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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.

 

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...]

tedster




msg:4273001
 6:16 pm on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

Also, these sites aren't penalized in the ordinary sense. The algo introduced something new into the ranking system and they no longer score as high. That's not the same as a penalty.

arikgub




msg:4273006
 6:33 pm on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

The title of this thread is misleading, if not completely wrong. Is there any real data suggesting that made for adsense content farms were targeted? Adsense seems has nothing to do with it, and the sites that are the most associated with "content farms" were not affected, so why "google goes after made for adsense farms"?

arikgub




msg:4273015
 6:52 pm on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

I am trying to investigate the impact on two large directories in one specific vertical - one directory has lost almost 70% of traffic and the other one has not been affected.

- Both have boiler-plate template-like pages for each "property" listed
- Both have some unique content on these pages, written in the Demand Media's style: bla-bla of zero value (in my subjective view)
- Both are very aggressive in their ads placement
- Before the update both ranked near the top, usually right below the official "property" site

All in all, very similar stuff.

Now the differences between the unaffected site (A) and the affected site (B) are:

- The site B in addition to the "original" content includes a snippet of ~100 words of description from the official "property" site
- The site B is probably of a bit smaller scale. It is getting about 0.5M uniques/month, while the site A is probably getting about 2x - 4x of that (estimation, I don't have access to the site A's data)

[edited by: arikgub at 6:55 pm (utc) on Feb 26, 2011]

TheMadScientist




msg:4273017
 6:53 pm on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

The title of this thread is misleading, if not completely wrong

I think it's great ... How many clicks do you think it gets?

There's a whole bunch of GREAT optimization that goes on with these boards, and I think quite a bit of it probably goes unnoticed, but these guys do a GREAT job of not only running a major forum, but optimizing the site ... Hat Off to Brett & Co.

arikgub




msg:4273021
 6:56 pm on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

I think it's great ... How many clicks do you think it gets?


LOL

apauto




msg:4273079
 9:23 pm on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

Look at CNN's coverage of this:

[money.cnn.com...]

[webmasterworld.com...]

Elsmarc




msg:4273140
 11:48 pm on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

tell that to webmaster that are losing 30% traffics xD
It's just business. Businesses large and small go bust every day. I know a lot of people who had businesses in the bricks and mortar world which went bust during this "recession" (or whatever it is). One close friend had 2 restaurants which went bust, he's in debt up the wazoo and near bankruptcy. Meanwhile my sites continue to grow in both visitors and income.

I guess I've been around too long for this to be an issue. Algos change, some sites go up, some go down, some stay the same. Things weren't any better during the pre-Google days, the only nice thing back then was there was so much less competition. So far I haven't seen any changes to my sites but I don't expect to have any real idea what the effects are going to be (if any) for a week or two. But then again, Google algo changes over the years have never significantly affected any of my sites. I haven't done any serious SEO to any of my sites in quite a few years, either. None of my sites even have a sitemap.

For those of you who have 'suffered' during this algo change, I feel for you. I've been through it. I was a business standards consultant for many years and around 2000 the bottom dropped out of my target market. Luckily I had started making web sites which were starting to pay off by the the time my consulting business started going down hill. At the end of 2003 I essentially stopped consulting and "retired" from that business. Competition just got to be too much for my "One Man Show" that rates I could charge dropped about 70% by the end of 2003. These days I'm making close to what I made back then and I don't even have to leave the house. Back then I was lucky to be home two weekends a month, and, now and again I'd be at home for a full week in a month.

The bottom line: This is business. No more, no less. Consider the millions of web sites now on the internet. I did a quick search and the best I could find was this: 234 million – The number of websites as of December 2009 compared to around 18,000 websites in August 1995 which was 4 months before I put my first website online. Goodness knows how many websites are out there now. One online source says: "The Indexed Web contains at least 13.18 billion pages on the internet as of late 2010". I think Google does a pretty good job indexing and 'ranking' sites considering how big the internet is today.

For those who are disappointed in Google's search rankings and results, this is your chance to write a *good* algorithm for indexing and ranking sites. If you can do that you will be the next Google and will probably become a millionaire (probably a billionaire) in short order. And if you do so, my bet is you will end up changing (tweaking, whatever) your algo from time to time as the internet continues to evolve. Then people will be complaining about how your algorithm change ruined them...

apauto




msg:4273213
 3:37 am on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

For those who are disappointed in Google's search rankings and results, this is your chance to write a *good* algorithm for indexing and ranking sites. If you can do that you will be the next Google and will probably become a millionaire (probably a billionaire) in short order. And if you do so, my bet is you will end up changing (tweaking, whatever) your algo from time to time as the internet continues to evolve. Then people will be complaining about how your algorithm change ruined them...


Comments like this enrage me. I'm glad for you that this hasn't afftected your lively hood. But when you put in hours upon hours writing your own content since 2001, and doing nothing but whitehat just to get punished for it, you'd be a little pissed too.

tedster




msg:4273227
 4:21 am on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

It does take an awful lot to create a world-class search engine today. Look what happened to Cuill, and that was started by a very talented Google engineer with millions in investment. She since returned to Google.

We've all got to get the biggest possible picture we can in order to thrive. Search itself isn't a simple problem, and "the algorithm" is the product of hundreds of brilliant programmers.

mromero




msg:4273229
 5:19 am on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

I feel I am in the Twilight Zone talking about the same darn topic - one blasting off from CNN and the other from the NYT - why not merge the topic? And consider adding the MSNBC angle as well....

mromero




msg:4273232
 5:26 am on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

I have never been to demandmedia but today did a quickie look see and is it not the mother ship of a LOT of content farms?

I mean it lists as its properties ehow, cracked, answerbag, livestrong and a bunch of other sites that have scraped our content and that of associated properties.

Reads like an el-cheapo wanna-be writers hub.

Reno




msg:4273233
 5:31 am on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

We've all got to get the biggest possible picture we can in order to thrive...

...and we've got to give this thing time to work itself out. I took a hit from Google in the past month, and none of my sites are content farms, none have more than about a hundred pages, none buy links, none use analytics, none use AdSense. In other words, it's a mystery, but there it is.

However....

As we have said in other threads, the Google algorithm is complexity built on top of complexity. The smallest pebble thrown into the pool will create unexpected ripples, and those ripples will go where they will go. So I'm in a "wait & see" mode and refuse to get overly excited at this point, as I have no doubt that the dials are not finished turning.

And for anyone that is living so close to the Google bone as to let one or two weeks of irratic traffic bring your online biz to the edge of disaster, then this is surely a wakeup call ~ that's a dangerous position to plant oneself in Web v.011, because the days of certainty, it seems abundantly clear to me, are gone forever.

....................

indyank




msg:4273235
 5:33 am on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

People who are in relatively non-competitive niche might have escaped this update but remember the days are not far away when you begin to find competition...The only way that you could survive is by becoming big in what you do, like what google has become in what they do...

Starting a search engine and competing with the likes of google, microsoft etc, is easier said than done. Yes, you need the money power and these guys were innovative when they started and that made them popular.

Before advising, look at whom this update has impacted the most. It has affected many moms and retired folks, who post their recipes online or do some blogging for small returns.These are not the people who can start a SE during the fag end of their lives.Google might not have intended to harm them but they know that while addressing other situations, these people will also be destroyed, as their recipes get easily copied by big "How Tos"

Jane_Doe




msg:4273242
 6:12 am on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

Reads like an el-cheapo wanna-be writers hub.


The Google people should hang out at the work at home sites to get an idea of the writers for some of these content farms. Unemployed housewives in Appalachia with 8th grade educations and Internet connections are probably the most widely read authors on the Internet today. They are the type that don't mind working for the super low wages that these content farms pay. So the articles contain no original research, no fact checking, no looking things up in books, no going to the library for research because it isn't cost effective.

indyank




msg:4273243
 6:17 am on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

So the articles contain no original research, no fact checking, no looking things up in books, no going to the library for research because it isn't cost effective.


They have the money, they have the links, they have the monopoly's backing.What else you need?

BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:4273276
 9:29 am on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

So the articles contain no original research, no fact checking, no looking things up in books, no going to the library for research because it isn't cost effective.

they have the money...

Have a look at the content on this page and the prominence of the Google Ads. There are thousands more like it and thousands more where contributors have stolen content and they have knowingly used it.


No sign of any problem there. Ranked 2 in Google for technical documents.

[edited by: Brett_Tabke at 5:00 pm (utc) on Feb 27, 2011]
[edit reason] lets leave urls out of it. [/edit]

TheMadScientist




msg:4273370
 4:25 pm on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

So the articles contain no original research, no fact checking, no looking things up in books, no going to the library for research because it isn't cost effective.

And, even if they did all that there would probably be no or 'hidden' attribution...

Brett_Tabke




msg:4273380
 4:59 pm on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

Lets leave any more outting urls out of it. We were just through that. Also, there are a milliong blog posts on this thing - lets leave those urls out as well.

Brett_Tabke




msg:4273384
 5:05 pm on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

> Adsense seems has nothing to do with it

All of the major "content farms" have one thing in common - they serve AdSense or other Google advertising.

They even have less "content" in common. The differences between an About.com, Answers.com, and an Ehow are profound. You can't even put them in the same category.

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

You know - I was noticing that too. There were 2 of my favs that are no longer to be found in the top 3 pages (100 results per page)

> Can someone post a link to a penalized website?

A "penalty" can be done any old way so that you wouldn't even notice it.

If site A gets a bunch of referrals off of one keyword set (lets say, "how to xyz"), and that keyword is simply striped from all their back link anchor text before indexing - would that be a penalty? Would that even show up in someones data? Would you even know it? Could we even see it? What if the site in question got 50% of it's referrals off that keyword phrase and the thousands of descendants?

TheMadScientist




msg:4273390
 5:14 pm on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

So let's see if Brett's theory makes sense: Old McSpammer has a farm and on that farm he has some AdSense ... eWow eWow-o ... With a click click here and a click click there Old McSpammer has a farm ... And it's profitable!

Yeah, I can buy that...

mromero




msg:4273395
 5:33 pm on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

Mr. Sullivan has a nice set of stats showing some of the sites that got whacked and others that actually benefited - it appears Demandmedia's ehow benefited:

"If you were expecting these figures to show Demand Media’s eHow site to have been harmed — surprise! Two studies show eHow actually gained."

tedster




msg:4273410
 5:59 pm on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

We also linked to the original source of those stats earlier in several threads. The telling thing to me is that article directories have taken a loss, and from other reports, a number of forums have too.

In recent years, both forum post links and article marketing became "easy" ways for some to promote their websites. From early analysis, it looks like those ranking demotions have also affected outbound link power from article directories and forum posts - so people who depended too heavily on those approaches may be suffering second-generation damage.

BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:4273438
 6:31 pm on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

Lets leave any more outting urls out of it.

OK, if you insist, no URLs.

I still have an issue with Docstoc, who publish some of my articles and attribute them to a guy in Egypt. The articles are complete with references to my business name and links to my website. He did not even attempt to conceal the fact that he had stolen them from me.

I complained. Docstoc asked me to jump through hoops before they just might do anything about it. The guy who stole them does not respond to my emails. This one guy has submitted over half a million articles to Docstoc. I pointed this out them. If it takes an hour to write an article this guy would have to work round the clock for about 60 years to produce what he has submitted.

They continue to knowingly post other peoples content on Adwords laden pages and make massive profits from copyright infringement. Are they an MFA? You better believe it! They are a classic example of the type of MFA websites that deserve to be penalised big time. Docstoc deserve any outing that comes their way.

SevenCubed




msg:4273444
 6:34 pm on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

people who depended too heavily on those approaches may be suffering second-generation damage

Exactly, and that's the way the cookie should be crumbling. I'm glad I've avoided it like the plague.

shallow




msg:4273454
 6:39 pm on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

Before advising, look at whom this update has impacted the most. It has affected many moms and retired folks, who post their recipes online or do some blogging for small returns.These are not the people who can start a SE during the fag end of their lives.Google might not have intended to harm them but they know that while addressing other situations, these people will also be destroyed, as their recipes get easily copied by big "How Tos"


indyank, I've read both sides of the arguments but can not help but empathize with yours.

As someone pointed out, yes businesses fail; but usually not within a matter of minutes and not without some indication that they are headed in that direction giving you time to try to prepare.

I'm a retiree and, thus far anyway, have been hurt by this change. There was no warning really, just woke up a few mornings ago to learn my traffic and income dropped precipitously. I'm used to seasonal fluctuations and those due to a poor economy, but have never experienced anything quite like this in all the years I've used AdSense.

I've played by all the AdSense rules and terms; worked hard for years writing quality content for many hours each day(some of my content appears in training manuals of a few large companies, etc.). AdSense folk even contacted me in the not too distant past for reasons which would lead anyone to believe they thought my educational site offered something of value to others.

I agree with those that say it's too early to judge how things will shake out for us little guys and gals. In the meantime, Google has me shaking in my boots.

[edited by: shallow at 6:45 pm (utc) on Feb 27, 2011]

asabbia




msg:4273457
 6:40 pm on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

sorry what's second generation damage? :)

Too bad I can't take actively part of this discussion because I monitor only non-English serp.

As soon as google speards this changes i will bring my experience

tedster




msg:4273484
 7:20 pm on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

Second generation damage - you might call it a domino effect. When a site gets penalized, then its outbound links may no longer pass as much value. So the second generation didn't get a direct penalty, but they were affected. I think I see this happening to sites that went over the top with article marketing, for instance.

robdwoods




msg:4273542
 9:24 pm on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

Whatever eHow did to avoid this update was brilliant because their content is by and large utter crap. I can see many of the changes in the algo as on only the US algo was updated and not the one used for the rest of the world. Searching from Canada I can still see tons of crap Suite101, Mahalo, Hubpages, etc. content. I tried the sample query "How to catch a fish" and the eHow result that didn't get slapped is just as bad as the rest. eg. find a place to fish, bait your hook, when something bites reel it in and hit it on the head. If Google can tweak the algo to catch the eHow crap as well this update will be a lot better. One caveat in all this though is the update seems to have allowed a bunch more small crappy MFA sites to move up to inhabit the spaces vacated by the farms. I can hear affiliate marketers licking their chops now...

asabbia




msg:4273547
 9:36 pm on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

Just look this: [trends.google.com...] hardly I would call this an anti content farms update

tedster




msg:4273548
 9:36 pm on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

I don't think any mere tweak is going to spot the kind of low value that ehow seems to offer so much of the time. The problem is they do use literate writers who create grammatical sentences and paragraphs. The pages do have semantic variety. The number of words goes beyond a stub page.

The way you discover that an article is crap is by reading it all the way through and discovering that it told you nothing useful. So there's not even a fast bounce back to the SERPs for a next choice.

People know when an article is crap because we comprehend meaning. Machine algorithms do not do that. Well, maybe Watson comes close.

@assabia, the timeline of that Google Trends graph doesn't even cover the update period yet.

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