Google Search Results Sometimes Very Bad

by updated 2012/06/13

Google has made a big deal recently about how all their recent changes are supposed to make search results more relevant and accurate. Many small sites like this one have been severely penalized because we are not considered “authoritative” enough to be included in search results. The problem is that many of the sites that are now showing up at the top of Google search results are not only garbage, but often down right scummy content thieves. This is a problem that many online are writing about, but I have yet to see Google admit there is a problem.

I will try to show one example here, but keep in mind that depending on your location and search history, Google results might look different to you than to me. I did a search for “organic food” specifying that results come from only blogs. I was trying to see if anyone had paid to read a research study I had recently written about and then posted a blog article about the study. The first blog at the top of the Google search results looked to be exactly what I wanted to find but when I clicked through to it I found it was a patently obvious scraper site. The site was copying articles from across the web and re-posting them as their own content. The site was the worst kind of plagiarizer site there is, often posting several articles an hour, all stolen from other, original, sites. But Google put this scumbag site right at the top of the search results!!

Here is a link to the results in question. Hopefully those results will stay the same over time so you can see the site in question at the search result titled: “Does eating organic food make you a jerk”. If the search results don’t show that for you, following is the link that will take you to the site Google put at the top of the results. You will need to edit out the “dot” from the link text and replace it with a period as I don’t want to give a real link to that spam, scraper site. http://organic-food-tips *dot* com/  And here is a link to the actual article I wanted to read that had been stolen from the original author at a legitimate website: http://organic-food-tips *dot* com/does-eating-organic-food-make-you-a-jerk-2/  Fortunately I did find the original article at the Fox News site and linked to that from my previous post.

This is very discouraging to those of us that try to post original content but then see that content stolen by a scraper site and re-posted by Google at the top of their “authoritative and relevant” search results. The original articles by the original authors are often no place to be found in the search results.  Shame on you Google.

Will Sig
1 John

Oh yeah, Google has a big and growing problem with accurate results. My personal blog hasn’t been Penguin-slapped yet, but one niche site I run with a few ads is now being outranked by people who steal my content. And it isn’t just the scummy Your-Content-Reposted(dot)com sites, it is also the “authoritative” ones like Yahoo Answers or Wiki Answers who seem to be stealing credit as well.

Here’s another problem: I’m getting totally different results from the search link you posted. In fact, this is a two part problem. Not only is there a “search bubble” showing us different websites, I’m also seeing WholeFoodsMarket as the top “blog” for organic foods. In the second spot is a site that hasn’t been updated in almost three years!

So why does Google call this a success? Well, one employee commented that the number of searches is up, and that implies more chances to serve ads. Unfortunately, that is a pretty bad long-term strategy as people are only searching more since they can’t find what they’re looking for on the first or second try. If Google was a new company rather than the already-dominant player in search, I think they’d have a hard time competing with DuckDuckGo or even Bing.
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2 Jan

Hi Will
I totally agree that Google haven’t got it right yet. When people comment on my blog I always follow the links that they leave to check out the site and some of them are total rubbish with no content but have a PR of 3-4 and a great Alexa ranking. So how do they get such amazing rankings when their sites are rubbish? I went to one the other day which professed to be a health site, had half a dozen 200 word articles with a PR4!! It was an ugly site and all of the content was squashed up to the left hand side, not that you could call it content as there was no information at all.

Also I wonder if your site is penalised because you cover such a wide range of topics – does Google prefer a site to be about weight loss/home maintenance/internet marketing? Maybe something that the bots can easily recognise?
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3 Mat

If you search Tulum Blog the third result is an expired domain and my blog is now on page 15 or something stupid!

What have they done….

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4 Binky

I don’t think Google is doing this on purpose. They want to be relevant, but it must be hard trying to keep ahead of the spammers while keeping things relevant. It’s unfortunate Yahoo dropped out of providing original search results. Three main competitors are better than just two.
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5 Sarah

My traffic diagram has got a big break at the time Google has updated the Penguin algorithm, and I think many more bloggers have the same experience. The big question is: in which direction should we go forward? Which SEO tricks could work in this new blurry environment?

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6 Lara

Interesting article, and I exactly know what all the commenters are complaining about. I think that nobody knows exactly what should be the right way in this case. I can understand the big Gs motivation, they just want to serve their best for their audience, and filter the over-optimized sites which have got trashy content just for SEO reasons. But they also have banned some honest sites, which have been also optimized for some better page rank results. I think that we have to wait this time, and be careful with the use of SEO techniques. Because we can loose easily the results which have been reached with a very hard work. I have read a lot of posts about what to do, but I think that nobody could know the absolute right way. Some of the tricks could work, but the most of them dont. It is a blurry terrain for SEO experts as well. I am looking forward to the future, and wait until I will have some really assuring experiences about what to do next.

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7 Susanne

I have already met this problem, some of my blogs have gone from the 10th place to the 100th… I just cannot get over this…insane
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8 Abhishek

Hi Will, i think the changes made by google are coz they want to increase their revenues from advertisements. Before the penguin and panda updates, a lot of small businesses used to invest in SEO but after the updates people prefer adwords more since the cost of SEO has gone up tremendously. All this has resulted in a lot of spend on SEO getting diverted to adwords.

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