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CNN: Growing Backlash to AdSense Farm Update

   
3:17 pm on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator brett_tabke is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month Best Post Of The Month



[money.cnn.com...]

Google made one of the biggest changes ever to its search results this week, which immediately had a noticeable effect on many Web properties that rely on the world's biggest search engine to drive traffic to their sites.

The major tweak aims to move better quality content to the top of Google's search rankings. The changes will affect 12% Google's results, the company said in a blog post late Thursday.

Comments from site operators lit up on the WebmasterWorld.com forum starting on Wednesday. Many webmasters complained that traffic to their sites dropped dramatically overnight, and others expressed concern that they can't adapt quickly enough to Google's changes to its algorithm.
11:24 pm on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

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So, is this the death of 'bum marketing' then?
11:34 pm on Feb 26, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Webmasterworld did not get a mention in the NYT article today. Thank goodness!
And many of the sites will figure out a new way to climb back up Google’s rankings, said Mr. Copeland of GroupM Search.

“This is a group of people who will analyze this change, come back with a new strategy on Tuesday and be ranking by Thursday,” he said. “It’s kind of like what happens when drug dealers get busted. They don’t find new jobs. They switch corners.”
[nytimes.com...]
12:07 am on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

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tedster - I see no hit on the overstock deal and compliment you on allowing the revelations.

It helped further my education in this business and helped find some parallel practices from competitors that helped us close some loopholes.

I posted something along these same lines but on a different niche from a small segment I found at MSNBC but put it up on the Supporters Forum as I thought if I posted it in the open forums it would be taken down.
12:21 am on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



We almost always accept links to major news media in the public forums. Have no worries about that.

I'm happy you found real value in our OS thread - that was the goal.
12:22 am on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member sgt_kickaxe is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



To people not familiar with Google algo updates I can see how it might seem like sensational news. When compared to major Google updates, this is very tame.


I agree though this one did hit actual companies with wall st backing and so they were sure to complain, loudly.
12:28 am on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



Agreed. The collateral damage from this update, at least so far, doesn't even come close to what the Florida Update [webmasterworld.com] caused, way back in 2003.
12:38 am on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member billys is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



I guess Brett's has something against Adsense, he keeps calling these threads Adsense Farm while everyone esle is referring to it as content farm... He's already named three threads that way, best be careful or he'll trip some kind of spam filter. ;)

I'm not getting that 20 websites to 3 mention... If Google really goes after the large content farms, there should be more winners than losers.

I can certainly emphatize with many of those on the losing end of this change. We started our site in March 2004, which was the same month Google rolled out the sandbox. I just looked back at our stats. Google didn't let us out of the sandbox until February 2006 - 23 months later.

Outsiders looking at this thread need to be careful about intepreting the results of this change. Posters here will NOT be a representative sample of webmasters. They will be those that were affected negatively by the change.
1:52 am on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I am not really seeing any of the adsense heavy weights chiming in here and their websites being affected.


Don't consider myself a heavy weight (although my doc says I have to drop 30 lbs!)but wanted to chime in. So far, so good. No unusual ups or downs accross about 500 pages in 10 niches. Adsense is on every one of these pages. Been with AS about 6 years now, and its been a thoroughly positive experience.

I was kind of expecting to see a niche sector or two at least to show movement one way or the other. Perhaps its too early to tell...
1:58 am on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

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BillyS it may be that the term is used because Adsense is the market leader.

It really burns me up when I see so many sites thrown up where it is the clearly expressed purpose to try and exploit the network.

In one niche we follow every day an individual tweets 24 / 7 something like Widget Back Packers Paradise.

It leads to the same silly factoidz page littered with ads and the "article" is so lame and worthless and he / she cannot even spell the name of this paradise much less tell you how to get around it. It is funny if it were not sad. Maybe the page is making a dollar a day but it is DRIVEL.

I could block it from Twitter but keep it there so that I can be reminded of it every day and see how long it stays up.

Still it burns me up as I see it as leakage of revenue from sites with original and valuable content that folks invest money and labor to research, take original pictures and assemble into high quality content.
2:07 am on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jab_creations is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



Many webmasters complained that traffic to their sites dropped dramatically overnight


My website lost about 35% of US traffic...


joined:Feb 26, 2011
posts:1


Yep.

- John
2:11 am on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Ehow, About and Wikihow have so many garbage pages in Google it's pathetic. From a personal standpoint I wish I could set Google to filter them out of the results without having to add -site: to the searches. About is a little better quality than the others, but all three are next to useless when it comes to offering articles which are helpful. There are several others out there in smaller markets such as dmv.org and all the DLL/EXE identificaton sites which are just crap... no content at all, just a bunch of links with fluff content around them or copies of each other. Not to mention the thousands of sites with the same copies of Linux, Unix and MySQL man pages.
3:43 am on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jane_doe is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



I have enough different sites that for me moneywise this has been something of a zero sum change in my income.

I think you just have to expect rankings changes like this from time to time and not take it personally. I have had many sites lose half their traffic overnight in the past, a couple nice money earners had that happen this past week, and I'm sure it will happen many times in the future, too.

One thing you can plan on is that Bing may very well copy Google's algo change before too long, so you have to figure out what caused the drop soon or you'll be losing even more traffic within a few months. In fact I suspect part of the reason for the big change in Google was to try to differentiate their results from Bing. By labeling Bing a copycat lately, they are going to try to make it harder for Bing to mimic the new results without being very obvious about it.
3:49 am on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator brett_tabke is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month Best Post Of The Month



> us for cheating.

When the rules and the enforcements are made up by monopolies in a make believe world - there is no cheating.

The only "cheatings" is when it gets outside the lines of the law.

> everyone esle is referring to it as content farm.

The only thing the "content farms" have in common is service AdSense. The phrase "content farm" came from Google in order to hide the fact they were talking about their own ad program causing the problem in the first place. It's called pr.
[izurl.com...]

> you broke some forum rules here

There is a thread in Community Center where we are talking about it - please direct your comments there:
[webmasterworld.com...]

No we didn't. Ted did exactly what he was suppose to do. At the request of members, we have slowly been rolling back the amount of editing to a bare minimum. That thread was one of the experiments. There was nothing in that thread in anyway that got anyone in trouble.
5:38 am on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



"Soft purple widgets" are mentioned three times on my home page.

"soft widgets" are mentioned on a competitors home page but the word purple is not.

Yet my competitor has taken first position for "soft purple widgets".

Change it back!
5:59 am on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



motorhaven, you can filter out specific sites if you use Chrome. Google released this extension recently:
[chrome.google.com...]

I imagine there is also an extension that's similar for Firefox.
6:59 am on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



Yep.

- John


JAB Creations, what are you trying to say, that no one is affected?

I'm not one of the old timers on the forum, but I've worked damn hard on my site since 2001, and didnt even copy a manufacture description once. All my hand written content, that some was stolen by eHow. However, I wake up Friday morning to a 40-50% traffic drop.

I even began to carry a new widget that no one else had yet, wrote 500 words about it, and ranked #1 in google for the term. Today I'm #8, with nothing but pointless forum discussions about the product, instead in the top 7 spots.

This update has hit me in the wrong way, and it's unfortunate that there is nothing I can do except watch my orders take a nose dive and start to send out my resume.
9:00 am on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



Thanks Brett, enlightening reading. What if we looked a bit more at what G does, rather than what it says? Hint to all colleagues... Take two steps back and look at the bigger picture. This week's 40% loss is just collateral damage.

Aim to give 'people' (ethereal) what they are looking for and G willl have your back. Anything else will have you obliterated.

Each page (sorry if you have 20K pages) needs a purpose. Revisit each one and try to figure out what good it would do for someone who landed on it as a result of their query. How does it fulfill their need?

Identify with the potential visitor. Once they have read your content, what will they want to do next?
9:04 am on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jab_creations is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



apauto, CNN suggested that the forums harbor content farmers and while I spend most of my patronage in the Code/Content/Presentation related forums I thought it was a laugh that less than three hours after this thread was posted that someone signed up and posted hoping no one would point out the obvious. There may be people who run content farms here though I haven't noticed any because like I just said, I'm focused on code, content and presentation.

If your rankings dropped and you're sure the quality of your content is highly relevant then I would highly recommend checking the quality of your code. Do you use server or client frameworks? Get rid of them. Tabular layouts for non-tabular data? Convert to divisible elements. What is your content to code ratio? Do you have excessive amount of stuff cluttering your pages that reduce your content's weight? Do your pages average over 50 kilobytes total from an empty browser cache? Are you abusing elements such as using more than one instance of the h1 element? I'd worry more about those things if what you said is true.

- John
11:16 am on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



How can they keep saying that this algo change is also directed to Dekand Media? Deman Media is in the AdSense 3rd party ad network, which means Google and Deman Media are partners !
12:48 pm on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

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



How can they keep saying that this algo change is also directed to Dekand Media?

It is ... Who do you think is getting all the traffic now?
They aimed it right at 'em.
12:53 pm on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



I'm in Europe so I can't see the effects:

Has this algo change also effects on forums and discussion boards?
3:36 pm on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



It feels like an adjustment of the "shallow backlinks" update a few weeks ago.
5:13 pm on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



Has this algo change also effects on forums and discussion boards?

From what has been reported - yes. And a one I've heard about is right in that 40% traffic loss area, too.
5:22 pm on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



This isn't funny anymore.

I just searched for: widget rental +city1(where I am near), then searched for: widget rental +city2(my destination). The widget is a portable thing that we use to develop our sites.

Both searches return eHow as top 2 in SERP. Useless @rap.

I started planning this trip 2 weeks ago and thankfully bookmarked the sites that actually offer these services. 2 weeks ago these sites were in top 4(not ads). Today they are past page 3.
5:57 pm on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)



We have had a similar experience as another commerce site in this forum:

1. Old site
2. 99% hand written content

The results:

1. Scraper sites that have stolen content from us (and even linked to us) are ranking higher in the serps
2. Multiple listings for the same products from sites who have simply copied content from the MFG are being listed in the top 10.
3. Craigslist/Ebay listings abound
4. We lost 50% of our google traffic.

The Carnage:

1. We'll have to let go of employees
2. Dreams/hard work foregone.

The irony:

1. I haven't answered sales calls in years... I let go of my weekend staff on Friday... One of the calls I took said this: "Your site is so nice and easy to navigate. I am so glad that I found you. I cannot wait to do business with you."
6:11 pm on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)



Way to go Google & your timing is perfect. Stop content farms in their Web-tracks before they gain momentum to put their crappy, sub-par content onto new media forms such as mobile... folks who take the time and energy - AT CONSIDERABLE EXPENSE - to create quality in-depth information should be rewarded with higher rankings, that in-turn create happy 'will return often and may click on ads' customers for Google as they actually get something of value out of time taken to do a search.

The way it should be, amen. :) Molly
6:27 pm on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



Like so many others posting to this thread, since the algo change my sites have had boosts in traffic anywhere from 15% to 125.5%.

The lowest increases are on those sites that use some merchant copy, while the highest contain all original content.

Thanks Google!
6:31 pm on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



Welcome to the forums, RosalindG.

It's good to hear from someone on the upside of this algo change. We know there must be such an upside, but we often hear more from people who have lost.
6:34 pm on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)



Forgot to mention... I'm a new forum member... this is my 5th or so post. Does that make my story somehow dubious? Am I now a big media spy that has it out for Google?

Get real guys. I'm new to this forum because my Professional SEO doesn't know what the heck is going on... can't figure it out.... And I'm up against a wall trying to undo this catastrophe... There are two things that ease this pain at this moment, writing to other SEO's and business owners (and reading their own trials) and looking into my newborn sons eye's and getting that sudden connection in between spastic seemingly involuntary muscle movement. It's only after my eyes leave his that I remember that I have to somehow figure out a way to rebuild my business so that I can take care of him!

Complaint:

Google! You couldn't warn us? You couldn't make a 2 - 4 weeks 20% drop versus a 50% drop overnight? I'm not sure if it would have made a difference, though it would have allowed me to use resources to "fix" whatever it is that you have found wrong with our site... Unlike many people imply in this forum, many lives are changed over this "Update" - I think that it would have been very humanitarian of you to somehow warn us... so we can prepare our families and employees.

After all Google, I've built my website with both of our customers in mind since 2004. I've hand written content that accurately describes the products that we sell for our customers. I've made it easy on the google bot to index us correctly by following all the Google guidelines etc. It's extremely perplexing why companies (big and small) are outranking us for our own content AND for simply copying the content from the MFG - how does that bring any value to the web? There are various cases where Google you are listing 5 of the same product, all with copied content for a key term.

To all Google employees:

And I have friends that work for Google... and other than the cryptic desire of Google for you to work 24/7 with as little outside of Google life as possible, they love it. Think about what your company is responsible for when they do an update. THERE HAS TO BE a more HUMANITARIAN way of updating the Algorithm. I know a lot of people claim it's a "zero sum game" (which I have arguments against, specifically as it relates to copied content outranking the original), however, nonetheless it doesn't have to be as barbaric as a website losing 50% Google traffic overnight. This update reminds me of our history books where when you have to go through surgery in the battle fields you got a tourniquet and a bottle of scotch. Do you as a Google employee see yourself as being that backward? I have a lot of respect for the company Google... and I have a lot of respect for the minds that make up it's most valuable asset(s). However, PLEASE, please, please, you HAVE to realize the power that your organization yields... when the company is about to update their algorithm ask yourself a question, have we done enough to prepare people for this change? If not, why not?

Here is a simple suggestion:

In the event that you are going to roll out a new algorithmic change set your parameters to max out the drop of rankings by x% for a period of say 14 days; then again for another 14 days; then again for another 14 days. This way a company that is affected by the algorithm change will have 14 days to either A. correct the problem B. let go of it's employees with enough time to find other jobs.

Google, your employees are pretty darn smart (I know first hand) I'm pretty sure they could figure out a better way of making the algo change less barbaric and more civilized for Humanity.

Just as an end to this, every time I see the Google logo I want to puke lately... Perhaps it's the backlash of my limbs being cut off with a tourniquet and a bottle of cheap scotch.

Final thought:

There are only two reasons Google would change the way they make major algorithm changes:

1. If public backlash gets to them, they lose respect in the community. (so that means CNN your the number one catalyst)

2. You, Google employees begin to question the fairness/humanity that Google builds into their business when it comes to controlling their search results. (I'm recommending that a slower rollout or a controlled drop in the rankings is a MUST.)
6:44 pm on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



This change is terrific. Quality content is king. Always has been and always will be. Manipulation is a difficult game and is short-sighted. Why have most black-hats gone white-hat? Because it pays.

My traffic is up. Sales are also up. Some day, Google and the rest will have the means to attribute original content to the 'real' source. The system is far from perfect at the moment. Go ahead and SPAM, plagiarize and copy... In the end, doing this 'the hard way' will pay off even more. AdSense, for the most part, is an indicator of a trashy Web property. There are far better ways to monetize.
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