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Google Goes After MFAs

     
5:45 am on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

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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.
6:01 am on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

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The title to this post says it all.This update affects blogs with adsense, but aren't big google partners.Apparently this doesn't seem to affect the high profile content farms that google trust, as if I were to post examples I could slap them here but don't want to do it because of all that has happened here in the recent past.

It is clear now.Google meant blogs for content farms but there are exceptions to this and they are the big players.

The impact:

for many queries I see 3, 4 or 5 results from the same few big content farms, for some "keyword phrases". There is no real content in those pages, as they are all auto generated search pages for keyword variations.

If this update isn't affecting them, it is because they are considered to be good by google but not because those pages are of good quality.

Finally we have it here, the answer to what google were referring to as content farms

"BLOGS that aren't big enough and using adsense"

[edited by: indyank at 6:22 am (utc) on Feb 25, 2011]

6:10 am on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Nothing mentions adsense, but I'm removing it.
6:52 am on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

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From the Google blog

Therefore, it is important for high-quality sites to be rewarded, and that’s exactly what this change does.


Is that a backhanded acknowledgement that the previous algo did/does not reward high quality sites?
7:06 am on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Is that a backhanded acknowledgement that the previous algo did/does not reward high quality sites?


By definition, almost every time you improve you acknowledge that it wasn't as good as it should been been.
7:40 am on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

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One point: The change happens in US first, and only then for the rest of the world over a period of time.

Another, I can't see any hint about Adsense. Low quality sites as well some of the largest newspapers use Adsense, so I can't figure our where the point about Content farms / blogs with Adsense comes from.
8:21 am on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

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It's certainly not only Adsense sites, and it's most definitely not ALL Adsense sites. Still, what is the monetization strategy for low quality, mass-produced content? Adsense if they can get into the program, right? Otherwise, it's usually a second tier content network program that's similar.

So "Adsense Farm" is a reasonably accurate way to describe this kind of junk website. And they don't do Google any long-term good, either, even if there is some short term cash to be gained. I think Google is savvy enough to know that.

Please forgive me this moment, but I've just got to share a bit of satire from The Content Farm [thecontentfarm.tumblr.com]. This page just nails it - except it doesn't run Adsense ;)
8:37 am on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

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This page just nails it

lol & I think the Content Farm theme song should definitely include the lyrics:
ehow ehow-o ... here an ehow there an ehow everywhere an ehow ... old McSpammer had a farm ... ehow ehow-o
8:53 am on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

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It's a bit like James W. Marshall telling the Forty-Niners that they can't dig for gold, just after he made his fortune and publicised the good life to 300'000 migrant gold rush workers.

I love the way that most Google updates seem to be countering problems that been caused by the schemes that have continued to keep Google popular :-)
9:06 am on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

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ehow ehow-o ... here an ehow there an ehow everywhere an ehow ... old McSpammer had a farm ... ehow ehow-o

LOL!
9:08 am on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

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A site I've been working on on-and-off since August '10 is an AdSense site with [very] good content but it isn't too big (~60 pages of content, mid-thousands monthly uniques). It's monitised by AdSense and nothing else, and hasn't been hit. In-fact it's seen a ~35% rise in traffic in the past day or two.

So I don't think this is going after sites or pages with AdSense specifically. Personally I think it is mainly looking at the text and overall 'feel' of the site, in determining what's low quality and what's high quality.

And as we've seen from the Feb 2011 thread, Google might have got it wrong in some cases since *some* low quality sites are rising whilst *some* high quality sites are falling.

So it'll probably be tweaked a bunch, but I wouldn't say this is an anti-AdSense algo update. Or if it is, there's many more factors to it than that since my AdSense site is being rewarded (it would seem).

[edited by: tristanperry at 9:09 am (utc) on Feb 25, 2011]

9:09 am on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

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@Spencer - yep!

As others have said, this is rank hypocrisy. Google are not going after all content farms, just those that don't have VC backing.

I think that unfortunately AdSense encourages a business model that thrives on low quality content in the first place. The less help people get from your page the more likely they are to click an ad.
9:32 am on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

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>Nothing mentions adsense, but I'm removing it.

That's bold. I wouldn't even consider doing that. Of course they don't target Adsense sites per se, but content farms. IMO Adsense has nothing to do with it.
9:52 am on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

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That's bold. I wouldn't even consider doing that. Of course they don't target Adsense sites per se, but content farms. IMO Adsense has nothing to do with it.


My content is updated by hand, daily. I spend 3-4-5 hours each day at that, yet my site lost 50% of traffic. Maybe, just maybe, the adsense is one of the signals
10:03 am on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

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ehow ehow-o ... here an ehow there an ehow everywhere an ehow ... old McSpammer had a farm ... ehow ehow-o


Ehow is the biggest content farm ever. Plenty of stolen content, running Adense. And ... no penalty ...
10:35 am on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

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BeeDeeDubbleU, forget about alll those "google high quality sites"...it is best to figure out what they do and do the same...
10:42 am on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

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If this update isn't affecting them, it is because they are considered to be good by google but not because those pages are of good quality.

Finally we have it here, the answer to what google were referring to as content farms

"BLOGS that aren't big enough and using adsense"


I was repeting / yelling about this for a months ... and now I got tired and sick of it .

eHOW & FanPOP & GraphicsHunt & BlingCheese & BULL$!T Scrapper Stealer Website with one blessing : Google Adsense Premium publisher

Then you get some kind of this silly statements from Google team that problem will be fixed ... It's makes me more angry and offending everyone who have some knowledge about SE.

I wonder how much hypocrisy they gonna need before they stop on DEAD END ?
10:44 am on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

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One point: The change happens in US first, and only then for the rest of the world over a period of time.

It was reassuring to see that was the case. I spent a couple of hours carefully analysing 100 serps that I monitor in the UK and I could see no significant changes at all.
10:55 am on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

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For me it looks is a recalculation of link profiles. Looking at some queries that I have dropped, sites listing in top have stronger links, more of them buyed.

For some products they have large scale copied content, i have original hand written content and i am displayed lower in results.

It looks established sites has been advantaged (richest gets more and more, not surprise for me), but I don't understand the pressure from Google guys to make this change.

Running 4+ years old site, a lot of hours of work,add content and value, get links .. and now .. 29% drop traffic from US

I hope they will roll back some settings, i don't want to spend hard worked money buying links.

It is pretty demoralizing!
11:03 am on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

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side note: tedster, That website is slightly funny :)
11:06 am on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

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[demandmedia.com...]

A Statement About Search Engine Algorithm Changes

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.


[paidcontent.org...]

I think content farms have become such a general term that everyone is just throwing around. You know content farms could be automatic, non-human content that scrapes other people’s articles like ours, steals them, and publishes them. So, I mean, I don’t know what they define content farms as. We don’t see ourselves as one.


This dude's hilarious...if your content is scraped by non-human methods, it's a content farm. However, if a human touches it (and there are so many humans at ehow touching content), that's different. I guess.

If you talk to Google and we talk to Google all the time you will see that Google, if they have a problem with somebody like JC Penney they’re pretty obvious about it. They specifically say it. If they have a problem, they come out and talk about it.


Sounds like Google doesn't have a beef with their content.

What we create is created by consumer demand and touched by 14 humans.


All that human touching makes mix-mastering other people's content legit. I guess.

That could happen but it would be against their best interest and the consumer’s best interest. It’s kind of like Zynga just got a $9 billion valuation. Facebook could turn them off at any time. The iPhone could have been turned off by Verizon or AT&T (NYSE: T). There are a lot of synergistic partnerships that make sense for both parties that last a very long time.


And there we have it. It's just his opinion of course. But he's always had an uncannily optimistic opinion of his relationship with Google. Deluded? Or in the know?

I said this awhile ago in some thread here, my theory is that these algo changes aren't about eHow and M*hello et al., it's about getting rid of the growing competition to the VC backed sites. It seems to me only certain people are allowed to ride that ride.
11:30 am on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Guys do you have some link to SERPs to show this changes?

If someone was monitoring a SERP and now after this algo notices some movements?

So we can better understand this new algo. Too bad I monitor only SERP not within US. Thanks
12:21 pm on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

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You know content farms could be automatic, non-human content that scrapes other people’s articles like ours, steals them, and publishes them


Demand Media is complaining about people scraping their content?
12:45 pm on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

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This doesn't bode well for the $100 adsense check I get each month. It's coming from a bunch of really, really crappy content blogs that I have on sites that are basically in a holding pattern.

Of course, if they had decent content on them I wouldn't be running adsense, now would I?
3:43 pm on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I saw a 30% drop in traffic in my highest trafficked site... the thing is though I considered this site to be pretty high quality, content is unique, relevant, and informative.

After analyzing i've found my competitors who were bumped ahead on major phrases are horrible, very bad content - not sure how they didn't take a hit and i did.

On a positive note I did see an increase in rank on many other sites, so earnings wise its kind of a wash, although I would have been better off had I not taken that 30% hit - not sure what i'm doing that classifys me as a "content farm" - when sites are pushing 8 to 10,000 articles a day (VERY general content) and i'm pushing maybe 10 articles/day - tightly refined to the niche and high quality - hoping we will see some future adjustments on this algo.
4:37 pm on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

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They may have whacked eHow good, but they did it in part through a crude duplicate content filter. I'm seeing long established sites getting killed because they have been ripped-off, copied and rewritten/repurposed to the point that Google can't tell who was the original. It's basically a duplicate content penalty that is being assessed on the whole domain, rather than on a single page. I even read about one site that has more links FROM eHow than it has pages, and it got creamed more than 50%.

For anybody seeing the penalty who thinks the drop is 30%, check your visitors stats and you may be surprised to see it's over 50% when you look at U.S. only. Keep in mind the change has only been rolled out in the U.S.
4:49 pm on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

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@tedster, thank for the contentfarm link, it pretty funny stuff :)

and it is 100% what has been pushing us down in SERP for several important keyword phrases. Large network, different domains amd Adsence all over it. Rewriten original content into a style of "How to buy a Widget" without a slightest Idea that you can't actualy buy those widgets cause they aren't invented yet by mother nature.
4:58 pm on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

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One of my client sites got whacked with this yesterday, 50% traffic loss from Google. Looks like about a -50 in rankings for affected keywords. Used to rank on the first page for most terms. I just saw it today in the analytics and now I'm having to scramble just to keep my job. Way to help the unemployment rate there Google.

We're talking a very trusted site that has been around forever. Good content, good user experience, decent traffic, etc... Not a spam site at all or a content farm. Complete white hat SEO tactics, I mean down to the letter with 0 link building efforts. All the big boys are still there though.
5:23 pm on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I'm hearing back from quite a few people now whose sites have been depressed while eHow has jumped passed them.

Now that is depressing.
5:37 pm on Feb 25, 2011 (gmt 0)

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One of my sites is over 15 years old and page one for quite a few keywords - 90% of its traffic is from search engines to legacy evergreen content. We monitor traffic in real time and have watched an immediate 30% drop beginning yesterday. The reduction is consistent in our hour by hour stats.

Per comments above, we use a dozen ad networks including Adsense, which accounts for 5-10% of total income for that site.

Many of our keywords are still coming up on first pages so I'm not sure where the drop is occurring. I have noticed other search engines are now appearing more often in our SERPs logs so Google is definitely cutting out some of our content that others still find. I'm hoping Google tweaks its algorithm again after this test - they've done that before.
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