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Google Transition Rank: We’Re All Spammers Now

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#1 cre8pc

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 12:04 PM

Good read for SEO's - 

 

Google Transition Rank: We’re All Spammers Now

 

Google was granted a patent in August of 2012 that may have a significant effect on a critical component of SEO research and tracking. It is officially called the “Ranking documents” patent (read a great summary of the Ranking document patent by my friend Bill Slawski). Some in the SEO community have been referring to it as “Transition Rank” and also the “Rank Modifying Spammers Patent.” Many think they have seen evidence of it already at work. After on-site or off-site changes are made for a site, this system toys around with someone’s ranking to see if there is reaction by attempting to make corrective changes. If so, the site may be designated as spam. In an illustrative scenario in the patent, they suggest such a document could lose ranking for 20 days before beginning a 70-day climb to the NEW-Rank. So one could make a good change that should result in increased ranking, but this system would demote that ranking first before gradually putting a page in its rightful, new, better ranking position.

 

Google lied about the "Do No Evil" motto, or it simply was never intended as a business slogan.  



#2 bobbb

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 01:24 PM

"Do No Evil" Never believed it.


#3 earlpearl

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 01:25 PM

I've been seeing some surprising and/or strange results, IMHO.   

 

Google is big.  we are small.   



#4 bobbb

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 01:37 PM

There is a solution to this Google thing. It would be a gutsy thing and will never happen.

It's simple. Tomorrow we all get rid of Adsense and stop using G as a search engine. A real shocker in Googleland when Larry and Sergei wake up with no queries and no ads to post. The message will be loud and clear. We the people have spoken. We would not be so small then. Boy what a shocker in Redmond too!

Takers??



#5 DCrx

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Posted 16 February 2013 - 07:07 AM

SEO is nothing but testing and monkeying with SE rank. White hat. Black hat.

 

That's all it is. There's no other way to see it.

 

Nobody rewrites an article for clarity or more information value anymore. That's exactly what the article linked makes plain.

 

Hardly anybody even writes an article from any point of view of a reader, except Googlebot.

 

Google understands SEO as a mortal threat for that reason. This patent reflects that position. You can put to rest that speculation of this being propoganda. It's Google or Spammers. For SEO to work well enough to support an industry, Google must die as a useful search engine.

 

It's not a few midguided clients. It's not misunderstanding what SEO really is. SEO acts like a black hole for everything else, until all that is left is SEO. Really. Half of accessibly is accessibility just for Googlebot.

 

Ever actually hear an accessiblity discussion resulting in a sale which doesn't play up the SEO? Ever try and strip out the SEO implications of accessibility with clients for, say, three months and see?

 

It did not have to be that way. But that's how the SEO industry -- and by and large the whole of the industry -- designed it.


Edited by DCrx, 16 February 2013 - 07:31 AM.


#6 bobbb

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Posted 16 February 2013 - 10:46 AM

For SEO to work well enough to support an industry, Google must die as a useful search engine.

And be replaced by what? by whom. And once it does get replaced (don't believe) are you really going to use a search engine where tops spots are determined by budgets.

 

I think the writer of the article spells it out. G wants more PPC for people who depend on it to sell their stuff.

 

Then for the rest I ask: Will they give preference to sites with Adsense above those without. "Do No Evil"

 

Once that can be proven, it may be time for some bright lawyers to sharpen up on SEO.


Edited by bobbb, 16 February 2013 - 10:49 AM.


#7 DCrx

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 04:12 AM

"Do No Evil"

 

Interesting barb considering the SEO industry's unofficial motto : "Evil is Our Business ...and Business Is Booming"

 

Glass house, meet flying rock.
 

And once it does get replaced (don't believe) are you really going to
use a search engine where tops spots are determined by budgets.


SEO as the liberator of the downtrodden masses of people with something interesting to say and valuable information? A Robin Hood of SERP rank, stealing from the rich and giving to only the deserving poor? (don't believe) Well, the robbing hood thing I believe.

 

We all want the SEO's kids to go to college. Just not enough to put them through. There's an SEO arms race and it's driving budgets higher. For everyone. That's the SEO game plan -- make it all but impossible to DIY for cheap.

 

The SEObsessive compulsive's argument nothing anybody ever does to manipulate rank could ever debase Google's credibility with their users enough for sizable defections is a little hard to fathom. Most assuredly inside Google.

 

 

My point being that I have NO FEAR what-so-ever that this kind of
activity is what would cause a site/page to trip said algorithm, if
indeed it is in use. This page still ranks for a variety of terms. I
highly doubt that making changes to it alone, will cause any grief.
This site has not previously tripped a spam algorithm. It still has trust.

 

Ever heard of Wikipedia? 'Nuff said.

 

-- SEO in a post Transition Rank world

 

 

Next patent suggestion: Chicken little discussions in any SEO forum on ANY SEO topic whatsoever, results in a rank hit. Sig links. Ads. Article links. Every link. Any link. (Including mine) Just putting the letters "s" and "e" and "o" together should be a flag, methinks of late.

 

Me? I'd start with every link to that patent and that article. Obvious really. Why write sophisticated algos for spammers when people willingly step forward, jump up and down, and wave their membership cards.

 

I'll settle for hanging up a needlepoint which reads "Stop Playing With That All The Time Or You'll Go Blind." To which all who see it will retort that they'll stop when they need glasses to find it.
 


Edited by DCrx, 17 February 2013 - 06:54 AM.


#8 iamlost

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 10:35 AM

My first thought was, once again, that software should not be patentable, copyright yes, patent no. But that is a longstanding debate for another thread. My second thought was that whatever the SEO types were saying - so well after the fact - would illustrate the reason for the process logic. And off I went to read...

Yup, I was right :) as the very first quote included said ...even if you change what you were doing to follow the line of Google’s acceptable SEO practices, it is still viewed as an attempt to modify Google’s index and thus it is the work of a spammer.
I had to take a full minute laugh in disbelief break. If a site changes it's behaviour from breaking Google's ToS to complying it might identify it's prior misdeeds... and this is 'messed up'. The gentleman doth protest too much, methinks.
 
And really, Kim. Stop with the tabloid-esque headlines, this is Cre8, the dull respectable forum. We are all spammers now... what a load of unmitigated over the top self-righteous hysterical linkbait excrement. The patent speaks to a rather specific subset of page 'changes' that it is interested in, i.e. keyword stuffing, invisible text, tiny text... all the most blatant - though apparently, given this patent, still effective - of manipulative practices.

Before continuing I'd like to remind readers that Google works primarily via software and thresholds. It is neither reasonable nor practical to apply this patent behaviour to every page change on every site in every niche. There will be thresholds, probably varying by vertical/industry/niche. Way back when Bill Slawski first wrote his (linked) article on the patent I especially noted:

The rank transition function might impact one specific document, or it might have a broader impact over “the server on which the document is hosted, or a set of documents that share a similar trait (e.g., the same author (e.g., a signature in the document), design elements (e.g., layout, images, etc.), etc.)”



In other words, once one gets on Google's bad list... or are associated in any way with such a person/site...

The way I read this is: where there are substantive (threshold met) changes, especially including links, to a page the before and after versions may be compared, layout and design may be compared with known prior offenders (site fingerprinting), and so on ... and depending on the results the process described in the patent may be applied. The point of the various process behaviours is obviously to make it blend with normal ranking fluctuation, lose the signal in the noise.

But the biggest take away is that this is a method of confirming suspected ToS misbehaviour not of using server time running every page for every change just in case. Google doesn't waste server time that extravagantly. We are not all spammers now. Even if we are.



#9 bobbb

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 10:59 AM

Ever heard of Wikipedia? 'Nuff said.

Yes, next to Google itself it is the biggest scrapper although they never really go out and get it and lately I've seen that G does not fill up a page with just them on top. So there must have been complaints and G listened.

 

I'm with the above opinion that it is just a program with thresholds and flags. I think they really are trying to rid the top ranks of the gamers. They are p***ed off that they can be had and then rage off and penalise everyone even the one that play by the rules.  Agreed that is not "Do no evil". It's a big spoilt kid in a tantrum.


Edited by bobbb, 17 February 2013 - 11:16 AM.


#10 glyn

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 03:39 PM

Okay so what exactly is the "old rank" of a site that has never been published before today and what is it's transition rank when it is first published with all the optimization in place?



#11 iamlost

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 04:07 PM

And on glyn's behalf I gaze into my Google crystal search ball...

 

I don't see transition rank being applied to new sites until they 'transition'.

 

The usual algorithm with possible B&W fauna inputs remains, business as usual. And, this next bit is critical, just because there is a patent process on record and just because some webdevs are claiming to see it in the wild does not necessarily mean that it exists outside of the patent office. I may have missed it but haven't read Google being on record about implementing this.

 

On second thought I can see this process being proactive - if something on a watch list triggered it, i.e. glyn's sterling record, glyn's file site unique fingerprint...



#12 jonbey

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 06:40 PM

OK, so if traffic drops, you should just hold on and hope? Hmmmm. 



#13 iamlost

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 06:54 PM

If traffic drops you should investigate why and adjust if necessary. That said:

* a great many of the main algo changes that shift things about eventually sort one back where one was without change. This has been true for years. And simply waiting has been common advice for a very long time.

* non-main algo changes, i.e. Penguin, that are input algos run intermittantly are a different critter. They do more specific more identifiable targeting and if caught by such it is better to not only take a hard look but consider what changes are likely required. Given that most such update infrequently there is usually time to make informed adjustments. Unfortunately, whether the changes are actually beneficial will not be apparent until the next data update/input. This can be quite a long wait.

 

Of course the more diversified your traffic sources the less critiacl any one drying up. Caveat emptor.



#14 jonbey

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 07:12 PM

Yep. Been trying to diversify for ages. I think I have more non-Google traffic now, but Google increases more too. Not a bad thing, but makes my efforts to diversify a bit poor!



#15 DCrx

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 04:49 AM

>OK, so if traffic drops, you should just hold on and hope? Hmmmm.

 

This sort of thinking is the problem.

 

Precluding adding fresh content. Eliminating things like guest blogging. Sidestepping the entire concept of writing.

 

Just zero, unless you are trying to rig rank. Nothing else exists.



#16 iamlost

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 10:28 AM

>OK, so if traffic drops, you should just hold on and hope? Hmmmm.

 

This sort of thinking is the problem.

 

Precluding adding fresh content. Eliminating things like guest blogging. Sidestepping the entire concept of writing.

 

Just zero, unless you are trying to rig rank. Nothing else exists.


 

Don't go over the cliff...

 

While there are Googol Shades of Grey let's restrict ourselves to two:

1. you have reasonably followed Google's webdev guidelines.

In this instance one should:

---consider whether it is algo, manual, or something new.

---wait to see what Google has to say.

---act on that information to check where it might apply to site.

---in the interim:

------YES, simply wait on changes to existing pages and linkages.

------YES, keep doing what you have been doing, i.e. new and updated content, guest blogging, etc.

 

 

2. you have been jumping on any passing SEO bandwagon.

In this instance you should:

---consider whether it is algo, manual, or something new.

---primarily wait to see what Google has to say about their aims and targets.

---act on that information to check where it might apply to site.

---in the interim:

------YES, put a hold on all the iffy stuff.

------YES, keep doing what you have been doing, i.e. new and updated content, guest blogging, etc.

BUT: do so strictly by the rules until know more.

 

Note: in both the above it is rarely WHAT you do that is a problem but HOW; and the extent.

 

There is a lot that exists above zero. :)

And many/most/all webdevs ARE trying to rig rank: optimise for specific SE traffic in as much volume as practicable.

When that traffic drops NOT operating on reflex is best practice.

Ask:

* where has it dropped?

---across the board, or only for some terms?

---totally, mostly, somewhat?

* are others reporting similar?

---especially in your niche?

* is the drop tied to a reported Google action?

* what non-pristine (in G's eyes) behaviours have you been practicing?

---is there a correlation?

* etc.



#17 DCrx

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 04:46 PM

Notice we're still not talking about anything but Google. Nothing but.

 

Less than zero I'm afraid.

 

This isn't about what Google is doing. It's about SEObsessive compulsivness on the part of everyone else.


Edited by DCrx, 18 February 2013 - 04:54 PM.


#18 iamlost

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 05:14 PM

DCrx: of course we are only talking of Google in this thread - it is afterall a thread about a Google patent.

In this instance, yes, it is all about what Google is - maybe - doing. Certainly about what they - were - and possibly still are thinking or implementing.

 

In another less specific thread I'd be quite ready to speak to SEObsessive compulsiveness. And am quite willing to see this patent discussion (here and elsewhere) as proof that SEOs nitpick everything whether there is reason to or not. :) After all if they were to only speak to what they actually know that can be tested and replicated the SEO blogosphere and fora would be rather quiet places.



#19 DCrx

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 07:19 PM

In this instance, yes, it is all about what Google is - maybe - doing.

 

 

Nope.

 

What Google is doing is forcing you to write good fresh content. Content driven SEO.

 

And that's not a topic for discussion here. Every bit of SEO has been to evade this very obvious way around "what Google is doing." And it won't be a topic of discussion under any circumstance. It's just a way around Transition Rank.

 

That being my point. Panda. Penguin. Content was never an option. Writing was never an option. Won't be theorized. Won't be tried. Won't be tested. Because it's not a scheme. In fact it sounds like a lot of hard work.

 

But that's the answer. It's simply an answer too terrible to contemplate. Why's that? It takes almost all blame off Google. And, in fact, paints Google as the good guy in this. What's left is a web throughout which the horrendous writing gets remarkably better. The ideas get better. The reader, not Google, gets the focus. Better research into the subject matter trumps research on the latest goat entrails of Google SERP. The mindless scrapes of scraps of hackneyed ideas best left unexpressed ends. 

 

Earning rank through thougful, inventive, imaginative writing. Displaying expertise when the subject is not Google but your own business and career. Awful. Isn't it.


Edited by DCrx, 18 February 2013 - 08:05 PM.


#20 jonbey

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 10:50 AM

What Google is doing is building a machine that can answer any question anybody asks. Maybe one day websites will no longer be needed at all. 



#21 earlpearl

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 07:46 PM

I was reviewing SERPs for some of our categories in greater depth as I saw a variety of alarming changes.   In saying that, I feel, sooooooooooooooo like the many many commentators I've seen over the years in WMW commenting on losses of SERPs as a result of various changes in google algo's over ....say 7 or 8 years.   

 

Google does keep changing things and has continuously over many many many years.   As I reviewed results on a national basis and various local bases for our industries and of course our sites, one thing that struck me is that certain sites that have maintained relatively high rankings for years and years and years....have simply plummeted on a national rankings basis (national meaning not subject to the impact of location).  Not sure when it occurred per site that got affected or keyword phrases of some volume for those sites.

 

In some regards as it applies to these sites...what was is no longer and other impacts are clearly causing changes.   

 

I checked "all the old standbyes" for these sites that dominated rankings on the highest volume target phrases on a national basis, and viewed what to me is a proxy set of measures for how SEO was determined....pre panda....pre penquin...and pre this latest patent "transition rank".

 

The proxy is MOZ's Page Authority (PA) and Domain Authority (DA)....and in all cases the old standbyes that dominated rankings for so many years for so many target phrases.....

 

STILL had the highest PA's and DA's and relatively larger volumes of links than sites now at the top of the SERP's. 

 

In the past there were high correlations between the sites with highest DA's, PA's and total volume links, let alone links from independent domains.....and the ultimate SERPs.

 

That relationship appears to have been broken quite a few times.   In some cases, dramatically so with some of the sites with highest MOZ indicators (DA's and PA's) having simply plummeted off the map of SERPs.

 

 

At least on these tests...the impacts of changes such as panda, penquin, transition rank....and other more recent google algo changes have dramatically changed the SERPs.

 

On a related issue, I spoke recently on a different topic with the owner of one of those sites whose rankings plummeted, who has some similar businesses to ours...but in different cities.   His businesses had tanked over the last couple of years and he sold off his "flagship business".  Clearly the website he had, drove most of its traffic to the "flagship site".  I'm fairly confident that drops in rankings had a significant impact on the business volume.  (In fact, based on our experiences in various markets--very confident).

 

In that regard alone it speaks to the astonishing unmatched power of google to effect businesses.   Its SERPs can make and break businesses in a way that is simply unmatched in modern times.

 

In our experiences over the last few years, we have been making adjustments on so many levels, trying to "tamp down" on elements that worked so well in the past, and follow google guidelines.....

 

Frankly, our experience is not unlike what IamLost suggested above, regardless of the situation...try and do things that follow google's basic guidelines.

 

But this latest patent....its a doozy of sorts.-->  make some changes---> get potentially dramatically changing SERPs under a Patent that simply "tests conditions" over a period of time possibly moving SERPs up or down under a test.

 

Cripes that is frustrating.

 

On a different level...I got to look under the covers at what I would call astonishing levels of outright blatent spam:    High volumes of completely hidden invisible links;   what looks like conspiracies of webmasters...with some designer/developers of what appear to be very respectable sites....polluting those sites with hidden links to sites/businesses that stood to make $100's of thousands of dollars/month with the highest rankings....and an endless machine driving one after the other after the other of those sites for a business operator...getting one set of high rankings after the other.

 

I really wish Google had the wherewithall and focus to take down these types of sites first and foremost.  As I was informed....and followed over a several week period...that supposedly had been in existence for 4-6 months previously.....this was an overwhelming volume of outrageous spam.

 

They should be capable and focused on these types of issues, first and foremost    at least IMHO



#22 glyn

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 04:33 AM

It is good to conduct this kind of analysis. If I look at the travel and tourism industry I have seen massive impact on the volume of generic keyword searches. Take one keyword that was bringing a client 700+ referrals a month, that has dropped to little more than 100. When I go an actually analyze the reasons I go look at the listings.

 

Now for location based t&t related searches as seen on a 1366xx768 sreen what is being served above the fold are:

 

- PPC Ads (40% of screen)

- Google hotel finder (30% screen)

- Google map (image now compressed top right)

- Organic positions (20% screen) which in turn reflects the first two positions in organics. These are held by tripadvisor and a variance of expedia and the other OTAs.

- Then comes the expanded Google places site.

 

When I compare this to, for example screen shots of listings taken in 2011.

 

- PPC (25% screen)

- Google places (75% screen).

 

So in 2013 even if you do place a site in the top 2 positions of the orgnics it is appearing in the bottom 20% of the screen.

 

Before loosing the plot on traffic drops, I think it is also important to study the context of the advertising space and to realign the marketing strategy with the reality.

 

Either you will pay for some kind of visibility in that advertising space, or need to diversify the marketing strategy to find address other keywords. For example in this case it might be possible to isolate keyword areas that are not populated by said sites or said advertising blocks as indicators that those areas of the search index are not currently being monetized effectively and that neither Google is aware of this and to then optimize against those keywords instead (ooooo I've just had an idea!).

 

In all of this the thing to remember is that for the most part the majority of people will keep using google whatever the ethics are of the changes that they make for those that are providing a service, and we should therefore spend as little time as possible debating this and instead focus on conducting analysis and identifying openings, which is what a good SEO has always been able to do. Don't get sucked into the Google machine because as this case clearly shows, it's not about having a great site, it's about making revenue from websites.

 

The end result of these changes and uncertainty about what Google wants typically results in worse results because if it's seen that good work doesn't pay off then you might as well use the Sape network and a piece of software.

 

G.


Edited by glyn, 20 February 2013 - 04:34 AM.


#23 Ken Fisher

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 06:29 AM

Maybe one day websites will no longer be needed at all.

 

Yes. That's where I think they're headed. Hasn't Amit whathisname referred to Star trek in his comments over the years. "Growing up in India..." It could be his/their ultimate dream. Why shouldn't it be. If it's possible, why not?

 

Computer: What's the best the best seo company out there?

 

Response: SEO is an antiquated method of manipulating the desires of humans looking for information. The acronym is no longer used.

 

Computer: Then tell me how I can find good information?

 

Response: Simply ask a question.

 

Computer: Okay then. What's the distance between Tokyo and New York?

 

Response: If you take a direct flight with Ocean Air (paid placement/pretty graphic visual) the distance is 6760 miles.

 

Did anybody on the Enterprise distrust the computers information? As long as they can maintain the trust, they can do anything.

 

Just thinking...

 



#24 jonbey

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 09:35 AM

Remember, Google's dream is to digitise the world's information. Now, they had a few problems with the book scanning trick, but I get the impression that they do hope to work through those problems. And while there are many excellent websites, there are many brilliant books. Thinking about my own niche - a website my have 500+ pages and be pretty well respected, a good book on the topic can have a similar number of pages, many excellent and unique illustrations and images. In short, I know that I have at least one book on my shelf that is far better than my website. This book can answer any question that anybody who comes to my site wants to know. That scares me a little!

 

I do plan to write a proper book at some point though :)



#25 earlpearl

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 11:35 AM

Glyn:   Good points.   I didn't reference the change w/ regard to Screen real estate....but your point is well made and relevant.

 

anecdotally, a short while ago I was on the phone w/ a friend and asked her to search for something....and asked what she saw on the results  (she was using an IMAC.   She kept insisting the first result....was the #1 organic result.

 

It was an ad.  She couldn't see the slight coloration change between organic results and ad results.  She had no idea the top results were ads.   After speaking she caught the small print notification by google that the top 3 results are paid results.

 

Google's page of results is ever more dominated by results that monetize google.



#26 jonbey

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 11:57 AM

Oh, I cannot see the difference on my PC (LG 22 inch screen) unless I get my eyes almost down to desk level. I am forever ducking down to see which is the first organic result!



#27 glyn

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 01:59 PM

On a large number of monitors the ppc ads render clear as backgruond. That is not accidental.

#28 earlpearl

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 02:19 PM

Gly:

 

In my point of view they are two separate issues, though.  On the one hand Google has and continues to alter the real estate of the screen, forever making changes that subtly increase click throughs to ads.   During one period with others, we tested the coloration changes or the amount of hue google was showing to distinguish ads from organic results.  On top of adjusting the amount of coloration there are screens which seem to naturally dim the difference.  

 

I take the calls from the google adwords advisors.  I characterize them this way:   10% advise on how to save about $10/month.   90% advise on how to increase your ad spend infinitely.    LOL.  but at least they are reasonably civil and nice.

 

The algo changes are a different issue.   Algo changes have been going on for years.  They continue to make changes.   All of that is a struggle.   On the one hand, at least from my POV...they tend to negate all the SEO/manipulative/knowledge based cr@p I did in the past.  Pisses me off.

 

LOL.   its a challenge.



#29 bobbb

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 04:31 PM

On a large number of monitors the ppc ads render clear as backgruond. That is not accidental.

I don't doubt it but am not seeing that. The ppc ads are yellowish and quite distinct. The google.com/hotels is clear. The organic is below the fold. I'm on the .CA google. Now I wonder if the 4 or 5 keywords they show are not geared those that monitise well for them.



#30 jonbey

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 04:56 PM

Interesting. AS we are talking about hotels, I just searched for [best hotel in london]. The photo I took of the screen shows the ads much better than my eyes see them (hardly at all). First time I have seen the Google Hotel results.

 

Best%20Hotels%20London%20Google.png



#31 cre8pc

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Posted 26 February 2013 - 05:33 PM

And now, part 2.

 

Google Transition Rank: We’re All Spammers Now (part 2)

We left off in the last part of this series with outlining some implications for actual implementation of the Google “Ranking documents” patent.


There are some serious implications to consider however.
There are difficulties for the relationship between SEO consultants and their clients.
There are also some difficulties for doing the work of SEO itself, namely, measuring the effectiveness of your strategy.  In both these areas, the difficulties can be overcome.
Some serious thought will also need to be given to how this would be implemented.  Will just any on-site or off-site change at all be enough to trigger transition rank, or only certain ones?  Will any site at all be vulnerable to it, or only certain ones?  Where is the balance or threshold for Google in combating spammers without hurting its own SERPs?
These are at least three areas of implication worth discussing and they are, of course, interrelated.



#32 iamlost

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Posted 26 February 2013 - 06:16 PM

Bah. There are no more implications than there were before. There is - perhaps (we don't actually know for certain that what this patent discusses is being implimented or if so to what degree - just one more consideration in a long list of considerations.

 

And, frankly, I'd be taking this article series - and the author - much more seriously if:

1. he had written it six months ago.

2. he does not oh so carefully neglect to mention the list of behaviours likely to trigger it, the so-called rank-modifying spamming techniques: keyword stuffing, invisible text, tiny text, page redirects, meta tags stuffing, and link-based manipulation.

3. he didn't take two pages over two-weeks to mumble about it.

4. he didn't invoke asinine formulae.

 

While this thread has been interesting Michael Marshall's posts on this matter were simple linkbait. Rather poorly done linkbait in that he may have garnered links but his reputation has been well snake oiled.


Edited by iamlost, 26 February 2013 - 06:17 PM.
spelling


#33 earlpearl

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Posted 27 February 2013 - 02:43 PM

The thing that has blown me away is that I did a huge review of one of our verticals.  I've been following it for close to a decade.   Websites are essentially all Local.  There are sites that support multiple locations through franchise or single ownership under one entity.  Those sites do have individual pages for locations in different cities.

 

The businesses are of a type I'd call Yellow Page sites.  By that I mean that Pre Web these types of businesses often depended on local hard copy yellow pages to deliver customers.  There is nothing or virtually nothing of deep intrinsic value about the businesses.  Similarly there is virtually no or virtually no substantial content on the web that describes the products and services of these local businesses outside of the local business sites.

 

An example is garage door repair.  (We are not involved in garage door repair)  Outside of the individual websites for businesses or franchises there is little content on the web that represents these businesses.   Regardless every metropolitan region supports multiple garage door repair and service businesses.

 

So I reviewed results on one of our verticals.   We have several of these businesses and have had some for years.   One site has had very high web rankings for most of the last decade.  The site has ranked highly for virtually every critical keyword phrase.  Its ranked highly nationally for years.  (From about the early 2000's to about 2008/2009 it ranked #1 on Yahoo for the number #1 keyword phrase.)   

 

But national ranking is irrelevant unless you are delivering traffic and leads to various locations in various cities.  Leads from Riverside California don't apply to a business located in Cleveland Ohio, unless you can deliver those leads to an affiliate in the Riverside region.

 

Regardless for years the national rankings reflected similar status for local search.   If you were located in Dallas Texas and ranked highly for the #1 keyword phrase you would rank highly in that phrase in the Dallas area.    That was true before Google (and other SE localization of responses).  It was doubly relevant after localization.   It clearly applied for businesses via universal search wherein google would input data from its maps/places indices into google.com results.  

 

It also interestingly was relevant for strict relevance to organic results, independent of the PAC data or significantly before Google announced that organic results were reflecting localization.  

 

Now though, EVERYTHING is reversed.

 

here are some interesting  findings with regard to one of our verticals.

 

When searching on the #1 keyword phrase and using a proxy location for United States versus any specific location, also with all history and prior personalization removed....I found some of the following fascinating results:

 

Of 7 sites that dominated national rankings for the most part of a decade;  two retain high national rankings and 5 have dropped  to SERPS rankings in the 30's, a couple in the 40's, one in the 90's and one out of the top 200.

 

Of the two sites that retained generally higher national rankings both at least had a reasonable volume of links going into interior pages.

 

Clearly all the sites have certain significant levels of anchor text "bombing", and I would guess enough to trigger penalties, where they seem to have hit.

 

Each of those sites have the highest combined and distinct PA and DA from SEOMoz and the highest volumes of links.   Of interest of those sites, interior pages outrank home pages in a number of examples.  

 

On a local basis, those same 7 sites, most of which had a specific major metropolitan region (or 2 regions) where they dominated....their local visibility has taken hits.   In the serps home pages have been replaced by interior pages, and the sites are losing or have lost prominence for either organic results above the Local Pac and/or in the PAC.

 

The Serps world has changed.

 

In my view, there could be an impact from this latest Google Algo.  Possibly these are results of further implementation of Penquin type penalties.

 

If I had to summarize these results I'd simply suggest that those techniques that worked for years are now considered spammy.   That which worked is now considered spamola and in certain areas one might be smart to do little rather than a lot.

 

One last caveat:   These business sites generally don't generate the kinds of content that naturally generate links from the outside.   They aren't content rich topics that encourage links from the linkerati.   One needs to be uniquely clever to generate content that would attract links on a natural basis.   After all there isn't much link worthy content in describing how to keep your automatic garage door well greased to keep it operating smoothly.  ;)



#34 bwelford

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Posted 27 February 2013 - 04:13 PM

Thanks for your great explanation, Earlpearl, of what has happened in your local marketplaces.  It looks as though Google Search really does not do a very good job in this situation.

 

It seemed to be similar but of greater magnitude to the frustration I feel when I know the exact name of some local hospital or courier service.  Even though I put in the exact name and the location, the results recently are sometimes completely unsatisfactory.

 

It brings to mind a suggestion I made some years back that Google should really have two search fields rather than a single search field.  Of course Google wants to demonstrate its superior technology so is willing to work with only what you put in a single field.  This can often produce inferior results. If instead you could put in the second field that you want a 'look-up' search, then a different algorithm would be used to improve the odds of an appropriate search result being served up.

 

I hope my very brief explanation is adequate to describe what I had in mind.  I could write more but perhaps this is enough to get the discussion going.



#35 iamlost

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Posted 27 February 2013 - 04:57 PM

Off Topic offtopic
earlpearl: it always fascinates when people compare apples and oranges. Especially when that is the stated objective. SEOmoz explicitly states

Page Authority is SEOmoz's calculated metric for how well a given webpage is likely to rank in Google.com's search results.
...
Domain Authority represents SEOmoz's best prediction about how a website will perform in search engine rankings.



No one knows nor can predict either.

Are SEOmoz's various metrics of use?
Yes. But not to predict 'real' SE rankings. Indeed, SEOmoz does qualify initial claims by saying use their results as a relative measure...however, as that simply compares all as oranges one is little closer to knowing about apples.

Why?
Because SEOmoz is working with their datasets not a SEs. Because only the SE knows what values in what weight are or are not being passed by specific links. Because only the SE knows what biases, filters, thresholds et al are in play...

Just because a site will do well as a SEOmoz orange does not correlate to how well as a Google apple.






When Google dove so deep into Local it produced a strange mixture of change (what they likely wanted) and chaos (what they most likely did not want). And Local is still a stinking bog generally from what I read. Add in mobile which seems to overweight towards Local (showing local results when not requested or even when explicitly negated) and it seems likely to remain a mess for many.

Because they do not react - except under extreme pressure - except algorithmically change is neither gradual nor incremental, rather it lurches about en masse. The good thing about this is that one has lots to analyse and from which to decide on a course correction; the bad thing is that one never quite knows when another lurch may undo preceding work.

When one can not be certain that emergency services are what or where Google says is it any surprise that commercial enterprises are also a muddle?



#36 earlpearl

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Posted 27 February 2013 - 05:05 PM

Barry:   We work hard on these things.  Unfortunately these smb's over rely on google search.  Its not our choice but the way the world works for many types of local purchases google is simply the overwhelming source of retail/local service visibility to the viewing public.  We actually spend inordinate amts of time, working to expand visibility outside of google or at least in other highly visible appropriate sites in google and other web sources, let alone non web vehicles.

 

Here is an interesting thing I saw today respecting google's search quircks.   I was looking at the distance between two nearby points in a city;  probably a half mile away...maybe less.   Google directions showed this very wierd loop for driving from point A to point B totalling 2.3 miles.   OOOOOFFFF....now that is so off.   Any local person would realize how whacked that algo driven directions are.

 

Generally, over the years, google's driving directions have improved by quantum amts.   Not in that case though.   I think if anything the fiasco Apple had in generating its own map data with the IOS6 spoke to the complexities and issues with generating algo driven solutions on things like maps and directions....let alone the situation you just referenced.

 

I'm often not a fan of google.  It is a monster of a search engine.  It dominates eyeballs and has a disproportionate impact on the success of smbs.   I must admit, while they do things that are hugely in their own self interest....while pushing out BS publicity, they also work to improve results.  Your suggestion sounds like a reasonable one.  I do believe they and other SE's try and make that leap by offering search results and simultaneously offering alternative search phrases.


Edited by earlpearl, 27 February 2013 - 05:15 PM.


#37 earlpearl

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Posted 27 February 2013 - 05:12 PM

@IamLost:   I (believe) I'm in absolute agreement with you.  SEOMoz's metrics of DA and PA are not authoritative for Google search results in any way:  they are Moz's metrics (and a nifty little marketing trick....aren't they??  ;)    

 

I use them as a proxy only, in that they seem to approximate methods google used in the past, and possibly at this time for achieving high rankings.   I could use other's metrics, but they are what they are ....and I think they are a fairly representative approximation of how SEO's view the importance of links.   and I believe, and have experienced that the accumulation of "weight"...somewhat as Moz portrays it...has worked over the years to promote sites to higher rankings.

 

In any case, to summarize, and assuming the reasonableness of metrics like Moz provides....current results seem to portray additional layers and filters that penalize sites for various applications that are now (and since Penquin) designated as Over Optimization.

 

The world changes.

 

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

As to Local I've spent virtually all my time there for the last 8 or 9 years and am one of the "mouths" along with others, more or less.  It has been a mess.  I think the local indices that google created and ultimately fed into google.com, where virtually all searchers go, have been so problematic on so many levels for so many years...its simply been a form of chaos, as you noted.

 

On top of that, google's poor record for fixing problems, ignorance of such, probable understaffing of issues, etc etc etc, have simply increased the frustration and issues for folks who depend on local  (that is primarily the smb operators).  (but even folks who have relied on directions and maps have chimed in with horror stories)

 

They have made some progress, though last year, 2012 seemed to present an amazing example of 1 step forward and 2 or 3 giant steps backward.   They instituted systemic "fixes" on problem google records in late 2011 and I can vouch...they did work....but then they made disastrous changes and got overwhelmed with huge new problems so that by mid and late 2012 they were simply overwhelmed with endless problematic records.

 

We'll see how they do in 2013.

 

In the meantime it appears to me like some kind of OOP (over optimization penalty) syndrom is working its way through both local results in the PAC and in associated organic rankings (at least at this point)   I'll communicate with a lot of other "mouths" with a lot of accts and see what they see though and get back to you later.


Edited by earlpearl, 27 February 2013 - 05:23 PM.


#38 earlpearl

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Posted 27 February 2013 - 06:19 PM

Okay:  Just glanced at a different local topic in a continued search for purely anecdotal examples.   I looked at dentists.    Dentists have both pursued local seo help and have been chased by many seo providers of different types.  One type that has chased dentists and provided services have been "managed review" providers.   Besides WOM (word of mouth---the best advertisting available IMHO) dentists have aggressively pursued help in the local search world.  

 

Over the last several years I've been tracking some local results with interesting characteristics.   In one sub market a local dentist with some crummy reviews for its' services picked up a company called demandforce, which had or has focuses on procuring, managing, and displaying massive volumes of reviews on its own sites and available to a client's website.

 

Several years ago one dentist in this subarea employed demandforce, got a relatively huge volume of reviews, soared to extremely high google rankings...and on a local basis dominated both its town and 2 adjacent towns for high volume keywords w/ and w/out local town names.  It had a quantum # of reviews through demandforce...possibly 5, 6, 8, 10 times as many as competitors.

 

It shortly dominated local serps for its town and nearby towns.    Then local changed.  Location got more weight in google serps and its dominance shrunk to its own town, and it relatively disappeared from ranking visibility in adjacent towns.  (there are a lot of dentists in these particular suburbs...enough so that its easy to NOT be ranked in the top 10).   

 

With seemingly total focus on reviews from this external review source (external in the context that the reviews weren't google reviews)  it then lost its high (#1) ranking in its own town as other sites passed it in local serps on an organic basis and in local pacs, or alternatively viewed uniquely through the maps.google.com index.

 

Now its back at PAC #1 for its own site.   Meanwhile, using a proxy for google.com its about #6 for the search phrases (dentist/town) (dentist in /town), town/dentist

 

I happen to know that dentist has spent a lot of time and $ on SEO.   its a changing environment.   Of interest as I reviewed a lot of dental sites I saw little emphasis in general on the proxy for standard seo I used above, moz'es metrics.

 

hah...IMHO that leaves a lot of opportunities for Over Optimization Penalties.  LOL   ;)





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