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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.
6:51 pm on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Hi Lenny2,

I think the best course of action at this time is to let the results settle a few days (a week?) and while you wait take notes of what websites are at the top and why you think they are there and then from that come up with ideas to improve your own website to be better.

For your final thought I would say business is business and the only thing you can do is don't get emotional however hard and keep trying to do your best.

I like the idea that someone else has said for the next few days they will let the junk float to the top to clear them out if thats what they are doing then they will be able to see a range of data which will help them come up with the tweaks that will improve the results in the long run as in the end if the searchers aren't happy then Google will loose out as more people will have to search more often on Bing, Yahoo & co.

For me I did get a scare on Friday I seem to be down a little however I have hopes that I will continue to do well and to let everyone else know there are a few good bits of information in these threads. :)
7:44 pm on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)



Thanks for the words of encouragement RJ. I tend to agree with you. There are some pretty terrible search results right now in the serps for both long tail and short tail key words in my industry. I doubt that Google is going to keep it the way it is... I still will have to let go of 7 - 8 employees tomorrow though.. and I think that the point is mostly for Google to be more responsible about making these changes over a longer period of time or "warning" people.

The after-the-fact blog announcement with a title "Have you noticed the better SERPS lately" is pretty obnoxious. It shows what a lack of understanding/respect/care that Google execs have for the honest hard working folks that make up it's user base. It's almost like they did not even want to make the announcement, like a child getting caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

Recently there has been news about Google execs being "all grown up..." You know what, Google execs are "all grown up" they are grown up UFC wrestlers except with more power, less compassion for their "foe" and the shallow veil of an argument about there being a "zero sum game." I guess being "all grown up" means you get to be the big bully on the street.
8:09 pm on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)



@Lenny2 couldn't agree more. It is really irresponsible for Google to make this gigantic change during this economy, I am so sorry that you need to let some people go, I will wait week or two before I take any action. There is already a backlash growing in the web community regarding Google's monopoly(TechCrunch article). This is just business as usual for them, they don't appear to care about the suffering of other companies based on their explanation.
8:35 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



It is really irresponsible for Google to make this gigantic change during this economy, I am so sorry that you need to let some people go...

I'm sorry you both irresponsibly built the livelihoods of yourselves and others on something totally out of your control (Google's rankings), and some of my sites happen to be moving up, which is exactly what the economy over here needed.

I feel bad for your employees, but not for the people who should know better than to depend on an independent 3rd party's hand out for a living ... YOU! ... You're not entitled to your rankings because of the stinking economy!

I also think it's pretty conceited of you to think you're more entitled to your spot than the rest of us here or anyone else who works their asses off and are moving up from where we were.

And, yes, believe it or not most of those 'big players' do work their asses off to rank ... They have to because it's a constant battle to stay at the top and be ahead of the game.

SERIOUSLY! Anyone who thinks you're entitled to your rankings GET OVER YOURSELF. You're not any more entitled than the rest of us. That's the game we play and if you got in a spot because of irresponsibly depending on an independent 3rd party to keep giving you a freebie then that's your own stinking fault.

Don't blame Google for YOUR poor decision making!

Suck it up, take the responsibility for making a bad decision like an adult, then figure out what to do to try and correct your error, whether it be online or off.

[edited by: TheMadScientist at 8:43 pm (utc) on Feb 27, 2011]

8:35 pm on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



>> CNN suggested that the forums harbor content farmers

All to often, the general media would write up 'researched' articles, making those who are in, chuckle at their ignorance.
8:42 pm on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



The Carnage:
1. We'll have to let go of employees
2. Dreams/hard work foregone.
1. That's up to you.
2. Dreams / hard work usually don't go hand-in-hand.
As was mentioned earlier, you can't build on Google alone.
8:45 pm on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Forgot to mention... I'm a new forum member... this is my 5th or so post. Does that make my story somehow dubious?
No comment.

But -
frequent forum members see this advise often:
  • Don't blame Google for your poor decision making!
  • 9:40 pm on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)



    Dear Mad Scientist, please understand the suffering of other people and try to respond in a positive way. BTW, if G thinks that something is wrong with our sites, they should have warned us not impose ban on us.

    [edited by: browsee at 10:00 pm (utc) on Feb 27, 2011]

    9:42 pm on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



    After suffering with lost traffic since last May 18th while Google tried to stamp out cheaters, plagiarizers and black hat artists, I can finally congratulate Google on an algo update with positive results for my battered business. Now we wait for the MFA artists to try to game this update.

    [edited by: backdraft7 at 9:44 pm (utc) on Feb 27, 2011]

    9:43 pm on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



    Google never encouraged content farms. That viral "Get rich quick on Google" e-book did.
    9:44 pm on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)



    Based on the backlash to my commentary I think I should be a little clearer. I am not blaming Google for the "needed" change to their algorithm, nor do I feel entitled to being in the top results. And I am very grateful for the years of good graces I have had with Google... AND most importantly, I feel congratulatory for the websites that are now in the top results. (Except for those that are providing little unique value/and for the ones that are ranking in the SERPS with stolen content off of our website.)

    My complaint... my commentary... is/has to do with Google's seemingly rash and irresponsible way of manipulating the search results. It appears that hundreds, if not thousands of webmasters lost up to 50% of their Google traffic within basically a 1 hour period. The point is that Google, being the biggest player in the field has a social responsibility of doing things responsibly and with dignity. Cutting hundreds or thousands of website down at the knees is neither responsible or dignified. Just like introducing the Gatling gun [en.wikipedia.org ] to the civil war fields was not a dignified way of fighting.

    Again my complaint is not that I lost 50% of my Google traffic. My complaint is that Google made a 1/2 @$$, smart @$$ announcement almost 24 hours AFTER THE FACT, with the title being "have you noticed the better results..." - my complaint is that a noble move would be to say: "We thank ALL INDIVIDUALS who made up our results before... this change was needed for our users to continue to see improved rankings... we sincerely apologize to any legitimate site that is negatively affected by this change and encourage you to reach out to us in the event you think that somehow your site was unnecessarily affected." (WHERE WAS YOUR PR PEOPLE GOOGLE? I'm looking for a new job... email me if you want help in that department.)

    Again my complaint is not that I am losing 1/2 of my Google referred business... My complaint is that Google appears to be so stuck into their own Google world... A world that is so focused on Google that they have what seems like ZERO compassion for what is around them. All of you defenders of Google, I'm Google's fan numero uno! That doesn't mean that I can't recognize when they have made a major public snafu!

    Again my complaint is not that I have the unenviable task of letting go of employees; my complaint is that Google, a company that I look up to, is acting with as much grace as a brown pelican .
    [youtube.com ]. This video is graphic... To stay on point, there may be nothing "wrong" with Google's actions, it doesn't mean that we as webmasters, humans should approve of it.

    So do I blame Google? No, I don't blame Google. They are doing their best... Just like I will deal with this situation the best that I can. I am just disappointed that Google handled this major change with (what seems like) as much compassion as a medieval torturer.

    To our European and Worldly Google using webmasters. Take heed, at least Google is giving you the heads up that a major change is coming! Your getting the warning that all of us are now yearning we had!
    9:48 pm on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)



    I agree with Lenny2, I am not blaming Google either. They helped to create so many jobs in US and abroad. But, they should have warned about this big change.
    10:10 pm on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

    5+ Year Member



    Can we please stop referring to this update as good or bad just because your site rose or fell in the serps.

    Nobody even knows what happened exactly with the algo change at this point. If you do, please let us know and you will get a gold star.

    All we do know is there has been a violent shakeup for a lot of queries, and the details algo-wise are far from black and white.

    Let's look at the facts and stop generalizing.

    For example, eHow, which has been called a content farm by some, has had no significant change in traffic YET, according to reports.
    10:19 pm on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



    With all respect, this is a fallacious argument:
    Google's seemingly rash and irresponsible way of manipulating the search results

    The algo update was neither rash or irresponsible. Google does not have to 'warn' webmasters in advance, yet it actually did provide a heads-up (as early as Dec/Jan) that they were going to look at links differently and give more emphasis to quality (among other things). Nothing G does can be considered 'rash' - it is carefully planned and tested - sometimes for months - before being implemented (and even then the roll-outs are incremental and adjusted while their effects are monitored).

    G does not manipulate search results, it creates them according to its algorithm and extensive testing. Manipulation would indicate manual adjustments - which is not what this topic is about.

    Google does not owe us anything.
    10:21 pm on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member




    "Sites of this type have always been controversial," said Daniel Ruby, research director at Chitika, Inc. a search advertising analytics company. "On one hand, they often do produce extremely informative, well-written articles. On the other hand, they put out countless articles on a daily basis, and some claim they exist only to generate the top result on as many keywords as possible."

    This was an interesting quote. If you replace the word "they" with "printed daily newspapers" does it not still make some amount of sense (except instead of "the top result on as many keywords" it would be "so that they can fill out the paper and place more ads on each newspaper page").
    Obviously that wouldn't apply to straight scraper sites, but might apply to some of the 'low quality' sites.
    Just saying that I've seen some pretty sad excuses for newspapers around that don't do much other than grab AP articles and write fluff pieces just to fill the pages.
    My point isn't that this is good - just that these sort of low-quality-content-mills have been around since before the internet and Google.

    [edited by: physics at 10:22 pm (utc) on Feb 27, 2011]

    10:21 pm on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

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



    Google did give the community notice that significant a change was coming. At first it was in general comments. Then a very specific warning a month ago: Google's Matt Cutts Talks of New Focus On Low Quality Content [webmasterworld.com]
    10:30 pm on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

    10+ Year Member



    The Mad Scientist, this is a serious discussion about the radical changes implemented by Google and the dramatic impact it's had on the people here.

    [edited by: tedster at 10:55 pm (utc) on Feb 27, 2011]
    [edit reason] removed ad hominem comments [/edit]

    10:31 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



    Hi brownsee Welcoome to WebmasterWorld again!

    I'm actually doing this to help some people out, including you, because this happens every time there's an update.

    It is really irresponsible for Google to make this gigantic change during this economy

    The above doesn't say anything about getting a warning. It says them making a change in this economy is wrong ... That's the quote I replied to, and it's not only in this thread or you I'm replying to ... It's to give everyone who reads here and depends solely on G rankings for a living a wake-up call.

    BTW, if G thinks that something is wrong with our sites, they should have warned us not impose ban on us.

    They can't ... The reason they get gamed is because people figure out what to do to manipulate the rankings ... If they give a 'BTW this is what's wrong' they lose ground, rapidly.

    Lenny2 Welcome to WebmasterWorld too!
    WHERE WAS YOUR PR PEOPLE GOOGLE?

    I can't disagree with their communication and interaction with the webmaster community being, uh, less than desired.

    [edited by: tedster at 10:54 pm (utc) on Feb 27, 2011]
    [edit reason] let's not use personal aspersions [/edit]

    10:34 pm on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)



    Good point Ted. That was good of Google... Thanks posting that link... This forum is certainly awesome!

    I know it's impossible for me to be totaly objective... however, I think that their new Algo is producing worse results in a lot of niches. (I have looked at other niches just to be unbiased as possible.)

    I'm finding:

    1. repeat products on the first page
    2. Sites with spammy domains selling the same product with the same description in the serps.
    3. Sites that scrape content in the serps.

    Seems like google turned OFF the duplicate content filter (since there are a lot of repeat items in the serps). Or maybe they are emphasizing a lot more of the key term with syntax, which would explain why there are repeat items with the same content in the first page.

    Finally, I still think that Google could have taken a more socially friendly stance in their blog post as mentioned in my post above... ie. "We thank all sites that have made up our search results in the past etc etc etc." It would have made the sting of losing the traffic a little less!
    10:37 pm on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

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



    Nobody even knows what happened exactly with the algo change at this point. If you do, please let us know and you will get a gold star.


    Here is my try for the star -

    They discounted some types of lower quality back links. In some cases these back links had counteracted spam penalties. But with the back link pluses now gone, the negatives outweighed the positives for some sites and the spam penalties kicked in. Sites that had a mix of high quality and low quality backlinks for the most part survived, but may have dropped some positions. Sites with only the types of low quality back links, compared to their competitors, dropped a lot.

    Individual pages with discounted back links dropped some positions, and the pages with discounted back links, no high quality back links and spam penalties dropped like rocks.

    I think there is more to it, but most of it has already been reported here by other posters.

    10:49 pm on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

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



    There IS a no personal attacks guideline in both the WebmasterWorld Terms of Service and in this particular forum's Charter:

    Forum Etiquette
    Please be mindful of the original topic of discussions and be respectful and courteous to other members. Posts that are rude, insulting or belittling toward others are not appropriate and will be edited or removed. Discuss the topic, and not other members.

    SEO is a fluid profession. Techniques and tactics are always changing, and absolute rules are in short supply. There are only educated opinions - and it's common for opinions to run counter to each another. Tolerance helps to clear up the discussion much more than conflict.


    I've been a bit lenient about that because I appreciate that people are hurting. But the points made here can and should be made with professional courtesy. We don't need a brawl - it doesn't help anyone.

    Professional courtesy returns NOW - thank you all.
    10:52 pm on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



    maybe WebmasterWorld should implement a separate noob forum where they can whine with each other?

    how naive can people be in 2011? don't create your business on something you have no control over. google owes you nothing.
    10:54 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



    We don't need a brawl - it doesn't help anyone.

    Good point...

    It just really sucks to read through these threads update after update for years on end and hear the same 'closing shop story' when I know many of us have posted to NOT depend on G for a living for years, and I wish (HOPE someday) we'll start reading posts here about how people lost their rankings, and their bottom line might take a hit, but they were prepared, because they read through some of the threads here and realized how dangerous it is to depend on Google's rankings for a living...

    Professional courtesy returns NOW - thank you all.

    Alright ... If I have to. lol

    ADDED: tedster, could we get a sticky thread like the hot topics titled: 'Can I Depend on Google for a Living?' With a message body of: 'NO!' in 48pt text and links to the update threads? People might 'get it' better...
    11:11 pm on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

    5+ Year Member



    Here is my try for the star -


    No gold star for you. But here's a chocolate chip cookie. :)
    11:13 pm on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)



    I wish (HOPE someday) we'll start reading posts here about how people lost their rankings, and their bottom line might take a hit, but they were prepared...


    Mad, I couldn't agree with you more. That will come when Google isn't processing 70%+ of all searches online. Until then, it will always be a shocker when they make a major change. As people have so wisely pointed out, there are only 10 slots and if they are not filled by you... then they are probably filled with sites that are stealing your content ;)
    11:18 pm on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)



    Did anybody catch this from Wheel, a senior member:
    The idea of Google trying to determine that through an algo, and the guaranteed huge fallout from that (on non-spammy sites) should be enough to make anyone scared.


    He was talking about Google trying to determine quality content verus not quality content through the algo. From the complaint of many webmasters, I'd say he was spot on! Well done Wheel!

    here is a link to the whole thread: [webmasterworld.com ]
    11:18 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



    As people have so wisely pointed out, there are only 10 slots and if they are not filled by you... then they are probably filled with sites that are stealing your content ;)

    LMAO! At least you've still got your humor!

    Don't lose that part and don't quit ... One of the things I've read here is some of those who lost everything during the Florida Update said it was the best thing that happened to them, because they were way better off after, and the lack of sympathy they received wasn't much fun at the time, but really opened their eyes.

    I encourage people to go back and read some of those old update threads, because they can be very enlightening...
    11:23 pm on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)



    Mad, you are absolutely RIGHT! I am SO inspired... In a lot of ways because of the uneasiness of Googles rankings I have been shackled for fear of "rocking the boat"... Now that I have very little to lose I get to unleash some of those ideas... albeit with less funding...

    Having said that, I'm sure like you mentioned most if not all web entrepreneurs have gone through a similar awaking during the Google updates!
    11:24 pm on Feb 27, 2011 (gmt 0)

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



    Here's a very pertinent thread from last November - we even had in on our Home Page:

    Depending on Google has hurt businesses since at least 2002 [webmasterworld.com]

    It's still open for replies, by the way ;)
    11:27 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



    Now that I have very little to lose I get to unleash some of those ideas...

    Love It!

    Do something new, different, unique, FUN! even and run as far as you can with it...

    albeit with less funding...

    What better to bring out creativity?
    Sometimes the toughest situations give way to the best ideas...
    This 198 message thread spans 7 pages: 198