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Google Updates and Who they Target

     
1:49 pm on Oct 12, 2017 (gmt 0)

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In another discussion someone posted this:

maybe because "global updates" don't exist anymore. It's all about small updates, targeting some of us.


And I will say this:
1. Google Updates very likely do not target spam.

2. If you follow the patents and the latest research, most of what is being worked on focuses on understanding what users want when they type a search query.

3. The SEO community consistently is wrong about Google Updates because they ALWAYS focus on who was targeted.

;)
7:55 pm on Oct 12, 2017 (gmt 0)

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It's me who said this. But I can precise my thinking.

Google don't want global updates. Too risky. So, they choose to do that gradually, targeting different websites. Something like "let's see what's the user intent behind this financial query". Next week : "let's see what the user intent in Canada".

Maybe I'm wrong, but it's kind of logic, the algorithm is so huge now that they can not update everything in one time.
8:31 pm on Oct 12, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@Jori in one sense I agree with you but in another not.
How I agree, it seems logical that Google would prefer incremental changes that impact few people and if change does not achieve their goal it can easily be rolled back without limited impact.

Where I strongly disagree is to suggest that Google is targeting specific websites. If there is any targeting going on it is most likely as Martinibuster suggests, it is targeting "users intents" or "behavior". I seriously doubt that Google considers the impact on the websites, and I also doubt that Google can easily assess the impact on websites that they do not control.
8:39 pm on Oct 12, 2017 (gmt 0)

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The SEO Community is like one of those people who think that everyone is always talking about them. It's all about how cool they are or how fat their butt is.

Google is not about your website. Google is in the business of Information Retrieval.

Definition of Information Retrieval:
Information retrieval... is the activity of obtaining information resources relevant to an information need from a collection of information resources.


Is there anything there about targeting websites?

What I am trying to do is reach out and shake you out of this rut and make you a better marketer.

Virtually slap you.

Wake up! ;)

THINK about this: Is every update to the core algorithm all about catching someone's website? EVERY single update?

Answer please.
9:27 pm on Oct 12, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I would agree that Google is not in the business of targeting spam, but it is one of the ways they try and shape the index to deliver the best results. I think it is much more of an algorithmic approach, catching multiple sites using the same technique. There will however always be collateral damage.

Mack.
10:18 pm on Oct 12, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I was not speaking about a particular website, but about a family of queries.

If you go to Google Analytics, you can see there that Google wants you to classify your website, in order to compare with others websites in your industry.

It's all about semantics, and some fields are much more specialized than others. Do you learn how to speak in chinese at the same time you learn how to code? Maybe not. And the AI from Google maybe not also.
9:41 am on Oct 13, 2017 (gmt 0)

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>Answer please.

I totally agree, it's not every update, and it may be fewer updates than we think.

It's about organizing the world's information: If it notices abuse, it'll deal with it in due course. If it doesn't notice, the spammers will continue to take advantage. However, Google wants its system to give users "answers."

ADDED
Similar to AdWords, it's a quality score that counts.
4:19 pm on Oct 14, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Do you learn how to speak in chinese at the same time you learn how to code? Maybe not. And the AI from Google maybe not also.


Now we're getting somewhere! :)

Let's set aside the notion of Google "targeting" websites, targeting niches, targeting spam. Yes, they do that. But let's set that aside for now.

Let's talk about the other things Google targets.

I'm not the only one with ideas. I want to hear from WebmasterWorld. And if you're not registered, register now [webmasterworld.com] because I want to hear from you too.

What are these other things that Google targets when they do an update?
10:29 am on Oct 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I constantly hear that Goolge's updates are to get "the best search results"

I don't think that's true, Google updates could be and probably are to get Google the most Ad clicks.

The results don't need to be the best ever, they only need to be so good that people stick around on Google, click back, continue searching and click on some adverts.

That's how Google makes money, it's already won the search engine dominance war.

even if Bing's search results were better than Google's I doubt very many people we switch to Bing just for that reason, people are lazy and creatures of habit.

The other things Google targets are sites that compete with Google, they don't want the competition to gain any kind of traction.
3:56 pm on Oct 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Google updates could be and probably are to get Google the most Ad clicks.


IF Google is rolling out algorithms to increase ad clicks then there will be patents and research papers discussing those algorithms. I just did a quick search and found zero research papers by Google discussing how algorithms and machine learning could be used to increase ad clicks. So your theory has a high probability of being wrong.

If you are committed to your theory, I would suggest that next time you bring it up, you also link to a patent or research paper. Otherwise your theory is easily dismissed.

The results don't need to be the best ever...


Well, here now you are treading air like Wile E Coyote as he begins his fall off a cliff. There are literally thousands of research papers and patents about how to make the search results the best ever. The first innovation was links. The next was statistical analysis, after that was machine learning and AI, and so on and so forth.

Again, your proposition that results don't need to be the best ever is also easily dismissed.

Good luck,
;)

Roger Montti
4:10 pm on Oct 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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If Google enjoys permanent SE hegemony, then:

- AOL is the biggest company in the world
- Yahoo is the prime web portal
- Hotmail* is the free email provider of choice

On the web, hegemony today can be total irrelevance next year.

Google ranking updates are nothing to do with Ad clicks. SERP layout is everything to do with ad clicks.

Don't believe me? Consider your own site. Do you compromise your content to gain ad clicks, or do you produce the best content you can (for a given cost outlay)? Having created the content, you then design the page to trade off Ad prominence against usability.

The fact is, Google can not afford to show substandard results lest they go the way of AltaVista, and all the examples above.
_______

On topic, I feel the "smaller" updates are either Personalisation (intent) or natural language updates. I don't think it's plausible to roll out targetted updates that hit specific sites, in order to disguise a roll-out. An algo is an algo- no one is going to maintain a domain-level whitelist of who is on what algo at any given point in time.

Hotmail is so oldskool my spell check does not recognise it!
6:45 pm on Oct 19, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@Shaddows You bring up a good point. Google has held the #1 search market share for so long that some people forget before Google, there was basically a new #1 search engine every few months like Altavista, Infoseek, Yahoo, Lycos, Hotbot, etc. Users did not blindly use search engines with bad results. They kept seeking a better alternative and eventually Google took the most market share.

Let's also remember that Google has many smart people working for them. So it is possible for them to mistakes because everyone makes mistakes but we should respect the intelligence of Google's decision makers. They tend to make the smart decisions to best benefit Google. This means spending a bunch of money to figure out what users want and deliver it before Bing does.

Google has about over 500 updates every year. These updates address a wide range of issues including fighting spam (yes some Google updates still target spam sites) or boosting usability (like improving personalization). I wouldn't be surprised if some of these updates had at least an indirect goal of boosting Google profitability. Google is still a for profit business. For example releasing a big update right before the holiday shopping season could indirectly lead to Adwords boost as sites with lost rankings try to buy the traffic back. If you owned your own search engine, wouldn't you be tempted to make a few changes to boost profits if the changes didn't endanger your user base?

If you are trying to reverse engineer these updates, you should remember that Google often releases multiple updates at once (500 updates & only 365 days) so it can be hard to isolate changes. Personally I prefer to worry less about Google updates and focus more on making the best websites. By pushing out better content, tools and innovating faster than my competition I get more direct traffic making me less reliant on Google. The less I rely on Google, the more they want to send me traffic. Google can act like such a jealous ex-girlfriend its funny.
2:52 am on Oct 20, 2017 (gmt 0)

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What's Google targeting? Money, plain and simple. Google (Alphabet) is a publicly traded company and has to report to shareholders not you or I. That takes a balancing act of satisfying the user and generating as much revenue as they possibly can from every query. Notice I did not say give the user the best results, but satisfy them. What I see from Google is mediocre results, which is why I don't use them and know many others who stopped using Google a while ago as well.
10:07 am on Oct 20, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I think it's weird that people think Google is a public service and not just a business.

I suppose they think shops also only sell "the best products ever"

at least that's what the adverts tell you.

when really it's just a load of junk that produces a good profit for the shops.


If Google were so concerned about having "the best content" why is it degrading the content by pushing it to the bottom of the page and replacing it with paid for advertising & it's own properties? Something that has been getting worse and worse over the years. You have to go about 70% down the page, below the fold, before you catch a glimpse of any organic search results.

[forbes.com...]

[businessinsider.com...]

[reviewtrackers.com...]

Google is here for one primary reason and that's to make as much money as possible.
10:20 am on Oct 20, 2017 (gmt 0)

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That takes a balancing act of satisfying the user and generating as much revenue as they possibly can from every query.


As much as I appreciate your sharing your opinion I have already demonstrated that it is 100% wrong, mistaken and without proof (see above or my reposting below). In other words, that opinion is purely wrong. But if anyone has proof I would love to see it. Until then, that opinion has no place in this discussion. Let's avoid the bigfoot-level of baseless speculation.

Your opinion would have more credibility if you could dig up patents and research papers to show that Google's researching algorithms to increase ad clicks from their SERPs. Otherwise you're opinion does not count. We are talking FACTS here.

IF Google is rolling out algorithms to increase ad clicks then there will be patents and research papers discussing those algorithms. I just did a quick search and found zero research papers by Google discussing how algorithms and machine learning could be used to increase ad clicks. So your theory has a high probability of being wrong.

If you are committed to your theory, I would suggest that next time you bring it up, you also link to multiple patents and/or research papers. Something as important as you say will have been researched and the evidence will be out there.

Put up or shut up. Your theory is otherwise dismissed.

[edited by: martinibuster at 10:43 am (utc) on Oct 20, 2017]

10:41 am on Oct 20, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I suppose they think shops also only sell "the best products ever"

Shops sell stuff at price points. Some shops sell similar stuff at multiple price points, others sell a wide variety of things a similar price point.

So, your discount retailer sells crap, but it's cheap. You're premium brand outlets (John Lewis, M&S in the UK, Sears* once upon a time in the US) sell expensive quality. Midmarket stores might have multiple items using the "Good, Better, Best" methodology*.

Competition means if you are selling "junk" at "good profit" someone will sell something of marginally higher quality at the same price, or the same products at marginally less profit.
If Google were so concerned about having "the best content" why is it degrading the content by pushing it to the bottom of the page and replacing it with paid for advertising & it's own properties? Something that has been getting worse and worse over the years. You have to go about 70% down the page, below the fold, before you catch a glimpse of any organic search results.
Eh? That's what all ad-funded sites do- produce the best they can with their resources (human, capital, talent), then push as much advertising as they can without losing eyeballs. Well, maybe some hobbyists are satisfied with covering costs and pizza money, but that doesn't work for business.

But the essential point is: the better the product, the more ads you can push before the users leave (assuming repeat business - newbies balk at ads before even finding content).

*Hmm, my US cultural knowledge is off. While looking for a reference for "good, better, best" as a sales methodology, it seems Sears was a pioneer. Kinda undermines my Quality Seller point. What is a US-based premium department store retail chain in the US?
11:17 am on Oct 20, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@martinibuster

I run a business but i don't produce patents or research papers on the way I do business, just because there are no publicly available research papers doesn't mean to say someone is right or wrong.

Put up or shut up. Your theory is otherwise dismissed.


very aggressive, it's no wonder people don't post here anymore. it's hardly welcoming to address people in this binary way.

@Shaddows

Shops sell things they can make money on, if i produce the very best coffee machine but it's costs 1000s and I can only offer the shop a small margin they aren't going to sell it. But they will tell you they are selling the best products ever regardless, even if they are selling junk. it's marketing. people believe that google are only interested in having the best search results pages ever! but that's just marketing. If they want the best search results ever then why are they full of junk?

Google is already guilty of manipulating the search results in favor of their own products. Google demoted rival sites while promoting it's own services.

this reduced the choice for the user and the search results were degraded.

while promoting it's own services, Google received ad revenue.

Therefor Google has degraded the search results in favor of it's own services which increased ad revenue.

Google has been issued a fine of 2.42 billion for abusing dominance.
11:40 am on Oct 20, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Users did not blindly use search engines with bad results. They kept seeking a better alternative and eventually Google took the most market share.


That was back when they were primarily concerned with not being evil instead of being primarily concerned with making money for raging capitalist shareholders.
11:42 am on Oct 20, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@nonstop
You're mixing up two things: the SERP page, and actual results. I'm not sure we actually disagree on very much.

Google exists to make money. The SERP page, as rendered, is the optimal revenue-generating configuration currently discovered. And they do plenty of display testing to find even better solutions.

The prominence of the results have been reduced to the lowest possible level before Google loses revenue. More ads would result in lost eyeballs, while less ads would mean less clicks.

However, the thread is on Google Updates, which has got nothing to do with Revenue, apart from incidentally as the product that draws the eyeballs to whom you push the advertising.

[Edit - Address @nonstop as new post added prior to submission of mine]

[edited by: Shaddows at 11:44 am (utc) on Oct 20, 2017]

11:42 am on Oct 20, 2017 (gmt 0)

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...just because there are no publicly available research papers doesn't mean to say someone is right or wrong.


I'm glad we're having this dialogue. It's one the SEO Industry as a whole should be having. Believe it or not, all of this that I am sharing is to help you. So please hear me out because I firmly believe that what I have to say will help you.

There have been many algorithm theories in the past, such as Facebook likes are a Google ranking factor. But the SEO industry could have saved itself a couple years of wheel spinning if rather than lazily seizing on unreliable correlation studies, the industry had undertaken fifteen minutes of research to see that there was absolutely zero studies into such an algorithm.

The 100% complete absence of scientific research by universities or search engines, as well as the 100% complete absence of patents is a clear indication that such an algorithm does not exist anywhere on this planet.

I am encouraging you to think rationally and reasonably on this matter. This will help you become a better marketer because it will help you to more accurately and realistically diagnose what is happening in the SERPs.

The absence of research papers into a theoretical algorithm does in fact mean the theory is implausible and that the person proposing the theory is factually and actually wrong.
11:52 am on Oct 20, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Users did not blindly use search engines with bad results. They kept seeking a better alternative and eventually Google took the most market share.

That was back when they were primarily concerned with not being evil instead of being primarily concerned with making money for raging capitalist shareholders.
[Emphasis Mine]

Subtle shift of "They" there. Users make consumption decisions based on perceived quality. They don't, as a rule, care about the motives of the provider.

If users perceived higher quality, in terms of presentation and accuracy, was available elsewhere, they would leave. The big signal most consumption is based on is price, which is totally absent from the SE model. As such, the only differentiator is quality.

Google needs to maximise the quality of results to maximise the amount of ads they can push. Worse results = less ads before the user leaves.
12:27 pm on Oct 20, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Your opinion would have more credibility if you could dig up patents and research papers to show that Google's researching algorithms to increase ad clicks from their SERPs. Otherwise you're opinion does not count. We are talking FACTS here.

There are many divisions in Google and the mere fact that Google applies for and is awarded patents has no bearing on whether those patents are or will ever be used. I'd rather stick with the facts that I know are in play, such as the FTC investigation in the USA that got swept under a rug and the major changes Google is making now to satisfy the EU. Though USA Senator Blumenthal is calling for the FTC to reopen that case stating that evidence from what has been revealed in the EU warrants a new look. President Trump's ex Chief Strategist also called Google a utility like monopoly that needed antitrust scrutiny.

It would appear that what you are saying is that the only opinion that is credible is yours because it relies on patents as proof positive evidence of what Google is targeting now. Unless one can show how these patents apply in the present, and how they are weighted in the overall algorithm, I'd say they are just as speculative as anyone's opinion. Regarding your comment on me digging up patents showing how Google's algo increases clicks is ludicrous. Considering what is going on in the EU, and the renewed interest in pursuing antitrust violations in the USA, do you think Google would formally document what some regulators/politicians would perceive as a violation of antitrust law? Of course not.
12:48 pm on Oct 20, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Not to speak for MB, who has shown himself perfectly capable of a robust defence, but IR is a collaborative engineering challenge.

Mid-level engineers work on design concepts. Mid-level engineers do proof-of-concept work. Mid-level engineers need to have access to implementation specs.

Mid-level engineers can be poached.

To protect Google from poaching, Google, in common with others in the field, patent their research and development. Bill-the-patent-guy makes a living trawling this stuff, and is frequently years ahead of real-world application of patented concepts.

That said, there is no rule to say Google could not run R&D entirely in-house with a squad of highly-paid geeks on 10-year contracts with zillion dollar bonuses on completion, thereby keeping it all out the public glare.

But that still makes no sense from the perspective of Revenue-Maximising economic theory, which I have outlined several times above. Build the biggest eyeball magnet you can, then push advertising to them.
1:49 pm on Oct 20, 2017 (gmt 0)

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You're mixing up two things: the SERP page, and actual results. I'm not sure we actually disagree on very much.


I'm not mixing up anything, the actual results have been manipulated by Google for the purpose of gaining more Ad clicks.

Google demoted sites that competed against it's services, while at the same time promoting it's own Ad sponsored services.

the actual results for the user were degraded.

Google made Ad money by providing poorer search results.

this is all in the EU anti trust case, Google was given a guilty verdict and a record 2.42 billion fine.

the SERP have been bloated with Ads, more and more over the years pushing down the actual results into almost none existence when the page first loads. The whole product has been degraded as the actual results have become more hidden.

this is all fact, do you agree?
2:20 pm on Oct 20, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I'm not mixing up anything, the actual results have been manipulated by Google for the purpose of gaining more Ad clicks.

I disagree with that.
Google demoted sites that competed against it's services, while at the same time promoting it's own Ad sponsored services

I partially disagree with that, and part of it is wrong- although not necessarily to your detriment.

EUC found Google demoted price comparison sites, absolutely. However, they used correlation to show that. Most price comparison sites are crap, heavily ad dependant (yes I see the irony), use paid links, and don't add much value. When Google did various animal updates, these sites went backwards. Either the 99.99% of sites that went down were just cover for the tiny number of price comparison sites that went with them, or correlation really has little to do with causation in this instance.

Google did not "promote its own Ad-sponsored services". It didn't so much promote as gift uncontested prime position. That position was paid advertising (shopping), not ad-sponsored. This is worse, from the Anti-Trust PoV.

Note: I eventually agreed with the EUC ruling about anti-trust (abusing one market position to leverage advantage in another), just not the correlation part.
the actual results for the user were degraded.

Disagree. The results were the same, just hidden below loads of ads
Google made Ad money by providing poorer search results.

Disagree. Google maximises traffic and aggressively monetises it.

Ok, so we do disagree.

I just do not see why it makes any sense to produce suboptimal results, when the results are the only thing bringing in the punters. How can you sell advertising if you endanger your eyeball acquisition?
3:38 pm on Oct 20, 2017 (gmt 0)

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The results were the same, just hidden below loads of ads


The results weren't the same because Google hit price comparison sites with massive ranking penalties that reduced their ranking from page 1 to page 40.

Users had less choice and may have ended up paying more for something.

Google maximises traffic and aggressively monetises it.


yes I agree, but if someone was looking for a washing machine they used Google's own services rather than someone elses so Google benefited by demoting the competition. They manipulated the search results for their own benefit.

crap, heavily ad dependant (yes I see the irony), use paid links, and don't add much value.


Just like Google shopping.
4:05 pm on Oct 20, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I can't call out specific sites, but I frequently see one price comparison site ion SERPs. It's a good site.

The Page 40 sites are generally very poor value, as a user. And they are prime candidates for Panda, penguin, Vince and ATF tweaks- those are just the named ones.

I can get price comparison sites by including those terms in search.

When searching without those terms, my "Intent" is usually nothing to do with Price Comparison.

Page 3 would do if you were trying to subtly kill a site- no need for page 10+.

For all the above, I am not surprised they are ranked badly, feel no need posit nefarious action to explain it, and actively doubt deliberate "massive ranking penalties" would be the best method even if Google chose to do it.

It's not that don't think Google would post worse results if it increased their bottom line over the long term. I just don't think it does have that effect.

Anyway, we've somewhat derailed this discussion on Google Updates into a sideline on specifically competitor sabotage.

How about if I accept, for the sake of argument, that competitor sabotage is a specific case where Google could produce suboptimal results. What about other updates- does Google do the best they can there, or do you think Google has calculated a Goldilocks zone which pushes people to advertising, rather than organic? Something beyond pure layout, which I fully agree is all about revenue.
1:53 am on Oct 21, 2017 (gmt 0)

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The way I view Google search results is that there are (currently) up to four possible components:
1. the organic which can be the typical site listings but also what I term 'emphasised': such as the Local 3-Pack that is drawn (currently) from the organic;
2. the 'quick answer', i.e. Knowledge Box, People also ask/search for, Top Stories, Scores & Schedule, that is drawn (currently) from the organic;
3. the redirect back to a Google property, i.e. image carousel, YouTube.
4. the ads, which includes the redirect type via Shop for [] on Google;
and they need to be thought of separately as well as how they mesh.

Numbers 2&3 can be, at the most basic, thought of as either (1) satisfying the visitor or (2) getting another kick at the can. Given the thrust of this thread I'll mostly ignore them.

Numbers 1&4 are intriguingly separate while being fascinatingly entwined. I take at face value that Google search and Google ads are for all intents and purposes Chinese-walled (an ethical barrier between different divisions of a organisation) because if it was learned otherwise the consequences could be catastrophic for the company in several ways.

However... :) there is - IMO - a discernible dance between the two.

I agree with several commentators above that Google search is focussed on best answering searchers' queries and that that is what drives most, if not all, the various updates. As mentioned, that is the thrust of their patents and of other papers written by patent authors.

I also agree with those that say that Google, the advertiser, is focussed on the bottom line, if not as per above commentators. Instead I see the advertising side reacting to the search side as it gets 'better'. Two obvious ad side reactions (and yes, this is my opinion only):
1. AdWords Quality Score to keep the ads draw off of clicks from improving search results from falling;
2. moving ads directly above the search results to increase the draw off of clicks from the search results.
Note: yes, I know that getting ready for single column mobile was also a reason but the ads first rather than later was for maximum click draw off purposes.

So, yes, Google search can be focussed fully on improving the searcher experience while at the same time Google the advertiser can be focussed fully on improving revenue; it's simply a matter of how Google the company blends the two.

Getting back to numbers 2&3 one can see that quick 'good enough' answers (#2) will result in loyal return customers while keeping searchers on Google properties longer (#3) increases opportunities for loyalty and revenue both immediate and long term.

The initial thread starting quote:

maybe because "global updates" don't exist anymore. It's all about small updates, targeting some of us.

is quite true and has been since Google stopped 'dancing'. I view the advent of Universal Search as the last 'global update'; every update since, to the best of my knowledge, has directly impacted a minority, however large, of sites in the query index.

I won't say what I think of most SEO 'professionals' nor what I think of their SEO 'advice'; suffice to say little that is good. In that regard I absolutely agree that 'the SEO community consistently is wrong' just not only in regard to Google updates.
Note: yes, there are very knowledgeable, experienced, and capable SEO practitioners; unfortunately they are a minority; a few nuggets lost in a deep mucky overburden.
2:49 am on Oct 21, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Unless one can show how these patents apply in the present, and how they are weighted in the overall algorithm, I'd say they are just as speculative as anyone's opinion


  1. Thousands of research papers point to search engines improving results for users
  2. Zero research on providing search results that improve ad clicks.


Which theory looks more likely? Be honest.

A reasonable and rational person will understand that the fact that not a single algorithm, research paper or patent exists on providing search results that lead to increased ad clicks makes it unlikely that research on such an algorithm has ever been done and even more unlikely that it is in use.

It's time to put that myth down and leave it down. It's pure fantasy without any basis in reality. Period.
7:24 am on Oct 21, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Basically when it comes ecom terms all the updates have one purpose increase or at least maintain the value of pay per click. The machine gets crazy if the value drops.

I think that only 3-4 players are allowed to compete for converting traffic. The rest of competition feeds from remains and zombies but they have no clue and bid higher and higher and buy more links and write even more supernatural content and so on...
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