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Google Updates and SERP Changes - February 2011

     
11:19 pm on Feb 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

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< continued from: [webmasterworld.com...] >
< active thread: [webmasterworld.com...] >


Related AdSense Farm Update < continued from [webmasterworld.com...] >


It's a new month and our regular SERP watching thread has been neglected a bit lately. Most of the posting right now is on dedicated threads focused on specific changes - especially the Scraping algo change [webmasterworld.com] and the promised (but not yet active) campaign against Content Farms [webmasterworld.com].

But Google's perpetual update machine keeps on turning. I'm particularly wondering about sites that publish a lot of legitimately syndicated content rather than a lot of original content. Did your rankings and traffic wobble with the "dupe content update"? If they dropped, did they rebound?

I'm watching one such website and though they are mostly republished content, nothing seemed to change.

[edited by: tedster at 6:00 pm (utc) on Feb 4, 2011]

[edited by: tedster at 8:38 pm (utc) on Feb 26, 2011]

5:12 pm on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Just to chime in on others' observations: when I do a site: search on my top level domain (www.mysite.com), the home page comes in at #23. The first 22 results are third or fourth level pages (three or four clicks from the home page), and most of them are third-level pages that aren't as important or as heavily viewed as other third-level pages.

I'm searching now for scraped content, and finding a ton of it. I'm searching for the first 15 or so words (in quote marks) from my main content pages (the manufacturers pages), and I'm finding some instances where other sites show up for the quoted text but my site does not.

Regarding ezinearticles.com and articledashboard.com, I've submitted a fair number of articles to both, but I don't have the article content on my site.
5:18 pm on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

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dickbaker, we reside in different niches, but your profile and situation sounds very similar to mine. I wonder if in fact, Google knew what they were doing... could they be using certain sites as examples for a training algo? I mentioned I noticed visits from Mt. View yesterday and some bot activity ongoing. Perhaps they choose scapegoats and watch/track/monitor them to see how things change over time? Not that they choose the scapegoats manually (they could very well be sitewide automatic triggers that are imposed on some sites but that they notice and track).

And my traffic is recovering, but very gradually. But it can just be me, doing my own wishful thinking.
5:31 pm on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

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walkman posted:
Someone checked some data and
Mahalo
EzineArticles
Squidoo
Assoc Content
Buzzle
HubPages
have been hit with 1-100+ downgrade


Here's another big data crunch report - very similar to walkman's list but with a few others: [sistrix.com...]
5:42 pm on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Ok it all sounds scary, i experienced a 30 % drop in traffic, 50 % drop in adsense, a do not use google analytics. However there are a few things that make me think :

1) after year and years of tweaking their algo i refuse to believe that this is the best they can do(do you really think google has arrived to the conslusion that scrapers or twitter pages should rank better than the original sites?) so i tend to believe the whole bubble sort is not over yet, and the fact that crappy sites appear in top results is because we only see the bottom part of the piramid at this point.

2) there are simply to many people complaining about traffic and revenue loss, with all kinds of websites and from various niches

3) what is also curious is that the long tail keywords have dropped but the main keywords remained the same...at least in my situation.

There are too many things that simply do not make sense, so i think it is better to wait and see how it will all look like when it settles down.
5:57 pm on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

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You really ought to get more information before you sound off.

Do you sell a branded product or service? Or are you simply writing a little on a lot of subjects for the sole purpose of luring visitors to your ads? That's a content farm in my book, and they've become a dime a dozen. I know it's hard to accept when you've spent 10 years spinning content to lure in users and search engines, but that's no longer working. Bury you head in the sand and believe in your business model or adapt. It looks like way too many people bought that "get rich quick on Google" ebook.

I doubt you can compare yourself to CNN. Their original content is frequently the source of many content farms. That and true authority sites. If you're writing tens of thousands of one page articles and surrounding the with ads, face it, you've built a content farm and complaining about losing ground is pointless.

Why don't YOU define content farm to me...I await your reply.
6:01 pm on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

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@indy - for once I have not been affected. In fact I now occupy up to FOUR consecutive spaces (on keywords we discussed). Even though it's my site, I can't say I'm happy about those listings because it looks like Google is still broken...except this time (out of many) it winds up in my favor....for now.

Everyone needs to just relax...I've never seen so many WebmasterWorld new users / lurkers come out of the woodwork. You'll soon learn that what happens today will change tomorrow.
6:03 pm on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Quick update on what I'm seeing:

a: syndicated content searching for a title from duplicated articles still rank usually at least the top 1-4 on most searches sometimes 1-6 or more (even though the exact same content is on up to 15k sites ---word for word) But granted this is a different type of long tail search, done for an article title, it's not a product or something with high commercial intent.

b. different types of terms, items or products with commercial intent, so for example some of them mentioning specific product names -- one of which has been mentioned in this thread already appear to rank very well (#1) for spammy, auto generated pages - keyword stuffed that have lots of content on them but the content makes no sense. Shouldn't these be the types of sites that are targeted for low quality?

c. If it wasn't so sad it would be amusing. But I'm getting comments and questions from non techy users who don't know anything about all this asking me why they can't find what they're looking for now using Google. Just in the past few days...so if even end users who don't know how to get anything back from a search engine other than the "search term" that they put into the search box can't find what they're looking for--that's not a good sign.

d. I had a few personal sites that I have done nothing to for at least 6 months, some a year. Just noticed that one of these has gone from position #3 to position #1 for it's main keyword. The others have either maintained their results or gone up --no updated material and they were actually setup to post some info to be shared for meetings that I attended long ago, so more an informational base, but nothing new has been added, no links, nothing.

[edited by: Jessica97 at 6:06 pm (utc) on Feb 26, 2011]

6:05 pm on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

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i tend to believe the whole bubble sort is not over yet


I agree. I think Google is still tweaking or re-calculating. USA traffic to my site improved today.
6:07 pm on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I have written here a lot before, but here's some more data for folks:

1. Our site is ~1000 pages, all hand written. Site is a blog

2. Some pages were "posts" designed for a short time that we never took down (e.g. giveaway announcements, weekend round-up style posts, etc.).

3. Many pages are highly researched articles with "how-to" information that was very detailed and useful (not eHow-esque).

4. We use Adsense , Impressions, and Affiliates to monetize depending on the page and what makes sense.

5. We are down an average of 5-8 spaces on rankings, sitewide (long tail and short).

6. We still rank strong for our domain name, and overall, we haven't been "obliterated" from the rankings, especially where competition is weaker in the search. Generally, scrapers aren't outranking us.


I have looked at tons of medium-sized sites across three big niches. I am at the conclusion that:

1) This is a site-wide penalty that impacts the "score" of the site. The worse the site gets evaluated for this penalty, the more points it loses in the rankings. This site-wide penalty (or negative "score") is factored in with Google's other traditional factors, probably all of which were not very affected by this change.

2) This penalty can grow with the size of the site. Smaller sites (sites with 5-20 pages max) are not affected in any material way by this change. In fact, sites with rather spammy link profiles or scrapers stealing a small amount of content can be doing better than other larger sites because of this. The larger the site, the bigger the potential penalty...

3) Google is looking to kill content farms. The "old" Google was of the mindset: "Upload 100,000 pages and we'll find what's good based on our algorithm". The "new" Google is saying: "The more pages you upload, the more you must demonstrate your site's overall value in aggregate." This resonates with a couple of things that came out on the official google blog release. Matt Cutts points out that Google has a responsibility to "encourage a healthy web ecosystem". What better way to encourage this ecosystem than to penalize sites for putting up 1000s of spammy pages? This forces responsibility among webmasters.

Matt also says that this will reward "sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on"

Note that Matt's comments are all about SITES, not PAGES. Sites that spend time putting together well-researched content with exhibit different factors than content-spinners. Content spinners rely on saying the same things 100 different ways but without adding any real value.

There are probably a variety of factors Google can examine to make this site-wide determination, but I think a fundamental factor is the % of "worthwhile" articles vs. "spammy" articles on the site. How google makes this determination: who knows... could be links, could be bounce rates, could be a mixture of these.

This is hard for sites that have focused on satisfying long-tail queries with really useful information but may not exhibit whatever ranking signal google is looking for. These sites (including my own) are collateral damage for this problem. But, I believe that Google now prefers sites with a much higher percentage of "valuable" pages. If you don't meet the percentage value determination, whatever that is, you get whacked.

Note that this is VERY different from the blanket Google approach of the past, which basically said that the more links you get into a domain or its pages, the more "authority" the domain has, and therefore the more likely new pages and content are going to rank. Content Farms lives on this approach. Google had to find a way to poison the well for these sites.

That's my take. I could be wrong, but so far, it makes sense to me.
6:08 pm on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

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So, what is actually the definition of a content farm? Is a well organized (and of course SEO-d) niche classified ad website (pets or autos or properties or anything else, or even a general classified site) filled with tens of thousands of ads considered a content farm? If so, google base is also a content farm... wrong?
6:16 pm on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

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The last few days, traffic was extremely low, yet sales conversions were very high. Today traffic has returned and sales conversions are the typical post Mayday low. There is a lot of jumping in the serps right now, so I tend to agree with Jessica - the sorting is still underway. I'll let you know when my "four in a row" listings decay, because that may be a sign that they are close to completion of this phase...and then we await the next...

< continued here: [webmasterworld.com...] >

[edited by: tedster at 7:59 pm (utc) on Feb 26, 2011]

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