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What's up with Google? Changes for the worse in several areas

5:00 pm on Sep 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Without going into too many details about my own sites' experience with Panda, I've noticed some changes for the worse among many Google products which have made the services less and less usable. I'd just like to document some changes for personal, non-SEO related searches I've tried to perform recently.

For one, data from Google Maps on my Android devices have increasingly been giving me shady results over the past few months. One particularly strange thing I've noticed is a very popular European tourist attraction being moved on their map from where it actually is to ~2km away (of which is isn't).

The past few weeks with Google News would show one headline, but actually leading to the wrong story. This happened to me again today while looking for information regarding a pretty popular news story. Instead of the headline linking to the correct page, it links to something completely unrelated. Subsequent searches on Google News now have me getting top results for forum pages with a one-sentence snippets and then linking to the actual news story. The actual story is nowhere to be found on the news service, yet other stories from their site do come up.

When it comes to actually finding information on Google Search, it appears that using quotes has become increasingly redundant over the past 6-9 months, making it all but (many times) impossible to find specific information about an array of topics on Google now-a-days. Additionally, using the + and - operators don't seem to have a noticable impact anymore.

I have a feeling that their changes to their core search product have been finding their way into other products and I guess you could say the "Panda" changes have started to corrupt their other products.

- Google Maps has landmark x incorrectly mapped.
- Google News is now showing 1-sentence quotes as stories.
- Google News sometimes shows the wrong href for stories.
- Google Search now makes using quotes redundant.
- Google Search increasingly makes it more difficult to find relevant results with many both advanced and basic queries.

I honestly can't seem to make sense of many 'improvements'. Bing in all honesty has some pretty good results, but they don't come close to the power of the old Google search engine nor any of their complimentary services.
5:42 pm on Sept 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

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Maps are not really the province of this forum (they belong in our Local Search forum) - but you bring up several points that are interesting from an organic SEO point of view about the changes in the + - " area.

I'd say this change (and it has been gradual, not all in one stroke) is part of catering to the average Google user over the power user.

Another factor is that Google seems to have stepped up the speed of their usual "rapid iteration". Changes are getting pushed live even faster, and then gradually tweaked to remove the errors over time. They always operated this way, but now it seems even more intense.

Frustrating for the power user? Oh yes.
6:16 pm on Sept 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member sgt_kickaxe is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member

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There is a version of Google maps that does not force a long list of variables and such to be loaded, instead it does the work on Google's end and you can paste a url much like you do a traditional image instead. I'm finding it to be much more accurate right now, and the load time is 10% that of traditional maps.

10:03 pm on Sept 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

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They even messed up searches for emailadresses in quotes.
4:26 am on Oct 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Hey Ted. I didn't really want to make this thread about Maps or anything else (except for the 'brokenness') in particular. I was just making some observations about Google Search and the services it is inevitably connected to, or rather integrated with. With that said, I think G Search is broken, and the connected services are seemingly also affected.

The effects of Panda 2.0 were immediate and when I couldn't find unique information that only we offered, I was worried. To this day, I can't find anything relevant to many search terms we were always in the top 7 results for. Needless to say, my guys at Google Adsense have been in constant contact wondering what the hell has happened.

With that said and beyond my own connection with Google, I really haven't been able to find anything relevant to my own searches within the past few days (and infact, the past several months). I was really surprised when a few days ago, Google Maps directed me to 'walk' via a very popular landmark. If I didn't live here and know where this landmark really was, I would suggest that even perhaps over 100,000 Android users per year with G Maps are misled by the directions Google Maps gives.

Disregarding maps, news is another story. Forget about Android and the strange redirects I've been getting lately, the actual results from Google News over 2-3 days (let alonge weeks) have been erratic. Why would a forum thread with 1 sentence and a link to the original source as a "Read More" link be considered the original source when the original page with 6+ paragraphs is readily available and linked to, also as a long time Google News source. The original could only be found under a duplicates search.

There are far too many threads on WebmasterWorld which cite the prevalence of rubbish results outranking the originals. What hasn't been addressed yet in detail is the possible (and IMHO definite) corruption of other Google servics with similar "Panda" algorithms and indeed, the effects of the apparant removal of 'advanced search' functions.

My other half is a professor and asks me sometimes to fix grammar mistakes in English (I'm a native English speaker living in a non-English-speaking EU country). I sometimes get asked whether something is grammatically correct. I recently tried to use quotes in a Google search to figure out one of these conundrums but it was literally returned nothing relevant. A mere 15,000 results, completely disregarding my quotes or even what I was looking for... absoltely nothing relevant. A BING search gave me exactly what I was looking for but with over 750,000 results, with the quotes.

My complaints really aren't only my own.
5:37 am on Oct 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member tangor is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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All I have to say (since nothing else makes sense these days) is:

Even if you are on the right track,
You'll get run over if you just sit there.


An optimist thinks this is the best possible world.
A pessimist fears this is true.

Either way, there are no answers...

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