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Google versus article marketing
scottb

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4651352 posted 1:47 pm on Mar 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

I have 30 articles on [a well-known article directory] that produce about 500 to 1,000 visits a month to a site I own. The articles have nofollow links and do not use spammy or over optimized keywords in the links.

Do any of you think that Google is penalizing my site because of those articles?

The reason why I ask is that my site traffic has plunged since January, when it had its best month ever. I can't find any other explanation for the dive.

[edited by: brotherhood_of_LAN at 1:57 pm (utc) on Mar 5, 2014]
[edit reason] avoiding specific article directory name [/edit]

 

linkbuildr



 
Msg#: 4651352 posted 3:37 pm on Mar 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

Nope, nofollow is how those links should be. They'll only hit you for nofollow links if you're spamming tens of thousands of them...and then maybe.

roshaoar



 
Msg#: 4651352 posted 3:40 pm on Mar 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

Is this site a Christmas-related site, ie a seasonal gift?

scottb

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4651352 posted 7:55 pm on Mar 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

I'm definitely not spamming links. If anything I don't have enough of them.

The site is in the travel niche -- 7 years old. It usually does well in January and drops in February, but not like this.

Oddly enough, I'm doing better than every with social and email signups. Just baffling.

I've noticed a lot of sites in my niche that used to be prominent are now gone. Other niches too.

EditorialGuy

WebmasterWorld Senior Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4651352 posted 9:16 pm on Mar 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

Maybe the article directory has taken a hit in Google?

adder

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4651352 posted 9:58 pm on Mar 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

7 years old

I'm assuming those 30 articles were posted a few years ago. Is it possible that they were accompanied by some other link sources you wouldn't use today ("friendly" directories, reciprocals etc)?

Was the traffic plunge site-wide or are there sections that are unaffected? (I'm hinting at a content-based issue)

If anything I don't have enough of them.

Maybe that's why. Maybe your site and the others that used to be prominent are simply outranked by sites with stronger branding signals (or other signals that matter for your niche).

It would be interesting to look at the other once-prominent sites you mention. Are their link profiles spammy?

scottb

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4651352 posted 10:18 pm on Mar 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

Adder, yes, they were posted several years ago, but I didn't use reciprocal links. There are a few directories, but only a few.

That's a good point about being outranked, and I do think that's part of the problem. Most of my competitors are now major national or international brands. I think that explains some erosion, but then again I had a great month in January, so there are definite peaks and valleys.

That said, I still believe that large national brands have recently gained some advantages in the search environment over smaller brands. I've seen many examples of less relevant results from big brands moving higher rankings than more relevant results from small brands.

Also good point about the other sites. In some cases their link profiles do look spammy. They did things the old way and maybe thought it was too much work to fix everything.

Thanks for the insights.

scottb

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4651352 posted 10:21 pm on Mar 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

EditorialGuy, good question. If you believe Quantcast, the article directory has lost 50% of its traffic over the last 12 months. That would explain the drop in clicks. But if the links are nofollow, I'm back to my original question.

Planet13

WebmasterWorld Senior Member planet13 us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4651352 posted 10:35 pm on Mar 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

"But if the links are nofollow, I'm back to my original question."

I am pretty certain that you won't get punished by google for nofollow links back to your site. I think that your drop in traffic is probably answered by your own statement:

"I've seen many examples of less relevant results from big brands moving higher rankings than more relevant results from small brands."

I doubt you will find many people who HAVEN'T experienced that.

<off topic rant>Searching for stuff is becoming incredibly more difficult for myself</off topic rant>

scottb

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4651352 posted 12:52 pm on Mar 6, 2014 (gmt 0)

Planet13, it's at least a small comfort to know I'm not alone on a sinking ship. I understand that the shift in the algorithms is part of the problem. It's the steep decline so quickly that's frustrating.

Robert Charlton

WebmasterWorld Administrator robert_charlton us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4651352 posted 7:23 pm on Mar 6, 2014 (gmt 0)

Several issues not clear that I think would be related...

- Does the content in the article directory duplicate material on your site? Or, were the articles written just for the article directory and other sites that used them, and simply intended to provide additional traffic flow into your site?

- Are any copies of the articles ranking anywhere for expected queries? Did they ever?

- Can you characterize the niche sites that have dropped, including your own? Were these advertising and AdSense sites, that perhaps offered essentially derivative content... or were these sites that had unique content or unique offerings of some kind?

austtr

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4651352 posted 7:28 am on Mar 7, 2014 (gmt 0)

The site is in the travel niche


I've noticed a lot of sites in my niche that used to be prominent are now gone.


There are a lot of people, myself included, who believe the travel niche has effectively been gifted to Google's own products (ie Google Hotels is an example) and a small group of authority sites.

Whether that outcome was intentional or not, that is the current reality for travel searches. The worst effected seems to have been the small to moderate sized affiliate sites which suffered a huge wipe-out from the original Penguin. Your own observations seem to confirm that once prominent sites are now "gone".

If your travel site survived until Feb 2014, then some would say you have done exceedingly well.... but you were probably always on borrowed time.

Sorry for the pesimistic outlook... I've been trying to get some contrary opinions on the fate of travel sites for a long, long, time.... but I've yet to see a differing opinion.

scottb

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4651352 posted 12:48 pm on Mar 7, 2014 (gmt 0)

Good questions, Robert. The content in the article directory does not duplicate on my site. It is about similar topics, but every article is original.

Some of my articles on the directory were ranking for expected queries, but they dropped out of site early last year.

The sites that have vanished also had unique content. Mine has mostly AdSense for advertising plus some affiliate ads.

On the plus side, my Bing and Yahoo traffic is up more than 50% versus the prior year. Even if I can't figure out what I'm doing wrong with G, at least I can try to focus on other promotional tactics.

scottb

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4651352 posted 12:55 pm on Mar 7, 2014 (gmt 0)

Austtr, that's very good to know. I used to rank #1 or #2 for a handful of decent keywords, ie, small red widget. They have dropped way down and are mostly replaced by large brands with pages only about red widgets.

I also used to get a lot of traffic about travel weather forecasts. Do a search now, and you will probably see G provides weather forecasts. G certainly seems to be doing more content.

EditorialGuy

WebmasterWorld Senior Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4651352 posted 4:13 pm on Mar 7, 2014 (gmt 0)

Whether that outcome was intentional or not, that is the current reality for travel searches. The worst effected seems to have been the small to moderate sized affiliate sites which suffered a huge wipe-out from the original Penguin.


Google has never been shy about its hostility to "thin affiliate sites," and there are plenty of those in the travel sector.

As for other types of sites, it's unfortunate that Google seems to have thrown up its hands and focused on brands, but the reason for that shift isn't too hard to discern: If Google's algorithm can't distinguish Scheiss from Shinola, it makes sense to favor sites that are likely to be acceptable to searchers.

austtr

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4651352 posted 12:18 am on Mar 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

Google has never been shy about its hostility to "thin affiliate sites," and there are plenty of those in the travel sector.


True…. and its also true there are many, many top quality travel sites that run rings around the boiler plate mediocrity served up by some of the authority sites. The unfortunate truth is that Google can't or won't recognise the value that exists in unbranded websites and is willing to let them fall into the yawning chasm of collateral damage.

it's unfortunate that Google seems to have thrown up its hands and focused on brands, but the reason for that shift isn't too hard to discern: If Google's algorithm can't distinguish Scheiss from Shinola, it makes sense to favor sites that are likely to be acceptable to searchers.


If we accept that, and I suspect many will, we are effectively saying that the combined efforts of the world's greatest collection of PHD's, applied over 12-15 years, has brought us to a search algo that can't recognise quality or relevance but instead falls back on the old, discredited position of "big must be better". Really….?

Sorry to the OP for drifting off-topic into a bit of editorializing but if you are going to spend some time analyzing what might have happened, check anything you can find on Google and travel sites, especially if there is an affiliate involvement.

tangor

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tangor us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4651352 posted 12:48 am on Mar 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

I'm probably the odd one out suggesting the obvious: the weather has been krap for months... and travel is not on folks minds these days.

Then again, given the age of the site and (just asking) are the articles still hoary and old, ie, have not been updated on a regular basis? Fresh content gets you noticed. Travel is NOT an evergreen site niche. Needs to always be FRESH, and NEW and EXCITING! (a few more !)

One of the reasons I never get involved in that niche.

Zivush



 
Msg#: 4651352 posted 5:48 am on Mar 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

If your travel site survived until Feb 2014, then some would say you have done exceedingly well.... but you were probably always on borrowed time.

Sorry for the pesimistic outlook... I've been trying to get some contrary opinions on the fate of travel sites for a long, long, time.... but I've yet to see a differing opinion.


I don't think there's a difference between the travel sector and any any other sector that I track on a regular basis, such as: business, health or web design.
Google search favor brands and some few big authority sites. That's it. The seashore is closed to the general public.

EditorialGuy

WebmasterWorld Senior Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4651352 posted 3:42 pm on Mar 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

we are effectively saying that the combined efforts of the world's greatest collection of PHD's, applied over 12-15 years, has brought us to a search algo that can't recognise quality or relevance but instead falls back on the old, discredited position of "big must be better". Really….?


Recognizing quality is a lot easier than creating an algorithm that recognizes quality. And anyway, quality is in the eye of the beholder. (I was looking at recipes for Wurzelbrot the other day. Which recipes were likely to be better than others? Based on my experience in baking bread, I can make some educated guesses, but an algorithm that knows nothing of yeasts, sourdough starters, flours, kneading techniques, rising times, baking stones, whether to use steam in the oven, etc. would be clueless. And ultimately, the proof of the pudding--or, in this case, the Wurzelbrot--is in the eating.)

Also, I don't think Google is guilty of assuming that "big must be better." The actual assumption is more like "popular and respected [as indicated by inbound links] is better." That assumption (which is the foundation of PageRank) may tend to favor "big" over "niche," but--to borrow an oft-used phrase--correlation isn't causation.

scottb

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4651352 posted 1:50 pm on Mar 10, 2014 (gmt 0)

Tangor, I publish 3-4 articles a week that average 500 to 700 words apiece. The content includes travel to warm places during the winter, so weather in the U.S. or U.K. should not be a factor.

On the other hand, the category is sensitive to the economy. People cut back on travel if they get nervous about their jobs and income. So it might be signaling a possible slowdown in economic growth.

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