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Old 04-12-2005   #1
Everyman
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Google has big problems

An example of how Google is dying:

Exact search term: apache "2.0" namevirtualhost

Every webmaster and sysadmin has tried to figure this out at some point in his career -- this is not an obscure, unimportant bit of trivia.

On Yahoo you get the exact documentation from apache.org that you are looking for in positions one and two.

On MSN you get the exact documentation from apache.org that you are looking for in postions one, two, and three.

On Ask Jeeves you get the exact documentation from apache.org that you are looking for in positions one and two.

On Gigablast you get the exact documentation from apache.org that you are looking for in positions one and two.

On Google you find, if you haven't given up by then, the exact documentation from apache.org that you are looking for in positions 70 and 71.
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Old 04-12-2005   #2
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Well, only one case, we all know Google is pretty strange this days, let's wait...
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Old 04-12-2005   #3
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Nice lol. to tell you the truth I was real critical about msn search at first but the more I look at the results the more I like them. In the end it's quality of results a return visitors makes.
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Old 04-12-2005   #4
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Interesting

Hi,

looks interesting: I am using the German Google (google.de) and I'm getting the right document on 1st Place (httpd.apache.org/docs-2.0/de/mod/core.html) - but in German language.

Jan

Last edited by jfbruns : 04-12-2005 at 04:14 PM.
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Old 04-12-2005   #5
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By offering clues instead of results for target phrases google is thwarting index spam. This is good for the user.
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Old 04-13-2005   #6
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Google definetly must have problems

Lately the results I get from Yahoo are more relevant compared to the rest of the engines.
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Old 04-13-2005   #7
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Yes just one example. However, I defintiely am using Yahoo and MSN much more now. When is Google going to stop focusing on fighting spam and start to deliver relevant results again. On the other hand....the Adsense group keeps getting better and better.
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Old 04-13-2005   #8
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Just my theory.

I’ve been in marketing for web site for about seven years now and search engine marketing is among the highest priority of my ongoing efforts. Google has been the focus for many years for all search engine marketers; as we all fight tirelessly for position, in order to be among the blessed few. What I have learned about Google since the beginning of this pointless odyssey so many years ago is that the bigger they get, the less they care about their natural SERPS.

Google is with out a doubt the biggest waist of time and resources for most Internet companies in the world. Small companies that have little money to focus on their marketing don’t stand a chance to be competitive in Google’s search engine but alas Google no longer cares for the “little guy” and now only cares about money. It is also apparent that Google no longer cares about their beloved “natural” search results. The natural results are supposed to be the heart of a search engine and the foundations on which all search engines are built. Well folks, Goggle’s heart has grown cold and their foundation will someday completely crumble as it has already begun to show cracks.

The first and most obvious point is that Google’s index has grown increasingly stale and irrelevant over the years. For instance, go Google and do a search for the term apartments. The first few are as they are supposed to be for this search term, national apartment web sites who serve the entire United States. Mind you that there is no geographical terms included in this query so obviously national web site would be the most relevant. However, when you come to number five on the search results is when things go so wrong. At number five, you have a company that only serves Boston. That’s great if by typing in apartment you actually meant Boston apartments. Oh but wait, it gets much better. At number six it is none other than a hotel in Warsaw, Poland. At number nine, we travel to Prague in the great Czech Republic. These results are very typical for general keywords like cars, homes, jobs, etc. This would almost be comical if didn’t affect so many businesses who are trying to survive.

Now you might be saying, “Well Google is world-wide and this makes perfect sense.” It is true, Google is world wide but Google also has domain names such as Google.co.uk and Google.pl for Poland. Out of morbid curiosity I did a search in the foreign versions of Google and got pretty much the same results. Nation-wide "American" web sites came up first followed by Boston as well as the Poland and Czech Republic web sites. I bet our friends across the big pond appreciate how relevant these results are.

As if the relevancy of their search results weren’t bad enough, the results are out-dated. The reason for this is that it takes a lot of Google’s resources to keep their database updated. This is understandable because Google does claim over 8 billion web pages indexed. Is that 8 billion world-wide all lumped into one index? More than likely the answer is yes. In the early days, Google would update their indexes and ranking methodology quite frequently. However as time has marched on Google updates are less and less frequent. Nowadays Google updates on a quarterly basis if we are lucky. Some would argue that their Page Rank, which is one of the secret methods Google ranks web pages hasn’t been fully updated in over six months.

The problem is that Google is so focused on enormous profits and growing their empire that they have neglected their foundation, the fact that they are a search engine. Nobody can fault Google for wanting to be highly profitable, that is the American way right? We can however fault Google for losing focus on their core business even though their core business is only a vehicle for producing profits and not a profit maker itself. This has affected their business in the eyes of the consumer as Yahoo and MSN have regained substantial market share.

Google’s unquenchable thirst for profit even comes through in their Adwords segment. Google Adwords uses a blind auction to place bids for certain keyword and keyword phrases and your position in the sponsored results. Well you may say Yahoo does the same thing with Oveture. If you think that then you may have missed the main "keyword" in that earlier sentence, "blind". That’s right, you cannot see how much each position costs. All you can really do is determine what the highest position costs and even that takes some digging to ascertain. The only thing we can do as advertisers is place bids for as much as we can possibly afford and hope we get a click or two which will unlikely make us any money because how much that click or two costs. I’m not saying that Adwords is unusable. In all fairness, they do have a budget tool but if you use Adwords as I do, then you can see as plain as day that it is specifically built to maximize profits and not built in favor of the advertiser who has little information to base their decisions off of.

Overture is a much more effective tool. The bidding is not blind so an advertiser can see exactly what they need to bid to get to specific position. Yahoo understands that we all don’t need or want to be in the number one position for every keyword.

Like Google, Yahoo does however leave something to be desired on their natural search results. After doing a search for the term apartments, I found some foreign web sites similar to Google as well as other U.S. sites who didn’t belong there. Yahoo was a little better on ranking but still has a number of sites that just are not relevant to the term that was searched.

When comparing the third part of the big three, MSN, I found that their results are not much better. Whose fault is it? Well the blame can be placed at the feet of two parties, the search engines for focusing too much on profits and not enough on the core and search engine marketers who use dishonest methods for getting high rankings. The people who suffer are the honest business people trying to launch and maintain a legitimate Internet business and the consumers who use the search engines. So what are we, as marketers, supposed to do? Unfortunately there is not much we can do aside from working hard to get good rankings, stay within the rules that the search engines put in place and make as much noise as possible about the real problems with search engines and hope that they hear us. The other thing we can do is stop using Google’s Adwords and Yahoo’s Overture. There are other ways to get good traffic. We must show that only the companies who provide a good quality product will be rewarded. That is really the American way.

Sorry for the length of this post, please don't beat me up too bad. I could be completely wrong.
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Old 04-13-2005   #9
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Changing for sure

Searching for general topics I find Yahoo way ahead. There seem to be so many sites on Google that are nothing more than lines of listings, some of these literally have a line with a link, hundreds long, that is it, no decent content, nothing, obviously people just trying to get better rankings. I am not impressed by MSN. When we our towns and local information in Asia we rarely actually get any local results, these are always down in the hundreds.
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Old 04-13-2005   #10
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I was posting at the same time as cspence and I couldn't agree more. I did a search in Asia for a restaurant in a certain town, only one has a website, it is fine as a website that they obviously are not in the league to have SEO done on their site. They were about 350 in a search yet the only one with actual content, preceeding them were hundreds of sites including countless sites where the word 'restaurant' was included close somewhwere in the site they also mentioned hotels in the particular Asian town. So results about a hotel got far higher releavance that the actual restaurant, by far.
I can tell you that very very few people with websites in Asia have any knowledge about having to design their sites in a specific way in order to achieve a decent position, and they certainly would not know about having to have inbound links. It seems sites can just include words and this puts them at the top. Unless someone puts a search term within "" they only get results for that batch of words, I would guess that only a very very small percentage of people who search realise that at all, we know it, but the average surfer does not.
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Old 04-13-2005   #11
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Originally Posted by seomike
Nice lol. to tell you the truth I was real critical about msn search at first but the more I look at the results the more I like them. In the end it's quality of results a return visitors makes.
So True. Could'nt agree more!!
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Old 04-13-2005   #12
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A couple more interesting comments at Threadwatch:
http://www.threadwatch.org/node/2272

rcjordan points to a nice counterpart by RustyBrick on the issue of relevancy, though I don't think I'm the only one to feel that Google has been slowly losing the plot on relevancy.
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Old 04-14-2005   #13
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Plus I added a thread on the relevancy topic named Coke vs. Pepsi Challenge for Search Engines.
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Old 04-14-2005   #14
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Actually, Google does list the exact same docs that the others do in position 7 on the first page of its results. They simply list a mirror version, http://apache2docs.paradoxical.co.uk/mod/core.html, rather than what I'd assume is the official home: httpd.apache.org/docs-2.0/mod/core.html.

I'd agree, however, that it would be much better if Google had listed the official home like the others. I wouldn't condemn the entire search engine as "dying" based on one query -- whether it was Google or another one. But we've been writing for ages that the other search engines, especially Yahoo, are very much on parity with Google. Queries where it falls down like this help illustrate that.
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Old 04-14-2005   #15
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Are we really taking about Google as though the results may not change any minute?

Google has been doing some serious reordering in the past few weeks and I don't think they are done yet. I see pages that were doing well last month, dropped into the abyss for a week or two, came back up to the first or second page, then drop back to the 300 range, then other pages from the same site start ranking higher for the same terms as the page that dropped.

Trying to analyze and discuss Googles results at this point in time is IMO kind of like trying to pick bits of torn paper out of a tornado, and concluding what the entire content of the paper was based on the tiny bit that you see.
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Old 04-14-2005   #16
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Google has another problem (at least in my area..auto parts).
There is a company that is using obsolete domains as redirects to ebay search results. Somehow since the last big update these pages are indexing very well in the SERPS, actually somewhat dominating, at least for my important serch terms.
It is quite frustrating and I have to believe that many have been reporting this blatent spam technique.
Maybe ebay will get banned.....hehe
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Old 04-14-2005   #17
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Google is not dead. As long as people believe it returns the most relevant results they will keep clicking.
For my personal use purposes Google organic search results are no longer relevant.
Take a look at AdWord ads for real estate in a niche market and you get national corporations like Homegain but few to NONE local real estate agencies. Locals cannot afford to outbid the larger firms. Even the organic results in the niche is plugged with nationals due to superior SEO. How relevant is it to search a community and see both the organic results and AdWord offerings jammed with "outsiders" offerings?
Maybe their local will be tweaked in the true locals favor but until I see it I will remain unconvinced they care about true relevancy.

Blogger is great but they don't index most blogger content. Technorati and Bloglines are ahead of them in that arena. The integration of Keyhole into maps is very cool but has nothing to do with organic search results.
I still cannot delete particular emails from my GMail account without going through 3 steps.
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Old 04-14-2005   #18
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Google has been doing some serious reordering in the past few weeks and I don't think they are done yet
That is exactly one reason that they are becoming less relevant. The results have been in contant flux starting with that February update. Updates should be quick and somewhat transparent to the users. Every day, I don't know what I am going to get when I do a search in Google. It is especially frustating when I find a site one day and then can't find it again the next day by searching for the same term.
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Old 04-15-2005   #19
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Well you know what they say about omelettes and eggs...
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Old 04-20-2005   #20
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Originally Posted by cspence
Now you might be saying, “Well Google is world-wide and this makes perfect sense.” It is true, Google is world wide but Google also has domain names such as Google.co.uk and Google.pl for Poland. Out of morbid curiosity I did a search in the foreign versions of Google and got pretty much the same results. Nation-wide "American" web sites came up first followed by Boston as well as the Poland and Czech Republic web sites. I bet our friends across the big pond appreciate how relevant these results are.
<rant>No offence intended, but why do americans always think that .com sites are the sole property of american companies or individuals, and that the rest of the world needs to stick to .co.uk or relevant equivalent?
The fact of the matter is that .com should be used for international sites, and perhaps american sites need to start using the .us domain.</rant>

Sorry, it's been a rough week
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