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    I'm in the UK and just done a local search (keyword + town) for a term I used to be number 1 on.

    I am being beaten by a site from a different country and an advert for a personal trainer. I am not a personal trainer.

    With so many stupid results like this, they are going to need to tweak things or become the new Altavista.

    Ultimately, their job is to get good results. The order is irrelevant as long as someone searching would be happy with anything in the top 10. God knows what they think they are achieving at the moment.

    My "if I was google.." idea to stop spamming would be to give a small temporary punishment for every spam link they find. That way, any link building campaign is going to push a site down the rankings (though without crippling them), and it will be hard for any SEO to explain to a client how their work has caused that to happen. Any link building would have to stop before the site rose again.
    Last edited by Rico; Apr 26th, 2012 at 03:12 PM.
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    That might be when they figured out their engineers weren't as good as they thought they were.
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    Originally Posted by Rico
    My "if I was google.." idea to stop spamming would be to give a small temporary punishment for every spam link they find. That way, any link building campaign is going to push a site down the rankings (though without crippling them), and it will be hard for any SEO to explain to a client how their work has caused that to happen. Any link building would have to stop before the site rose again.
    That would still leave people open to negative seo though.
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    I think we are missing the bigger admission by Google here.
    1)They are not prepared to move away from linking as a means to rank and measure the importance of sites. They have nothing in the tech tool case which isn't even easier to game. Social aint ready to take over the referral game completely.
    2) They are not at the point where their technology can determine really great content (it can only identify the absolute worse kind of content).

    So they find themselves in a technological bind to improve their results.

    Both content and links can be gamed to no end and theres little they can do that applies to all of it. Gaming is like crime. You can't stamp it out. However you can create deterrents so that if you are caught the consequences are so great that it keeps many people in check - more than you ever could if you didn't have fear as the deterrence.

    That in my estimation is what this is about. Google doing no evil - just not counting the links isn't good enough for them anymore. They can't stop links from having impact. they can't stop suspect content from ranking. Just like in crime you punish the people who are doing things that end up getting them caught and you punish them hard. The really stealth crimes go unsolved but you live with it and keep locking up the ones you can knowing you are frightening far more people into being law abiding citizens

    Get caught with links on a network that leaves a trail - boom we'll make a very public example out of the site and punish everyone linked from it

    use software that puts up a bunch of clearly and easily identifiable links then bam you'll get the unnatural links message.

    Its as much about deterrence of those who don't get caught as to catch who they did catch. So there are some sites that got arrested that shouldn't have been? What does Google care. As long as the first page of even 90% of results are decent I don't see them wanting to give up the factor of deterrence no matter how much SEOs complain and if you ask for the links to just not count then there is no deterrence - people and software will continue to try and game it and some links will end up working because they can't stop it.

    Negative SEO from their standpoint aint all that bad. It allows them to swing a big stick over all potential spammers and as long as they protect their more upstanding citizens (unfortunately perhaps brand names of companies they trust and a few other protective factors mized in) then the spammers might end up blasting each other out of the mix.

    Win - win.

    Problem is people have bought into the idea that Google 's business is being socially responsible to everyone. They are a corporate greed machine like any other and only care that searchers find good content that satisfies them not the best content every time.

    Plus um if you are a business making money off the net and can't rank anymore theres always....ahem... adwords and wouldn't you know your competitors can't tank that. Shucks if everyone starts bombing each other and you can't get ten good results you could add two more paid results at the bottom as well

    Comments on this post

    • PhilipSEO agrees : Thanks for your points. But, as I argue below, Google has the right tools.
    Last edited by Mike Anthony; Apr 26th, 2012 at 07:42 PM.
  8. #35
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    Wow Phillip a very long and complicated letter….

    After reading it I remain unsure of what exactly it is you are asking for from Google. I also think some of you assumptions about Google goals are probably not right. For example
    Google the company thinks of the Google search algorithm as the sole source and guarantor of the high quality of Google’s search results.
    I was under the impression that Google was not that interested in “quality” which is a value judgment at best but was mainly concerned with “relevance”.

    Google fires a new shot across SEO’s bow and strives to "level the playing field" for websites, to kill off the effects of "overoptimization," of SEO. In doing so, Google mistakenly thinks of its search algorithm as the equalizing factor.
    The net effect of the recent algo changes seem to be to increase on site relevance over link transfer relevance. I to agree this will cause very negative consequences to the web but not in the same way you seem to think it will.

    To me what I see are the consequences are sites with very little link strength but very good page relevance are now appearing in SERPs. Overall powerful sites rankings have not changed that much but the pages from those sites which Google is choosing in the SERPs have changed from powerful catch all pages with lots of their own links to more specifically relevant targeted pages that have no link juice.

    Many posts I have read are saying that this algo change is taking us back to an earlier era where on page SEO is becoming much more important. I imagine Google now believes that it can counter basic on page spam like keyword stuffing enough not to need to use AT relevance transfer.

    This brings me to what I see Google has done to the SEO industry that will hurt the web.

    1) Webmasters will now seek to make more pages with targeted titles/content etc aimed at individual search terms.
    2) Micro sites will return as it is possible to now rank with virtually no juice
    3) Micro geo sites will arise as it is much easier to catch specific geo markets with sites that have no/few links….
    The result being the total amount of pages/sites on the web will explode. Dodgy SEO services will be helping people create near spam content that passes Google ‘quality benchmark’ targeted at relevance.

    I am far from convinced that reverse SEO will be a serious problem but near spam web content will explode. My own initial experiments support the creation of very specific pages/sites as a way to dominate much more of the area above the fold.

    SEO is changing and it has just become a whole lot easier is my view

    Thanks Phillip for your post it is very though provoking. Personally I do not think Google cares much about user feedback except as measured by PPC earnings….

    Comments on this post

    • DarrenHaye agrees : Very interesting perspective.
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    Originally Posted by gazzahk

    SEO is changing and it has just become a whole lot easier is my view
    I think your right but I also think the new algo will combat the serious issue of spammy sites...but we won't really know until the dust settles.
  12. #37
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    Wow, such a wealth of response. A couple of things right off.

    One. Everybody is talking about how now "onsite SEO is going to play a more major role." I Suspect SEOmoz is one of the sources pushing this. I'm not fully sure that this is true, but I checked out something where Rand talks about overoptimization and he thinks it's about not overoptimizing your onpage SEO.

    To me this is utter rubbish, another myth we have just birthed. I don't see that "onpage SEO" has been given more weight. Overoptimize your title tags all you like! Rankings are still determined chiefly based on links. (This is not to say that Google doesn't want webmasters to focus on the site itself and forget about links.) But the view that onsite factors have increased in algorithmic importance strikes me as nonsense. There is no rollback to the old system and Google is not *seriously* wanting us about keyword stuffing. What has changed, in my view, is the way anchor text on backlinks is evaluated, and I've written about it elsewhere. (And hey, I am open to be proven wrong, but if we care let's please start a separate thread for this.)

    More importantly, I think it's a false and unfair assumption that many of us are making about Google being cynically and completely pragmatic and caring only about profit (which would mainly mean profit from AdWords). I still believe that Google is fundamentally good, a different kind of company. But, like everyone, they make mistakes. Google is no less complex institutionally than it is algorithmically. There are teams within Google that genuinely care about improving "search experience" an the quality of SERPs because it is their very job to do so. The Quality Team's requirements (we are told, and I want to believe it) override financial considerations. To what extent this is literally true I can't say, but let us not overestimate our ability to reach out and be heard. Perhaps this will give the right entities within Google a boost to move more vigorously. Get this: this thread is user behavior. Google knows the value of measuring it. Draw this safe conclusion: right now Google is looking for feedback. Let us give it to them right here. We have given some, and we can give more. They'll put someone on it, to analyze it, summarize it, present it. It's a reasonable expectation that this will be a useful and timely input. I am very concerned, for the general good, about how Google will move on this.

    Several people have told me the letter is too long. To me it seemed at the time like a masterpiece of compression (I could have written one twice as long). It could have been more polished, but I intend to edit it now, and more. Gazz couldn't even make out what I am asking Google to do! (Gazz, I am asking them to roll back the backlink penalties and further proposing an algorithmic improvement). Anyway, I have become convinced that the letter needs a brief executive summary that presents the key points -- one that nontechies can read. BTW, I have received a surprising number of responses from outside the SEO world. Someone asked me if this was an "Occupy Google" sort of thing! (No, I don't think so.)

    So bear with me. But before I make things shorter, I will make them a bit longer. I have written some private explanations to people who have asked me questions about this, and since I have already written them, I am pasting them here (with slight modifications) to conserve effort.

    HERE GOES.

    I believe that Google has created, for the first time in its history, a threat to global economic (and possibly political) stability. It has been shown that "overoptimization penalties" can be easily unleashed upon the competition. I can now bomb sites out of Google search, legally. And SEO is not going anywhere any time soon, nor is it getting any cheaper, it's just a question of what kind of SEO it will be.

    Google is the closest thing to true AI that we have seen yet, and it's already very admirable and undeniable. At some future point, sure, maybe SEO will become obsolete. More likely it will keep evolving as search evolves. Optimization is exactly as old as digital search itself and shows no signs of dying out. SEO certainly plays a useful function right now, what I called a "relevance service." But that is far from all. At least the services that I strive to provide (and, I know, a number of my colleagues in the forum) are white-hat SEO of a high order. When we build sites we build them search-friendly, code-light, easily crawlable and indexable, and among other things we perform advanced load speed optimization and CSS-based HTML content stacking (that's not a common thing and now how most sites are built, but the extra mile is well worth it). We ensure that site architecture and navigation and tagging are optimized for search and conversion. We know how identify and leverage online microniches within a larger search market. We do involved traffic analysis. We look closely at usability. We split-test. We solve indexation problems for very large sites (in the multiple millions of pages). Further, I have a large editorial content production team (text, images, video, audio) that creates superior, strategic and highly useful niche-relevant content. We write apps, we build mobile sites, we handle mobile search, geo-targeted search, local search, image search, video search, social network integration, and all kinds of other stuff. We improve the search experience for Google, which is what it wants us to do. And that's great!

    But that is not the whole story. Google keeps telling the economy that that white-hat stuff is all that a company need do or worry about in order to succeed on the Web in the face of ferocious and universal black-hat competition. And that ought to be true but it is false, and Google is letting a lot of people down by failing to make this true. It has not been able to beat down bad SEO so far. That, and not the algorithm, is the equalizing factor in the online economy today.

    The technical rationalization that I propose is algorithmic. In my view the true strength of the Algo comes from measuring and interpreting human inputs. Google has far from exhausted the possibly nearly infinite scope for improvement in this area, but it has been giving it more and more weight. Under my proposal, search would be improved by *not* introducing penalties for links. Google, I propose, should instead accept SEO links as reliable indicators of relevance (simply because they are, otherwise they would serve no purpose). But instead of measuring rankings based chiefly on link factors (as Google has always done), it should use user behavior as the more decisive signal. Google currently denies using data from Google Analytics and other Google products such as WMT (CTR, bounce rate, pages per visit, time on site, conversions) as signals affecting organic search rankings. Be that as it may. There have been tests, including ours, that suggest that under a high bounce rate, Google rankings improve if you uninstall Analytics. I don't know for sure. But I am arguing that Google should not be shy about using these metrics as solid ranking factors. Indeed, Google should give them the decisive play. (Thanks to AdSense and AdWords, Google is extremely good at detecting click fraud, so such a system would be much harder to game than a chiefly link-based one like the one they've got now).

    Anyway, I it has been suggested to me that I submit all this to Google's suggestions office, which is what I intend to do once I have added my executive summary.

    Comments on this post

    • dseerveld agrees : Thank you again for your analysis. I think Google is trying its best. But I STRONGLY agree that measuring user behavior is the best way to rank. It feels so obvious to me, that I suspect that technical limitations are the reason this is not the pri
    Last edited by PhilipSEO; Apr 27th, 2012 at 11:59 AM.
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    This change only harms small businesses, such as mine. Large companies do not need nor rely on SEO as much. Proper SEO was a way to sort of level the playing field, so to speak. A small company that put more time and effort into their web efforts could beat the big guy.

    Now we are being penalized for that effort.

    I hope Google listens, and quickly, this has really impacted my business and, I suspect, there are many others out there. I have people working for me who I can't keep busy now - when otherwise it wasn't a problem.

    I signed on your website. Good luck!

    Chuck
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    As I started to say, it feels so obvious to me that User Behavior would provide the most relevant ranking data Google could want, that only technical limitations are preventing Google from making User Data the primary means to rank. Just a guess, of course.

    I got hit by Panda in Feb11, a devastating hit, one that has hurt me a great deal. I don't want to sound like another prisoner in Shawshank pretending he didn't commit a crime. I didn't. I am Andy Dufresne. My site is wonderful, 100% unique and beautiful content, nothing else like it on the internet. And now a bunch of jokers and spam rank ahead of me.

    But if Google could measure user behavior, they would see that my bounce rate is the lowest, my pages viewed per visitor the highest, etc, because my site is excellent. But no, the current algo penalized it for unfathomable reasons, and it's heartbreaking.

    I am afraid to do a reconsideration request - it's my guess that this just proves to Google that you're scum, and they don't do a real review. Has anyone ever gotten a site unpenalized by reconsideration? I just want the algo to accept my site again, naturally, because that's how it should work.

    Google - before you force me to tunnel my way out of here with a rock hammer and through a river of sh*t, please place higher priority on User Behavior, if it is possible to do so. You will see that my site is innocent.
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    I would argue that bounce rate is not the be all and end all.

    For example, The Daily Mail is the most visited online newspaper and it has an incredible low bounce rate simply because of the way it lays out its pages.

    It is similar to how Mashable runs.

    Instead of writing an article that covers the whole story, they will write more and more articles with an original introduction, a small snippet of new information and then rehash information from an older article.

    Do they produce high quality articles? Not really.
    Low bounce rate? Yes.

    This is an interesting read: http://www.viperchill.com/future-of-blogging/

    "One thing the Daily Mail do that I haven’t seen anyone else pick up on is basically what I call ‘article clustering’. It’s a tactic that allows them to create viral, meaty content faster than ever before, despite what SEO and readership implications it may have.

    Article clustering is basically this: They write a huge piece on a hot news item, and constantly use that same information whenever they cover the story again. For example, they might write a detailed piece about the Royal Wedding, and then later they’ll write a story specifically about the dress that was worn. They’ll then take 50-75% of the content from the original article and simply paste it into the new one.

    This enables them to write long stories on the same topic — just taken from a different angle. Increasing their pageviews and improving the ‘quality’ of the article if you’ve just landed on their website (and didn’t read the other related news)."
  20. #41
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    Dseerveld, it's not at all a technical issue for Google (I think nothing could be easier for them, I am sure they have tried it all and have figured it out by now, or most of it). I believe, this is an ethical/political/business decision for them. There are privacy etc. issues involving Analytics data. Second, if webmasters become convinced that removing Analytics improves rankings (we have done an admittedly very limited test on this which seems to confirm the claim), then they (the webmasters) may well switch from Google Analytics to the next big thing in analytics. Google would rather they didn't.

    Giddity, it's not just about the bounce rate of course, but it's a start. A 99% bounce rate over some months would be an excellent start.

    As for the rest of your remarks, obviously a higher time on site is directly correlated with a higher quality of user experience (all things being equal). It doesn't matter that you perceive this as artificially inflated. If the user doesn't want it, she leaves.
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    What I am trying to say is that many sites have articles that could be written on one page, diluted and spread out over many pages with them all being interlinked.

    You are right though about time on site though.

    Originally Posted by PhilipSEO
    Dseerveld, it's not at all a technical issue for Google (I think nothing could be easier for them, I am sure they have tried it all and have figured it out by now, or most of it). I believe, this is an ethical/political/business decision for them. There are privacy etc. issues involving Analytics data. Second, if webmasters become convinced that removing Analytics improves rankings (we have done an admittedly very limited test on this which seems to confirm the claim), then they (the webmasters) may well switch from Google Analytics to the next big thing in analytics. Google would rather they didn't.

    Giddity, it's not just about the bounce rate of course, but it's a start. A 99% bounce rate over some months would be an excellent start.

    As for the rest of your remarks, obviously a higher time on site is directly correlated with a higher quality of user experience (all things being equal). It doesn't matter that you perceive this as artificially inflated. If the user doesn't want it, she leaves.
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    Originally Posted by PhilipSEO

    As for the rest of your remarks, obviously a higher time on site is directly correlated with a higher quality of user experience (all things being equal). It doesn't matter that you perceive this as artificially inflated. If the user doesn't want it, she leaves.
    The day google announces they are using user behavior more heavily we will have negative user behavior companies popping up doing nothing but acting like dissatisfied surfers. 100 bounces a day where the user quickly returned to Google and clicked something else. 100 bounces all from different IPs of course ;)
    Last edited by KernelPanic; Apr 28th, 2012 at 01:01 PM.
  26. #44
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    Google develops page ranking methods and rat traps to catch TOS non-compliance. Since the beginning of man there have been better and more effective mousetraps developed century upon century. There are still more rats on earth than men. Good luck Google.
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    Originally Posted by KernelPanic
    The day google announces they are using user behavior more heavily we will have negative user behavior companies popping up doing nothing but acting like dissatisfied surfers. 100 bounces a day where the user quickly returned to Google and clicked something else. 100 bounces all from different IPs of course ;)
    Why wouldn't they be doing that very thing in AdWords right now? I mean they are, but their AdSense accounts get banned, and their clicks in AdWords are discounted as invalid.

    Or does gaming AdSense and AdWords in this way work? It seems hard to believe. If anything to the effect came out, or even some admission that there is no certainly here -- I think it would be a scandal much bigger for Google than some SEOs manipulating rankings. So I like to hope Google has the right technology to detect all kinds of click fraud. Google has users figured out down to the IP address, to the Analytics and WMT account, both on your home laptop and at your work desktop and at your favorite cybercafe. It knows your Google+ conntections, your real and fake Google accounts and Gmail addresses, and all that. But IMHO there are heavy ethical and political issues with Google using such cross-product data with the spam fighters, or let them take action on it. Just my 2 cents.

    Comments on this post

    • EGOL agrees : I am pretty sure that they are using it... just keeping their mouths shut like they should have done for links. They can tell who knows about certain content topics and can filter out the Turkers.

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