Despite New Panda Guidelines, Google Still Burying Authoritative Results

Health and Legal Queries Show Importance of Authority

Get the WebProNews Newsletter:

Despite New Panda Guidelines, Google Still Burying Authoritative Results
[ Search]

There are a lot of elements of Google’s Panda update to discuss, and we’ve certainly discussed many of them over the last few months, but let’s not lose sight of the reason the update was launched to begin with – to improve search quality.

Do you think Google’s search results are better now? Tell us what you think.

While quality is often in the eye of the beholder, there are certain kinds of queries where the information being retrieved is simply more important than others. We’ve talked about this before, as it’s been a problem in some Google results.

One example we’ve looked at a few times is where an eHow article written by a freelance writer with no clear authority on cancer (and whose body of work includes a lot of plumbing-related articles) was ranking at the top of Googe’s results for the query “level 4 brain cancer” above numerous other sources that would seem to be of greater authority on such a subject.

Level 4 Brain Cancer in Google

In fact, the article did get bumped down after the Panda update, but it does still rank number 2, followed by another result from eHow. Granted, this is just one example, and Demand Media has efforts in motion to improve its own content quality, but you get the point.

Queries related to things like health or law demand authoritative advice. Not SEO’d content.

We had a conversation with Mark Britton, founder and CEO of Avvo about this subject. Avvo is a site that offers Q&A forums where consumers can ask medical or legal questions and get responses from qualified doctors and lawyers. It provides apparently authoritative content in these two areas from certified professionals.

This seems like the kind of content that should be ranking well for a lot of these types of queries. Does it not? Britton thinks it’s “very important” for commentary from experts in the medical and legal fields to surface high in search results for relevant topics.

“There is a lot of noise both online and offline regarding health and legal issues,” he tells us. “This comes in the form of lay people, professional commentators and even celebrities who often offer advice that is well-intentioned but inherently inferior to that of a doctor or lawyer trained in the area. However, it is not always easy to get doctors and lawyers to speak. Some still look down on the Internet as a publishing or marketing vehicle. Others just downright fear it, as they have seen too many movies where someone says something on the Internet and they are subsequently hunted and killed by terrorist hackers.”

“There is always room for improvement — especially with our newer pages,” he says of Avvo’s own search rankings. “We just launched our doctor ratings directory and our free medical question and answer forum in November, and it will take some time for those pages to rank as well as our legally related pages.”

Look at the results for a query like “Does type 2 diabetes shorten life expectancy?” Avvo’s page on the subject ranks on the second page, while eHow ranks at the top of the first. The Avvo result has actually fallen since I began writing this article. It used to be right below the number one result from eHow and the number 2 from Yahoo Answers.

Diabetes Results in Google

eHow’s is an article (not very long by any means) by a guy whose bio says he “has been a freelance writer since 2007. He writes extensively in the fitness, mental health and travel sectors and his work has appeared in a range of print and online publications including Scazu Fitness and USAToday Travel Tips…[and] holds a Master of Arts in community psychology.”

Keep in mind that USA Today has a deal with Demand Media for travel tips. So that presumably means his Demand Media content is simply published by USA Today. Does “Master of Arts in community psychology” indicate more authority to answer a life/death question about type 2 diabetes than say a licensed and practicing MD? That’s who provided an answer on Avvo’s page, which just got pushed further down in the search results.

If you change the query to something simpler like “type 2 diabetes life expectancy” eHow still ranks close to the top, and Avvo’s result slips to….get ready for it….page 18! That’s with various articles from places like eHow, EzineArticles and Suite101 (all victims of the Panda update) ranking ahead of it. Now, I’m not saying that Avvo’s result is necessarily the one ultimate result for this query and should necessarily be the highest ranked, but come on. Interestingly enough, the result was on page 3 for this query when I started writing the article (yesterday) and it’s slipped that much further into obscurity just since then. I wonder where it will be in another day.

Google has given publishers a list of questions to ask themselves about their content, as guidelines the company goes by as it writes its algorithms. The very top one is “Would you trust the information presented in this article?”

While neither of the articles provide any helpful links to sources of information, the Avvo article comes from a medical doctor. I think most people would find that slightly more trustworthy, even if the article isn’t as long or as well SEO’d. Here’s the eHow article. Here’s the Avvo one.

The second question on Google’s list is, “Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?”

While Google makes it clear that these questions aren’t actual ranking signals, they must be used to determine the signals at least, and you have to wonder just how much weight authority on a topic carries.

Britton maintains that ALL of the site’s advice comes from qualified professionals, claiming that this is one of the site’s “greatest differentiators.”

“We CERTIFY every doctor and lawyer offering free advice on the site in two principle ways: First, we verify with the state licensing authorities that the answering doctors or lawyers are licensed and in good standing,” he explains. “Second, we rate the professionals from 1 (“Extreme Caution”) to 10 (“Superb”), which was unheard of prior to Avvo’s entry into the professional ratings arena. We are big believers that not every doctor or lawyer is ‘Super’ or ‘Best’ which was the steady-state in professional ratings for decades.”

“This was really just an extension of the Yellow Pages model, where the ‘recommended’ professional is the one paying the most money to advertise,” he continues. “But consumers are getting wise and demanding greater transparency regarding the qualifications of their doctors and lawyers.”

“We have three ratings that speak to the expertise of our contributors: The Avvo Rating, client/patient ratings and peer endorsements,” says Britton. “For the Avvo Rating, we start with the state licensing authorities and collect all the information we can regarding a professional. We then load that information into our proprietary web crawler, which we call ‘Hoover.’ Hoover goes out and finds all the additional information it can regarding the professional. We match the licensing data with the Hoover data and then we score it. The scoring is based on those indicators of the professional’s reputation, experience and quality of work.”

Britton says Avvo was not really affected by Google’s Panda update. “We saw a small dip, but things came back fairly quickly.”

“While I understand the intent of Google’s latest update, I’m not sure they entirely hit their mark,” he says. “We noticed a number of pure lead-generation sites – i.e., sites that are selling leads to the highest bidder — jump ahead of us in certain key terms, which is not good for consumers.”

Avvo encourages people to ask questions on the site, claiming it its Q&A boasts a 97% response rate.

Avvo asked us to let readers know that in support of Skin Awareness Month, it is donating $5 to the Melanoma Research Foundation for every doctor review during the month of May.

Should authority and certification of expertise carry greater weight in Google’s search rankings? Comment here.

Despite New Panda Guidelines, Google Still Burying Authoritative Results
Top Rated White Papers and Resources
  • http://www.teach-nology.com/blog/index.php?id=69 Nancy

    Hey Chris, great coverage on this. Check the web site I listed. My wife frequents that site and she pointed out this post to me. 200 teachers rated the actual top 10 results of the power players in search.

    Big G was third best.

    If you read their comments a number of groups of teachers outside the site has verified their reviews.

    • http://www.webpronews.com/ Chris Crum

      Thanks Nancy. The issue certainly does extend beyond just legal and health-related queries. I’d be interested to see if Quora results start ranking more in the future, as experts and executives often provide authoritative info there as well.

  • http://www.seo-theory.com/ Michael Martinez

    I think you have misunderstood the purpose of that list of questions Google published. They are not guidelines. Google’s Webmaster Guidelines are much more clear and specific than the list of questions Amit Singhal shared last week.

    In my opinion, the questions are intended to illustrate how people can look at their sites in a new way, overcoming the denial that has set in over their being downgraded by Panda. These are not questions by which we can judge the quality of search results.

    • http://www.webpronews.com/ Chris Crum

      I don’t think I’ve misunderstood the intent of the questions. As I noted, they’re not ranking signals. I realize that they’re not official guidelines, but they’re clearly designed to give publishers a “guide’ as to how to approach content quality.

      In fact, the exact title of Google’s post listing the questions is “More Guidance on building high-quality sites”. These are things Google is looking at as “what counts as a high-quality site”.

      Google also says, “These are the kinds of questions we ask ourselves as we write algorithms that attempt to assess site quality.”

      That said, you make a fair point in that these are different than Google’s “webmaster guidelines”.

  • http://www.website-articles.net Allen Graves

    “Queries related to things like health or law demand authoritative advice.”

    I love what you did there!

  • http://www.jumbocdinvestments.com/ ChrisCD

    I think the bigger question is can Google or any SE rightly derive authority? You are asking a program to know whether an author is a MD or professional writer? And if so, is the MDs content actually more correct (best result) for the given query. The problem with this approach is it would actually require a human to make that determination and have a “manual” addition in that pages ranking entered. I don’t think that is feasible. And of course what happens when another MD decides he is actually more authoritative than the first?

    Any SE has to take numerous signals into account to arrive at the algorithmically best result. Then it is up to us humans to use our brains and look for the results that we believe our best.

    If you are dealing with Level 4 Brain Cancer and looking for information outside of what your Dr. provided, I hope you spend a good amount of time on the research. We aren’t talking about buying a blue widget, we are talking about your life or the life of a loved one.

    Same thing with law information. At some point, you as the human have to be responsible to do some of your own research and dig deep. If we believe that the computer has to give us the best answer and not do any of our own work, then we are in a heap of trouble and singularity may come much sooner than later. :O)

    • http://www.webpronews.com/ Chris Crum

      Yes, I definitely hope people are doing more research than just looking at the top Google result for their health advice. Still, the search engine’s job is to deliver the most relevant information.

      • PP

        Are you asking the SE to replace the human brain? Pretty soon the SE will be sued because it served up the wrong page and some acted on it.

        • http://www.webpronews.com/ Chris Crum

          I think the human brain will remain an important resource until it gets replaced with a computer itself.

  • http://www.solderingsite.com Michael Corder

    If Google were serious about improving the quality of search results, the largest improvement they could make is removing ehow from the directory entirely.

    Ehow’s articles range from useless, to patronizing, to often times potentially costly, and even dangerous, for a reader that actually takes the advice seriously. I am not basing this on health & law, two subjects I am most assuredly not qualified to talk on. But their DIY, repair, and related articles, which I am qualified to rate, are horrid, to say the least.

    For examples of stupid & useless google ehow & “build a guitar amp” (or build a number of other things). For dangerous, try ehow & “fix brakes”, or repair electric, and the biggest one for wasting money and causing expensive problems “repair plumbing”.

    How they get to the top of google, while many other legitimate, authoritative and even popular sites struggle, leads me to believe they may be “violating” some terms & conditions. How they managed to not get banned, while many useful sites seem to get banned because of a simple misunderstanding, or unintentional mis-step, is also beyond me.

    As someone who has long tried to put out useful DIY info (when I have the time and money), eHow has stuck in my craw for a long time as the worst of the worst.

    • http://thewebsensesolution.com Jon

      I agree that eHow and countless other “expert advice” websites with anonymous helpers should not be given so much importance in the rankings.

  • http://wredlich.com Warren Redlich

    Your article assumes that Avvo is actually a quality website. That is far from clear. Their method of rating attorneys (and probably doctors) is unimpressive and seems heavily influenced by whether the attorneys sign up on the site, and possibly on how much the lawyers pay for their listing. I’ve seen plenty of great lawyers on their site with relatively low ratings along with unimpressive lawyers with high ratings.

    • http://www.webpronews.com/ Chris Crum

      Fair point. I’m not personally vouching for ratings system, or saying that the site has the best ratings (or that it has bad ratings), but there is something to be said about the fact that they’re all certified professionals. I’m still going to place a little more confidence in a medical doctor’s thoughts on diabetes than a freelance writer that doesn’t practice medicine.

      • http://www.techeye.net James Crowley

        Another medical site that have been badly hit by the “Panda” update is eHealthMD – take one look at their editorial team and I think it’s fair to say they’re likely to know what they’re talking about


  • http://www.odinartcollectables.com Brad Blanski

    The algorithm has hurt my search results. I see in Google Webmaster HTML suggestions about 50 pages that have supposed duplicate title tags, but the problem is with Google Bot. They are listed as duplicated because Google bot is capitalizing and lower casing the same urls. Like this: /Mattel-Hot-Wheels/hotwheelblue14.asp
    I don’t know for sure, but my numbers a down. Working very hard to fix this problem.

    • http://thewebsensesolution.com Jon

      That is not new with Panda

  • http://www.butteredham.com/blog/ Aaron B.

    I think in a few years, we’ll look back at 2009 or so as the peak for Google, at least as far as search is concerned. Maybe they’ll be focused on their office suite or something by then, and not care. But I’ve already switched to using Yahoo for my own searching, and my results are comparable to Google’s — maybe not noticeably better, but not worse either. Yet Yahoo somehow delivers this without massive controversy over its rankings algorithm every so often.

    I have clients who have had huge drops in rankings and traffic from Google at various times in the past few years. Granted, they don’t care as much about their traffic from the other search engines, because there isn’t as much of it. But if I check that traffic, it’s generally been consistent over time, without the drastic swings you get from google.

  • http://www.linkbuildr.com/blog Ryan Clark @ Linkbuildr

    Thanks for putting out real examples of epic fail going on with Google. I could sit here all day and show other points but I’m exhausted enough as is. Scraped content is still raging above original producers, sites with mostly paid links wreaking havoc..what’s next? Well Matt and others on the webspam team are going after link profiles next, so that should throw an interesting factor into the algorithm.

    Hopefully they do a better job with that update!

  • Greg

    I don’t think anyone should be relying on the Internet, much less, Google search results to discover answers related to health issues especially concerns related to cancer or diabetes. I think almost all doctors would agree with this statement. In the end, if anyone is going to use the Internet for these purposes, they need to take the responsibility to validate and confirm information ideally through their doctor not by relying on the whether it comes back 1st or 5th in search results. If people are so naive as to think well if Google returns this article at the top, it must be the definitive answer to my cancer question then they have bigger problems.

    • http://www.webpronews.com/ Chris Crum

      It’s one thing to rely on a top result and another to have an authoritative starting point.

      • Greg

        So you think Google can the determine the one authoritative starting point for every user who enters the query “diabetes”? What is authoritative for you may not be for me…in the example you give above about an eHow article…is the information in the article incorrect? Do you contend it is false or invalid information or just because it isn’t from a doctor, it should not be returned higher than other articles?

        • http://www.webpronews.com/ Chris Crum

          I do not contend that it is false information, but there are no resources linked to to lend credibility either. That’s just it. There’s not much to gage how trustworthy the information is. Something coming from a licensed medical doctor (while not necessarily the one perfect result, does tend to suggest a bit more credibility).

  • http://www.ecigarettes-helped-me-quit.com Marvin Schroeder

    Your article mentioned that doctors hate to be quoted on the internet for fear of reprecussions. In the same way, I’d bet many website owners strongly agree with your articles but are reluctant to openly comment about Google in negative ways. Just sayin’…

    • http://www.webpronews.com/ Chris Crum


  • Matt

    The results are terrible lately. I was looking for an ‘outdoor electrical socket’ today and was literally getting pissed off at the terrible quality of the serps.

    First was amazon, fine, somewhat makes sense. The next several results were “how to’ sites like ehow about ‘how to install an outdoor electrical socket’ – if I wanted to know how to install one, that’s what I would have searched for. I was looking for product results, and according to google amazon is the only option.

    Not to mention, the number 7 results was a stock clipart site….come on. Really? I want an outdoor electrical socket. Not clipart of one.

    Similar results when looking for a tent today.

    Google – what happened to you?

    • Greg

      Try clicking on shopping in Google instead of Web if you want product results…learn the tool!

      • http://thewebsensesolution.com Jon

        Ditto, there is many aspects of Google search to help you focus the search better.

  • http://www.aktivtek.no søkemotoroptimalisering

    I noticed dramatic search result quality degradation. Some websites have come to the top having not much to do with the keywords. Other thing: web pages having some inbound links to main page are ranking better on under pages without any back links than the linked page. If it continues like that I will soon start to use bing instead of google.

  • http://howtogetridofacnespots.com/diet_for_acne.html How to get rid of acne spots

    While google puts a websites traffic as their primary qualification for top ranking the results can’t be what they are touting. They are in the business of making money. Traffic brings money.

    • http://www.getridofthings.com Jonathan Hatch

      Well, if you consider the fact that almost none of the “authoritative” websites in the health industry run Google ads, then it seems like Google shot itself in the foot.

      On the other hand, junk micro-sites, seemingly patched together by a group of colorblind dyslexics, are doing much better in the results, now. Many of them beat quality sites in the same field on a relatively consistent basis just because they have the exact keyphrase in their domain.

  • http://www.no-bs-marketing.com Paul

    Google’s algorithym has definitely NOT improved. Worse, the continued top placement of eHow articles – mostly crap for the large part – can only mean one of three things…

    1. Google is maintaining some sort of whitelist and providing exceptions for select sites.

    2. Google’s engineers have replaced the RedBull they normally drink during long cramming sessions with methamphetamine.

    3. Google is not longer interested in delivering the most relevant, credible results to their customers.

    No option is particularly confidence inspiring, IMHO.

    • Carol

      I’ve also been wondering about your first point. I’m sure that Google makes scads and scads of money from eHow ads. If Google is serious, why doesn’t it assign some kind of special identifier to content mills that will result in their automatically going low in the search results?

  • http://buywhiskyonline.info Roger Shann

    It happens through all media forms. I am a Dentist in the UK and to stay in practice we MUST redo a core of knowledge in radiology every 5 years. One of my clients expressed concern that I did not use a lead apron. I explained that using one actually reflected the radiation back into the body and bounced it around, increasing the dosage.

    I received a letter from her quoting a DR Oz in the US who expressed his concerns. Dr Oz has NO training in radiology and seems to express views in direct conflict with all scientific research and authority yet he comes out on top in the opinion stakes.

    I see website promotions for toothe whitening that also fly in the face of real life facts too.

    Not sure what Google can do about it though. How to seperate the good from the bad.

    My personal promotions are about hobbies that I know and enjoy, reluctant to step into uncharted waters.

    • Kim

      Are you aware of the lethal amount of mercury that is released in your dental office that is harming your helpers, clients, you and everybody there? LETHAL AMOUNTS. Cancer. Watch this:


      • http://hyyp Roger Shann

        My point exactly Kim. The smoking tooth is a case in point.

        • http://buywhiskyonline.info Roger Shann

          My point exactly Kim. The smoking tooth is a case in point. Totally non scientific and completely debunked at http://skeptoid.com/episodes/4036 Absolutely no real scientific basis and flying in the face of all the thousands of research papers that have been carried out. (although we should all keep an open mind)

          Once again style wins over substance.

          But this is not really the venue to discuss the amalgam debate, so I will not be posting again in this topic. I am more concerned about Google and how it affects my other businesses.

          • Kim

            The “debunking” you are pointing to is just an opinion. Have you asked yourself who funded those “thousands of research papers”? Interestingly nobody talks about the mercury measuring device in their “debunking”.

            I agree, this is not the venue so I’ll drop the subject.

  • Robert Wagner

    I think we all give Google a lot of credit for having sophisticated search results, and that is clearly not the case. It would seem that the ranking algorithm is fairly basic and uninspired.

  • http://dgswilsom.com Doug Wilson

    One point:

    “Britton thinks it’s “very important” for commentary from experts in the medical and legal fields to surface high in search results for relevant topics”.

    I think commentary that users choose the most should rank highest. Not people who have been given “titles” from their industry.

    Unlike Britton – I’d like to let users decide who gets placed where

  • http://www.alternative-healing.info Robert

    Authority sites for medical information always provide the most general of worthless information that ends with, see your doctor or vet. Just try asking webmd a simple question such as where on their site might I find an answer to, why do I keep losing weight? Their reply is they won’t provide medical advice for such questions that aren’t even asking for medical advice. So what you really have is an authority site that is little more then the free health magazines the supermarket provides.

  • http://www.homesteadwebsitebuilder.com Jordy

    Chris, I am really enjoying the articles you are posting about the Panda update.

    You hit the nail on the head for sure with this one.

    Although at times eHow offers useful information, most of what I have read was a waste of my time.

    They have polluted the SERPS with millions of low quality pages that rank in top positions because of their SEO.

    How does a search engine untangle millions of good posts from poor ones? I don’t think they can.

  • Kim

    Google just deindexed my whole ecommerce site. They just wiped out my whole business! I hope the government break them up or put those corrupt bastards in prison!

    • http://thewebsensesolution.com Jon

      There was an issue with your SEO prior to Panda then. Fix the issue!

      • KIM

        What issue if they don’t tell you what the “issue” is?

        There was no issue. Site had never been affected in years. I followed all their webmaster guidelines to the T. The issue is that they need to be broken up by the government so they quit abusing their power.

      • http://www.butteredham.com/blog/ Aaron B.

        Right, it’s never Google’s fault. Never ever ever. If they de-index your site or bury it on page 100, it must be something screwy (probably black-hat) you did. It can’t possibly be their mistake.

  • http://www.whoisbid.com whoisbid

    Take a look at your stats today and compare them with your stats from 8 years ago. You might notice that you are hitting fewer IP ranges.
    I live in Asia and a big english speaking portion of the world is here but your websites are appearing less and less in this part of the world. I am seeing local sites take away your business and you can probably see it in your stats too.

  • Joe P

    Google panda exposed……

    -> google is the largest scraper site in the world

    -> they showed us how to monetize scraped content with adsense and adwords

    -> they showed us hiring 1000’s of people around the world to click on adsense and adwords is highly profitable.

    -> mom and pops are slowly realizing they are wasting money with adsense and adwords, it is paid clickers who are clicking on the ads not real buyers

    -> panda is google’s last bit effort to make real people click on adwords links by reducing the quality of SERP top

    -> panda puts good looking sites with unreadable content, fake testimonials, at the top of SERP, sites from which intelligent people will not buy stuff so that the adwords links become authoritative business source instead of SERP top results

    still don’t understand? search for ‘website design bangalore’ and study the top result, good looking site but if you read inside pages you get the sense that this is a low quality design shack with inexperienced trainee web developers offering services at low rate, study the portfolio, all sites listed are fake sites. This is the type of non authoritative site panda would like to put at the top of SERP, so that now the adword sites look better choice than the top SERP site.

    * tldr > panda is about putting good looking low quality sites at the top of SERP, makes adwords links seem better option for buying stuff.

    • Beamer

      Now THAT makes more sense than anything I have read here. Because you know what? I fell for that today! The search results were so crappy, I clicked on a paid link.

      Thanks for revealing something I had an inkling of but just couldn’t put my finger on it. I never click paid links, but was led to do so due to shi**y Google search results.

      I was on the top of the organic SERPs for my search term two days ago. Today, gone, baby, gone. All orginal content with great information from personal experience. In spite of that, my traffic increased A LOT! Still on the top for my search terms at Bing and Yahoo.

      • http://thewebsensesolution.com Jon

        Interesting viewpoint. I too have clicked a few paid ads since the Panda update for lack of any worthwhile organic results.

  • Gordon

    Any search engine depending primarily on “link popularity” is inherently useless for anything not involving (retail) sales. I don’t use Google for real research. Ixquick and DuckDuckGo are hugely better, and they don’t ask Google either! In extremes of need, I’ll go back to the Yahoo family: AllTheWeb and AltaVista. BUT and however, Google does host the old user groups, which can be very useful — but that is hardly “searching” in the traditional sense.

  • http://www.onearmedseo.com SEO Expert

    The search results are definitely NOT better…the sites that come up are all the sites that are well branded…people are using Google to search for things that they probably can’t find on these sites.

    It’s like that update a few years ago that brought up all the shopping sites ahead of everyone…why the hell do I need Google if I gives me sites that I have to search more on.

    I think they sort of shot themselves in the foot with this one…and here comes Bing up on the rail as Google seems to be losing speed…

    • Gordon

      We-e-elll, I guess it depends on what results you’re looking for. If you want to remain on the beaten track, Google may be able to deliver. But if you need to “go bush”, Google is a complete failure. As good example, I needed to find info on a website I knew existed. All the search engines failed — except one: IceRocket. On Icerocket, it came up on the first page. On Google it never existed, even in page 20.

      IceRocket has technical problems, but it’s heaps better than Google. Anything is better than Google — it’s all in the basic algorithm and the business paradigm.

  • http://www.rdqhealth.com Q

    The american dietary assoc. in my opinion has not promoted the best dietary solution for diabetics and they would be considered an authourity. Low Glycemic index will substatially reduce insulin in type 1 diabetics within 6 weeks. New science and discoveries would not even be considered. Einstien was encouraged to drop out of school and get a Job.

  • Richard Mathews

    I think it’s funny with sites like Awo think they should automatically be ranked number for their doctor directory and other sites (including lead generation sites) shouldn’t. The truth is, everyone thinks their site should outrank their competitors for traffic.. Even if it’s helpful article directory or a lead generation company, it doesn’t mean those sites are more desired if not preferred by visitors. For example, many like the having multiply quotes for insurance, loans, contractor bids, and you name it. These companies such as Lending Tree are more desirable to them, then Awos lame directory.

  • http://www.seonorthamerica.com Tom Aikins

    Google continues to rank the garbage from eHow and other Demand Media sites because of the money they make working with them. They have no interest in quality of content. Demand Media pays $15 average for articles and about $30 for videos. Are they actually serious when they say that their content is relevant and authoritative in any way? This is a complete sham on the part of Google and may be the opening that other search engines can exploit. Obviously, they’re still the largest by a wide margin but they can’t continue to rank garbage from Demand Media highly in their SERPs. It’s just not going to fly forever.

  • Richard Mathews

    I think it’s funny when sites like Awo think they should automatically be ranked number one their doctor or other searches and all other sites (including lead generation sites). I mean who doesn’t, it’s more money for AWO. The truth is, everyone thinks their site should outrank their competitors for traffic.. Even if it’s a helpful article directory or a lead generation company, it doesn’t mean those sites aren’t more desired if not preferred by visitors than your doctor reviews. For example, many like lead generating related sites because they’re seeking multiple quotes for insurance, loans, contractor bids, and you name it. These companies such as Lending Tree are more desirable to them, then Awos lame directory because it makes multiple quotes easy.

    • http://www.webpronews.com/ Chris Crum

      To me, it’s more about the content than the site. There is nothing wrong with an eHow article ranking here, if the article is written by an authoritative source (something eHow appears to be addressing in its own offerings – at least in some areas).

  • http://www.hemorrhoidshemroids.com Donald

    This concept of an authority site smacks of professional snobbery.

    Yes, mt own web site is written by genuine health professionals, including a docotr, an MD, and a professor of gastroenterology, yet after being at serps one for some years, the Panda update has seen it drop to serps 5 to 7, with some serps dropping 200 positions. I see sites with no authority content above mine, and actually very poor and very little content at that – even one that tricks visitors to use an affiliate link for a hemorrhoid pill, when describing a hemroid cream!

    So, yes, Panda has definitely not had the desired results, in fact its the opposite, results are poorer and searchers are evidiendtly worse off. However, do the searchers know they are worse off, when sites like mine aren’t at the top – they probably have no idea of the porrer content they are landing on.

    So thats one side of the question. The other side refers to authority – what is an authority health site – is a chiropractor higher on the list for bone alignment than a doctor or spinal surgeon? What about someone who has gone through the procedure, are n’t they qualified to talk about the procedure and how it affected them etc. What about a freelance writer who reviews multiple preocedures coming from various professions to treat eg depression. In this case, each specialist has the right to claim authority, but only for their given speciality, eg doctor uses drugs, but are they an authority, or should we say that a doctor should then have the tag psychiatrist before being able to talk about depression?

    Then there is another angle to this concept of authority, as a psychologist I had a strong training in research and research statistics, as well as in quality literature review, so that makes me superior (?) to a freelance writer. Does that not then make me an authority of any subject I chose to write about?

    Finally, another aspect to this authority concept, is straight out lies and deception – I know health sites that claim to be written by medical professionals/students, but it is clear from their content that they are not. One site I visited actually deleted the medical authority training proclamation at one point, only to put it back in again at a later time – I don’t believe he has any medical training.

    So how is google going to police the idea of authority, as it cant go on what is found on web sites about the sites writers – heck, you could chose a doctors name from a phone book or tombstone and claim they wrote your content.

    Panda was a stuff up, and the regionalisation of results has seen some countries get results that are far inferior to that found on .com sites as well.

  • Rob

    My website has been at the top of results for years. Over 10,000 page one Google results, and about 300,000 unique visitors per year (and growing).

    Until now. All of a sudden Google has penalised me. I’m not a content farm, my pages are unique, well written, authoritative, and yes, well optimised. My images and videos appear well in Google SERPs, and tis does not seem to have been affected.

    I don’t spam my pages, buy links, beg for traffic, exchange links (I haven’t “exchanged” a link for about 4 or more years)

    Now I’ve lost at least 40% of my traffic in less than one day – its like someone turned a tap off.

    And its not like I’ve lost traffic for pages I’ve written that are not my core business – I’ve also lost out VERY badly for core business related keywords, whereas many rubbish websites with very low quality and quantity have now gazumped me.

    Google, your Panda update has gone TOO far. My love affair with you is over. And you can take THAT to the Bing – err, I mean bank!

  • http://www.mybabygiftbasketsandmore.com Joyce

    I personally when looking for any information on the internet look at not only Google, but Bing and Yahoo. I also look at the first page,but go on to the second and third and sometimes beyond that. I have found just because it is on the first page does not make it the best site for what I am looking for. I did this even before I started a website.

    • http://affiliatewebsitereview.com Rick Samara

      Hey Joyce,

      I think that kind of makes you a better reseacher than most. And, there is huge value in your ability.

      However, some people… actually, I would say most people, just don’t spend that time and effort. So, I have to conclude that the top of page 1, organic, is still the best location… location… location in town.

      All the Best,


      • http://thewebsensesolution.com Jon

        The North American consumer trend continues to focus on page 1 results, anything beyond that has a significant drop in clicks.

  • http://affiliatewebsitereview.com Rick Samara

    Hi Chris,

    Sure it does! Google is all about enhancing the search experience for its users. That’s why they control 70 percent of the US search market and 80 percent of the International market.

    The savvy marketer or webmaster just needs to keep up with the literature. And, there is no better place to get some great substantive analysis than right here! I don’t have the time to sift through the myriad of press releases to get my information.

    I just need to read your great stuff. Thanks for making me smart!!

    My Best,

    Rick Samara

    Internet Marketing Services for Small Business

  • http://denimjeans.ws jimbob jones

    I think the whole thing with medical advice has to come from an authority medical website is ridiculous. First who is to say who is an authority in any field. You do not have to be a doctor to be an authority in medicine or biology. Biologist , researchers, etc , etc are often bigger authorities in any medical field than most doctors. You are talking about mechanics and engineers here.

    Second of all when the average person looks up a medical problem or information they usually are not looking for the biggest authority on the subject matter , they are looking for laymen terms to the subject matter. Who the hell wants to read the Harvard Medical Journal on pimples or heart burn,cancer , etc . No one except for a few people and thats far and in between. There is no real medical research going on online. If you were to put real authorities first on serps then you would really have disappointed readers and surfers.

    What you are pushing for in reality is for large corporations who do the same thing under the guise of medical doctors and experts etc ,etc who hire writers to do the same thing as ehow but put a doctors name in the author box. We all know they are ghost written or just as badly written as everyone else. Let professional writers write, they write all the medical books , magazines , journals anyways .

    I guess who makes what and who an authority is who pays you these days.

    • PP

      My very sentiments. People are not daft. When they want casual information they go to eHow. When you need concrete information see your MD or attorney. This was applicable in thepre-internet days and it is still applicable today!

  • http://ktechy.com amit

    I think the results changed after your posting, or may be the difference is due to geo locations.

    Glad to read the insights of panda updates, Thanks Chris.

  • http://www.mlmconsultant.com Rod Cook

    I do a lot of research and use all 3 of the major engines. Google is fast so saves time… quality of content wise I can’t see a lot of difference. Is there something here that I am missing? I remember when Alta Vista was king and people would get upset with their tinkering, then a couple of months later it was back to the way it was. Great article Chris… keep us on our toes!

  • Johnny

    I wanted to read this article, but first I had to close a big, annoying pop-up with some server ad, then I had to close some bar which asked me to become ‘friends’ on Facebook. And now at the top there is a bar with some code to ‘get $99 off any dedicated server’. Can’t close it. So I am not in the mood anymore to read your article, but instead went to the comment section to write this.

    ….and you’re talking about Google burying authorative sites? I hope the big G buries this site deep…

  • Guest

    Google stopped fighting the real spam. They rank content created for search engines higher than content created for users. Google thinks paid links (even on blogs) are natural links and they also think there is no proof the links have been paid for. Google likes to stop little guys like making a living of a manually edited directory someting that is easy to deal with.

    The real spam because it is related to shopping in general can be stopped by bringing Google’s own content in the natural results like local results even if the searcher is looking to shop online and even more like bringing image search or rewarding a serious spammer with 4 links in the search so the rest get no visibility.

    Welcome to real spam taking over Google but rember “No Evil” here.

  • http://www.hub-uk.com David Jenkins

    I have found similar when searching for “cooking”. Now in my mind the first thing I think of when anyone says “cooking” is something to do with food. Google (UK result) in its wisdom thinks that the best authority is something called OY1 GAMES which has a page of Cooking Games!

    In 6th Google has another site which has animated cooking games! And in 10th place they have a record company site called Cooking Vinyl.

    Just seems like insanity at the moment. Whilst nobody ever agrees on what is the best site or should be at the top of search results these site surely shouldn’t be in the top pages even.

    I play Warcraft and on page two of Google there are two results for cooking in Warcraft . . . it is a game for God’s sake.

    Incidentally my site which was in top 5 for “cooking” doesn’t come in top 10 pages since Panda. May not be the best but surely more relevant than game sites?

    Problem of course is there appears nothing that can be done about this. Google is broke and only Google can fix it.

  • http://www.onlinesportscollectibles.com Larry

    NO! Their update has totally destroyed my business of 10 years. In the last 3 weeks because of not showing up in organic search unless you go to the 6 page I have lost 68% of traffic. I worked hard at SEO for the last 4 years and was always on either the 1st or 2nd search page but since their update they have totally ruined my business. That is what they intended to do which is destroy the middle class business’s because they are in bed with the likes of Walmart and others. Google you better lay off because if you continue to ruin my business and I start losing things and my kids go hungry you will see my fury in person. When people get down to having nothing left they do some horrific things so you best think about what your doing to small business.

    • Joe

      Please – Larry – Find some other traffic sources… There is a saying in permaculture: Diversity breeds stability. Relying on Google for income to feed your family is not a stable arrangement. Do some research on the net – look for other traffic sources – a few of the really top marketers only get 5 – 30% from all search engines – they get a huge chunk from other sources. There are many businesses who rely on Google soley – and it’s a big risk to take. Google are a business, and one thing holds true – they are driven by profits. If your small business is swimming in the same direction then happy days, but if not or if they change direction your business will suffer alot.

    • Guest

      Larry I know the feeling. This Panda update only benefits their Adwords/Adsense. Google has gotten mean and evil. It is time for the government to break them up. They are corrupt to its core. An article on a major newspaper from a site owner affected by these algo. changes is enough for them to whitelist them. Google needs to be back to what it was and stop releasing these stupid, devastating blows which fixes nothing, destroy lives, businesses and it is very anti-competitive. They were doing fine before with their slow updates. Still with Panda the junk is at the top. I’d say the government needs to regulate Google and search heavily to be fair. Maybe treat them like a public utility. This talk from Google about having a whitelist, blacklist, or whatever has got to stop!

      My business of many years Google destroyed it overnight. Now all I see is a “reconsideration request” which people say is useless and Google doesn’t even reply, tells you what the problem is, or re-index the sites. That should be illegal right there.

      I turned anti-google. I tell everybody to use Bing and that Google is very dangerous. I’m using Bing now. Tell everybody you know to quit using Google and not to click on ads.

  • http://www.abipo.com Brian Wilson

    Interesting article and discussion. Authority and certification should carry more weight but the question is how can Google ascertain that so they can more accurately display search results? I’m sure in the future everyone will have an authority rating associated with them (or their fingerprint) that somehow gets transferred to any articles they submit!

  • http://www.atouchofbusiness.com Acey Gaspard

    I think Google’s results are worse. I used to love Google because it gave me the results I wanted in a flash. Now, I have to spend a lot more time trying to find what I want, especially in long tail searches.

    The problem is, Google can’t read and they can’t tell if a page is junk or not just by using a computer program. If they could, they would not need to update every few months.

    Even though my site lost a lot of traffic, I would not be so disappointed if the Google search results improved; but, the way I see it, they didn’t.

    I used to rank for “how to start a bakery”; my listing went down the page and my traffic decreased enormously. When my listing dropped, I looked at the pages near the top and they are definitely NOT better than my page.

    Sure, I have ads on the page, but the revenue from the ads are what allow me to keep adding content. Is my content junk? I don’t think so… But you be the judge.

    I’m with Google on improving their search results but with such a big update, did they really? Will they continue to be the leader? Probably, because the average user can’t see the difference and take whatever results they can get. However, for people that are pro-searchers, the difference is evident. Unless they find a way to get rid of the junk and minimize casualties they will lose market share in the future.

    There are numerous ways to figure spam; and hers’ a simple example: if a site is producing thousands of pages a day well, of course that is an indicator. How many legitimate sites produce that kind of content? None. Sure, Facebook and Twitter create more but those are user generated sites, as well as many others. There is a lot to fighting spam, I’m not saying it’s easy. They need to keep working to get rid of junk but without hurting the little guys; the little guys have a lot to offer.

    Google is only concerned about their users, but if they cut off the small publishers, why should people continue to publish, if no one is to see it? Don’t eliminate the little guys, or people’s views.

    That’s The Way I See It

  • http://anumuloyo.blogspot.com Google panda

    I see that google will clean low quality content, but it is not easy. Because algorithma not like human being. google panda has no feeling as mind people. your article is very amazing.

  • http://pamelawynn.com Pamela

    Every week people still show up at my law office with eHow articles from non-experts who clearly do not understand the issue provide blatantly incorrect information. Certified experts should be weighted heavier. Heck I even believe that non-experts should be required to clearly state the fact that they are not certified!

    • http://thewebsensesolution.com Jon

      As the web becomes less anonymous, it will be interesting to see how the law applies to incorrect information provided online such as the scenario you have described. I think that some clear laws on the subject could help prevent abuse of internet anonymity and we will all be better off with more accurate results. It is not Google’s fault that web users post incorrect information on any given subject. How would you write an algorithm around that? Referencing search terms to sites like Wikipedia certainly won’t help as they are user driven too.

  • RD

    If you do your part and tell family members, friends, etc. to quit using Google and use Yahoo or Bing, the ball will roll and hurt Google’s business. They will keep losing search share. The point is to get the snowball rolling. Google is not good for the users (privacy issues) and it is abusive towards businesses. Tell them to use Firefox and Adblock to block adsense ads.

  • http://Bathtimeshowercurtains.com Dan Birk

    The changes seem to favor many big name companies. The smaller niche websites do not show up as well.

  • http://Bathtimeshowercurtains.com Dan Birk

    It is more difficult to find niche websites. It seems to favor large well known companies.

  • http://www.rickgrossman.com D. Lukow

    Unfortunately Google is constantly fooled by meaningless blogs with useless information.

  • http://www.neo-symmetry.com Neo Symmetry

    Yes, the results have changed for plenty of websites. The results have gotten better and are no longer trash “so to speak”. To me it appears that several sectors have taken a few hits. Your example really reflects on the fact that if the writer has the authority to be listed higher or lower because of who they are writing for, eHow or WebMD for example. The inception of Panda has definitely produced different results. I think that even if the article was written by the same individual it would be placed more accordingly because if the optimization and other page ranking factors each website has developed. Most people know that eHow is a high priority website, which I am sure has the more links built than the other website discussed. The search engines like all those links especially if they are of high quality and relative.

    Although I must agree that having someone who is a expert on the subject be writing the articles instead of some fly by night individual who is just good at writing and trying to make a quick buck. I suppose my final thought on this topic, is that if the article is on a higher PR page; then it will get higher results. Not so much who wrote the article.

  • http://www.kokoarena.com KokoArena

    Well written, these two fields needs experts or close “*”

  • Join for Access to Our Exclusive Web Tools
  • Sidebar Top
  • Sidebar Middle
  • Sign Up For The Free Newsletter
  • Sidebar Bottom