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Google business reasons for algo updates

     
5:20 pm on Aug 5, 2018 (gmt 0)

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System: The following 3 messages were cut out of thread at: https://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4913754.htm [webmasterworld.com] by robert_charlton - 1:57 pm on Aug 5, 2018 (PDT -8)


When all is said and done, aim of algo updates at this time and age is to increase Google revenue.
Be in denial, if this makes you feel better.
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6:51 pm on Aug 5, 2018 (gmt 0)

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When all is said and done, aim of algo updates at this time and age is to increase Google revenue.
Be in denial, if this makes you feel better.

I don't think many people would deny (or would want to deny) that product improvement ideally leads to imcreased revenue, whether you're serving up search results, hamburgers, or hotel rooms. Running in place isn't a winning business strategy.
7:41 pm on Aug 5, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Not so fast @EG : confusing the effective "Gate to the Internet" with "Serving Humburgers" is no less some sort of denial. And a dangerous kind of denial at that.
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10:53 pm on Aug 5, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Out of sight, out of mind . . . . .
Still, the world moves on.
Slow, maybe, but move on it does.
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7:30 am on Aug 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Out of sight, out of mind...

heisje, sorry to have moved your post, and the discussion that was sprouting from it, to a thread where it's on topic, not intended to be either out of sight or out of mind. I've given the thread a title that derives precisely from your statement in your post, and I've kept it in Google SEO News rather than moving it to Google Business, as we generally do.

It seems that you and others want to have a discussion on a subject that's often brought up, and this would be an appropriate place to talk about it. There's much that can be said, and no one would have to lurk in the shadows ("out of sight", to use your phrase) and leap out to interrupt the flow of conversations on other topics which the rest of us want to have.

For more background on the difficulty of discussing the topic of Google's business intentions in every ranking discussion we have, I've pinned a note, originally posted by tedster, to the top of the forum. Here's a link and a partial quote...

IMPORTANT - The Focus of This Forum
orginally posted by tedster - Jan 16, 2012
https://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4407521.htm [webmasterworld.com]

Recently, many threads have turned to general editorial commentary about Google and their business practices - no matter what the opening topic. As the Charter explains, this is making it difficult to have discussions that are of value for those working with hands-on SEO....

4:03 pm on Aug 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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The hard fact of search is that pretty much any change to the algo changes the output. For every site that rises another needs fall.

In the past decade four factors have and continue to drastically alter the SE query landscape:
* the web presence/dominance of niche enterprise level sites aka too big to be excluded aka expected to be present by searchers.

* personalisation of results - not all sites show or show in the same order or prominence to every searcher for same query.

* the slippery slope of shifting from offering simple directions to increasing levels of direct answers to queries with a fallback to directions.

* the increasing shift to a mobile device default rather than fixed aka desktop default, which carries with it a ginormous number of changes in behaviour.

Plus, of course the usual cautions of change: you, your competitors, your audience, your niche...

All before one gets to the actual algo itself. That there are more than a change a day in tweaks and four to five core aka significant changes a year is normal. What just happened is business as usual. Psst, this is no scary B&W critter.

I find the obsession with granular tea leaf reading whether AdSense hourly/daily ups and downs or algo 'weather reports' rather worrying actually; if the weather is a problem for you then just how do you expect to manage an actual change in climate? Ummm, rhetorical.

Just as webdevs design their sites to attract, filter, channel, convert et al their visitors do do the SEs. They are not a public utility; they are just like you only larger. Ok you are a planetoid, they are a galaxy but still an online business looking at customer acquisition, conversion, and retention, competitors, diversification, profit and loss.

Which raises the question: if Google made this latest change for strictly 'business' reasons, what changes are you making for 'business' reasons in response? Because why they do whatever is never as important as what you do in response. Note: sometimes it's best to do nothing, sometimes there is nothing that needs to be done.

If a site is steadily dropping over time that is a sign that a major broad based rethink is required, if a site is volatile, going up and down with every algo shift one needs to consider what is causing conflicting signals. It's all on you, there are lots of competitors to take your place.

I find it intreguing that month in and month out it is the same folks having the same concerns/problems with the same folks (including me) occasionally interjecting that things are fine. And I draw a conclusion from that.
4:30 pm on Aug 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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You're stating it as a fact, so I assume you have some evidence or at least a convincing argument to support your claim. We see a lot of wild and unsubstantiated claims (or "general editorial commentary") regarding Google (and other things, occasionally), usually from the same people, and usually they don't stand up very well to some light prodding. So perhaps you can take the opportunity of this dedicated thread to expand on yours.

In the effort of full disclosure, did you lose traffic due to recent algo updates?
6:47 pm on Aug 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Seems to me the immense volume of evidence already accumulated by the EU Commission regarding G's questionable business practices, the huge multiple fines in the billions and the ongoing further multiple investigations (including on algorithms) have not registered in some people's minds as facts of consequence, or as procedures *for some reason*. In summary: abuse of dominant position to enrich, by stifling competition and third-party innovation, harming small business. This is not me talking, mind you, it's the EU.

My observation is all G's algorithm updates in recent years have done nothing to improve quality of search (personally I have increasing difficulty getting whatever I need) and much to improve bottom line.

To be honest, I have since regretted commenting on the subject. It is a subject demanding extensive discussion since people seem to be living in parallel unconnected universes - futile it seems to me and I am not prepared for that at this time.

Therefore I have to be off, and my apologies to my fellow forum posters - Sorry!
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9:03 pm on Aug 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I don't believe the EU has any insights into Google's organic search algorithm. (How could it, when Google's organic search algorithm is secret?)

Fact is, every algorithm change is good for some people and not so good for others. That would be true even if Google Search were a not-for-profit organization run by a latter-day Mother Teresa.
10:36 pm on Aug 6, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Fact is, every algorithm change is good for some people and not so good for others.


That is not a "fact", it is your opinion.

My opinion is that you are correct for some algo changes but for many the beneficiary is Google alone. And that is not surprising given that Google is a company whose prime motivation is to increase their profits.
12:06 pm on Aug 7, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Isn't that the prime motivation of every for-profit organization? And isn't it an obvious fact that every algo update shuffles rankings so that some pages now rank higher and, consequently, others lower, or vice versa? I fail to see how that could be an opinion, or how an algo update (that by definition shuffles rankings) could be good for "Google alone".
8:00 pm on Aug 7, 2018 (gmt 0)

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"How could an algo update be good for google alone".

An algo could use metrics based on political views of its major sponsors to rank their views higher and the opposite views nowhere to be found.

An algo could use metrics to rank traditional medicine [big pharma] above natural ways to cure an illness.

And on and on.

Both of the above examples shows how an offline player can affect online search results. (Big pharma and political)

Information is not filtered like this without someone on top with deep pockets paying for it to be so.
8:57 pm on Aug 7, 2018 (gmt 0)

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None of those examples show how an algo update would be good for Google alone, though. They're examples of the potential of abuse, the possibility of serving a particular agenda, when you control the most popular search engine on the Web.

Information is not filtered like this without someone on top with deep pockets paying for it to be so.

That's a theory. Some might call it a conspiracy theory.

I wonder who'd have pockets deep enough to convince a self-sustainable 750 billion dollar company to push their agenda, putting the company's most valuable product at risk. Apple, maybe? [webmasterworld.com]
10:24 pm on Aug 7, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I wonder who'd have pockets deep enough to convince a self-sustainable 750 billion dollar company to push their agenda, putting the company.

Right, and who'd pay big money to bribe Google into lowering the rankings for Nancy's Knitting Blog while lifting them for Pearl's Purls dot Com?
8:16 am on Aug 8, 2018 (gmt 0)

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how an algo update (that by definition shuffles rankings) could be good for "Google alone"


An example might be an algo change which shows mainly US sites on the first couple of pages of the SERPS when the query has come from the UK.

In many cases those US sites do not contain any useful information for a UK based reader. So that UK based reader may well be more tempted to click on Google properties in the SERPS which are UK based. Google is the sole beneficiary unless the UK reader gets so irritated that they leave Google and use another Search Engine.
9:44 am on Aug 8, 2018 (gmt 0)

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And that doesn't sound far-fetched to you? There's not going to be an algo update designed so that people don't find what they're looking for; they wouldn't have made it this far if they took shortcuts to wealth. Besides, in your scenario it sounds like those US sites would surely benefit from outranking UK sites.
12:48 pm on Aug 8, 2018 (gmt 0)

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We see a lot of wild and unsubstantiated claims (or "general editorial commentary") regarding Google (and other things, occasionally), usually from the same people, and usually they don't stand up very well to some light prodding.

This same statement applies to both sides of the coin. What little evidence we see can be easily witnessed in the SERPS, which is quite easy to do for those that spend a little time evaluating search queries. In ecommerce, Google has been heavily biased towards Amazon and has at times displayed three, four or even more Amazon pages at the top of the search results for any given product query. One could argue that such domain crowding is a public display of bias while others may say Amazon deserves it. But nobody can argue that it limits real estate that would otherwise empower consumers with greater choice and ensure greater competition among ecommerce operators.
2:48 pm on Aug 8, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Re Amazon.com: The public loves Amazon. Jeff Bezos claims that Amazon Prime (a not-inexpensive option that users are required to pay for) has more than 100 million members. Given Amazon's enormous popularity with consumers, it stands to reason that Amazon is going to rank well and often in Google's search results. (Let's not forget that Google can track how people interact with its SERPs. Do you really think Amazon would rank as well and as often as it does if users weren't clicking?)
3:22 pm on Aug 8, 2018 (gmt 0)

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"That's a theory. Some might call it a conspiracy theory."

Check out this article from seroundtable.com today: [seroundtable.com...]

There may have been a few other adjustments, but the Health niche got hit the hardest by far.

Looking at the domain name that many are posting's whois information, it's owned by "DNC Holdings, Inc".

When looking into DNC Holdings, Inc., they own websites like this: [procom.us...]

"ProCom is a technical writing company specializing in government proposals. Our writers concentrate primarily on writing proposals for companies seeking contracts with the Federal Government, though we can also assist with various other business communication needs. Our clients range from the very small to the quite large, and we strive to give personalized service with productive two-way communication.

With over 15 years of experience in government proposal writing, our track record for getting our clients to the Best and Final Offer (BAFO) negotiating table is approximately 70%, over 2 out of 3."
3:37 pm on Aug 8, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I think it's funny referencing an archaic sticky post. People talk about the changes that happen in a month, let alone years. Don't people say stop living in the past? Sure, let's all pretend that 2018 is really 2000 and that Google is the same Google. Let's approach SEO and site design just like we did in 2000. Let's talk like it's 2000 and call ourselves relevant.

How about this? How about the fact that Google's business is a BIG part of running a website these days? Nah. The business goals and efforts have NOTHING to do with anything that any of us experience. Totally separate. There is zero conflict of interest and since 2000, Google hasn't ventured into every conceivable space of the web. Totally irrelevant and we certainly are NOT competing against Google at all in the SERPS.
5:40 pm on Aug 8, 2018 (gmt 0)

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That's a perfect example of a conspiracy theory: you're imposing a pattern on random bits of data, piecing them together to concoct a crazy narrative that, of course, involves the government. You misinterpret the whois data to suggest that the company you reference is the owner of that website, when in fact it is only the hosting provider and domain registrar. And with all due respect to Barry, the survey isn't exactly scientifically sound. If he were to ask people affected by the update if they're male or female, and 80% turns out to be male, does that mean that update targets male webmasters? I exaggerate, but I hope you see my point that there's nothing to compare those survey results to, and we don't know how the participants were "recruited".

Even if it's true that a relatively large number of sites in the health and fitness sector are affected, that doesn't mean it was targeted. It could be that those sites tend to share certain characteristics that this update does target. It's also a booming sector, with everyone and their mother creating websites about health, dieting, fitness and what have you, and it's plagued by lots of misinformation and, from what I've seen personally, generally rather poor user experiences (ads, multi-page articles, annoying overlays, etc). That's not necessarily specific to health.

we certainly are NOT competing against Google at all in the SERPS.

Noone's arguing that Google isn't branching out and, as a result, increasingly competing in its own SERPs. And that's not the topic of this thread. Unless, of course, you're suggesting that Google tweaks the algorithm to favor its own properties.
12:21 am on Aug 9, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Unless, of course, you're suggesting that Google tweaks the algorithm to favor its own properties.

SUGGEST? ? ? ?
Google has been fined billions for doing exactly that, among other questionable & illegitimate practices - and there is much more to come. Which planet do you live on? Shame!
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5:21 am on Aug 9, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Does something like changing the "ad" color or appearance to appear more invisible have anything to do with business? How has Google been doing post Panda? Does the algo that might include more YouTube videos provide a funnel to other business (ad) revenue? Does the algo that triggers the shopping ads divert traffic from clicking links to actual websites or sources that won't pay out? Can an algo suck, making result irrelevant and creating a situation where the ad is really the only real relevant result? Frankly I've never noticed any such behavior. Frankly speaking, the algo is such a red herring at this point it's comical. Go to mobile SERPS. Where does that #1 result show up? Under how many ads, answer boxes, images, etc? That algo talk is actually funny.
8:25 am on Aug 9, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Ads are not part of the algorithm, from my perspective. Part of the Search product, certainly, but not what we generally refer to as the algo, i.e. the thing that ranks web pages, and I think it's important to make that distinction. After all, an algo update doesn't affect, say, the number of ads on a page -- that's a product update. That doesn't mean we're not affected by it, but that's a different discussion.
9:50 pm on Aug 9, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Unless, of course, you're suggesting that Google tweaks the algorithm to favor its own properties.


Absolutely correct they are! Not every algo update but enough of them. Open your eyes.
12:50 am on Aug 10, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Absolutely correct they are! Not every algo update but enough of them. Open your eyes.

As Robzilla pointed out, there's a difference between the search algorithm and the UI. Serving up YouTube results, shopping ads, etc. falls under the heading of "user interface," not organic search.

It might be helpful to think of a Google SERP as a page template with different feeds. Some of those feeds are different types of ads, some are Google content such as YouTube and Maps, some are things like answer boxes pulled from various sources (e.g., the search index and licensed content), with the "10 blue links" comprising organic search.
5:57 am on Aug 10, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Talk about splitting hairs. Oh yes, I'm so sure that Google would dare tweak the algo to benefit them! Who in their right mind thinks they need to do that? All they need to do is change trigger points for shopping ad blocks, ad marker visibility and increase the funnel of traffic to that other behemoth YouTube that pumps out the profit. Those are the business issues and yes they sure the F show up in the SERPS. They affect EVERYTHING. They can and do push organics down, down and away. Oh, I forgot. Answer boxes and other web content hosted is part of the SERPS and although it's not "algo", it's all about manipulation. Go ahead and split hairs. Google doesn't need to make the algo benefit themselves because THEY DON'T HAVE A SITE TO LINK TO. But all these little trigger points and manipulations make the algo a moot point. That is the point.
11:28 am on Aug 10, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Google is the de facto "Gate to Internet" - not in the business of "Selling Hamburgers". As such Google is a Utility in the hands of a private corporation. As such it is subject to strict Corporate Social Responsibility. By tweaking its algorithm in an abusive manner to extremely favor its own properties (including its own paid ad system) Google has failed its Corporate Responsibility. The system is completely out of balance and skewed.

Not so long ago, such abusive private utilities were broken down into separate business units, restoring competition in the marketplace. Google created Alphabet as a holding company of their business units in anticipation of such an eventuality. They know well this may be coming. Meantime they fight against it in the "undercurrents" and grab as much as they can as long as they can.

Major way of Google fighting against such an eventuality in the "undercurrents" is extensive cooperation with national security services in collecting & passing on requested user behaviour information and much more.

Corporate Responsibility? Don't make me laugh.
Algo mentality revision to allow competition? Don't hold your breath.
Breaking up Alphabet? Keep dreaming.

Pay for Play - attaboy!
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11:46 am on Aug 10, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Whenever G organic serps change, more businesses rely more on their Adwords spend to drive their traffic.

Regular churn in organic listings from frequent updates means more Adwords revenue.

If G were to allow SEO work to generate reliable organic visitors the marketing money would flow from companies to SEO practitioners, rather than direct to Adwords coffers. Obviously it makes more sense to G for the money to go to them via Adwords.
3:20 pm on Aug 10, 2018 (gmt 0)

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That's a good point Mark. Just shaking things up for the sake of shaking things up means unreliable, unsteady organic traffic which is not sustainable for most websites. The more consistently wacky the algo is, the only stability can be found via the "pay to play" model. I feel that since Panda, Google treats the algo with disregard. In reality, the worse the algo/results is becoming more and more moot when you consider when the actual start of the SERPS are on a page. Clearly based on rising stock, the more upside down the results, the better for business it has been.
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