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"Horde" Update having little effect on Domain Crowding



3:03 pm on Feb 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

I've been holding back on starting a discussion on this topic in hopes it would be resolved on it's own...so far it has not.

Back in April 2012, Google released a series of significant quality updates.

Two of them interest me (codenamed "Xirtam3" and "Horde") simply because they seem to contradict each other. I am also interested why that Horde in particular is missing the biggest domain crowding sites.

Those updates hit in April 2012, it approaching one year later so they should have had time to digest & adjust.

Here's Google's description:
Xirtam3 -
Categorizing paginated documents [codename: Xirtam3] will help surface more diverse results, even when dominant documents contain multiple URLs and span several pages.

Horde -
More domain diversity [codename: horde] will help prevent results from becoming crowded by one dominant domain.

Try deciphering those seemingly contradictory descriptions...

Xirtam3 - seems to be set on "low"...I'm not seeing any decent diversity. The stuff I am seeing is poorly related to the search term and thin.

Horde is more noticeable - it has removed all of OUR duplicate listings and probably yours too, but we're just a small site (less than 100 pages). The problem is with large, multi-million page photo spam sites. No names are needed, there are several examples and more wannabee types on the way. It seems these guys have figured a way past all of Google's quality filters by using massive volumes of pages with keyword loaded comments and descriptions. The more pages it seems, the lower the quality needed to reach the top, the entire page and beyond.

Social photo sites are nice, but not nice enough to take up entire pages (or more) of the serps.
One popular home related site has the record with 14 consecutive pages for one term. IMHO, that's ridiculous. After all, how many pages show up from FB these days? Remember a few years back?

The incredible number of spammy comments and associated tag pages for that photo site, thanks to it's CMS, is truly astronomical. If I were their webmaster, I'd be asking myself "is this something users want?" . If anyone else did it, this would be 950'd as spam in a heartbeat.

This is currently one of the (my) biggest problem with Google's results. So I'm wondering, is this an intentional test by social happy Google? are they eying these sites for future purchase? or is it a flaw in the algo that needs to be fixed?

Seems there's always a hole in the loop.
Feel free to discuss...


5:30 pm on Feb 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Certainly in the travel sector horde is not working either, you will often see 2 - 3 results from same doamin on page 1 but once you go to page 2 onwards you can see all 10 results from same domain on generic search terms.

Of no real value to the user as they only have 10 plus the ads to look at and one would think that a consumer would like a choice of 10 natural listings and not just the one. If they can ensure 10 different ads show, why not in the organic listings.

In the travel sector it seems to be the largest companies that get past this, and as I have said in a previous post, these same companies are getting away with gateway pages that are helping futher their cause in hogging the listings.

I am surprised that this has gone on so long as friends that have absolutely no interest in how results appear are getting wise to the reduced choice of companies.


8:22 pm on Feb 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

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

Horde is the opposite of the direction they took, all results are severely crowded by one or a handful of dominant domains since then. I've personally witnessed over 80 of the top 100 results belong to just one site at one time.


10:13 pm on Feb 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

I'm wondering what the common denominator is with these sites. It looks simply like the more massive you are the more Google loves you. So, by that logic, if we all slam 1,000,000 photos with possibly hundreds millions of tag pages and monkey generated comments, we can dominate the serps. Gotta remember though, in order to pull off such a production, you better be well funded. That seems to be the other common denominator.


10:35 pm on Feb 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

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

I still have the top 13 results for one of the phrases in my niche. Not a huge site, maybe 600 pages, but definitely the authority.


11:43 pm on Feb 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

@netmeg - I still have one or to of those two too, but one or two terms hardly constitutes an authority - but wait, we all consider our sites "the authority", right? ;^)

I don't think this issue has much to do with being the authority, it comes from having a million plus pages. I've seen one case today where the site has the whole first page, second page, then a break for a few slackers, then continues on for pages.

From what I'm seeing, this is more of a glitch than a desired effect. I suspect they'll keep turning the dials until it's not so biased to sheer, stupid volume of pages. When the well funded run out of $$$, I suspect you'll see their pages relegated to spam and their "special" organic results evaporate.


2:42 pm on Feb 9, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

To take the authority theory for ranking across multiple pages further: I decided to do a few blind searches to see if I could find what I was searching for, the first term pulled up myself at #1, then the "house #*$!" site at #2. My site delivered EXACTLY the deep content the search should have produced, but the assumed "authority" produced ABSOLUTELY ZERO useful content related to the search.
However, the "house #*$!" page did contain parts of the search term, but in a very spammy volume. If you look at the comments on these sites, they are simply single key phrases by the hundreds, if not THOUSANDS.
This is where the Penguin should step in...


8:37 pm on Feb 9, 2013 (gmt 0)

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

one or two terms hardly constitutes an authority

It's a lot more than that, but most of them don't have more than the top four listings.

it comes from having a million plus pages

When the well funded run out of $$$

I see tons of crowding (my own sites and other sites) that have fewer than a thousand pages. I still think it's authority. That's not to say Google has it right every time, but I think that's why they're doing it.

Also, by this and other comments, it seems like you think one needs to be well funded (or VC funded) in order to generate these millions of pages. Anyone can make millions of thin pages for less than a couple hundred bucks. It takes money (or time, or both) to make that many *good* pages.

And if they're good pages, they probably belong there.


1:10 am on Feb 10, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

so that sounds like one vote FOR domain crowding, anyone else?


3:15 am on Feb 10, 2013 (gmt 0)

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3:39 pm on Feb 10, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member

Great topic, Backdraft7. Crowding is making a mess of the SERPs, and it does seem like spammy stuff and crowdsourced stuff is at the top even when it's not relevant.

Something I'm seeing a lot of lately is irrelevant authority sites. I'll query something, and get results from Amazon and other top domains that don't come close to addressing my query. They have a word here or there that kind of sounds like my query, but the much more relevant results - which may come from small blogs or websites - are buried below the first fold or even on pages 2-3. Sometimes I just start on page 3, which is a trick I picked up around 2005 when things were this bad.

This makes me think that netmeg's right about authority being huge. I think if Google has you down as an authority, they put that WAY ahead of other ranking factors - even relevance, which ought to be the top ranking factor IMO. So maybe the filters you're talking about ARE working, but authority ranking is allowed to overcome them in a big way. That would be my guess.


4:17 pm on Feb 10, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

So again, this begs the question, what constitutes an "authority" site?
Some say it's the number and quality of inbound links.

From back in 2006, Google stated:

- Domain name to match part of the meta title.
- Have IBL's from authority sites including company name [ Quality sites and high PR sites ]
- Have unique content
- Age of site
- Comply with webmaster guidelines

Clearly that's no longer the case, especially the age and domain match meta title tag part.

We were an authority for many years before being eclipsed by (one in particular) sites.
The sheer volume of their indexed pages is what shut us out.

I myself have created an account on the site in question and added a handful of our best photos. If ya can't beat 'em, join 'em, I say. The funny part is that now for one of my top key phrases, I am still #1, however, it's my account on THEIR site that's #1, not my site. That's hilarious!
Bing however still has my site as #1.

Don't get me wrong, the model for these sites that have had meteoric success is brilliant.

My concern is that the webmasters who created the sites were focused more on search engine performance and that's a NO-NO today, right?. In particular, these sites seem to violate the specific quality guidelines that Google puts forth, like "loading pages with irrelevant keywords" and user generated spam. Some are already using these sites as a conduit for spamming the search engines. Need examples? I can show you a bunch!

My other concern is that Google is currently willing or unable to distill these results down to fewer listings, which would improve diversity from other sites, something that HORDE is supposed to do.

This isn't an axe grinding session on Google or the DC sites, I'm just trying to get an insight into this apparent Achilles heal. If history is any guide, I suspect it will be resolved eventually. But for now, it's definitely not a good user experience.


9:53 am on Feb 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

do you mean things like tripadvisor coming up page 1 for weather searches?


2:19 pm on Feb 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

@santapaws - no, that's not domain crowding, but rather just another clean miss by G...unless of course you where "thinking" of weather when you were doing your search and G used their telepathy algo to read your mind.

One other interesting observation: There is now a RASH of websites trying to jump on the photo spam bandwagon, so eventually they'll all dilute each other out. It's typical human chimp behavior and doesn't surprise me a bit...find an angle to exploit and people are on it in a flash. Kinda like G and the social thing.

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