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gillumhouse

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From SearchEngineWatch.com:
March 3, 2011[/h1]Let Google Know How the Algorithm Change Affected Your Site[/h2]Yesterday, we asked if Google was listening to its users, following the rollout of its latest algorithm update targeting "low quality" sites that hit some sites hard and helped others. In what is the closest Google has come to admitting some sites have been unfairly punished in the SERPs, Google has created a thread, "Think you're affected by the recent algorithm change? Post here." in Webmaster Central.

Google's Michael Wyszomierski posted:
"According to our metrics, this update improves overall search quality. However, we are interested in hearing feedback from site owners and the community as we continue to refine our algorithms. If you know of a high quality site that has been negatively affected by this change, please bring it to our attention in this thread. Note that as this is an algorithmic change we are unable to make manual exceptions, but in cases of high quality content we can pass the examples along to the engineers who will look at them as they work on future iterations and improvements to the algorithm. So even if you don't see us responding, know that we're doing a lot of listening."After yesterday's news about Cult of Mac's rankings being reinstated, there was speculation that Google had done some sort of manual change. So Google is denying manual intervention here (Google's Amit Singhal also denied manually improving rankings to the Wall Street Journal), but that doesn't mean Google hasn't rolled out some sort of minor update to the larger algorithm change.
Another option if your site has vanished or is performing worse since the change is to fill out a reconsideration request.
More Winners Emerge
The WSJ article highlighted some sites that are happy with Google's latest change. Among them: Encyclopaedia Britannica, which saw a 40 percent lift in Google traffic, plus more number one and top three rankings. Buy.com also received an 11 percent traffic increase.
Searchmetrics also analyzed data from 55 million domains, specifically looking at "content farms" (even though Google has never used this term) and "content heavy sites" (e.g., Facebook, Huffington Post). Much like previous reports, Searchmetrics found that eHow has gained 14 percent visibility from the algorithm change. Also:
"With its nearly 80% increase, the biggest winner in terms of traffic and percentage change is wikihow.com. A remarkable increase considering that in contrast to Wikipedia, wikiwho.com appears to be a classic definition of a content farm. Similarly, Yahoo! Answers experienced an almost 30% increase, in contrast to answers.com and answerbag.com, a site that experienced an almost 60% loss. Statistics such as these are clear indicators that the update must indeed be algorithm-based, fully automated and not carried out manually."
Interesting that Wikihow is a winner. DuckDuckGo recently teamed with Wikihow, a site that relies on collaborative how-to editing rather than eHow's freelance system.
Searchmetrics said other winners included news portals, such as MSN, Mashable, ZDNet, and Wired.
More Losers Emerge
WSJ also highlighted another case where computer consultant Morris Rosenthal saw his sites drop in the search results in favor of a less detailed and "inaccurate" eHow article. He fears he may lose 50 percent of his income.
Before last week's Google change, a Web page from one of Mr. Rosenthal's sites, www.daileyint.com, ranked No. 1 when users typed the phrase "toshiba troubleshooting" in the search box. Today that page, which includes 2,200 words of instructions, images and a video, is ranked fifth, while a 200-word eHow article with no images or video is ranked first. The author of the Toshiba article has also written articles for eHow on "How to Take Crease Marks Out of Posters" and "How Do Genital Herpes Spread." Consumer electronics shopping site Retrevo also accused Google of favoring bigger brands in the algorithm change, telling WebProNews that "The net effect has been marginally negative - single digit in percentage terms and with negligible business impact. In our assessment, the marginal drop in ranking for some pages is attributed to bigger brands (CNET, Amazon and CE brands) gaining over us where we used to be ahead of them."
As for SearchMetrics' report, many of the familiar names were there, with one addition: Blippr. This site saw a nearly 98 percent reduction in organic visibility.
Here's the rest of Searchmetrics' data on the losers:
Google's help thread is also filling up fast with posts from numerous other sites that have taken a hit. If you were one of them, go over and let your voice be heard.
We'll keep you updated on all the latest Google algorithm news as it becomes available.
Posted by Danny Goodwin on March 3, 2011 9:29 AM
 

Alibi Ike

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Well, at least one of the losers deserves what they got. That dang Merch Circ.
 

swirt

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Anybody noticing changes in your location for lodging searches? I'm not seeing much in the way of changes. A flip flop of a couple of directories but that is about it.
 

Generic

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I noticed that Google is now alternating some of the results in Google Places, to our benefit. Other than that, it shouldn't really affect B&Bs, since our own websites are high value content. I have noticed that the content farms and phishing websites have stopped to appear in my daily report from Google, though.
 

Alibi Ike

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Anybody noticing changes in your location for lodging searches? I'm not seeing much in the way of changes. A flip flop of a couple of directories but that is about it..
It's usually a couple of days after they make changes that I notice anything. I think we're residing on that server in Siberia.
 

gillumhouse

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Today's Search Day Posting.
March 4, 2011[/h1]Why Google's Panda Algorithm Update Dropped Sites[/h2]Google's Matt Cutts and Amit Singhal have revealed some more about what is officially known as the Google Panda update, Google's latest algorithm update. There has been much speculation about why sites were dropped and others were promoted.
Make Google Trust Your Site
One key element is whether Google trusts your site. How does Google determine this?
It seems Google is using outside human raters, at least in part, as a form of quality assurance. Singhal said they asked raters questions like "Would you be comfortable giving this site your credit card? Would you be comfortable giving medicine prescribed by this site to your kids?"
Cutts said other questions Google asked to establish trust include "Do you consider this site to be authoritative? Would it be okay if this was in a magazine? Does this site have excessive ads?"
Some SEOs are interpreting this to mean sites overloaded with AdSense and others advertisements are now in Google's crosshairs.
Google has also previously mentioned that Google's Chrome site blocker extension could become a ranking signal. In rolling out the Panda update, Google said the spammy sites reported by Chrome users wasn't used, but it was used for comparative purposes. Google reported an 84 percent overlap with blocked and downgraded sites.
Some SEOs are speculating that Google may be looking at the ratio of above-the-fold content (word count) to advertising. Many of the sites punished by Google had more ads than useful content.
"Low Quality"
Singhal said the shallow content overload that had users complaining mostly came about due to their Caffeine update. But Google still is having trouble defining "low quality" - with Singhal saying Google still hasn't solved it.
Cutts said Google "came up with a classifier to say, okay, IRS or Wikipedia or New York Times is over on this side, and the low-quality sites are over on this side. And you can really see mathematical reasons."
"Our classifier that we built this time does a very good job of finding low-quality sites," Singhal added. "It was more cautious with mixed-quality sites, because caution is important."
So big brands seem safe in Google's eyes -- potentially more bad news for the little guy on Google. Cutts also mentioned government sites ranking higher for medical searches.
Another hint if you want to figure out what not to do, according to Cutts: Look at Suite 101. Go there, look around, figure out what they're doing, and make sure you're doing the opposite.
Even though this hasn't solved the problem of low-quality content, Cutts and Signhal both think this update did what it was supposed to. Despite this, Google is accepting feedback.
Panda?
For those curious, the Panda update is named after a Google engineer. You can read the fullWired Q&A here.
Posted by Danny Goodwin on March 4, 2011 9:51 AM
 
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