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Google Announces Quality Improvements to Search

     
2:28 pm on Apr 25, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Google has just announced it's making quality improvements to its search to tackle some of the issues and challenges its been facing. Of course, these announcements are often made after the algorithm changes and experimentation. Anyhow, here's a quick summary:-

Fake news is turning out to be a long term effort for Google, and its says "today were taking the next step toward continuing to surface more high-quality content from the web. This includes improvements in Search ranking, easier ways for people to provide direct feedback, and greater transparency around how Search works. "

It goes on to talk about the ranking a little more and specifically mentions the Search Quality Rater Guidelines where the raters are used to feed back changes to improve the SERPs, although the rates have no direct effect on the SERPs. Raters "flag" misleading and offensive results, hoaxes and unsupported conspiracy theories. "These guidelines will begin to help our algorithms in demoting such low-quality content and help us to make additional improvements over time."

Ranking: "Weve adjusted our signals to help surface more authoritative pages and demote low-quality content, so that issues similar to the Holocaust denial results that we saw back in December are less likely to appear."

Google is adding direct feedback tools to flag autocomplete predictions and featured snippets. "These new feedback mechanisms include clearly labeled categories so you can inform us directly if you find sensitive or unhelpful content. We plan to use this feedback to help improve our algorithms. "

With autocomplete causing a bit of a storm in the past, Google will publish its content policy on autocomplete and how it will deal with removals. [support.google.com]

Google has also updated its "How Search Works [google.com]" "to provide more information to users and website owners about the technology behind Search. The site includes a description of how Google ranking systems sort through hundreds of billions of pages to return your results, as well as an overview of our user testing process. "

Read the whole blog post from Google here [blog.google...]
5:10 pm on Apr 25, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Finding authoritative health information on Google is a problem.

Good luck.
5:39 pm on Apr 25, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Google should do something about "fake websites".

In my niche I see a lot of websites built around photos taken from Instagram. One of them is literally using thousands of Instagram photos, combined with texts that are clearly written by Indian writers who don't really know what they are writing about ... and ranking like hell for lots of keywords. There's probably a links scheme behind them as well. One of them actually sent me an email and wanted to buy a link.

I'm seeing more and more of this type of websites pop up and it's becoming a plague. How can they rank so well if Google finds quality so important? They are easy to detect by an algo: unnatural text and with sometimes (on one page) 30 links back to "the photo source" on Instagram. There's also the question of copyright. The Instagram photos are not embedded with the Instagram code but copied and residing on the website's own hosting.
9:09 pm on Apr 25, 2017 (gmt 0)

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The world has gone mad, now there are people of an unknown political / belief background deciding on rankings on what can or should be believed now and in the past, but not deciding on them.

I'd be happy if they just made affiliates equal to merchants again, then the conspiracy theorists and propaganda (that's what it was called before fake news) websites, can do what they like.
12:43 am on Apr 26, 2017 (gmt 0)

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"today were taking the next step toward continuing to surface more high-quality content from the web


Does the word "today" mean that the algorithmic changes go into effect today (April 25, 2017)?
3:01 am on Apr 26, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Does the word "today" mean that the algorithmic changes go into effect today (April 25, 2017)?
They didn't say that exactly. I read it as they are "taking the next step...." which may (or may not) be put into the next update, likely the 1st week in May.
9:28 am on Apr 26, 2017 (gmt 0)

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good! .. well written content should have a lot more weighting!
12:31 pm on Apr 26, 2017 (gmt 0)

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SearchEngineLand's article on Owl says, "Google said they are about 10% rolled out and likely will hit 100% over the coming days."

So I assume it already started and the avalanche is coming this week. The SERP monitors certainly are all going red.
3:17 pm on Apr 26, 2017 (gmt 0)

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This owl business has got me feeling a little nervous. I approach my niche in a way that is not the "standard" used by my competitors. The standard relies on publicly available government data. Most site just regurgitate the data. My site addresses the short comings of the data by use other sources of data and as such provides value (IMO). At the same time there are several other competitors that spam the niche, essentially providing what amounts to fake data. Now I am afraid that given my non-standard approach that I might get lumped in with the spammers.

Now I have seen a traffic boost over the past few days, but SER is reporting that Google is saying that this is unrelated to the pending (or ongoing?) Owl update. So am I seeing a boost before the big dip?
3:35 pm on Apr 26, 2017 (gmt 0)

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If they want to combat fake news, they need to stick to facts on the knowledge boxes, not open ended queries.
12:01 am on Apr 27, 2017 (gmt 0)

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... then the conspiracy theorists and propaganda (that's what it was called before fake news) websites



Wasn't "Urban Legends" in there somewhere?

FarmBoy
9:20 am on Apr 27, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Personally when I search for something I don't want to see Pinterest or Quora and similars... Pinterest is just mega farm of pictures with no value, Quora is junk with 99% answers being pre-sell / promotion

[edited by: engine at 9:42 am (utc) on Apr 27, 2017]
[edit reason] Please see WebmasterWorld TOS [/edit]

2:11 pm on Apr 27, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Personally when I search for something I don't want to see Pinterest or Quora and similars... Pinterest is just mega farm of pictures with no value, Quora is junk with 99% answers being pre-sell / promotion


I agree. I still don't understand why Google is listing Pinterest pages. This is not quality or good user experience. You are forced to sign up for a Pinterest account if you actually want to see the content.
7:18 am on Apr 28, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Not impressed with this one at all.

Some of the SERPs we monitor are just horrible, with 8 or 9 dictionary definitions on page 1, and then a whole lot of random rubbish following after.

Sorry Google guys - this is a duff update. Rollback time!
10:21 pm on Apr 28, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Yep, this update has some pretty appalling results for some queries. Still a lot of PBNs and craptastic thin "authority" articles doing the rounds... not to mention, they have not stopped scraping sites for their knowledge box. Just read an article today about how the search for the founder/inventor of email is wrong... there is a company/trademark called EMAIL and it can't distinguish.

And its precisely the reason they need to stop trying to be ehow and just be a search engine. After the terrorism fiasco, you think they'd invest in people curating and manually checking these results before they release them and give subpar content prime real estate on the first page.
11:18 pm on Apr 28, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Folks, it isn't an "update." It's a project, and a long-term one at that.

Even the first step isn't fully rolled out yet, to judge what was announced a few days ago (10% rollout at that point).
6:47 pm on Apr 29, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Well I don't know if this is due to this new Owl update, but my two largest sites have had accumulated Google traffic gains of about 10-15% over the past few days. These aren't news sites, but they provide background information about issues that often get into the news.

On the other hand, I noticed that one of my old articles, which for years has ranked number 1 for searches on its title, has fallen to number 2. The new number 1 is an Amazon page for a newly-published book with the same title as my article. Not that I intend to buy the book.
5:09 am on May 3, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Instead of 'tackling' fake news, they should sort out their ability to tackle spam and cloaking first.
6:06 am on May 4, 2017 (gmt 0)

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They need to fix their answer box too. I just searched for something, my site has the answer box, with a beautiful example of a widget, but they've used an image from another site that is not even a widget. They shouldn't be including images if they can't even get the correct one and reporting these errors does nothing.
2:04 pm on May 4, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@browndog, what you describe, the practice of using an image from somebody elses website on your website as part of your article (that you most likely took from somewhere else), isn't that just describing the practice of scraping? We've seen how many complaint posts on this forum about people "stealing" their photos. So is it ironic to suggest that you send a report to say they need to improve on their practice? This is the discussion people really need to be having. One of my website images is being used by Google for their content (using text from Wikipedia). Reporting scraping to make it better, more accurate or more fair? This is nonsensical discussion.
8:05 pm on May 4, 2017 (gmt 0)

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The images I use come from a range of places. Stock sites, Flickr creative commons, photos taken by me, images I have paid a designer to create, photos I have asked my forums/Facebook members to provide and even one I had my daughter put together (she is better at graphics than me). When I use Flickr images, I ALWAYS credit the photographer with a link back to them.

Sorry, I got that wrong so editing. The image I had on my article was Flickr, and I had credited it, which is what you do with Flickr Creative Commons. It was a beautiful example of the topic I wrote about. But they used an image from another site which was incorrect. To give you an example (this isn't what I wrote about), they used an image of a spanner on an article about hammers.
6:21 pm on May 6, 2017 (gmt 0)

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One of my pages just got outranked by a page on Quora ... a page with a WRONG answer. Is this a part of the improved Google search quality? Google is getting "better" every day! Anything Quora, Pinterest, ... seems to be great for Google. Smaller websites with well researched content are inferior to the "big guys" that collect masses of (sometimes wrong or scraped) user generated content.
8:54 pm on May 7, 2017 (gmt 0)

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It's frustrating, isn't it? I've seen two pages one with the wrong answer and one with the wrong image. If they're going to do answer boxes, it would be nice if they highlighted the correct answer. People are going to assume if it's in the answer box, it's right.
6:11 am on May 8, 2017 (gmt 0)

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People are going to assume if it's in the answer box, it's right.


I don't think they are going to start assuming a spanner is a hammer, whatever Google says.
8:07 am on May 8, 2017 (gmt 0)

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In that particular scenario, a lot of people will. If you know the topic well, you will know it's a spanner and not a hammer, but for the average member of the public, they will not realise it is in fact not a hammer.
 

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