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Update Postmortem-- sifting through the rubble


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#1 dragonlady7

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Posted 20 November 2003 - 06:39 PM

I was thinking, instead of everyone who's dropped off the face of the earth in Google's SERPs posting their own thread asking for help, or cluttering up update threads all over the Internet, perhaps we could direct those questions here. Maybe by looking at all the newly-dropped pages and sites, we could come up with some kind of meaning in all the devastation.
So-- what's your site,
what kind of techniques were you using for SEO,
what phrases had you optimized for,
what were your old results, and
where are you for those phrases now?

If we look at everyone together in a coherent manner, maybe we can find some useful trends and start the arduous task of rebuilding.

Especially if we keep the thread on-topic and don't start ranting about the sky falling or spammers ruling the world. ;)

#2 bragadocchio

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Posted 20 November 2003 - 07:04 PM

Most of the sites that I was following have now found their way back to almost exactly where they were a few days ago. I'm afraid that I might not be much help at all.

Excellent title for the thread though.

#3 gravelsack

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Posted 20 November 2003 - 08:04 PM

IMO Google have a habit of running 'scare' updates.

They clamp down on some 'so-called' spam technique, which then causes chaos amongst SEOs and site owners. Once the afflicted have finished doing the headless chicken site modifications in an attempt to regain their positions, Google 'backs off' and the algo becomes sensible again.

Sometimes the best option is to wait it out - build more links, add more content and let Google come to its senses.

#4 dragonlady7

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Posted 21 November 2003 - 11:30 AM

Ha. Well, I started this thread because a new member IM'd me and asked me to, but then he never posted here, so I guess he wasn't really interested.
I like your analysis, Gravelsack. Makes sense, takes the reality into account, and doesn't depend on conspiracy theories or sound horribly sinister. :lol:

#5 gravelsack

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Posted 23 November 2003 - 12:59 PM

Unless you are fighting in the really competitive areas, its always best to work for the long term.

Waiting until the dust settles make sense on this one - the 'competitive phrase' filter may be a temporary thing, maybe not, but the results that are appearing for those phrases are not worth reacting on.

Best option seems to be to build more content aimed at phrases that are safer.

I think mostly I'll just wait it out on my customer sites.

#6 Jean_Manco

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Posted 24 November 2003 - 07:38 PM

Ok Dragonlady.

1. I have a non-profit informational site.
2. SEO? I don't fret that much. I just made the site bot-friendly.
3. See above.
4. Came up top in Google for 15 phrases (not counting my own name).
5. Coming up top in Google for 15 phrases (not counting my own name).

These are not quite the same phrases. A couple have moved down a place or two. A couple have moved up which were already on the first page of results. So no great drama.

Competitive phrases? Not remotely! :P

#7 SearchEngineZ

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Posted 24 November 2003 - 07:52 PM

I answered a few SEO queries at Google Answers relating to sudden drops in ranking following the recent Google update.

After browsing a lot of forums I have decided to try and describe what is happening:


Google has introduced a filter:

"Google recently introduced a new keyword phrase filter during its most recent update. Some phrases were unchanged, but many highly optimized and highly competitive phrases were drastically altered."

http://searchenginej...933768963966352

The filter is targeting highly competitive (commercial) keywords and phrases.

Any site that is doing well for such phrases loses the ranking benefit of the following:

- text of internal links containing those keywords
- text of reciprocal links containing those keywords
- those keywords in the URL

and possibly (I haven't seen any proof):

- keywords in the title
- keywords in H1 tags
- high density of the keywords on the page
- text of non-reciprocal links containing those keywords

Typically the page most affected is the home page. Often this is due to linking internally to it with keywords, rather than the traditional "home".

PageRank remains unaffected. Rankings for keywords and phrases not affected by the filter remain the same.

The unfiltered results can be seen by adding -mt-tb.cgi to the search query. This was first mentioned at the Register, prior to the recent update:
http://www.theregist...t/35/33448.html

#8 peter_d

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Posted 24 November 2003 - 08:01 PM

I'd be careful about absolutes when talking about search engines :P

What appears to be the case is that Google is placing more value on authority sites. Commercial sites that aren't also authorities are diminished when searching on commercially lucrative terms.

The unfiltered results can be seen by adding -mt-tb.cgi to the search query. This was first mentioned at the Register, prior to the recent update:


You can add any word that doesn't exist after the -
e.g web designer new york -bvnfmnelk
This is a (very revealing) bug. Expect it to be plugged.

Hope this helps

#9 newsphinx

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Posted 24 November 2003 - 09:04 PM

You can add any word that doesn't exist after the -  
e.g web designer new york -bvnfmnelk  


That is not true. I have to add -mt-tb.cgi to see the unfiltered results.

#10 dgcccomllc

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Posted 24 November 2003 - 09:41 PM

So my theory holds true. Google has "filtered" results in order to maximize their adwords. With that -mt-tb.cgi thing on, I show up in the top 10 again.

Most of the results that show up for our keywords point to sites with content that is a couple years old (very relevant of course), or are directories like dmoz (google and dmoz) and business.com. A few of our competitors who have been around for quite a while and have a ton of inbound links have remained. By the way, these companies also have had a ton of money to spend on their sites and advertising.

We have done nothing funny with our site, and yes I did provide content relevant and optomized for our product.

I hope this is the nail in Google's coffin. Yahoo needs to dump them immediately, and anyone else who has an affiliation should also consider it. They have basically resorted to manipulation of the search results in order to boost their bottom line. They should just focus on taking care of those site operators who do bad things to boost themselves, not those of us who have taken the time and diligence to promote our sites.

I don't mind paying for adwords, but not when it's extorted from me.

I think it's time for a concerted effort by all web site operators to provide as much bad publicity about google as possible. I hope MSN and Alta Vista jump on to this scam. My home page is changing from Yahoo to MSN. Screw Google.

#11 projectphp

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Posted 24 November 2003 - 09:46 PM

OK,

> So-- what's your site
I "look after", in a very loose sense, lots of sites.

> what kind of techniques were you using for SEO
Lots, with varying degrees of buy in.

> what phrases had you optimized for
Too many too know


> what were your old results
Lots of really good, relevant traffic :P

> where are you for those phrases now?
About the same spot :) With one notable exception: A site that dropped like a brick. Said site was aweful, and got by on tricks rather than "enhancements", i.e. it used good practises, but these were added to bad pages, not to content that was already excellent. It is also a site that is small in its industry sector, without any really good industry big wig links. Interestingly, it ranks well for the tweo word search "{SPECIFIC PRODUCT TYPE}" but not the three word search "{PRODUCT TYPE} {PRODUCT}", so maybe there is some sort of filter involved for specific searches, or maybe there is a keyword density filter on (as every page has a LOT of the word {PRODUCT} on the page).

Either way, this site never deserved good rankings, and now it is gone, the SERPs on which it did well are significantly better.

#12 peter_d

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Posted 24 November 2003 - 10:11 PM

That is not true. I have to add -mt-tb.cgi to see the unfiltered results.


That query is telling Google to ignore moveabletype blogs. Andrew Orlowski again, no doubt.

I get unfiltered results whenever I put anything after the -
Like -pleaseshowmewhereicanbuystuffplease

#13 ricka

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Posted 25 November 2003 - 12:54 AM

dgcccomllc said:

So my theory holds true. Google has "filtered" results in order to maximize their adwords. With that -mt-tb.cgi thing on, I show up in the top 10 again.


My wife's site (http://book-cover-design.com) was #1 for the term book cover design. If I add -mt-tb.cgi to the search query, she still is. Without it, she's not on the 1st 3 pages. BUT, she has never participated in Google's AdWords.

Perhaps I'm violating some other new rule. For instance, links to the home page from internal pages are entitled Book Cover Design Home rather than just Home. That phrase is also in her URL and thus, in links to the site. SearchEngineZ mentioned above that this may now be objectionable, but he said so with reference to "highly competitive (commercial) keywords and phrases." "Book cover design" is not very competitive. http://www.houston-s...l-directory.com contains the term Houston Superbowl in its URL, yet it is #1 for that term.

By what criteria is Google designating a phrase as "highly competitive?" Seems to me that "Houston Superbowl" is a lot more competitive than "book cover design."

#14 dgcccomllc

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Posted 25 November 2003 - 01:14 AM

I'm sure the "filter" is based upon adwords. The superbowl example you gave does not have adwords associated with those keywords, whereas, the book cover design has numerous sites advertising on adwords.

Now I found something VERY VERY VERY VERY interesting on the search for book cover design. The first site listed for this keyword has hidden text and has stuffed keywords.

Great search results Google.

You're not violating anything at all. Google wants you to use adwords, and given you've never used adwords, you're exactly in the position google would want you to be. I may be going out on a limb, but Google knows that some sites will have no choice but to use adwords because they have to for the coming holidays. They know that many were expecting good positioning for the busiest shopping season.

Everything that people here have touted as being the virtues of google have gone to hell. Look at #1 below for ricka's search term.

<snip>

This site should have been banned, and not given a PR5. Look for the hidden text.

If I wanted to find anything about this topic, google would not provide much information. I would be disappointed if I were looking for someone to design a book cover for me, or if I was looking for information on how to design a book cover. I'd have to resort to picking through business.com or other directories. In fact, the duplicates in the top 20 of this search would just tick me off as a searcher.

<administrator's note - URL removed. It's not necessary to link to the site in question, nor call it out here. - Bill Slawski>

#15 Caissa

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Posted 25 November 2003 - 07:16 AM

Hi,

I can't see the Adword connection. I use adwords and on my key terms there are listings that never used Adwords above me. But the #1 site for years is gone POOF!

I never could figure out why they were #1 so I think, maybe, they did something spammy that I never saw.

But if Adword spending was a criteria, I would be #1. In the unfiltered results I am actually higher.

#16 Jean_Manco

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Posted 25 November 2003 - 07:27 AM

I'm sure the "filter" is based upon adwords.


Why would Google wreck its future for a fast buck this Christmas? It would be complete madness.

Google's product is search. If it wilfully destroyed the relevance of SERPs, it would destroy the very thing that has built its support base - the only thing. Rivals may lock search into software or include it in a hosting package or whatever. Google depends on searchers preferring its results.

#17 best.flash

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Posted 25 November 2003 - 07:28 AM

With a view to investigating the exact-phrase filter...

- text of reciprocal links containing those keywords


What about the Free For All link pages myth? the idea that a competitor can submit your site to thousands of FFA pages to lower your ranking wasn't true. Shouldn't the same apply to anchor/alt text from external sources? If it was how difficult would it be to setup a few hundred links pages from free hosts targeting competitors sites and their targeted keywords?

#18 best.flash

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Posted 25 November 2003 - 07:33 AM

Why would Google wreck its future for a fast buck this Christmas? It would be complete madness.


Agreed, why would a company who built their massive success over the last few years on shooting straight suddenly risk changing that over what in IPO terms would be small change? -or for any sum for that matter.

#19 bragadocchio

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Posted 25 November 2003 - 07:47 AM

Welcome to the forums SearchEngineZ and newsphinx,

I'm not convince that I should ever accept anything from the Register as gospel about Google. Please, do yourselves a favor and look at the multitude of well researched and though out criticism of the conclusions espoused by the Registers's reporter.

The term attempted to be excluded, -mt-tb.cgi, is part of the results when you find an "add comment" page in moveable type. Those pages were returning in results because they were being spidered, and were very highly optimized - title and topic heading often were well chosen and described a controversial topic, and there was nothing else on the page to dilute their relevancy.

It may be possible that Google filtered those out.

But, look at what Peter said again:

You can add any word that doesn't exist after the -  
e.g web designer new york -bvnfmnelk  
This is a (very revealing) bug. Expect it to be plugged.


Give it a try. It works in the same manner that adding -mt-tb.cgi does. The results appear in different order. Why? Good question.

#20 gravelsack

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Posted 25 November 2003 - 08:20 AM

The evidence is there for the viewing, couldn't actually be any clearer.

There IS a filter in place for certain phrases and it is a conscious decision on their part.

As to the reason, well only Google know for sure, but until a better explanation comes along, I'm going with the 'pre-xmas adwords pumping' theory.

#21 bwelford

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Posted 25 November 2003 - 08:31 AM

My own hypotheses about the current Google situation are as follows.

1. Since many of the terms that are used in Adwords are those that have been highly optimized by spammers and others, Google is using the high bid Adwords phrases as a Dictionary in the current anti-spam filter (Post Florida as the Google watchers say). In other words, Google is assuming a correlation between SEO-spamming and high bid terms. This would also encourage such website owners to use Adwords, but this may be an incidental side-effect for Google (albeit very profitable).

2. Google only applies this new anti-spam filter to the general search where a searcher looks for the keyword phrase, usually without quotes. It does not apply if you use any of the alternative searches in the Advanced Search window, e.g. "in the text on the page". It also does not apply if you modify the regular search by adding phrases that should not be included in the search, e.g. a search for
KeywordPhrase -excludethisword
Of course the regular search is what most searchers use so this removes the economic advantage of a spammed web page.

3. For those regular keyword searches where the anti-spam filter is applied, some analysis of the web page is done to identify "over-optimized" web pages and these are downgraded in the listings.

#22 Black_Knight

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Posted 25 November 2003 - 09:17 AM

Over optimized? Or maybe just definitely optimised?

Put it this way, this filter does look rather like a way of first, applying a special filter to search terms that have a value in AdWords, and then filters based on common practices of SEO as espoused by even the purest of the 'white hat' SEOs for a long time.

It smells like a way of detecting (and degrading) people who have used 'organic' SEO where Google would rather they were spending money on AdWords.

Those hit are primarily people who have engaged in SEO campaigns: i.e. are potential customers proven to be knowing the value of, and/or happy to spend money to attain, good positions in search.

#23 Caissa

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Posted 25 November 2003 - 09:58 AM

That is scary, Ammon

#24 NorthStar

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Posted 25 November 2003 - 11:00 AM

I certainly agree that it appears there is a very strong correlation between the areas that seem to have been affected by this filter being areas of very high spending in Adwords/Overture. The -mt-tb.cgi is interesting as well as it seems to return rankings to "normal". However, I don't think it is a conscious attempt to increase ad spend. Perhaps I'm naive but the current rankings shown with the filter on are garbage. Plenty of spam, plenty of not relevant sites. I'm sure somewhere up in that ivory tower at Google there is a list of commandments and one of the top has to be "Don't mess with relevancy". I'm betting this filter has a short life. And if it doesn't, my SEO career might. Please Google, don't make me return to the cubes.

Must be some big smiles at Yahoo these days.

#25 cnovela

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Posted 25 November 2003 - 11:04 AM

I checked "Book over Design" on Google
and there were 8 ad-word box ads for that
word.

It seems that Google has a new algo,
optimize PROFIT. :mad:

Those guys have damaged the relevance
of search results.

#26 NorthStar

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Posted 25 November 2003 - 11:22 AM

Today I'm seeing updated backlink info for my site in one of the most heavily affected areas. These backlinks haven't changed in quite a while. Perhaps some signs that more change is on the way.

#27 dragonlady7

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Posted 25 November 2003 - 11:28 AM

It's *really* scary. :)

#28 NorthStar

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Posted 25 November 2003 - 12:08 PM

If Google are attempting to penalize even "white hat" seo than the fact that they still have their guidelines on their site is particularly devious.

http://www.google.co...guidelines.html

These are essentially a guide to white hat SEO. I don't belive they are this devious or greedy. While the current rankings MIGHT give a nice to boost to their adwords income in the short term it doesn't make sense. Their rumored IPO has been valued at $15-25 billion based on their existing business model. While I think that is too high, I'm sure Serg and the crew can live with that number just fine.

#29 Everyman

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Posted 25 November 2003 - 01:27 PM

It certainly looks like the keywords that cause optimized sites to get dropped, and the keywords that attract Adword advertisers, are closely correlated.

Even if this is unintentional, the appearance of corruption, greed, and arrogance that this has caused is so serious that I have to believe that Google is trying to turn off the filter. They have nothing to gain (except in the very, very short term from Adwords income), and everything to lose, by continuing this filter.

Additionally, it's surprising to me that they haven't turned it off by now, since it appears that a minor tweak to the front-end search-term parsing defeats the filter altogether. Remember the hyphen trick that was used before the "exclusion" trick? Google fixed that in about two days.

If this isn't fixed this week (and at this point I don't just mean "tweak the knob back slightly," rather, I mean turn off the filter completely), then an entirely new perspective on Google is required. I'll have to add a page to Google Watch on The Great Filter Fiasco.

I didn't think very highly of Google to begin with, and I wouldn't mind seeing a separation of commercial and noncommercial within all search engines. But the way Google is going about this is hurting a lot of little e-commerce sites that deserve much better from corporate America. I don't care if Google is a private corporation, or if a bunch of teenie geeks still think Google "rocks" because Larry rollerblades and Sergey has a Segway. This is disgusting.

Google still has public responsibilities once they reach a certain size, private corporation or not.

#30 bragadocchio

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Posted 25 November 2003 - 01:34 PM

I'll have to add a page to Google Watch on The Great Filter Fiasco.


If you do that, we would appreciate it if you would please come back and give us a link to it. Thanks.

#31 dgcccomllc

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Posted 25 November 2003 - 01:41 PM

I speculated on this whole matter over a week ago. I've been somewhat suspect of Google ever since it introduced adwords. Again, I don't blame them for trying to make money, but don't brag about being the best search engine. Google succeeded because it was the best search engine, and in my opinion, they were doing a very good job trying to eliminate the spammers (they'll never completely succeed because every algorithm has a solution that could eventually be reverse engineered, and there are plenty of more intelligent people out there than there are at google).

Google was even very good about trying to educate those who wanted to succeed in the search engine the correct way. But now, it's hard to say where they stand. Do they want to eliminate all commercial results? How do they determine what is commerical? Could I just now setup sites that are non-commerical, but eventually lead my browsers to my commercial site? Lots of questions to be answered.

In the mean time, I had already learned my lesson from google nearly 8 months ago, I don't have near as much reliance on traffic from google, but again, we're a very high end product, and our customers do a great deal of research, so eventually we're found with or without google.

#32 projectphp

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Posted 25 November 2003 - 08:04 PM

WARNING: Super long post ahead.

Can I ask why people think the filter is specifically to make people spend more money? Most SEO'ed to death sites are too cheap to ever buy AdWords, as they are one-man shows or small operations without the budget. That is why SEO succeeds for many businesses, because SEM/CPC isn't cost effective.

OK, now for a different perspective :). I think, in many cases, the results are very different in quite a good way. Case in point: Have a look at the results for "refinance" DISCLAIMER: I have no interest in this SERP whatsoever , either commercially or personally, and none of the sites to benefit, or lose, are sites I have anything 2 do with). OK, disclaimer out of the way, now look at the "unfiltered" SERP. These are obviously very different, and in the filtered results you definitely get a much better "spread" of results. IMHO, this is quite an improvement, especially as you have results like "Should I Refinance? - Quicken Loans" in the filtered results, rather than an one-themed blob of identical refinance brokers, none of whom probably have much original to say, or differ from each other much at all.

Seems to me that Google has taken the approach that, for generic searches, it is so hard to quantify exactly what a user wants, so providing a "spread" of results is far better. "Refinance" you say? Ok, lets give 'em lots of different types of pages: information, the odd broker, calculators and lots of "should you" articles. To me, far more people will be happy with that SERP, as there is a little of something for everyone, and not a "one size fits all" feel.

B4 y'all start quoting "... but on SERP XYZ the results are worse / less relevant..." at me, please quantify exactly what you think a user is looking for when they search. Because the answer is so varied and complex, especially for one and two word searches, that it is virtually impossible to know, and a search Engine that tries to cater for as many of these interpretations as possible is surely the best. After all, if you are ready to refinance, there are HEAPS of AdWord links you can click on to get a broker, but if you want information, where will you click? Pre-Florida, probably page three.

That said, there will be many, many SERPs where this isn't the case, and SERPs are worse than ever. In such cases, surely the reason is that virtually everyone on those SERPs is spamming, or this seasons "black", "over optimising".

People have for years complained about spam, irrelevant results etc. Google, using all the information available to them, implement a far reaching, Informational preferencing filter, and people get upset.

Sure, it sux at the moment, but once eveyone gets their head around it, surely we will end up with SERPs with more variety and more information, with a severe de-emphasis on "selling" outside of AdWords.

So how is that a bad thing again?

#33 gravelsack

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Posted 25 November 2003 - 08:48 PM

Can I ask why people think the filter is specifically to make people spend more money?


Because IMO it is the most likely reason.

Google is a business and as such they need to optimise their revenue stream. A significant part of their revenue comes from adwords and Christmas is a massive spending period.

The end result of the recent update will be a significant increase in adwords spending over the Christmas period.

There are many big spending sites that have been hit by this update - I have a few friends who have lost top ten SERPs for massively competitive phrases. If they want to keep any kind of market share, they will need to up their adwords spend considerably - specifically to cover the high cost phrases that they didn't previously cover with adwords because they already held great ranking.

This really is what is happening - the only question remaining is whether it is just a very strange coincidence or whether it was a deliberate plan. We are all free to make our own call on that one, but personally I think the coincidence theory seems a little unlikely.

#34 projectphp

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Posted 25 November 2003 - 10:06 PM

The end result of the recent update will be a significant increase in adwords spending over the Christmas period

By what percentage? 10%? 15%? Can you quantify the belief in some way, other than just anecdotally? It seems to me, that AdWords aren't the only possibility. Maybe the days of direct SE traffic are numbered, and traffic from pages that already have the SE traffic is the go, such as articles etc.

There are many big spending sites that have been hit by this update

By all accounts, Amazon, one of the big spenders online, is getting a rankings boost out of all this, yet people think that AdWords spending will increase?? If some commercial sites servive, and others don't, surely AdWords spending isn't 100% of the reason thay did it, otherwise Amazon would have been an easy target.

Also, I think that looking for conspiracy theories as a starting point obscures many of the trends that people need to look for / understand. What commercial sites survived? What did those sites do differently? Are they part of a cluster around a common point, such as DMOZ, or is it all purely luck (not likyly)? These sort of questions lead to good actions, wheras conspiracy theories just lead to FUD.

And even if the AdWords theory is true, does this make the SERPs, and by that I mean EVERYTHING on a SER page, including AdWords, Directory and News links, more useful as a research tool or less? Are more people going to be happy or sad with what they see? Commercial sites be damned, pleasing Users is Google's goal, and surely nothing bears that out more than this update.

For what its worth, my thinking is this update makes many SERPs better, or at least potentially better, but we are all entitled to our own view on that!!! :)

<edi>Man, my spellign is attrocious!!!</edit>

#35 peter_d

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Posted 25 November 2003 - 10:45 PM

Can I ask why people think the filter is specifically to make people spend more money?


I think it's a side effect. Probably not an unwanted nor unexpected one, however :)

I think, in many cases, the results are very different in quite a good way.


So do I. It's got rid of a lot of chancers, it has raised the bar, and the search results are a lot cleaner. Some SERPs are still pretty poor though.

on those SERPs is spamming, or this seasons "black", "over optimising".


Given the AdWords data they have, it would be dead easy to filter the SEO'd results. Just look at the AdWords that have the highest $ bids and give less weight to anything that has the SEO ducks (keywords-in-domain, H1, link text, body etc) lined up.

#36 SearchEngineZ

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Posted 26 November 2003 - 12:36 AM

I think the "refinance" example above is an example of the good coming from the filter. The former #1 didn't deserve to be there, and based on their 5-keyword-domain-name one could predict that had attempted some form of shadowy SEO. The former #2 openly does reciprocal linking. Gone. Good.

What Google is trying to fix is pages ranking higher than they deserve to, because of the weight given to them by reciprocal link text, internal link text, and keywords in URLs.

They still give each of these traditional keyword spots weight overall, because for non-commercial sites they improve search results.

But to filter out overly-optimized sites (that have done nothing worth penalizing) they have removed the weight from keywords in the links and URLS.

They seem to have used Google Adwords as a database of terms that are commercial. Why not? If someone bids on it, it's competitive. Hopefully they only included terms with multiple bids.

I'd be interested to hear of any search affected by the filter that does not have Adwords appearing.



My point is:

Google has not judged that the affected pages are spam!

Google has merely decided that most of them had been a higher ranking than they deserve. Not higher ranking than the webmaster's effort deserves, but higher ranking than sites better answering the web searchers needs. Keep in mind that web searchers are more likely to be seeking information than sales pitches.

The examples that have been brought to my attention are pages that the webmaster would be very happy about - due to how much money they have been making from a little easy SEO work. They need to realise that they were fortunate to have it good for so long, but now that Google has improved the results (from a searcher's point of view), the good times have ended.

#37 projectphp

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Posted 26 November 2003 - 01:24 AM

They seem to have used Google Adwords as a database of terms that are commercial.

Did they? Or did they use a combination of the toolbar, search logs, clickthoughs and other search metrics? People speculate on a lot of things without any real proof, and over exagerate one element over another. Google have smart cookies working for them. To assume they went "der, lets use AdWords, what else do we have??" is a bit simplistic, IMHO.

Google has years of data to draw on, and most probably the drew on the whole lot of it. It is just that the people most likley to notice it are the ones that watch the closest, i.e. those who compete on the high value search terms taht are the most profitable.

I'd be interested to hear of any search affected by the filter that does not have Adwords appearing.

http://www.google.co...le Search&meta= seems pretty similiar to me, http://www.google.co...le Search&meta=, but what does that prove??

Remain sceptical, look for paterns that seem plausible, even when you are adversely affected, and ignore the chicken littles. That is my $0.02 anyway!!!

#38 glyn

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Posted 26 November 2003 - 05:45 AM

All great points of view, I quite like BK's post the best. Short succinct and scary.

I cannot believe that Google would not augment in some way sites that showed Adwords or dampened sites with organic SEO where other sites had Adwords. I know if I had the system Google did, I probably would, and I can bet you all would too! So let's not hold on too hard to the rope of "doesn't Google care about us" - What % of their user base are SEO's? NOT A LOT, what % of their user base would ever read anything like this thread LESS THAN ANYTHING CONSIDERED MARKET SHARE.

In some of the other international forum hopping from the past months I've read comments from people that have said their sites actually went up in the Google listings when they added the Adwords/sense stuff. I think I'll probably put Adwords on all my site pages just to keep Google happy...

It's business as usual...smell the coffee guys/gals and then make a strong brew.

Glyn.

#39 Adrian

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Posted 26 November 2003 - 07:19 AM

I'm just wondering, reading this thread (not done any other research into it), whether Google are revoking some of the free lunch commerical sites have been getting.

In our Resource Directory, we only allow free pages to be listed for free. Any page that is about some kind of purchasable product isn't allowed a free listing. Its fairly similar in the Yahoo! Directory isn't it? Commercial sites have to pay to get in.

If Google are saying that in their opinion, free/information based sites are MORE relevant that purely commerical based sites, it would stand to reason they would do something to reduce the effectiveness of the commerical sites. In most cases the commerical sites are also going to be the most SEO'd sites as they have the bigger interest in driving visits.

Is that a bad thing? For the commercial sites? yes. For the user? Perhaps not.....

Anyone looked at froogle recently? Perhaps that could take on more of the role for people looking to buy things and leave Google as a more informational, research type area. One database(ish) with many uses.....

#40 gravelsack

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Posted 26 November 2003 - 08:06 AM

projectphp,

By what percentage? 10%? 15%? Can you quantify the belief in some way, other than just anecdotally?


No - but why would I need to? The 'anecdotal' information comes from friends who have had to increase their spend on adsense because if they don't they are wiped out this Christmas. I cannot think of any possible permutation of events that does not result in Google Adwords revenue rising over this issue.

Amazon, one of the big spenders online, is getting a rankings boost out of all this

Its a bad example - Amazon are bulletproof with Google.

looking for conspiracy theories as a starting point

Woah - steady on there, I am not a conspiracy theorist, I am a scientist.
It is not conspiracy theory to suggest that a business will work in its own self interest - its how the world works. The tricky bit is in spotting where that self interest lies.

It is not conspiracy theory to collect the data, draw up a number of hypotheses and then ask yourself 'which is most likely' - its scientific method at work. The final stage of testing the most likely hypothesis, is the one that we all have difficulty with 'cos too many variables change at once with Google - so we speculate based on what information we have.

Is their really anyone left who starts from the premise that everything Google say is gospel truth, and that their aim in life is to produce good SERPs? If not, then we are just debating to what extent they try to mislead us and to what extent they are prepared to sacrifice SERPs in order to raise revenue. Whilst we are considering that point, lets not forget to factor in the IPO issue as a possible reason for sacrificing SERP quality on the altar of Mammon - again, not conspiracy theory, just a possible factor to be considered in the equation.

my thinking is this update makes many SERPs better

Overall my traffic is up across most of my sites, so its better for me, and thats all I really care about, right?:)

But is it more relevant in general? Its like curates egg - good in parts. The rotten parts are truly rotten and as they are often the competitive phrases, this makes the whole shebang look poor.

When I look at all the data, the worst fitting hypothesis of all is 'Google did this just to improve the SERPs'



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