superclown2 - 6:00 am on Sep 16, 2011 (gmt 0)
Google has taken on thousands of new employees lately. What are they all doing? Well there must be an awful lot of them manually checking the SERPs.
Like a lot of people I have had a stack of affiliate sites smacked recently. All of them have been hit after a manual visit from Mountain View by someone on a Mac who's looked at just a couple of pages or so, finishing with the link that takes visitors to a merchant site. In each case the page they have first visited is one that is optimised with a search term that has more than 100,000 visitors a month. Sites only get hit when they get near the top for these terms. Some of these sites have been around for years but as soon as they get too near the top: pop, they are down to -50. I have watched other competitor affiliate sites suffer the same fate: they are OK until they put their heads above the parapet, then they are gone. Competitors that are merchants - even though they act as affiliates for the product they are advertising (and regardless of how thin their content) remain untouched.
My theories from this?
1) Google intends to drive affiliates out of business (but then we already knew that).
2) I reckon they have whole batteries of people doing manual checks on the top few sites for major search terms. So, if this is correct, the Panda just isn't as clever as we were led to believe. If it was so intelligent, Google wouldn't need an army of manual checkers doing a boring job like this. Is Google turning into a glorified DMOZ, with human reviewers making the most important decisions?