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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.

 

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.

asabbia




msg:4273557
 9:45 pm on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

@tedster: I agree finding & penalizing contents farms like ehow.com etc is something too hard for an automated algo.

anyway one of my website today is +20% unique... (non-english) Too bad i guess it's just a throttling and not due to this change (damn cant' wait it get spread over other country)

Reno




msg:4273618
 11:37 pm on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

If Google can tweak the algo to catch the eHow crap as well this update will be a lot better...

I'm starting to think that those of us in the webmaster community are expecting miracles of the Google algorithm. Perfectly formulated SERPs are not possible because one person's purity is another person's sterility.

What concerns me is a scenario where the Google engineers start believing in their own potential infallibiliy, as they constantly pursue the purest possible results. That will mean a situation like this current one will become more the norm, with the periods of stability between the updates shorter and shorter. And that means the anxiety that many of us feel right now will become the norm in our lives, and to my way of thinking, that removes much of the reward of building a business on the WWW.

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

TheMadScientist




msg:4273624
 11:40 pm on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

@tedster: I agree finding & penalizing contents farms like ehow.com etc is something too hard for an automated algo.

I've actually been thinking about this quite a bit, and I'm thinking I'm going to (we all should) NoFollow back ... We're the ones giving these sites like ehow, wikipedia, etc. a large number of their links ... If their going to nofollow (or hide) links out, why shouldn't I (we all) NoFollow all links to them too?

caribguy




msg:4273633
 12:00 am on Feb 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

@Reno: what would happen if the periods of stability would become shorter is that:

a) Google would become less relevant (and omnipotent)

b) Webmasters would once again start focusing on visitors rather than search engines when building their sites

Both are a big plus in my book.

robdwoods




msg:4273638
 12:09 am on Feb 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

@Reno I agree to some degree but for many searches I've tried the eHow, Suite101, etc content has been very similar in style, writing quality, etc. I'm realistic that it might not happen but beyond the quality of the writing there has to be something systemic that is saving eHow that the others are not doing. For queries that I have tried where the content was very very similar eHow didn't get hit where the others did.

The problem with this update is that I've found that, so far, in many cases the large MFA sites with crappy content have simply been replaced with small crappy sites with MFA content.

robdwoods




msg:4273649
 12:35 am on Feb 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

I've actually been thinking about this quite a bit, and I'm thinking I'm going to (we all should) NoFollow back
I agree, in fact I already do that, and Wikipedia as well, if I'm forced to link there.
apauto




msg:4273662
 1:16 am on Feb 28, 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.


Tedster, I agree. They need to revert this change, and simply do a manual human analysis of eHow. Google's results will never be perfect. They need to stop tweaking their code, and start introducing a batch of live surfers that rank sites for results.

apauto




msg:4273667
 1:19 am on Feb 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

BTW, I'm curious... has WebmasterWorld seen traffic increase or decrease since this change?

asabbia




msg:4273796
 10:13 am on Feb 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

Tedster, I agree. They need to revert this change, and simply do a manual human analysis of eHow. Google's results will never be perfect. They need to stop tweaking their code, and start introducing a batch of live surfers that rank sites for results.


that goes vs google's philosophy

wanderingmind




msg:4273798
 10:25 am on Feb 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

I have come across one guy who has a very popular blog. Totally original content, no greyhat SEO, and very useful site too. He has been hit badly. He will survive as he has always had a large dedicated following.

But this is one example which convinces me that Google has botched up this update. I can see some regular low quality sites vanishing, only to be replaced with even lower-quality ones!

Considering that even an ehow is actually better than 99 % of what is out there, whether it would even be possible to algorithmically weed out low quality is doubtful. I might be wrong...

asabbia




msg:4273800
 10:46 am on Feb 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

considering that even an ehow is actually better than 99 % of what is out there


wut?

BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:4273811
 11:12 am on Feb 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

I am still seeing terrible results on travel related searches. For example if I want information on a place somewhere and I search for it by name all I get is Adwords laden travel aggregators websites and (apart from the odd Wikipedia reference) no information at all about the place I searched for.

When someone does a search for a place name why is it that Google decides they need a hotel? Is it not just possible that they want information about the place and that if they did need a hotel they would have put the word hotel in their search?

It's high time they sorted this mess out too.

pabloid




msg:4273839
 1:16 pm on Feb 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

Does anyone have any thoughts on how Google would be judging quality of content?

ehow seems to have benefited from the algo update and yet sites like mahalo and wisegeek are taking a beating.

netmeg




msg:4273850
 1:38 pm on Feb 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'd be willing to bet that you will always see somewhat lousy results in travel, because it's competitive and cutthroat and so difficult to determine user intent - you might want information about a place, but someone else wants a hotel and a third person wants flight information, and someone else wants tourist attractions. But often as not they all search the same way.

BeeDeeDubbleU




msg:4273857
 1:56 pm on Feb 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

Yes but if I want information about a hotel I phrase my request accordingly. If I do a search for a place why should they blindly decide I need information about hotels and travel?

Added: Why not decide that I want information about museums in that place, sports grounds, restaurants, shops or any other of the many things that a single place name search could mean?

Content_ed




msg:4273860
 2:03 pm on Feb 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

eHow is making out because their content is unique. It's crap, but it's unique, if often thinly rewritten from other sites. There aren't any sites of any standing duplicating eHow's content, because it's crap, there's no reason.

Mom-n-Pop sites with serious content that has been duplicated all over the web (and repurposed into 3 steps by eHow contributors) are getting hit by 50% in this latest update. Google has lost the ability to deal with duplicate content.

econman




msg:4273865
 2:14 pm on Feb 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

Story in this morning's Wall Street has some interesting bits concerning the Sistrix study mentioned earlier in this thread, and other threads. Their reporters apparently talked to some major content farmers, who confirmed the Sistrix data:

Several owners of sites listed in the [Sistrix] study agreed that it assessed the impact of Google's moves on their search rankings accurately.

Johannes Beus, Sistrix's founder, said in an email... "Google aimed at low-quality pages and it looks like it did succeed," he wrote.

rowtc2




msg:4273871
 2:26 pm on Feb 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

This algo change does nothing to do with scraped content since i view a lot of scraped content in top result now, at least for my niche. And not a single element to add value for users.

Different types of sites has been affected, forums, blogs, e-commerce, sites with original or scraped content, small and old sites, affiliate or non-affiliate links, sites with a strong backlink portofolio gained by years.

Searching to see what sites are displayed now in SERPS shows me no improvement, even lower quality than before.

A possible cause can be the aggressive positioning of ads, users are likely to click an ad immediately they go on a page. But this can be weird since Adsense team recommends to put ads top of the article, do not hide ads in right sidebar, even e-mails like "we have noticed your website does not display ads on some pages with potential and we recommend to put ads to increase your revenue .." Or maybe they want to shut down Adsense? LoL

This update is still a mystery for me, since the new results doesn't bring quality.

asabbia




msg:4273874
 2:40 pm on Feb 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

Finally someone has posted a list of loss/gain websites:

[searchengineland.com...]

ehow is actually a gainer... lol

smithaa02




msg:4273875
 2:43 pm on Feb 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

Personal site here has lost about 70% of query views according to webmaster tools. Frustrating as this is a very seo organic site with no advertising and a large amount of entirely originally written content that is popular with the people who do find my site.

Disturbing if the trend here is for google (as near as I can tell) to favor big corporations, 'name brand', and government sites over the small independents...the web is a success in part because it allowed the latter to have its voice heard over the former who dominated normal channels of communication in the pre-web era.

That's the problem with google targeted seo manipulators...they do such a good job of mimicking legit sites, that to punish them equates into the good guys as well.

Mikey85




msg:4273885
 2:55 pm on Feb 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

I was wondering...what about classfieds ads websites? Users often post their classified ad on more then 1 website. Then the same content is present on different websites too...

smithaa02




msg:4273886
 2:59 pm on Feb 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

Asabbia...interesting article!

Top 10 gainers:

1. Amazon.com
2. eHow.com
3. NexTag.com
4. Wikipedia.com
5. Walmart.com
6. Target.com
7. Etsy.com
8. Answers.Yahoo.com
9. Sears.com
10. bestonlinecoupons.com

So much for our information superhighway...web is now a place for people with money to spend, on sites that are mostly big corporations that have lots of money. :(

walkman




msg:4273889
 3:02 pm on Feb 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

smithaa02, one of those sites uses free counters to get backlinks too.

asabbia




msg:4273894
 3:15 pm on Feb 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

ehow as top 2 gainer it's a pain in the ... for every webmaster hitted by this algo with unique contnet xD

shallow




msg:4273900
 3:38 pm on Feb 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

So much for our information superhighway...web is now a place for people with money to spend, on sites that are mostly big corporations that have lots of money. :(


So it seems. I learned this lesson the hard way on the 24th. Not that the powers that be care.

I can't help but note that the majority of large sites listed by smithaa02 sell things. Guess we should find a more accurate word for "information" in information superhighway.

Anyone have any ideas?

londrum




msg:4273902
 3:46 pm on Feb 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

that searchengineland article quotes SEObook, who's worked out that the top traffic winner is... Google's YouTube. Well, fancy that.

robdwoods




msg:4273952
 5:17 pm on Feb 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

Tedster, I agree. They need to revert this change, and simply do a manual human analysis of eHow. Google's results will never be perfect. They need to stop tweaking their code, and start introducing a batch of live surfers that rank sites for results.


I don't think they need to revert the change and do an manual analysis of eHow. I think they need to keep the change and do a manual review (not that I think that will actually happen). Google can't get into the game of manually and subjectively judging quality. It isn't scalable and it's much more open to potential lawsuits because of the fact that it's so subjective.

As to the contention that eHow is better than 99% of what's out there, that's ridiculous. Most of eHow's content is no better than the regurgitated crap that the rest of the sites got slapped down for.

tedster




msg:4273960
 5:22 pm on Feb 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

You're exactly right - we may have a language issue here, because I certainly don't expect to see Google revert their algo change.

What I do mean is that Google is doing intensive QA on the results of this change and the new algo factor will continue to be adapted. A lot of that adaptation will be done via machine learning, as is Google's preference.

robdwoods




msg:4273962
 5:25 pm on Feb 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

Interesting that so many are complaining that their own sites took a traffic hit with the update. How many of those were the ones asking for Google to do an update to clean out the content farms? Ask and ye shall receive. Did you think that any algo update would only affect a handful of "content farms" and miss anyone else? Instead of complaining about content you don't like and asking Google to do something, go out and outrank the crappy content. It takes hard work and some knowledge but I've never had much of a problem outranking content farms.

walkman




msg:4273972
 5:38 pm on Feb 28, 2011 (gmt 0)

It takes hard work and some knowledge but I've never had much of a problem outranking content farms.


Please spare us your holier than thou attitude. We have heard it all from many people, only to see them cry and bash Google the next algo update. We're discussing serious changes and issue not "follow google's guidelines and ..."

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