Google suspects web site improvements as potentially manipulative

Google suspects web site improvements as potentially manipulative

Summary: These are tough times for webmasters trying to improve the quality of their sites...

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TOPICS: Google
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My recent post about Google's battle with spammers seems to have confused some people in the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) industry.

There's a perception that I'm advising web sites not to improve the quality of their content. I'm not advising anything, I'm reporting that a little known Google patent appears to be playing a major role in how a post-Panda Google now ranks web sites and web pages. It also explains some of the bizarre, random changes in rankings that have bedeviled SEO efforts by webmasters.

If Google detects that a web page has been changed between visits from its spider, it will check to see if the changes are designed to improve the rank of that page in its search index. This will flag the site as a potential spammer and trigger a reassessment of the site's rank in Google's index. In between the reassessment the site's rankings will fluctuate randomly.

This creates the situation where if a site owner tries to improve the quality of a page, by rewriting passages to make them clearer, adding additional information, links, video, etc, this could result in a spammer flag from Google, and a period of randomly fluctuating index ranking. Thus, trying to improve the quality of your site could sink your rank.

Yet Google is constantly telling web sites to improve the quality of their content to gain a better ranking.

That's a seriously messed up situation.


Any SEO -- White Hat Or Black -- Could Flag You As A Spammer - SVW


Is Search Broken? Does Google Trick SEOs With Random SERP Ranking Changes?

 

Topic: Google

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9 comments
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  • Paranoia Collapsing In On Itself

    When you can no longer trust your customers, your business is doomed.
    ldo17
  • Who is confused..?

    Tom,

    I don't think anybody in the SEO industry is confused about your recent post. From the comments on that post you can clearly read how anybody feels about what you have written in the post, no confusion about that!

    Instead, there is a clear disagreement with your argument, and clear agreement you are the one who is confused and a huge suspicion you didn't even read the full patent.

    Take the explanation from Bill Slawski, and read it two, three times. If you read it carefully, you will understand you have it all wrong, and the attempt to explain yourself in this update is showing you still have not understood the gist of the new patent.
    TheNextCorner
  • In Love With Denial

    Sad.

    I've never witnessed such blatant trollism as what Tom has experienced here today...

    These guys live and die by the net (social media). You'd think they'd know better and understand how to work together.

    Patents are obviously open to interpretation. So lets figure out what the true is. Tom is starting a conversation.. Duh..

    I say Tom is right on. Modified pages are flagged (maybe using the word "flagged" is to insensitive) and you will have to re-earn your rank.

    If you're not a spammer, Google sees good quality as suggested by their guidelines, and you're not modifying your page everyday. Then you're probably going to get your rank back and maybe even move up if you're doing good work.

    What if I had a link I really wanted to get traffic too. So I head over to my twitter account and enter my short and sweet crafty tweet:

    "I really like #XXXX You'll find great #XXXX here checkitout.com/great-link".

    Oops! I didn't do my homework and #XXXX is apparently no longer trendy.. :(

    So I try:

    "I really like #KKKK You'll find great #KKKK here checkitout.com/great-link".

    Oops! I didn't do my homework and #KKKK is apparently no longer trendy.. :(

    So I try:

    "I really like #OOOO You'll find great #OOOO here checkitout.com/great-link".

    Oops! I didn't do my homework and #OOOO is apparently no longer trendy.. :(

    So I try:

    "I really like #ZZZZ You'll find great #ZZZZ here checkitout.com/great-link".

    Oops! I didn't do my homework and #ZZZZ is apparently no longer trendy.. :(

    So I try:

    "I really like #YYYY You'll find great #YYYY here checkitout.com/great-link".

    Continuously modifying your pages is spam.

    The quality SEO Google looks for inherently happens on the first try. It always has.
    thorstone137
    • Who's trolling

      Not sure what you mean with trolling.
      I see a good discussion, where people call out Tom based on arguments and point him in the right direction. Most comments are made with real names of professionals who have earned their reputation in SEO by working on projects and shared their experiences on conferences or online with the world. you can easily go read some of the great work Bill has been doing over the years, explaining Google search patents. He is an absolute expert in this, and his comments are far from trolling.
      TheNextCorner
  • Panda? Methinks not

    Hiya Tom, methinks yer still missing the boat some here.

    1. Panda was about thin content and ads above the fold. Not web spam.
    2. Penguin was originally named the 'web spam update' and certainly WAS about spam

    So, if you want to draw lines between anything, it would actually be the Google Penguin updates, not the Panda ones.

    I personally get the sense that this would be something applied to sites that have already tripped another spam signal (there's a ton of them) as another bit of evidence prior to any type of manual action. I say that because if this was applied index-wide, the SERPs would actually be a massive state of flux. More so than we currently see. Think about it. It makes more sense as yet another layer of spam detection to avoid false positives.

    This has nothing to do with improving the quality of the page. You keep coming back to that which is non-sensical. And certainly somewhat misleading.

    You need to think in the context of what Google already considers web spam. Let's look at something like a page title. Going overboard with the TITLE element is a classic boosting technique and research has found spam pages contain far more keywords than non-spammy (classified) pages.

    So, if you're merely making a page TITLE element more concise, Google probably likes that. If you're stuffing the crap out of it, probably not so much. Thus, if a page/site had been flagged as potentially spammy, it seems this is where the method in the patent might be used. Not index wide. Not everytime a site gets new links or changes the content some.

    Thus again, this is more related to the Penguin (web spam) updates, not the Panda ones. Ya follow?

    Here's a recent article I put out on Penguin and common web spam tactics; http://searchnewscentral.com/20120820339/Technical/are-you-ready-for-the-next-penguin-assault.html

    Hopefully you can start to see where your interpretation of this could be off just a wee bit. It really isn't about doing the things we should be doing to make pages/sites more search engine friendly. It is more about a further method of dealing with web spam... true web spam.

    One needs to think in the context of Google guidelines. In terms of actual web spam and other methods Google uses to combat it. Not in terms of merely doing things that improves a page or site.
    the Gypsy
  • Still don't get it, Tom?

    @thorstone137 - "Continuously modifying your pages is spam."

    uh... tweets aren't pages, mate.

    @Tom - I see you still don't get it. Aside from the fact that this phenomena has been around (and prevalent) since early in the last decade, the level of misunderstanding surrounding the issue is astounding. Aaron started this crap, and others seem driven to throw gas on the flames, rather than light on the subject. Congrats on adding your voice to the masses.

    As a widely read source, I would expect ZDNet to exercise more diligence in their statements. Your previous piece grossly misrepresented the nature of the patent, and this one simply attempts to defend it.

    Double fail.
    dcamp2626@...
    • Your Trolling Dude

      dcamp2626 On the contrary, by the grace of the internet itself, journalism and new media are open to interpretation by the individuals who practice it and follow it.

      Tweets are in the same boat as pages, they are media objects connected to a publisher just the same as web pages, facebook updates, youtube videos, or any other social media.

      A tweet is to Twitter as a page is to the search engine. Twitter makes rules on how to tweet, just as Google make rules on how to publish pages if you want Google to recognize them. Without a search engine an SEO'er doesn't exist. An SEO'er doesn't decide what SEO is.

      The idea that you can mechanically win the conversation is an archaic SEO idea. Google's latest updates reflect that more now than ever. In a sense the algorithm is becoming more human. The conversation is organic and happens in real-time; Google must be able to interpret the new from the old.

      Google's search algorithm will likely continue to reflect the market's need to serve real-time content. If you're continuously trying to SEO the same page as to only gain index ranking, you're going to be flagged a spammer.

      The best SEO will be done right the first time.
      thorstone137
  • So Amazon is doing it all wrong!?

    I disagree with your point of view.
    From the end of time SEOs know that a stale website, one that never changes is doomed. Why would Google spider your site if it has been proven is dead?
    Websites and webpages are a live entity, and anyone has "the right" to change and improve copy, to help communicate the message, get more clicks from SERPS, improve conversions, etc... Add reviews, pictures, portfolio work...
    If what you say is true then Amazon's product pages would never get ranked and be flagged as spam, as one of the reasons for their success is the amount of continuously added user reviews, photos, etc...
    I think you are wrong.
    Rosana Levesque
    • Content is king, Intent is Queen

      I wouldn't look at it that way. Google treats a domain different than a url or a permalink.

      The problem is when you continuously change a page in order to climb rank. They're all sorts of tricks an SEO'er can implement to improve SEO. But, you're better off creating new pages (new social objects).

      Look at the basics of Inbound Marketing (SMO).

      If build 2 pages. Before publishing, page A has a SEO bag of tricks score of 80/100 and page B has a score of 60/100. I then publish the pages and they're indexed by Google.

      If I publish 100 posts (CMS Posts, twitter, facebook, youtube, pintrest) that are high quality and well intended attempts to build conversation around page B. And in the same time frame make 100 high quality and well intended changes to page A that is already indexed. I would bet page A will lose rank while page B gains rank.
      thorstone137