Did This Google Update Actually Improve Results?

    September 19, 2012
    Chris Crum
    Comments are off for this post.

Google messes with its algorithm every day, but it’s not every day that Google lets us know about what it’s doing.

On Friday, Google’s Matt Cutts tweeted about a new update to Google’s algorithm, which he said, “improves the diversity of search results in terms of different domains returned.”

Has this update improved Google results? Let us know what you think.

Most can probably agree that such an update would be helpful to users and webmasters alike (apart from those lucky enough to be dominating the SERPs). One WebProNews reader commented, “I think this is a great idea. I have no idea how many times I have seen a certain domain show up 3-4 different times in the top 5 pages. The first page is really the only one that matters anyways. But this will enable more people to rank for harder keywords. Well hopefully at least.”

Another added, “I’ve seen something even worse, results from a same domain occupied the whole first 3 pages in SERPs. Hopefully this update works.”

So far, however, we’ve seen little evidence that the update has done what it is supposed to do on a wide scale. In fact, so far, we haven’t seen any examples where it’s specifically been improved. There are some examples out there of where it has not improved.

Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land points to the results for the query “christopher jagmin plates,” for example. Search for that, and you’re likely to get ten results on the first page from ChristopherJagmin.com. You start getting into some other domains about halfway down page 2.

Google Domain Diversity?

Likewise, Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Roundtable points to a query for “bobs furniture”. This one isn’t quite as bad, but still, four out of seven results are from Yelp.

Google domain diversity?

In a WebmasterWorld forum thread on the topic, one user comments, “I’m still seeing typical results in travel though – for a sample ‘xxx hotel reviews’ no less than 8 out of 10 results are Tripadvisor. Admittedly they are on two different domains (.co.uk and .com), but surely Google can work out they’re effectively the same site. Looks like they still have some work to do.”

Another adds, “I share that sentiment and find it borderline idiotic to return the same site up to 87 times in the top 100.”

One member says, “Diversity in search results used to be standard in Google results. They’ve really messed up their search results and are now backpedaling.”

Some do claim to be seeing some improvements.

Brett Tabke, WebmasterWorld’s founder, even joined the conversation, saying, “Remember a few months ago when I had a search that returned 20 results from the same site? That type of multi-result is not happening anymore.”

A WebProNews reader tells us, “I would say I noticed immediate improvements in recipe searches. Where AllRecipes.com used to command 70-80% of first and second page results, they don’t really take over until the 4th page now.”

“In the last 24 hours I’ve seen several market categories where exact match domains seem to have dropped at the expense of other domains,” another reader added.

Just because the examples haven’t been easy to spot, does not mean Google’s update did not perform as intended. You can always point to examples of where Google updates didn’t work. The question is, how often are you organically happening onto search results pages where Google is plastering results from the same domain all over the page? If the answer is, “not very,” than perhaps Google succeeded in its goal.

As Google will often say, no algorithm is perfect.

Cutts did indicate that this was a minor update. It would be interesting to know how many sites have been positively and negatively impacted. There don’t seem to be nearly the amount of complaints we would see with a Panda or a Penguin update.

There was some speculation going around last week that Google may have launched a new Panda update, but the general consensus appears to be that what webmasters were experiencing was more likely a result of this change.

Google did announce this morning, however, that a Panda refresh is rolling out now, so I guess we’ll see the reaction to the effects of that come pouring in next:

Meanwhile, webmasters and SEOs are anxiously awaiting Google’s next Penguin update, which the company has indicated could be “jarring”.

We’re also still waiting on Google to reveal its big list of algorithm changes for the month of August. Last time, they oddly waited a couple of months before unleashing a giant list of two months worth of changes, so it’s hard to say when we might get the next list.

What do you think? Have you noticed any improvement? Let us know in the comments.

  • Peter Quale

    I would say I noticed immediate improvements in recipe searches. Where AllRecipes.com used to command 70-80% of first and second page results, they don’t really take over until the 4th page now.

  • http://www.simplyclicks.com David Burdon

    In the last 24 hours I’ve seen several market categories where exact match domains seem to have dropped at the expense of other domains.

  • http://invisibler.com/ donottrackme

    I also noticed the changes. It’s not updated across all the servers it seems.

  • John

    I (along with many other niche site owners) am still waiting for the Level The Playing Field algorithm to help us out as promised…More Google crap

  • Robert Blueford

    Not much change. Why call it an “improvement”. Why not call it a minimal attempt sometimes working. Wouldn’t reflect reality better, or is it taboo to base results on facts?

  • mark

    These are the worst results yet !

  • Justin

    google is very TrAnSpArEnT.

    Really that company need define rules what is good and what is bad. Like onpage seo is good. Links from blog comments is bad. Contextual links from blog posts is good, etc. Otherwise we in grey area, we never know what the next “briliant” idea comes into their anti-spam knowledge brains.

    Rules of game must be CLEARLY defined.

    • Steve

      YOU have got to be kidding! God never tells one what’s behind his thinking. He would rather have you guess and run around like a chicken with your head cut off.

  • http://www.trepaning.com Brian

    no changes for the tests I always run, still one domain takes most of the 1st page, plus one co.uk plus eBay.

  • http://www.liveambitions.com Steve

    Those are bad examples given Danny. Look at how many results there are. And perhaps those are the “best” results for such a specific query with very limited results.

    In regards to Barry’s example, I don’t the results are bad, but 4 results from Yelp tells me that Google gives too much weight to big name websites.

    I do like the fact that Google is trying to diversify their listing. However, they sometimes need to listen to their own advice and don’t over-optimize.

    • Tominguez

      The other day I was working with some people and we were sharing ideas, one guy had no clue of a lot of things happening, then someone asks, what search engine are you using for research? he replied, google. The rest of us used Yahoo, bing and ask, as well as google. I think that could be a new motto for people not finding things today, what search engine were you using? Did you guys have any updates on the new yahoo bot coming back from the ashes?

  • Sal

    No. Industry leaders still clogging up the top 5 pages of results. This isn’t third grade google. Fix your crap or get out. Everyone can thank google for sending moms and pops to the unemployment line so the rich can get richer. Your days as #1 in the search arena are numbered google.

    • Steve

      I second the motion. Let’s get it up for vote!

  • http://shoptoolsshoptools.com/default.asp Sherry Gillis

    I was a die hard Google fan from their inception and always used Google as my default search. This last set of updates have screwed up the search results so badly that I finally ditched Google for Bing the other day. I use Google extensively to pull up products in my field and it is quite difficult to find some of the basic items that are for sale in my industry. I sell automotive tools and when you type in a product code for an item that should be really simple to find, Google will often return Facebook after Facebook page with what is essentially a spam page for an item. You can’t buy the item from that page, so its a spam page that points into Amazon. I find lots of returns in Google for a product search in which the online store has discontinued the item! Why do they get top placement for an item when they have discontinued it from their online store, while I have it in my online store ready to be purchased, yet Google puts me on page 2?

    What I see happening, as an etailer that has sold automotive tools online since 1995, is Google wants to make money off of the search results and they are no longer willing to allow the organic search to benefit businesses without getting their pound of flesh. But Google hasn’t just affected the sales in our regular online store. We sell on Ebay and Amazon and our sales have plunged in all three stores at about the same rate.

    Google and Amazon have created what is essentially a monopoly on the internet now. Manufacturers and suppliers of products in the US have been cutting out the middle man – the retailer – for a number of years and are selling directly to the public. Retailers can’t make profits because they have to compete against the manufacturers of their products and Amazon encourages the manufacturers to set up with fulfillment by Amazon. Combined with a monopoly on search engines and web traffic, it is making it almost impossible to sell online these days.

    Anyway, I am reworking my strategy and will continue to try to get placement in Google and Bing, among other marketing strategies online. Finally, I think people are not buying online right now because they are waiting to see what will happen in the election. The day Paul Ryan was announced for Romney VP our sales went through the roof and I’m noticing that the sales rise and fall according to politics and news.

    • Steve

      We ditched Google and set up our SEO for Bing and Yahoo. Now, instead of not appearing on Google and being very low on Bing and Yahoo, we now are still very low on Google but 1-4 on our main keywords with Bing and Yahoo. We cut all of our paid ads on Google and have lost nothing which makes me wonder why we were spending 500 a month with Google at all. Most all of our sales now come form Bing now and our sales have gone up with Bing paid advertising. Now that is a great system that works the way you expect it to work.

      Google has tons of bucks and they could give a shlotkie for the medium and small business. Their aim is to give large corporations a break and to heck with everyone else. The gaggle at giggle needs to get real before they lose it all.

  • http://www.dirtworks.net John Meshna

    Google searches have sucked eggs ever since Penguin came out and they’re getting worse. I typed in the name of one of my vendors the other day since I couldn’t remember their url and instead of them being first there were 5 or 6 other listings ahead of them that had nothing to do with them or what they do. This is true for product searches of all kinds. Amazon and ebay dominate the search too which gives all sorts of false returns with only references to things or similar key words or some of the key words in the title and then you have to sort through all of that crap. My own 78 year old mother went looking for my web site a couple of weeks ago by using keywords and she couldn’t find it at all and these were keywords we used to be right at the top of page one for for years. she had to type my name into the search results to get to my web site.
    I don’t think this is a mistake Google is making. It’s a deliberate attempt to drive small businesses off the wen in favor of multinational and mall types stores like amazon, Bizrate, Target, ebay and all the other make believe stores where you can’t call a customer service person and they don’t actually carry any inventory and don’t have the overhead real stores do and care about their customers. And now Google is starting their own fake marketplace similar to amazon where they squeeze even more small businesses off the web and those who are left will be forced to sell through one of these venues and all they do is sit back and take commissions on every sale without knowing or caring what the products are, who’s buying them or doing any market research at all. They’re doing what the rest of the 1% is doing. Moving all the risk and cost onto the folks at the bottom while skimming off the profit at the top with no liability for what comes of it for the individuals involved or the economy in general. Google is just becoming the mob of old skimming off the top of what everyone else is doing and driving out the competition and driving up the cost of goods. Google has become a criminal organization.

    • Sterve

      I’ll second this. It is true. It is true

  • Tominguez

    Having different domains showing in the pages is good, in many queries if you type something that sounds like a product, one merchant may dominate 40% of links showing from page 1 to 10, not very useful or fair, bing and yahoo do a better job and hopefully google finally gets some useful results. Is hard to find enough comparable, diverse & useful results in google today.

  • http://www.stricklersports.com Lon Strickler

    Well, it’s improved our ranking for several keyword phrases…many near the top of the first page. This is the first that this has happened since 2001.

  • http://www.ukfuelcards.org.uk Richard Brooks

    Hi Folks

    this is an interesting one, but i find the lack of generic examples and the focus on brand terms somewhat incomplete. One would think this would work greatest in generic terms and supposes that was G’s intent.

    Consider this relatively uncompetitive market (.8 in G UK) ‘contract cleaning crieff’ … and make sure your G universal is set to query UK results.

    It’s i site i worked on 2 years ago and haven’t touched since. Indeed their current web admin actually degraded a few things…

    I cant find any other company on the first page and haven’t seen any real evidence of this update binding so far.



    more about me: http://econsultancy.com/uk/events/fodm/#richard-brooks-ma-director-of-search-strategy-fresh-egg

  • http://www.thevirtualpet.co.uk phil

    I havn’t seen much change but i have always said that you only need to show one result for each domain, i mean who wants to trawl page after page looking at the same website
    P.S. i have a website that has shows eight results in a row for a certain keyword when one would have done.

  • Sterve

    Bing is King. We have stopped even using Giggle anymore. They are getting so bad and have certainly stopped advertising with them. No buck for their bang is our motto. Bing does a better job and Yahoo is better at this point. Why waste time on Giggle???? Google is so yesterday.

  • http://www.soqana.com/ msmx1

    وسيط للتسوق الإلكتروني – سوق و حراج إلكتروني يوفر لك ميزة البيع و الشراء والتسوق وعرض كل مالديك بشكل سهل و مجاني في حراج السيارات و العقارات و الأراضي والأجهزة الإلكترونية والمستلزمات النسائية

  • http://thecomputergal.com Nora McDougall-Collins

    The page(s) full of one domain is a problem. One time I searched for various versions of “historic hotel” and got two pages of the same hotel in Ouray, Colorado. Honestly, you couldn’t pay me to stay at that hotel because it looks like they aren’t playing nice – as if they are the only historic hotel in the US!

  • http://thecomputergal.com Nora McDougall-Collins

    Well, I tried to post a comment, but the system thinks I’ve posted it before. Hmmm, strange.

  • http://ephedrinewheretobuy.com Mike Budd

    I wish I could be concerned by this update regarding my own site, it would mean I have several results on the first page 😉

    To be honest I have seen no special changes for the searches I do frequently. But anyway a good step in direction of diversity.

  • http://how-yourblog.blogspot.com/ Fachri

    These are the worst results yet !

  • Joe Giavanni

    Surprise Surprise! Just more ads! We are moving away from Google more and more and advising our customers to look at other search engines as well. How much Overstock is there? It does looks a little different, but it sure seems that the more a site pays Google, the better the search results are.

    I think a lot of the people who were told to remove links were small merchants and it was a ploy buy Google so that they can focus on those companies that spend $100 grand a year or more on AdSense, and now, product listings. We’ll gladly do “pay per click” but not under a bid arrangement where the more you pay, the higher you’re product lists: EVEN WHEN THE PRODUCT IS NOT THE BEST DEAL FOR CONSUMERS!

  • http://www.shrinkwrapandstretchfilm.com Brent Roake

    In the few searches I have done after reading this article, I could not tell a big difference. If they are trying to allow multiple domains to show on the first page instead of one domain with 5 different pages it would benefit users and websites trying to rank.

  • http://booksandhealth.com kc

    Since Friday our traffic is down… It hasn’t helped us … but oh that’s right … we are a small business and can’t afford the big $$$’s for ads which Google is after… Time to give up on Google and try somewhere else…can’t hurt…

  • http://www.captaincyberzone.com Cap’n Cyberzone

    I’m on the roller-coaster’s downhill again. Adsense has dropped to pennies … again.

  • http://www.tipsinablog.com Danny

    Results seem to be all over the place.

    This is my personal opinion, of course…

    Some of my main keywords have dropped off to around page three, and it looks like the slide will continue no matter what I do or don’t do(page optimization or not)…..

    Yet, the pages I needed up on page one(stuck on page three) for products I was recently promoting(special promo) have now jumped upwards and are heading for page one(And will definitely get there soon)….

    The irony is that I just took the promo page down once the offer expired, which throws logic out the window, as I am ranking better since removing the page…..(yes, I understand the delay(time frame) in indexing–de-indexing)…..

  • http://umstrategies.com Peter Sundstrom

    I have to say that I haven’t come across any examples of where a one site dominates the SERPs.

    I think it is fair that Google shows multiple results for a generic search like ‘IRS’, as that is a large organization and you want to know the most relevant pages from it.

  • http://www.pcccare247.com PCCare247

    Yeah i have notice there is change on search result but not much.. please improve this algo bit to get more relevant resuly..

  • http://www.megawebhost.com Ski Dude

    I was searching for some configuration info on an old version (1.2) of the Apache web server (for work, certainly not for my server). All I got was information on the most current versions. When searching on something old, stale content is good! Don’t give me the latest most updated content because I’m actually looking for something old and most probably stale. The search needs to be tied to content. Everything else, all the other indicators are less important than the analysis of content.

  • Ridiculous

    on google.fr if you type “AFER” ( name of an association ), the 2 first results are a different domain name with the same content. ( same site, same ip, different domain name ! )

    It goes totally against the panda duplicate content algorithm.

    Panda and penguin are a failure to the end user, a great success for adwords. that’s all there is to say about the current situation.

  • John

    It’s fun watching Google destroy their search results even more with every update. How does Matt Cutts even have a job anymore?

    • http://www.cmsbuffet.com/ CMS Buffet

      That is Funny.
      Google “pushes” the Organic results lower and lower.
      Too many people click the top 3 PPC ads and do not realize this is PPC.

  • http://UKEcommerce.com UK Ecommerce Websites

    I think possibly the reason that there have been less complaints is that more people are starting to give up on Google and abandon ship. I mainly use Bing these days. They return much more useful results for most of my queries.

    I only realy monitor Google for my clients SEO positions nowdays.
    If less people are using Google and are moving away to other search engines then the number of complaints each time they roll out some moronic change will get less and less.

  • Matt Garnham

    I feel that your ‘bobs furniture’ example isn’t fair as the results from yelp, whilst being from the same domain are actually referring to multiple (apparently) different businesses. Why is this a bad thing? And how do you suggest that Google (or anyone else for that matter) should distinguish between them and pick the one to serve up?!

    • http://www.webpronews.com/author/chris-crum Chris Crum

      It’s simply an example of where Google is returning the same domain for several results. I’m can’t say for sure whether they’re the best possible results or not, but I do know there are a lot more local business review sites out there.

  • http://feel-good-vibe.webspawner.com Chris

    ive been working for months trying programs on the market.. Check out what felt good to me :) feel-good-vibe.webspawner.com

  • http://www.adrianland.co.uk Adrian Land

    I normally agree with UAT, following the data etc. But there has to be some common sense. The footprints left on people heads by some changes can be massive and sometimes livelyhood changing.

    I personally am asking everyone I know to use Bing/Yahoo or a specific vertical engine just to show that there are choices.

    I think that Google in its bid to try and tackle some spammers who are very few in reality are ‘throwing the baby out with the bath water’.

    It is a shame that the average user doesn’t see the detail like us, the community who stares at the screen, a little too much!

  • http://www.beatlottery.co.uk Peter

    I have some interesting example how google proves that 0% site optimization, almost 0% content and using old web technology can easily bring you to the top of search results.

    Try to search for “how to win the lottery”.

    Interestingly on spot #2 I can see some unbelievable bad site with no content, only some heading, page frames – oh come on! Are you serious Google?! Are you telling us that site with no relevant info at all can so easily rank in top spot?!

  • http://goo.gl/VmJXu Rajesh Magar

    Yes even I’ve been little bit unhappy with this update. Changes I am facing at my place (India) is KMD “Keyword match domain” is ranking high then that of the PMD “Partial match domain”.

    And keyword match domain which is fully stuck with the search keywords is really irreverent to the user requirement.

  • http://coloradoouting.com Mike

    I getting so tired of trying to meet the constantly changing google parameters! Not two weeks ago we were doing well on the whole. Now we’re no where to be found…even for the exact search term. I’m really tired of searching for the exact title of my post and finding two results for that, of which my post is not one, and the rest have absolutely nothing to do with the search term(s). Google has become so big..with their hands in everything, but it seems like they’ve completely lost control of the quality search engine they used to have!

  • Convergence

    I remember that search engine called the Gooogle…

  • Brian

    This will end up with the opposite of what google wants. The diversity of websites showing information in a clever and unique way will disappear – as my site probably will after 14 years of toil. I cannot compete with 30 tripAdvisor entries – sure google likes us for some things but those pages don’t make us any money. Any page we could make money on is now buried. Nice one google, job done.

  • http://www.shrinkwrapandstretchfilm.com Brent Roake

    I read this post a couple of days ago and said that i have not done much testing on these changes, but it sounds like a good idea. Since then I have had time to do some searches for my self and I was wrong. What ever changes Google has made are terrible from what I see. Terrible search results that are not even relevant to the search term.

  • http://lasvegaswebsitesolutions.com Claudia

    The new changes in google give priority to big directories, i.e. angieslist, citysearch, thumbtack, etc., and push the local business websites to pages 2+ for keyphrases targeting local services, i.e. plumbers, landscapers etc. Google should try their best to list the local businesses first, then the big directories…

  • Small Business Destruction

    Since Tuesday, we have lost 50% of our business. Google has made it impossible for small U.S. companies to compete with third world competition that pays lower taxes and can afford to put more into buying adwords.

  • http://sarasotabayrealestate.com Sarasota Bay Real Estate

    For a long time I thought the people complaining about the SERPS were a bunch of whining spammers but Google search results really are getting drastically worse. (Thanks for opening my eyes Chris with your articles)

    About the only improvement I have seen in Google is all the squidoo and ezine articles pages are gone but they were tolerable when they were surrounded by quality pages.. Now the quality pages are gone.

    Like many of you I switched to Bing this year as my SE of choice.. Couple weeks ago I took that Bing challenge for grins and giggles and I did it at least 10 times and all 10 times Bing was better. I was completely shocked. It is true, Google search results really do suck.

    It just defies logic that Google can be so stupid. Well, they are going to get what they deserve and I find their crash and burn in search to be rather entertaining. Think about it, they are getting their A$$ handed to them by Microsoft and Apple LOL!!! A couple companies that most of us looked at 6-7 years ago as a couple looser has-been’s.

  • http://www.gurgaonpackersmover.com suman saurabh

    why my keyword suddenly lowgrade

  • http://alexk2009.hubpages.com Alexk2009

    Typing “men in black” got me nothing but references to the film men in black 3 and wikipedia. I wanted references to the “Men in Black” who allegedly harass UFO sighters. However “Alchemists men in black” got me to an article I wrote on the topic. I clicked forward a bit then gave up looking for the results I wanted

  • Justin

    no, it really not improving their search results. it just make them worse.

  • Steve

    I had 3 well-trafficked local review sites, formerly all on page 1, just get buried down on pages 46, 53 & who knows elsewhere. Everything legit, providing current & relevant content – all shot to hell with just this “minor” algo tweak…WTF?

  • Wayen Paden

    I don’t think it will benefit for webmasters. Suddenly my keyword lowgrade.”Improves the diversity of search results” only working when we are serching in 100 search result, its not working in 10 search results. I Cann’t understand what exactly Google Team Want !! I think this is Bad time for SEOs.

  • Luke Amelia

    I am sure it would be of great help to the users, but while performing some research on net I run a query for rackmount monitor, and out 0f 10 Rackmountmart has 4 results showing up on SERP, and this thing happened only after Google rolling out this update(I suppose). So, things are not that certain as Matt tweeted or atleast not in this case.

  • http://handdryerindia.com pelister

    From the analysis, from user comments and reviews, its clear google has screwed up the search result. Same domain appearing 3 or 4 time in search results doesnt mean that it is the only site doing business, there are still more good business sites out there, how does google decide to place all the ten result from the same site in search.

    When I am searching for a product I would like to look at different places to compare quality and cost.

    What if I am searching for videos will google place all the ten results from youtube or metacafe?

    google once followed the basics, keeping everything simple, but now they think they are the GODS screwing up the entire world, off late a lot of garbage sites are in google search results, I can show lots of evidence.. What will Matt cutt say about that..

  • http://handdryerindia.com pelister

    Exactly Google has found a way to make a great fortune out of Adwords and that is all these update is about…