.
Reason 2: It'd be nice to type in a zip code or city name and find all the sites of the town/ area. My father, for example, doesn't type, so he asks me to do all his internet searching for him. Many times, he asks me to find brick and mortor stores in his area: a real task if I can't put in a zip code or telephone area code.
>"Is this going to help my users?"
Brett mentioned the goto (now Overture) tool. I can't agree more, and am surprised others aren't suggesting this as well. If we know what people are looking for, we, as webmasters will gear our content for that. Obviously, we want to give the customer what they want using the language they use.
Reasons 1, 2 and 3 (Win Win Win)
1. The end users will win because they will find sites about subjects they are looking for.
2. WebMasters win because they know what the end users want and build sites with that content.
3. Google wins because it strengthens the sites which make it up.
Drop by anytime, by the way. And tell Sergey he's welcome too ... ;)
~ stay fabulous ~
That is all. The fact that we can quibble about Google vs. the ideal engine is a testament to what Google has accomplished. If it ain't broke, don't fix it... too much.
Could it be that they wish to give us tips so as to influence how we design sites which makes their system work more efficiently or be able to map the web a little better. I doubt it, they would probably just put that on their own pages because they know we will read it.
I don't think we need to blast him with a bunch of posts about personal interests or why can't technology do the impossible. This person is only human, and they must also follow some guidelines set for them by the head office before the first post was made. Why don't we just keep quiet and listen for a minute. They came here for a reason.
My honest gut feeling is Google realises they write the software to display our pages. One is worthless without the other. Working together is the only real logical path to take. So how does this happen? Could this actually happen?? Did our mistakes with Altavista program our habits too much to change. Right now as things stand, the possible path is change in the whole process. Wisenuts on the horizon and moving fast. Google sees them coming. They are looking for possible solutions, just like everyone else.
Ok Google, you have my attention, whats the next step???
A lot of people have mentioned Flash. A few months ago, an engineer checked out Flash indexing. At the time, indexing .swf didn't seem like the best use of resources. Since Flash is a vector-based format, you can only pull out simple text. Often the "text" is stored as strokes and not characters. There were also some quality concerns and questions about whether people would fill Flash files with keywords. We can certainly go back and take another look at .swf though. Maybe we could at least extract links from those files. In the mean time, stace had a very good suggestion: a few text links can go a long way.
As far as whether I speak for myself or the company--this is definitely just me. Don't take anything I say as the official stance of the company. For example, I really like grnidone's ideas about news search and location-based search. But that doesn't mean that you should expect to see news search next week on Google.
One reason I wanted to post every now and then was to pop myths. We're not going to become a portal. And we're not going to sell out our search results. Relevancy comes first, and money is farther down on the list. We've been doing that from the beginning, and we hope to convince skeptics over time. :) In fact, the only thing I'd rather not talk about is scoring and scoring changes. No offense, but that's a little more detail than I should talk about.
The one pressing query I have regards framesets. Due to the nature of my site (email me for url), it had to be designed with a frameset. I know Google (and all other search engines) don't really like framesets, but why?? Is this something you'll be looking into, because I think a good deal of fantastic sites are being lost because they are built with frames.
I would like to ask why I sometimes get different search results. It would seem Google is delivering different results somehow. I was just wondering if Google tracks sessions, or if it depends on the server accessed, or if there is some other reason that i see different search results within minutes of each other (not during a database update either).
I would also like to make a suggestion to the Google development staff. I see the weekest area in the Google algo is phrase matching. Should it not be defualt to show phrase matches first in the listings for queries that are not actually quoted. Also, I think results for actual quoted queries are very week for more than 3 words in the string. Such as "speculation of terrorist attack" [google.com] I would think this should bring back more than 1 result right now. That query may be too new, but what about "gilligan's island rerun time" [google.com], 0 results. Though I think it is pretty sharp how the engine knew the query needed additional punctuation, as I tried "gilligans" first.
I hate to show such weakness publicly, because I think you have done a tremendous job in increasing the acuracy of internet searching, I just feel this is an area which can be improved upon quite a bit. Google has been my default search for quite some time, but on less common phrases I find myself having to go elsewhere sometimes.
We'd like to make a quick comment on what mayor wrote ...
My point is that most of this community's professional optimization efforts are good for the user, and therefore good for Google. So why are we often chased down like a bunch of criminal and our sites penalized for these efforts?
While we cannot speak for Google, nor are we even attempting to, but unfortunately, throwing out the baby with the bath water scenario is one we see all too often when it comes to certain SEO techniques.
While we agree with Mayor that when "relevant" results are achieved and returned by Google (or other engines) that there should be NO penalties assessed for any of the techniques used to achieve them, BUT we are also quick to understand that the "opportunity" for "deceptive and irrelevant" results are then ALSO very possible.
Therefore, in our opinion, Google does the only thing it can do at this time, which unfortunately happens to be "throwing out the baby with the bath water."
If and when technology can detect the irrelevant (spam) results from the relevant ones, we, as both SEOs and as End Users, can/should clearly see that Google's current "system" is what's necessary to accomplish what they have, the most relevant results on the Net today.
For any SEO practitioner to operate within the fine lines that can be easily defined with a few hours of research is in our humble opinion not really asking that much of us, from Google or any search engine.
In our humble opinion, when we as an industry, gracefully and eagerly accept this "must be" situation when it comes to incorporating various SEO techniques, and work with Google as a whole, then and only then, can certain restrictions and penalties be lifted. But the ONE question will always be, "How do we get the spammers to agree with this?"
GoogleGuy, you said ...
One reason I wanted to post every now and then was to pop myths.
Our question is, would it be wise of us all to specifically ask these (myth type) questions here and then have you comment on them or is it best just to watch for your "now and then/when you can" postings that will reveal your own list of myths that you feel need immediate attention?
GoogleGuy, thank you so much for your involvement and interaction.
Even the mere knowledge of your presence here at these forums, is quite humbling, exhilarating and encouraging to say the least.
GoogleGuy, we salute you on your efforts here to help educate us all about Google.
Welcome to Webmaster World and thanks for posting.
I really liked your question about myths. Perhaps GoogleGuy you are suggesting we move in that direction and away from specific and personal problems or concerns.
Perhaps we could move back through these posts with the 'myth' theory in mind. Please help us to understand what is myth and what is reality.
"Maybe what GoogleGuy means is...."
"Perhaps, when GoogleGuy says 'X', we should take it to mean 'XYZ'...."
"Please GoogleGuy..." "Thank you GoogleGuy..."
I'm just waiting for the alien/prophet GoogleGuy to pull out a ray gun and/or call down a lightning bolt and smite us all for our impertinence. :)