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More Irrelevant Google Search Results

A little less than a month ago I posted an article describing how the new Google algorithm had filled the results page for a search of my name "Troy Philis" with irrelevant results . Here is a screenshot of what I was talking about:

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The first listing is of my portfolio site. So far, so good. The second, however, is entitiled "Troy Philips Photography." This result is completely irrelevant because the word "Philis" is nowhere on the website. In addition, the page contains pictures of half-naked men in thong bathing suits. Not something I want to be associated with (not that there's anything wrong with that).

Take another search I entered today - for C & T Recycling. In Google, the term C & T Recycling does not appear on page one of the SERP:

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I really wanted to find information on C & T Recycling though, so I decided to try Yahoo. The term shows up near the top of page 1:

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Search Yahoo for my name, and it's all me:

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So why would the biggest search engine serve up bad, irrelevant search results, when they are in the business of serving up good, relevant search results. To answer that question, I'll need to define the two most important variables in ordering search results: 1) Keyword Relevance and 2) Link Authority - or PageRank.

Keyword relevance is what we've been talking about, and is what Google is now lacking in its searches. How closely do the search results displayed match the search terms you typed in to the search box? How many times do those terms appear on different parts of the page? Do links pointing to that page include the search terms?

Link authority is determined by counting the links pointing to a particular page. Huge corporations have websites with many, many pages, all linked together through the navigation. Their websites are generally linked to by many other individuals, associates and companies. A small company's website may have relatively few pages, and even fewer pages from other websites linked to it. Link authority tells the seach engine if your website is a big fish or a little fish. 

It is possible to roughly check link authority, or PageRank, as Google calls it, using the Google Toolbar. In checking the examples of irrelevant search results described above, I found that the intruding irrelevant result always had a higher link authority than the relevant results that it pushed down the results page. 

Conclusion: Google appears to have made a decision to let link authority trump relevance under certain circumstances. If you are like me, and would like to see results related to the search terms you typed in the box, rather than results Google is telling you are more important, than you will switch to Yahoo for your search needs too!

What does this mean to a small business trying to get some free advertising on Google? It's going to b e more difficult - get your website established as early as possible, work consistently on search engine promotion and optimization, and don't count on quick and easy results.

UPDATE: Another factor in the appearance of irrelevant search results could be a result of Google's apparent attempt to push searchers to more "popular" SERPS where more expensive Adwords advertisements are displayed.

Dedicated Server or Shared Server?

ImageChoosing a hosting package for your Website.

One of the most critical tasks in planning your new Website is choosing the correct hosting package. It is also one of the trickiest. Is it important that your Website load fast on a consistant basis? Do you plan on having many visitors right off the bat? Do you have a lot of large items to download, such as images or video? Do you have programming that requires a lot of server resources? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions then you might want to consider a dedicated server.

What is a dedicated server? As the name implies, a dedicated server is a web server that holds your Website, and your Website alone. Shared servers, which are the most common type of hosting available, hold many different Websites. These Websites are competing for server resources. This can lead to problems, such as:

1. A Website on your server gets a lot of traffic on a given day, and hogs the bandwidth. That can cause your Website to load slowly or become unavailable to your users.

2. YOUR Website gets a lot of traffic on a given day. This can even be traffic from a Web spider or a spammer. The hosting administrator will clamp down on your bandwidth, limiting your resources, which will also cause your Website to load slowly or become unavailable.

3. The web hosting company puts too many websites on your shared server. Everything can load well at first, but as the server fills up and there is more competition for resources, your website, that looked so good during development and at launch, now loads so slowly that you lose visitors.

There are other problems with shared hosting, but these are the main ones. Shared hosting can be as much as 10 times cheaper than dedicated hosting, but if a fast loading Website is critical to your business, the extra cost will definitely be worth the stability and performance you gain.

One important item to note, however, is that if you aren't a techie, you'll need a managed dedicated server. Without the "managed" option, you will be on your own with setup and support.

Irrelevant Results: Google Algorithm and PageRank Update

Last month I noticed that Google updated the pagerank number that displays in the toolbar for some of my clients' websites. Although I didn't see changes for my own websites, my clients' websites, particularly the newer ones, showed an increase as they claw their way out of the sandbox, and their promotion efforts work to increase their link authority.

Of course, this toolbar pagerank display is just a snapshot, and may or may not reflect the pagerank that Google is actually using in their algorithm.

Another thing I noticed, which was troubling to me, was that when I typed my own name in, I only received the number one listing. From number two down were "mispellings" of my name. My name, Troy Philis, is a pretty long-tail term, and normally I would get at least two pages of results. Now, listing number two is a completely irrelevant result. This seems to me to indicate a big potential problem with this new algorithm.

 The advantage of Google used to be that you could find anything easily, compared to the other search engines. Now it appears they may be losing that advantage. This one example is certainly not definitive, but it does indicate something is awry. I will be monitoring this issue and post my findings as I make them.

More irrelevant Google search results

Google Adwords Quick-Start

The first thing you should do before starting your Adwords campaign is to read the Google Adwords Help section. There are a number of concepts that it's good to understand before throwing money at Google. This can shorten a potentially expensive learning curve.

Having said that, here are some quick tips to get you started:

1. Set up a campaign. If you're just starting out, promoting to the content network will be over your head, so don't include that in your campaign.

2. Set up an ad group targeted to the content of one page on your website. That page should obviously be optimized for a set of keywords. Use those keywords in the adgroup, as well as in the wording of your ad. Link the ad to that page. Don't link to your hompage.

3. Set up ad groups within the campaign for each page you want to point traffic to. I'd recommend starting off with phrase match keywords, which is your keyword or phrase enclosed in quotes. If you use broad match (no quotes), your ad could show up in non-relevent SERPS because one word of the phrase could take it out of context.

 UPDATE: 3/14/14

Here are some related articles with more information on Google Adwords

Pay Per Click (PPC) Adwords Campaign Management

Adwords Conversion for Dummies

 

OpenSocial - Silicon Valley Web Guild Meeting

Location: Google, 1600 Amphitheatre Pkwy., Building 43, Mountain View, CA

Panel:

Chris Schalk, Developer Programs, Google
Joseph Smarr, Chief Platform Architect, Plaxo
Akash Garg, Co-Founder/CTO, Hi5 Networks

This meeting was packed, as were the last few meetings I've been to at Google. At $20 bucks a pop (for Web Guild members, such as I) and on such a marginal subject, that's something. Maybe it's because Google is a big, big, big deal. Maybe because all of the Facebook/Microsoft related stories in the news lately.

OpenSocial is an open social network web application platform being developed by companies such as Hi5 (think monster myspace espanol) and Plaxo, and stewarded by Google. The future of OpenSocial is pure open source, or so they say. In that future, users of social networking sites will only have to enter and maintain one set of data, that can be used across all the sites they would like to be part of.  A win-win proposition for social networking sites, OpenSocial offers the possibility to share users. With current proprietary models, people are less likely to enter and maintain multiple sets of profile data. When one site gains users, another loses users (or uses losers, as Joseph Smarr freudian slipped).

Why OpenSocial? Universal standards that allow developers and marketers to do it once, rather than once for each website, as it is now with myspace, facebook, friendster and so on. So, to go back to an earlier comment, I described this subject as marginal, because developing widgets for, or marketing on social networking sites is not what I do. It's always possible that I'll get a call tomorrow from someone looking to do just that, so for that reason I feel the need to develop a basic understanding.

OpenSocial is an API (application programming interface) for social networking sites that is hosted by Google, or a number of other "container partners" such as Hi5 and Plaxo.

Here are some links of interest:

The code: http://code.google.com/apis/opensocial/
Testing environments:
Orkut Sandbox - Need to be approved first
Hi5 Sandbox - sandbox.hi5.com

Bad Internet Advertising - AT&T Yellow Pages

Like most people, I can be susceptible to the hard-sell. That's how I got involved in ATT Advertising. I had a free Yellow Pages listing on http://www.yellowpages.com/, and got a call on that fateful afternoon, about 6 months ago. When the salesman told me that I could expect a 70% conversion, I immediatley knew that he was full of it, or didn't know what he was talking about. I had been considering an ad in the printed Yellow Pages, and I guess that was what ultimately lead to my descision. That and some very relentless telemarketing chops. I did insist on the six month contract, even though I could have had a whopping $2/month discount by going for the 12 month contract.

About a month later I got a call from a gentleman who said he was getting phone calls from people looking for my business. We had similar phone numbers, and someone had obviously made a typo. He was, however, unable to get AT&T advertising to make the correction. I called, and after some very confused and confusing conversations, things got straightened out.

 Six months, and no additional business later, I called the AT&T Advertising phone number I had been given, to cancel my listing. All I got was a message telling me that the voicemail box was full and that I should call back later. Big red flag, but things weren't as bad as they seemed. I did have another number for billing, and calling that number got me a real person. As I had expected, the records showed I had signed up for the 12 month contract. Luckily they couldn't find the recording of the original conversation to prove I had signed up for 12 months, and they gave me the benefit of the doubt.

For the final cancellation, I was transferred to another salesperson, who tried to talk me into signing up again. When it was apparent that I knew something about Internet advertising and promotion, she gave up and cancelled my account.

AT&T Internet advertising is obviously geared towards small business people who don't know much about Internet promotion, but know the AT&T Yellow Pages name. I could talk about ethics, but the bottom line is that their service is not worth the money. Look into Google Adwords or Microsoft Ad Center for a better dollar value.

Don't just take it from me. Here's an article from and ex-insider:http://getonthemap.us/why-i-dont-recommend-yellowpages-com-an-insiders-view

 

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