Google seems to list old threads in results and it's maddening

cdub24

Enthusiast
Joined
Nov 12, 2015
Messages
112
For some reason Google seems fixated on old threads on my site from 2006 or 2009.

For example search "Chapman film school reviews" and it shows threads from 2006 2007-2010... But we have a bunch from this year or last year.

https://www.filmschool.org/search/8968273/?q=chapman+film+school+reviews&o=relevance

https://www.filmschool.org/search/8968254/?q=Chapman&o=relevance

Wtf Google!

At least the review page for the school and the rating shows up in the search. Don't know why the threads it features are so old.
 

Jim McClain

Senior Citizen
Joined
Jan 31, 2006
Messages
1,996
Google appears to be showing the higher quality content older posts than the lower quality newer. Take a look at the content on the pages Google ranks higher and compare them to the pages your internal search engine ranks higher. Looks to me like your search feature ranks higher for new content, even though it is of lower quality. And I'm not referring to relevance - newer may very well be more relevant to you, but Google places a higher importance to quality content than to when the content was created.

I'm actually glad it works that way. It would guide me in how I would structure my site architecture, with special attention to good SEO practices. Now, some people may argue that SEO changes over time, so it's too difficult to devote much time to, but I disagree. Good SEO has always been more focused on creating content for people, not search engines and that's where I spend my SEO time. I don't try to adapt and change every time Google updates its algorithm, or whatever they call it, I just concentrate on the CSS and moderation tools to make my content easier to find and of as high a quality as possible. Here's just a few things I do:
  • Make sure page titles (<title></title> and <h1></h1>) are relevant to the discussion - edit those that use "help me" type titles, use too many stop words (the, a, to, is, etc.) - for instance, I would have edited your title to "Google's Maddening Old Thread Results".
  • Use header tags (<h1>, <h2>, <h3>, <h4>) to their advantage to guide search engines to the most relevant content - it is older technology that has stood the test of time (although I don't concern myself with the <h5> and <h6> tags anymore).
  • Split topics that go off the tracks - once members have concluded the original relevant discussion, they have no compunction to continuing to chatter about irrelevant stuff - I create new relevant discussions out of those by moving those posts to the appropriate forum and giving them a good subject title.
  • Copy and edit posts that contain 2 separate and interesting topics - some members want to tell the OP their experience or solution to the main issue and then offer advice about something only barely related, but also interesting, so I copy the post to a new topic, then edit both so only the relevant content remains in each - which usually results in greater content and relevance for both threads.
  • Utilize features and plugins that help members share or find opinions in a more valuable manner - using a likes system that reduces those 2 or 3-word thank-you posts; use a quality search feature; acronym translations and more.
That's just a handful. I realize this can be a lot of work and some webmasters won't find it all that valuable or desirable, but even just one or two of these or other ideas can help search engines rank your content better. I have a niche site, so I feel that I must work a little harder to be able to rank higher than some big name corporate sites. It's been a labor of love for me.
 

Jim McClain

Senior Citizen
Joined
Jan 31, 2006
Messages
1,996
What do you consider "high quality"
It's easy enough to see differences in the OP's issues by following the links provided and using the same terms to search Google. Better ranking on Google seems to be posts with lots of relevant text (keywords/phrases pulled from titles, included in the text); better ranking in the site's own search engine seems to be content that includes the search term, especially in the title, and the newest.

The internal search feature is probably great for finding stuff on its own website, but could probably be bested by using Google's feature for site-specific searches (search term example: site:filmschool.org chapman film school review), but it weights better on substance than date too.

I also note that results may be skewed because the included term "film school review" is also part of the tagline used for the website, which means it appears in the <title> of every page of the site. That may not be what people include in their own search terms.
 

cdub24

Enthusiast
Joined
Nov 12, 2015
Messages
112
I also note that results may be skewed because the included term "film school review" is also part of the tagline used for the website, which means it appears in the <title> of every page of the site. That may not be what people include in their own search terms.
I made that change for good SEO. Or at least what I thought was good. Maybe I'll put it back to the default?

I like your suggestion of renaming thread titles to be better. Did some of that this morning.
 
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