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Google Goes After MFAs
Brett_Tabke




msg:4272071
 5:45 am on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

New York Times:

[bits.blogs.nytimes.com...]


Google’s announcement did not mention content farms. But Mr. Cutts has spoken in recent weeks about the problem and said Google was working on algorithm changes to fix it. “In general, there are some content farms that I think it would be fair to call spam, in the sense that the quality is so low-quality that people complain,” he said in a recent interview.


Google Corporate Blog Release:
in the last day or so we launched a pretty big algorithmic improvement to our ranking—a change that noticeably impacts 11.8% of our queries—and we wanted to let people know what's going on. This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites—sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. [googleblog.blogspot.com...]


Demand Media Response:
[demandmedia.com...]
How our content reaches the consumer – whether it’s through direct visits, social media referrals, apps or search – has always been important to and monitored closely by us. We also recognize that major search engines like Google have and will continue to make frequent changes. We have built our business by focusing on creating the useful and original content that meets the specific needs of today’s consumer. So naturally we applaud changes search engines make to improve the consumer experience – it’s both the right thing to do and our focus as well.

Today, Google announced an algorithm change to nearly 12% of their U.S. query results. As might be expected, a content library as diverse as ours saw some content go up and some go down in Google search results.This is consistent with what Google discussed on their blog post. It’s impossible to speculate how these or any changes made by Google impact any online business in the long term – but at this point in time, we haven’t seen a material net impact on our Content & Media business.

 

BillyS




msg:4272628
 11:21 pm on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

Google Goes After AdSense Farms


Why is this called Adsense Farms and not Content Farms? Poor logic if that's the connection that Brett is making.
P-78

Robert Charlton




msg:4272629
 11:22 pm on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

I've just got to share a bit of satire from The Content Farm [thecontentfarm.tumblr.com].

We can assume, of course, that the cow milk on this content farm comes from contented cows. ;)

Cold beer suggests less contentment. :(

Robert Charlton




msg:4272634
 11:25 pm on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

I've been writing and searching while others have been posting, and I'm seeing some posts where others are less happy with the results. Let me say that my observations are built on a small sample, and certainly don't cover every niche.

Overall, I believe that user behavior and Traffic Shaping are a big part of this update, and that Google is looking more carefully at deep onpage content. Obviously, relevant links have also got to be involved.

I'm also thinking that AdSense and how people build AdSense sites can be an odd component of user engagement, which is an important factor for Google.

I reran some queries of personal searches I'd made where results had previously not been good. Previously, Q&A sites, which were filled with endless spammy restatements of the question, often took top spots. AdSense links trying to draw clicks were interspersed among the the questions and non-answers. On the results I'm now seeing returned, most of that junk, at any rate, is at least 30 spots lower.

I'm sure these AdSense links got a large share of clicks which pulled people off the sites fairly quickly. While these probably resulted in more immediate AdSense income to the site owners, they perhaps also provided a not good satisfaction signal to Google in the long run.

For the queries I've run, I'm seeing the pages now at the top providing much more useful information. Many of the newly surfaced pages still run AdSense, but, on many of these higher quality pages, the styling of the ads is different. The pages which are designed to keep users around have the ads in clearly delineated boxes with tinted backgrounds. Some of the best have the ads physically separated from the discussion.

There are multiple reasons that I'm assuming that user behavior was a factor in this update, but this is one of them. I don't think that Google is directly looking at AdSense styling or placement... but it's likely that the intention of design and of the overall site, to the degree that page design may have affected user involvement, was measured and factored into the new algorithm.

I should add that I don't believe that Google is counting AdSense data as part of this algo. I think Google has other ways of measuring user behavior, and for various church/state reasons would probably keep the AdSense and search data separate... but I'm not that familiar with AdSense TOS, and others may disagree.

I'm also seeing that information articles on several client e-commerce sites have regained lost positions. In one case, I also see that one of our pages is now being returned for a Content Farm style query... and that, in the serps for this query (but not others), it has had its title completely rewritten by Google to match the query. It was a long title to start with. This is a page, btw, that had dropped out of the rankings after the recent dupe update for a single word query and I thought it had been filtered as a dupe. It's also a page that has been subject to traffic shaping. I'll keep those thoughts for another discussion more focused on other aspects of the changes.

apauto




msg:4272650
 12:00 am on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

Robert,

I have two ecommerce sites, both with hand written content, and no manufacture descriptions. Both fell in the SERPs. Nothing to do with adsense.

in my field, i see sites ranking in top 10 for keywords that they build their own blogs for, and then link back to themselves.

Doesn't make sense at all.

pontifex




msg:4272660
 12:11 am on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

Well, I understand what Robert is referring to with "behavior & targeting" and it might be a strong ranking factor now - but there is another point to mention, that I see floating thru the threads:

I also do run an eCommerce outlet with certain products a lot of shops have, even with the same, or very similiar copy. Especially those products took a hit yesterday.

So: duplicate content to a MUCH harsher (on page, per paragraph) extent is my first vote here.

Add the bounce rates from analytics, time on page and mix that with classic SEO factors.

Would make a picture for me....

netmeg




msg:4272672
 12:17 am on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

I don't have anything scientific, and I haven't spent enough time on it today yet, but I've been trying to find some common denominators with the sites over which I have some control (somewhere between 200 and 250) that are either seeing no drop, or an actual gain. Still working on it, but these are some of the things I'm seeing pretty consistently in sites that were NOT hit:

- No AdSense, or AdSense set apart from content (like in a sidebar, top banner, or footer (I haven't looked at styling, but that's an interesting thought))

- High number of social mentions from a variety of sources and profiles (facebook shares/likes, tweets and retweets, bookmarks)

- Higher than average number of return visits over time (I'm really interested in where this may lead me)

So far I am NOT seeing any consistency with regards to amount of content. I've got some clients with what I consider to be pretty thin content pages (unique - but thin) who don't seem to have been touched.

But it's early yet. And I have a feeling it's not done shaking out. These are just some observations off the tip of my brain.

(Much as I hate to admit it, I have one AdWords client who gets a TON of sales conversions off a single eHow page, because his ad shows there. I've been to the page; it's horribly written, generic, barely accurate information on a specific topic. The main reason I left his ad there was because it was one of his main competitors who wrote it. So I wrote an ad specifically for that page, set up a placement campaign, and he gets 25 sales a week off it. I almost hope it stays around.)

[edited by: netmeg at 12:22 am (utc) on Feb 26, 2011]

Robert Charlton




msg:4272674
 12:20 am on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

apauto - I'd recommend you share those thoughts on the February Update thread... [webmasterworld.com...] ...where there are discussions of what the overall algorithm implications might be.

The reason I posted the thoughts I did here is because of possible connections I see among content farms, the update, and AdSense.

indyank




msg:4272689
 12:53 am on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

Obviously there are a few things in this update. My notes have what Robert mentions here and Ismailsman had mentioned in the other thread.While what is said here is in the list of causes, what Ismailsman had mentioned is in the list of impacts and both are very prominent. Thanks

[edited by: indyank at 1:03 am (utc) on Feb 26, 2011]

indyank




msg:4272695
 1:00 am on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

I don't see normal search users downloading and using the extension in bulk in a short period of its release.Almost none of those real user community would have known about this extension.

If google is using it to validate their algo changes that include what is said above, it is poor.Whatever data that they would have received so far through this extension would be from users with malicious intent

incrediBILL




msg:4272701
 1:16 am on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'm naming this update the "St. Valentines Day Massacre Update" or "Update Massacre" for short.

Bunches of directories were whacked in this pass, not pretty.

asabbia




msg:4272707
 1:25 am on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

I am fearing this so much. Are there any way to check this algo in other country too? Can't wait it

walkman




msg:4272708
 1:27 am on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

I don't see normal search users downloading and using the extension in bulk in a short period of its release.Almost none of those real user community would have known about this extension.

If google is using it to validate their algo changes that include what is said above, it is poor.Whatever data that they would have received so far through this extension would be from users with malicious intent


A core of techies from Hacker News @ ycombinator downloaded and used it a lot apparently (they suggested the plugin too [hackerne.ws...] ). Hardly the average user though, but who knows.

np2003




msg:4272749
 2:43 am on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

Looks like Google is finally killing off Adsense farms. If you head over to BH forums, the whole community there strives on exploiting Adsense to the max, there are companies listed on that forum that create auto bloggin software which allows you to create hundreds of blogs filled with new content daily. All these blogs are filled with Adsense ads. My guess is Google is sick of these low quality sites.

tedster




msg:4272754
 3:02 am on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

Every recent Google update has gone through a period of churn after launch day - and it almost always ends up less extreme than the first look. I'm assuming some kind of automated machine learning goes on based on statistical feed back.

I also think there's some new semantic component happening here - a revision of the document classifier system, maybe. It's interesting to me the variety of sites that have been hit - and the number of pages that had little text content (image galleries, download pages) or weak text content - such as some forums. UGC can be quite limited semantically compared to a well written page.

boirun03




msg:4272768
 3:29 am on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

Ok I'm with everyone else here with a 40% drop in G traffic. The site in in the software niche and has been an 'authority' site for the past 8 years. I only use white hat for SEO. I do sometimes post press releases which would be dup content as well as product descriptions but I always add vaule added content which could be thoughtful reviews, visitor reviews, video reviews, etc... Very frustrating as others have mentioned, since I have other blog sites in the same niche which were only created to be feeder sites for the main site and these are ranking higher. Still my site but I don't value those sites to be better than my own site. I must have been targeted because it was an 'authority'.

apauto




msg:4272809
 5:15 am on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

Every recent Google update has gone through a period of churn after launch day - and it almost always ends up less extreme than the first look. I'm assuming some kind of automated machine learning goes on based on statistical feed back.


Google needs to know they affect the lives of many people when they do these updates, and keep them less extreme. If they need to keep them extreme, they need to get the human factor involved, and not hurt good quality sites in the process.

Google is like a politician. It's in the spotlight, and it affects people with every move it makes, and it needs to be delicate. Unfortunately, unlike politicians, we can't over throw it as easy.

I am pissed off that my two sites that I have been building with late nights and missed time with my family since 2001, with 100% unique content, offer the user something different, and try to make a buck at the same time, have been hit with a 50% traffic drop for no reason.

It pisses me off even more than my competition that does black hat, and straight duplicate content and are ranking far above me now. Was this Google's intention? I don't even have Adsense on my sites, yet my site was still hit. It's no content farm either.

BTW, my site did not get affected at all by the first algo change: [webmasterworld.com...]

In this already bad economic climate, now I have to deal with this also. Just great.

castor_t




msg:4272829
 7:45 am on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

How are news syndication websites affected by this change?

rowtc2




msg:4272836
 8:16 am on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

It doesn't make sense to affect sites with adsense. Adsense recommends to put ads top of the page, many ads on page to maximize revenue.

I see sites that replaced results are with copied content, so is not about fight with "content farms".

30-40%.. traffic drop for entire site, sites established from many years, scuse me but looks insane. I've looked for a bottle of drink last night but i didnt find it, i will buy one today,for sure :)

bears5122




msg:4272837
 8:24 am on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'm not seeing the big changes that I was expecting. All the big content farms seem to be on top as always. I don't really compete with them so I don't care all that much (outside of being an annoyed user of their product).

Wish they'd move that Google Chrome tool to Firefox at some point as it does help weed out the bad sites and makes searching more bearable. They aren't going to knock out the large VC funded content farms (who conveniently are covered in Adsense), so it would be nice if searchers had the power to filter them out of their results.

TheMadScientist




msg:4272856
 10:28 am on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

Bunches of directories were whacked in this pass, not pretty.

Well if they're anything like the headaches with the broken 'site validation' scripts I ran into today, then they probably aren't getting the inbound links they used to ... No joke, probably half the directories I tried to submit a site to today told me the site couldn't be reached for validation ... I was refreshing at the site I was submitting and deleted the entire .htaccess just to make sure it wasn't me ... My guess is the owner has no idea that portion of their script isn't working, which could look like a completely different issue, like 'zombie traffic' from Google to the directory.

So People: If you're getting hit hard with these updates Go Check Your Site in multiple browsers and make sure EVERYTHING works like it should.

BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:4272862
 10:51 am on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

why does everyone hate eHow so much?
...
Anyway, this seems like legitimate useful information if I was looking to buy a used car from a stranger:

Here's why some of us have a problem with it. ;)

[google.co.uk...]

Do the people at the search engines not see this? Don't they ever click on their own results and think, "wow, these sites are annoying?"

A very good point. Sometimes we discuss stuff in here as though G was not aware of what was happening.

Tashi




msg:4272880
 1:09 pm on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

One of my sites dropped 30% in traffic. Strange because it's one of the only quality sites in its niche. You're doing something wrong Google!

chrisv1963




msg:4272882
 1:23 pm on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

You're doing something wrong Google!


That is an understatement ...

pontifex




msg:4272883
 1:28 pm on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

Ad1: they have the right to do what they want!

Ad2: they should announce it openly, like every big company does, when they update their product line...

@2 makes me nuts: no warning sign for the dead end after the turn!

2clean




msg:4272892
 1:50 pm on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

I've seen sites go up and down in this update.

Just to make a point on the situation, the large majority of sites that I've seen effectively monetize adsense, or at leaset people I know that monetize adsense sites do so by simply masking the fact that the link a user sees is an advertisement, so the user clicks on them. We are talking straight implementations nothing shady.

I therefore think that if the goal of this update is to remove low quality sites from the Google index, and if the outcome is that many people with good quality sites take off adsense, I say congratulations to Google, because Adsense looks awful, and no doubt the internet users in general will also be grateful for all the times they clicked on adsense to find that it wasn't a site but in fact a link somewhere else.

Now what Google could do, as it's tracking just about 85% of the entire web, would be to stop charging an Adwords customer in the case that a user clicks on a from an Adsense site and then hits the back button within the first 3 seconds. Because obviously that advertisement has not worked.

That would a more ethical advertising model, and in my opinion go some way to recorrecting the spiralling down effect, and have some degree of longevity.

It's no suprise then, that just about every person I have ever spoken to about using the content network as part of their advertising channels, have told me they blew a shedload of money, and got nothing in return.

incidentally, I was looking for holiday in one country, and the site that came up first was for another country. I heard about being suggested things, but that's a bit too much of a tangent for me.

Some food for thought in there.

BillyS




msg:4272906
 2:23 pm on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

A very good point. Sometimes we discuss stuff in here as though G was not aware of what was happening.

Agree, and I think many people underestimate just how smart Google is...

Google knows exactly what will happen with a high degree of confidence before making a change. Unfortunately, they cannot test every possible scenario or website to see what happens. They told us this would affect about 12% of queries, so we knew it would be big. I suspect they monitor forums like this one looking for patterns of unexpected (niche) problems. We've seen instances of larger updates having an unintended consequence to smaller sites. Google then goes back and corrects those smaller problems.

We also know that Google continues to "learn" after an update. To make statements like 10 people are getting laid off on Monday, essentially throwing in the towel after 24 hours, is laughable. If I were at Google, I'd think that's the kind of site we want to eliminate. Jeeze, if someone's willing to throw everything away that quickly - how valuable could that site possibly be? I'd say score one for Google on those examples.

Personally, my guess is that we're seeing a tweak to two factors:

- Speed of Content Generation - yes, Matt has told us to go ahead and load up pages. But that's reasonable for a retail establishment, but how is it possible to put thousands of pages of content online overnight?
- Page Rank - Google's foundation is based on PR.

We have a lot of content, but it was produced over 7 years. We're a PR6 site, with PR distributed exactly as expected. Our site is very much like those described by others on this forum, yet it looks like we gained some spots in this update.
P-75

yaix2




msg:4272921
 3:19 pm on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

Every recent Google update has gone through a period of churn after launch day - and it almost always ends up less extreme than the first look.

Completely agree and its why I will not start to worry about anything for the next two weeks. I have not even looked at any change in ranking yet. Give the new algo some time to settle.

asabbia




msg:4272924
 3:25 pm on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

ly agree and its why I will not start to worry about anything for the next


tell that to webmaster that are losing 30% traffics xD

walkman




msg:4272933
 3:30 pm on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

We also know that Google continues to "learn" after an update. To make statements like 10 people are getting laid off on Monday, essentially throwing in the towel after 24 hours, is laughable. If I were at Google, I'd think that's the kind of site we want to eliminate. Jeeze, if someone's willing to throw everything away that quickly - how valuable could that site possibly be? I'd say score one for Google on those examples.


Billy, everyone is shocked and scared. They may overreact or simply don't have the money to pay the people, it happens. Without knowing what this really is, it's even worse, so I cut everyone some slack here. Borrowing tens of thousands without having a clue on how to pay it back (since this is a drastic new algo) is not appealing and can lead to bankruptcy.

But, I agree that within a week or two we will see Google tweaking this and hopefully they cut down the false positives.

asabbia




msg:4272936
 3:34 pm on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

Can someone post a link to a penalized website? With google trends for website would be clear to check if it's penalized.

I don't monitor english serps so I can't say which websites are being penalized. (we can learn more of this algos if we study such websites)

econman




msg:4272990
 5:55 pm on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

The other thread has a link to a blog that has published data listing sites like mahalo.com, indicating they have been hard hit.
[sistrix.com...]

This 228 message thread spans 8 pages: < < 228 ( 1 2 [3] 4 5 6 7 8 > >
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