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The Measure of Insanity - In World Search


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Okay, I've complained a lot about In-World Search. I've even complained about it when the OP was actually asking about Search on the Marketplace. But this result just absolutely flabbergasts me. With no changes in the parcel itself, how exactly are we to explain changes in ranking like this:

(search phrase) Page: 12, Slot:13; Rank=233    Was Page: 20, Slot:17; Rank=397  [+164]
(search phrase) Page: 11, Slot:3; Rank=203    Was Page: 4, Slot:18; Rank=78  [-125]

I mean, I could understand a few ranks, or even a page maybe .. but more than 100 slots change?

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Between the years when Google launched and when I stopped doing seo for a living (about 10 years), Google did algo updates many many times, but two of them were BIG - the "Florida" update and the "Big Daddy" update. Both of them caused huge changes in the rankings. Two in about 10 years isn't many. But major changes to the inworld search are fast and furious - too many too quickly. With web engines, we can take time to figure out what changed, and to recover, but not so with the inworld search. By the time you're getting a handle on what changed with one major update, another major change comes along to scupper the efforts you put in trying to recover from the previous one. The change just before Christmas was the last one for me. When it happened, I lost all interest in the SL search, and my rankings, and I still have no interest in it.

 

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Medhue Simoni wrote:

It's pure craziness, Darius!

On monday, I made it into the results for the word Animation. Yeah, I did, really, for a whole hour. I was like #8 too, on the first page, for 1 whooooooole hour. Did bring back some good memories, lol.

 

From my perspective, LL's Search Dev team is acting like a cruel kid with a sharp stick poised over the rat cage. I keep visualizing that kid poking and stabbing at the rats, then cackling wildly every time they leap, squeal and bleed from the abuse.

I see no benefit to anyone from shaking up Search results so badly that no one gains any foothold at all.

Some have claimed it's because of Spam? Well the version of Search that required spam to even show up was .. Jack Linden's doing.

So now if you take out your Spam, you drop out of results totally (or at least past page 5 .. and who ever looks past page 5?)

If you Spam just a little, you may climb to page 1 somewhere .. today.

If you follow the guidelines posted on their Wiki and the suggestions they send when requesting help .. you fall further because the guidelines and advice they give are outdated and wrong.

If you complain to Sea Linden .. you get crickets in reply or .. links to that outdated data.

HOWEVER ...

If you own a full Sim parcel and you are willing to annoy everyone by using every keyword in the book then you can rank very highly for everything (except the stuff you actually sell).

There ARE some people that are winning in Search. They are rock solid in their positions and never waver at all. But if you duplicate their parcel, object names and other particulars .. you will not get anywhere near that close.

If you NEVER change a thing on your parcel, don't update products, don't change descriptions .. in essence if you "play dead", you will gain slowly over time.

.. until the next "fix".

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Medhue Simoni wrote:

It's pure craziness, Darius!

On monday, I made it into the results for the word Animation. Yeah, I did, really, for a whole hour. I was like #8 too, on the first page, for 1 whooooooole hour. Did bring back some good memories, lol.

That would be due to the normal daily indexing, when pages that don't usually appear in the top 1000 rank highly for a brief period.

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Darrius, as usual I concur and feel your pain. I was had the top spot for some time as "Home Lighting" and seemingly, the relevance of their search was in fact "relevant".  However, now when I search Home Lighting, I again get everything with Home and Light and Lighting above me. They claim they base this off Google Search Algorithms however, Google by their own admission changes this over 300 times a year and per an SEO expert I spoke with, there is no way to match the Google system to SL as they do not share common characteristics that can be leveraged.

My take is that Linden Labs has full time employees working on search and once it was fixed right a while back, they had nothing to do, so they tinker and break it, then fix it. Sort of like our government...break it then tell us only they can fix it it..lol.

Look into the market place search and it becomes ever more baffling.  I have 5 of my lights in the "Most Popular" search under Chandeliers.  Oddly, none of the ones that show are my best sellers and one in fact has never sold one.  My actual best sellers are on page 5 or 6.

I've stopped loosing sleep over this since I make far more in IMVU and Red Light Center selling junk that I would be embarrassed to sell here but it makes a lot more money. Probably because my customers can find it.

 

 

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@Chelsea - I wish I could say that your experience was just confined to a few merchants, or to a few segments of products .. but I can't. As a result of my deep involvement in Search and SEO in-world, I've had the unique opportunity of hearing comments and horror stories from a wide range of people. As of yet, I have not encountered one person that has actually benefitted from the changes to Search.

But .. in the interest of fairness and the nagging feeling that maybe I only hear the bad stuff because people only seek out help when it's bad, I'd like to offer up a challenge ... as follows:

If you know of someone, if you are someone, if you've heard of someone or even spotted someone that has had a positive gain in their business as a result of the latest changes in Search .. please post about it here.

I don't mean those people who have managed to gain a lot of useless traffic because they've catapulted to the top of results for keywords that are not relevant to them. I mean just those that have actually seen legitimate buying customer sales increase since February 15th, 2011.

I am honestly trying to find some logic, some benefit, some positive outcome to the hours spent by the Search Dev team. For the life of me, I cannot fathom why it is that Rodvik Linden allows this absolutely destructive behavior to continue. The downturn in previously successful businesses, the concommitant fall-off in related sales, consumer confidence and overall negative perception attached to Linden Lab in general has GOT to be obvious to anyone with experience managing a multi-faceted enterprise like Second Life.

There are times when a measure of pain must be meted out in order to attain a higher goal. This truth is well known to anyone that's broken a bone or had a tooth drilled. But everywhere I look, I see merchant after merchant, hobbling around with broken bones and teeth full of holes .. and in pain ... for no discernible reason whatsoever.

Please Rodvik .. put a STOP to this madness. Grab the reins that seem to be flapping in the wind and pull this runaway horse to a stop before she drags us all off the cliff .. and takes the carriage called In-World Sales (that you are riding in btw) into the ravine.

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Phil Deakins wrote:

Between the years when Google launched and when I stopped doing seo for a living (about 10 years), Google did algo updates many many times, but two of them were BIG - the "Florida" update and the "Big Daddy" update. Both of them caused huge changes in the rankings. Two in about 10 years isn't many. But major changes to the inworld search are fast and furious - too many too quickly. With web engines, we can take time to figure out what changed, and to recover, but not so with the inworld search. By the time you're getting a handle on what changed with one major update, another major change comes along to scupper the efforts you put in trying to recover from the previous one. The change just before Christmas was the last one for me. When it happened, I lost all interest in the SL search, and my rankings, and I still have no interest in it.

 

 

Agreed

Sea Linden ought to go the way Jack Linden did! :smileymad:

 

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Chelsea Malibu wrote:

My take is that Linden Labs has full time employees working on search and once it was fixed right a while back, they had nothing to do, so they tinker and break it, then fix it.
Sort of like our government...break it then tell us only they can fix it it..lol.

 

You got it Chelsea....that's long been my belief......how else do you fill in 40 hours per week with just tinkering around with a Search Engine?

 

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Chelsea Malibu wrote:

They claim they base this off Google Search Algorithms however, Google by their own admission changes this over 300 times a year and per an SEO expert I spoke with, there is no way to match the Google system to SL as they do not share common characteristics that can be leveraged.

Your seo expert doesn't know the facts, Chelsea. LL doesn't "base this off Google Search Algorithms" - it IS Google search algorithms. It's a Google search engine. It's not a copy of the Google web search engine but it *is* a Google search engine.

Not only that, but LL can't do anything to change Google's algorithms. They don't have access to them, and they don't even know what they are. LL is no different to the rest of us in that respect. By research and experiment, we, and LL, can know some things about the algos. What LL can do is affect the input to the engine when it indexes the pages (daily) - LL creates the pages that are indexed. They can also arrange the search query in ways that influence the results. Both of those are external to the search engine itself. The search algorithms (those that produce the results) can't be touched or affected by LL.

 

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Phil Deakins wrote:

 

Not only that, but LL can't do anything to change Google's algorithms. They don't have access to them, and they don't even know what they are. LL is no different to the rest of us in that respect.

Yup and whereas in the past, Lindens may have worded things in a manner that suggests that they could do something regarding algorithms, at a recent meeting a Linden made it abundantly clear that they can't.

 

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Ciaran Laval wrote:

 

Phil Deakins wrote:

 

Not only that, but LL can't do anything to change Google's algorithms. They don't have access to them, and they don't even know what they are. LL is no different to the rest of us in that respect.

Yup and whereas in the past, Lindens may have worded things in a manner that suggests that they could do something regarding algorithms, at a recent meeting a Linden made it abundantly clear that they can't.

 

 

No matter that their statement "we can't change the search algorithms" is true .. which it is .. they do have two very effective means of "adjusting" search results as Phil points out.

To my mind, statements such as that are just as disgusting as Jack's public proclamation that they don't bias search results, right after they biased search results in favor of larger parcels.

They have very clearly spent time developing internal and invisible processes that generate the pages fed to the GSA with the sole intent of skewing results in totally unfavorable ways. They have also apparently altered how queries are submitted to the GSA to render their prized "long tail" searches totally useless.

Even though they have a top-flight engine in the middle, their continual efforts to feed it "misinformation" and further to butcher the search queries used to access the results have done good to no one but HAVE done massive harm to many.

Why?

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What I have taken to doing is using Google directly for search.  It actually works a lot better.  It would be nice if a Third Party Viewer implemented this as an "alternate search" to the broken official one. For all but the specific resident name, type it into your web browser Google search bar. For specific resident name type it directly into web browser address box:

For all:
site:world.secondlife.com/ [search terms]

For places:
site:world.secondlife.com/place/ [search terms]

For residents:
site:world.secondlife.com/resident/ [name]

For groups:
site:world.secondlife.com/group/ [search terms]

For a specific resident profile:
https://my.secondlife.com/user.name

For Marketplace search:
site:marketplace.secondlife.com [search terms]

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DanielRavenNest Noe wrote:

What I have taken to doing is using Google directly for search....

 

BTW: In case this sounds bass-ackwards .. one need only remember that when you uncheck "Show In Search" for your parcel (and LL doesn't collect the L$30 per week for that service), they automatically generate a "nofollow" HTML comment that prevents Google's web spider from crawling and indexing your parcel listing. So when you tick that option on and you think you're paying to be included in In-World Search .. what you are really doing is paying them to turn OFF the code that prevents indexing by Google. (Gosh .. why does that sound like a protection racket? Oh never mind.)

The other issue with this approach is that optimizing your parcel listing for Big Daddy Google frequently pushes you outside the parameters that LL considers "acceptable". Parcel listings are a totally different kind of beast than Google is designed to handle appropriately. (And btw, if you follow the Advice given by their Wiki page and referenced in emails they send out, Google won't like your parcel much either.)

Google is (primarily) looking for textual documents and blocks of human readable (and thus relevant) verbiage. Parcel Listings consist of lists of Objects where each is restricted to a 63 character Name and a 127 character Description. This does not really lend itself well to proper ranking or indexing by Big Daddy.

But with all that said, it just seems entirely backward that we have to pay Linden Lab to use a free service provided by Google. I realize they are the ones generating the web pages, but they generate those for parcels not showing in search too, so you can't argue it's to cover "expenses".

I dunno, I'm just exasperated I guess. This past week saw the departure of two more friends from SL ... primarily because they couldn't make tier anymore since their in-world sales have tanked due to dropping out of Search. Whatever they are trying to do, they are succeeding in strangling what had been a vibrant economy. As if the downturn in the global economy, natural disasters, lack of being the "New Hot Thing" on the 'net and all the other influences cited here and in other posts wasn't enough trouble .. it just seems counter-intuitive that Linden Lab would be working so hard to add more impediments to people actually succeeding and surviving in Second Life.

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I'm sure that nofllow isn't necessary when a parcel/page is not set to show in search. Didn't they remove not-in-search parcel links from region pages a while back, and started only including pacrels that are set to show in search?

I disagree with the idea that parcel pages are different to what Google is designed to handle. Google, and all web engines, is designed to handle *exactly* pages like our parcel pages - html pages, regardless of content. Parcel pages are no different to any other html pages on the web.

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Phil Deakins wrote:

I'm sure that nofllow isn't necessary when a parcel/page is not set to show in search. Didn't they remove not-in-search parcel links from region pages a while back, and started only including pacrels that are set to show in search?

 

You are correct, from what I know the links to Parcels not set to show in search are also not included on Region pages. If Region page links were the only method to "discover" pages used by Google, this would indeed guarantee that no parcel page would be indexed unless it was linked from a Region page. However, Google does not use that method exclusively. In my estimation, the 'nofollow" simply ensures it won't get indexed, even by "accident".

ETA: (fricken fracken buttons)

 


Phil Deakins wrote:

I disagree with the idea that parcel pages are different to what Google is designed to handle. Google, and all web engines, is designed to handle *exactly* pages like our parcel pages - html pages, regardless of content. Parcel pages are no different to any other html pages on the web.

 

Here we remain opposed. The results I see from checking Google do not reflect what I would "expect" to see .. for many reasons. Among those are of course the lack of Google's ability to consider the parcel listing as pertaining to a Virtual World with its own set of contextual indicators, but also because they do not have access to the myriad other details that LL could use to help assure relevant and honest results. (For example, Google cannot index the Asset Servers, the Sim Database Servers or even understand what "L$" means and why it is different than "L$0".) Google also does not index Parcel Pages on nearly the same schedule as does the GSA.

I believe the peculiarities of Second Life, (as well as the peculiarities of many other businesses that use a GSA) are exactly why Google began the GSA project and why so many companies find them useful. Google does work, but only sort-of (IMO) and not in a way that helps or makes sense for the purpose of in-world commerce.

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My rank remains forever unchanged, but that's because I'm in a niche market with only so many players (and some who "play" don't use the search-optimizing tools).

First and foremost, I'm more concerned about things not coming up at all than in what order. Rank is based on some combination of factors (mostly, to quote something, fantasy and crap--fantacrap!). But everyone should come up on search somewhere, even if the rank is wrong.

I notice partials don't work. For me, for instance, various combinations of the store name result in...the store (e.g., "foxdale" or "foxdale fine foods"). But "fox" doesn't return "foxdale." And for another store I know with someone's name as a possessive (like if it were "foxdales food"), the name without the S doesn't work. And that is screwed the hell up.

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Darrius Gothly wrote:

 You are correct, from what I know the links to Parcels not set to show in search are also not included on Region pages. If Region page links were the only method to "discover" pages used by Google, this would indeed guarantee that no parcel page would be indexed unless it was linked from a Region page. However, Google does not use that method exclusively. In my estimation, the 'nofollow" simply ensures it won't get indexed, even by "accident".

There are only two ways in which Google "discovers" pages. One is through links that point to them and the other is from sitemaps submitted to Google. For most of Google's existance, it was just the first - links pointing to pages, and you couldn't get a page into their index unless another page linked to it. Since Google introduced the submission of sitemaps, I don't know whether or not a page that is included in the sitemap will be crawled and indexed if it doesn't have at least one other page linking to it - probably not.  So, unless LL creates links to no-search parcel pages that we don't know about, no-search pages won't appear in the Google index. However, it takes sme time for Google to drop a page after it no longer exists and their crawler starts to receive 404s. Where have you seen the rel="nofollow" attribute applied?

 


Here we remain opposed. The results I see from checking Google do not reflect what I would "expect" to see .. for many reasons. Among those are of course the lack of Google's ability to consider the parcel listing as pertaining to a Virtual World with its own set of contextual indicators, but also because they do not have access to the myriad other details that LL could use to help assure relevant and honest results. (For example, Google cannot index the Asset Servers, the Sim Database Servers or even understand what "L$" means and why it is different than "L$0".) Google also does not index Parcel Pages on nearly the same schedule as does the GSA.

I believe the peculiarities of Second Life, (as well as the peculiarities of many other businesses that use a GSA) are exactly why Google began the GSA project and why so many companies find them useful. Google does work, but only sort-of (IMO) and not in a way that helps or makes sense for the purpose of in-world commerce.

There is absolutely no need for Google to "consider the parcel listing as pertaining to a Virtual World with its own set of contextual indicators". Parcel pages are just html pages, and no different from any other html pages on the web, and the Google engine is perfectly suited to indexing and ranking them. It's exactly what it was created for. No search engine is suited to treating their content in a *special* way, of course.

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Phil Deakins wrote:

There are only two ways in which Google "discovers" pages. One is through links that point to them and the other is from sitemaps submitted to Google. For most of Google's existance, it was just the first - links pointing to pages, and you couldn't get a page into their index unless another page linked to it. Since Google introduced the submission of sitemaps, I don't know whether or not a page that is included in the sitemap will be crawled and indexed if it doesn't have at least one other page linking to it - probably not.  So, unless LL creates links to no-search parcel pages that we don't know about, no-search pages won't appear in the Google index. However, it takes sme time for Google to drop a page after it no longer exists and their crawler starts to receive 404s. Where have you seen the rel="nofollow" attribute applied?

 

For example .. HERE. This parcel page is for a tiny (admin) parcel on my sim. It is not marked to show in Search. Take a look at the source for this page. You will see HTML as follows:

 <meta name="robots" content="noindex, nofollow">

This is the "nofollow" meta tag I was speaking of. I believe I confused the issue with the "rel" bit. My bad on that one.

People have and will put links to Parcel web pages in their Profiles. Groups also still have links to Parcel pages. Both of those page types are indexed by Google.

ETA: To fix URL of above link - Oopsie!

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That page "connot be found". Either you've got the url wrong or it deosn't exist. I was going to ask if LL actually makes pages for parcels that are not set to show in search but I can't imagine any reason why they would.

I think that LL can remove a previously indexed page from the GSA without waiting for the GSA to drop it, which I think takes a while even if it's no longer included in the feed. Knowing the Google will take some time to drop a page from its index after 404s start to be returned for it, perhaps LL add the robots meta tag to a page that was set to show in search but changed to not show in search, and leave it intact for a while so that the Google crawler will get in and the Google system will remove it from their index. After a while, LL can delete the page.

ETA: it was the url that was wrong - the page does exist.

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Phil Deakins wrote:

That page "connot be found". Either you've got the url wrong or it deosn't exist. I was going to ask if LL actually makes pages for parcels that are not set to show in search but I can't imagine any reason why they would.

I think that LL can remove a previously indexed page from the GSA without waiting for the GSA to drop it, which I think takes a while even if it's no longer included in the feed. Knowing the Google will take some time to drop a page from its index after 404s start to be returned for it, perhaps LL add the robots meta tag to a page that was set to show in search but changed to not show in search, and leave it intact for a while so that the Google crawler will get in and the Google system will remove it from their index. After a while, LL can delete the page.

ETA: it was the url that was wrong - the page does exist.

 

The dumbass behind the keyboard here copied the URL in the address bar from the "View Source" tab, not the original page tab. DUH!  My bad.

Try this experiment: Create a new parcel but do not set it to show in Search. Get the UUID and check the web page generated for it. It may take up to six hours for the page to be created, but you'll see that it has the "noindex, nofollow" meta tag once the page appears.

Next delete the Parcel by joining it back into its original "Parent" parcel and, after the next scheduled HTML update, you will get a server error.

HERE

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