Foundem Gets Lost in Google

August 20, 2009

I find newspaper stories with quotes like this quite amusing:

“Google is just too dominant for any of us to feel entirely comfortable.”

This statement appears in the UK Guardian’s story “Search for Answers to Google’s Power Leaves UK Internet Firm Baffled”. I have been asked to examine Web sites that have dropped or disappeared from a high ranking in a Google results list. I can’t identify these companies, but I can share with you three reasons that my team identified.

The first Web site was a financial services firm. The Web site with the ranking problem indexed its page using terms like “financial” and “services” and “enterprise”. The notion of substantive content, concrete nouns, original content, and inbound and outbound links were non existent. My recommendation to this outfit was to dump its present Web site development company, recruit a couple of writers, and get indexing help from a librarian. The company did not and it still is nowhere in the Google rankings. These missteps were news to my client. The problem was that the client was confident that she knew how to make a Web site pay. Wrong. Arrogant and stubborn. Attractive to some but not too helpful in getting a Web site indexed in a way that warrants a top ranking by the GOOG.

The second Web site was a company that made some sort of email add in. My recollection is that the software snagged email addresses. This outfit disappeared completely from the Google results list. We looked at the old Web site and the new Web site. There were metatags with hundreds of words, long page descriptions, and content that was essentially brochure prose. The problem we learned after doing some poking around was an “SEO expert” whom I shall not name. This expert fiddled and the unexciting site disappeared. The person who hired this “SEO expert” had some spiel about the brilliance of the “SEO expert”. My suggestion. Dump the crazy indexing and spend a weekend reading Google’s Web master guidelines. The company fired the person who hired the “SEO expert” and followed Google’s rules. The site is now back in Google’s good graces.

The third Web site experienced double digit decreases in traffic over a period of four months. We looked at the site and found hundreds of 404 errors, thin content, repeated service outages, and an interface that was tough for a human and pretty much a mess for an indexing robot. We turned in our report. The company’s management buried it. The site is up and unchanged. The problem was not Google; it was people who thought they knew something and did not.

Now what about the poster child in the Guardian news story–

First, running a query for pages indexed by the Google, I learned that Googzilla had 29, 600 hits for this site. This means that Google is indexing the site and that the site is in the index. In fact, has a miserable 782 pages indexed by the Google. I am not complaining. This means that on the surface the site is not generating enough “Google glue” to warrant a high ranking.

Second, I ran the site against some validators. Errors were returned. Not good. Before grousing, one should make certain that the code is clean. Google’s automated system thrives on data. Bad code is, well, bad.

Finally, I ran some queries and looked at the results. Yep, a dynamic site. Now the Google has some nifty technology for dynamic sites. Dynamic sites fall into the province of Google’s Programmable Search Engine and its mostly ignored dataspace technology. Foundem is obviously not hip to Dr. Guha’s methods of working with dynamic sites’ data.

You can see this in action when you navigate to the US and enter the query SFO LGA. Notice that the Google has some partners like Cheap Tickets, Expedia, and five others. My thought is that this “top site” should get Googley and try to work with the Google. I know this take work, but the effort may pay off.

Blaming Google for not indexing and providing a high ranking to a site may be good for the Guardian I suppose but not so helpful to Foundem. Google is a great many things, but the company is not set up to focus on a single Web site. Fix the code. Read about the Programmable Search Engine. Talk to the vendors who are listed as top dog in the SFO and LGA query. The Guardian’s reporter may not know about these nuances. More work is needed on the Foundem end of the deal.

Just my opinion.

Stephen Arnold, August 20, 2009


One Response to “Foundem Gets Lost in Google”

  1. If Google does not hear you did you make a sound? - SmartPlanet on October 27th, 2009 9:57 am

    […] Google is damned if it does and damned if it doesn’t. Relying entirely on software means it can be manipulated by software. Allowing for manual intervention leaves it vulnerable to the charge of being an abusive monopoly. […]

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