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Big Sites and Website Authority

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small person looking at big person

Googles John Mueller in an Office-hours hangout answered a question about whether a big a site with thousands of indexed pages influences Google’s perception of site quality. John Mueller answered no, it’s not a sign of quality and then provided more information.

SEO Perception of a Big Site Advantage

There is an old idea in the SEO community that big sites have an advantage over smaller sites.

When a smaller site can’t get top rankings some will shrug and write it off that the big site has an advantage because of how big they are.

An article published on Moz in 2012 offers an example of the belief that big brands have an advantage:

“There’s been a lot of debate about how Google, both manually and algorithmically, may favor big brands…

Since the beginning of the internet, the eventual advantage of big brands was only a matter of time.

This post is about why I think that advantage was inevitable, why it’s not going away, and what you can do to compete.”

It was a bleak outlook in 2012 and it is still a defeatist approach to marketing today, peddling the idea that ranking algorithms are rigged against smaller sites.

Despite new algorithms like BERT and MUM, many continue to believe that big sites have an inherent advantage.

Remove Low Performing Pages?

The person asking the question explained that they wanted to remove old pages that are poorly performing.

But they received pushback from the site developers who asserted that making the site smaller would reduce it’s perceived advantage from being a big site.

This is the question:

“So you’ve recommended several times in the past that large sites, that they focus on a smaller set of pages, I guess.

…The site I’m working on right now, we have a lot of pages that… a lot of pages… like a thousand pages, that don’t get any traffic, that are old, so I’ve been recommending to remove those.

But there’s a question that our dev team
has that they were under the impression that the more pages that Google has indexed of your site, the higher the authority it ascribes to the site…”

The person asking the question goes on to relate that the dev team is reluctant to remove pages because they’re afraid that it will impact the authority of the site.

He then asked John Mueller to “shed some light” on this idea of Google seeing a big site as more authoritative.

Google’s John Mueller Discussing Big Sites and Authority

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller discussing website authority of big sites

Big Sites Are Not Inherently Better

John Mueller popped the bubble on the idea that big sites, by being big, have an advantage over smaller sites.

John Mueller’s answer about a link between authority and how big a site is unambiguous:

“So it’s definitely not the case that if you have more pages indexed that we think your website is better.

So I think that, at least, is absolutely not the case.

Sometimes it makes sense to have a lot of pages indexed.

Sometimes they’re kind of useful pages to have indexed like that.

But it’s not a sign of quality with regards to how many pages that are indexed.

And especially if you’re talking about something on the order of …1,000, 2,000, 5000 pages, that’s a pretty low number for our systems in general.

And it’s not that we would say, oh, 5,000 pages is better than 1,000 pages.

For us, it’s all kind of like, well, it’s a small website, and we make do with what we can pull out there.

And of course, like, small website is relative. It’s not like saying it’s an irrelevant website.

It might be small but it might still be very useful.

But it’s certainly not the case that just having more pages indexed is a sign of quality.”

Big is Not an Advantage

A lot of this doesn’t take much thinking to pop a hole in the idea that big sites have an advantage.

I and many of my ecommerce clients regularly outrank big brands retailers.

Some might say that brands are able to leverage their popularity to push their web pages higher. But if those sites have a over a million pages, how much “push” do they really have to leverage?

We are deep into the new era of natural language processing where AI, machine learning and algorithms like BERT, Neural Matching, RankBrain, MUM all work together to use website words and images themselves to rank websites, lessening the influence of less reliable signals like länkar.

So it makes sense that Mueller discourages the idea that having more pages indexed is an advantage in the current phase of search technology.

Citat

More Web Pages Indexed Means Higher Authority in Google?

Watch at the 3:45 Minute Mark

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GOOGLE

Google ska betala $391,5 miljoner för uppgörelse över platsspårning, säger statliga AG:er

Publicerad

Google to pay $391.5 million settlement over location tracking, state AGs say

Google has agreed to pay a $391.5 million settlement to 40 states to resolve accusations that it tracked people’s locations in violation of state laws, including snooping on consumers’ whereabouts even after they told the tech behemoth to bug off.

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said it is time for Big Tech to recognize state laws that limit data collection efforts.

“I have been ringing the alarm bell on big tech for years, and this is why,” Mr. Landry, a Republican, said in a statement Monday. “Citizens must be able to make informed decisions about what information they release to big tech.”

The attorneys general said the investigation resulted in the largest-ever multistate privacy settlement. Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, a Democrat, said Google’s penalty is a “historic win for consumers.”

“Location data is among the most sensitive and valuable personal information Google collects, and there are so many reasons why a consumer may opt out of tracking,” Mr. Tong said. “Our investigation found that Google continued to collect this personal information even after consumers told them not to. That is an unacceptable invasion of consumer privacy, and a violation of state law.”

Location tracking can help tech companies sell digital ads to marketers looking to connect with consumers within their vicinity. It’s another tool in a data-gathering toolkit that generates more than $200 billion in annual ad revenue for Google, accounting for most of the profits pouring into the coffers of its corporate parent, Alphabet, which has a market value of $1.2 trillion.

The settlement is part of a series of legal challenges to Big Tech in the U.S. and around the world, which include consumer protection and antitrust lawsuits.

Though Google, based in Mountain View, California, said it fixed the problems several years ago, the company’s critics remained skeptical. State attorneys general who also have tussled with Google have questioned whether the tech company will follow through on its commitments.

The states aren’t dialing back their scrutiny of Google’s empire.

Last month, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said he was filing a lawsuit over reports that Google unlawfully collected millions of Texans’ biometric data such as “voiceprints and records of face geometry.”

The states began investigating Google’s location tracking after The Associated Press reported in 2018 that Android devices and iPhones were storing location data despite the activation of privacy settings intended to prevent the company from following along.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich went after the company in May 2020. The state’s lawsuit charged that the company had defrauded its users by misleading them into believing they could keep their whereabouts private by turning off location tracking in the settings of their software.

Arizona settled its case with Google for $85 million last month. By then, attorneys general in several other states and the District of Columbia had pounced with their own lawsuits seeking to hold Google accountable.

Along with the hefty penalty, the state attorneys general said, Google must not hide key information about location tracking, must give users detailed information about the types of location tracking information Google collects, and must show additional information to people when users turn location-related account settings to “off.”

States will receive differing sums from the settlement. Mr. Landry’s office said Louisiana would receive more than $12.7 million, and Mr. Tong’s office said Connecticut would collect more than $6.5 million.

The financial penalty will not cripple Google’s business. The company raked in $69 billion in revenue for the third quarter of 2022, according to reports, yielding about $13.9 billion in profit.

Google downplayed its location-tracking tools Monday and said it changed the products at issue long ago.

“Consistent with improvements we’ve made in recent years, we have settled this investigation which was based on outdated product policies that we changed years ago,” Google spokesman Jose Castaneda said in a statement.

Google product managers Marlo McGriff and David Monsees defended their company’s Search and Maps products’ usage of location information.

“Location information lets us offer you a more helpful experience when you use our products,” the two men wrote on Google’s blog. “From Google Maps’ driving directions that show you how to avoid traffic to Google Search surfacing local restaurants and letting you know how busy they are, location information helps connect experiences across Google to what’s most relevant and useful.”

The blog post touted transparency tools and auto-delete controls that Google has developed in recent years and said the private browsing Incognito mode prevents Google Maps from saving an account’s search history.

Mr. McGriff and Mr. Monsees said Google would make changes to its products as part of the settlement. The changes include simplifying the process for deleting location data, updating the method to set up an account and revamping information hubs.

“We’ll provide a new control that allows users to easily turn off their Location History and Web & App Activity settings and delete their past data in one simple flow,” Mr. McGriff and Mr. Monsees wrote. “We’ll also continue deleting Location History data for users who have not recently contributed new Location History data to their account.”

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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