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Unique content not always ranking well in Google

     
4:22 am on Sep 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

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A few days ago, we decided to launch an essay competition on our site for all the members. Members had to come up with unique essay with at least 500 words. So far, the contest has received about 6 entries which have unique entries each with about 800-1200 words.

I thought with so much of Unique content, we'd ranking #1 in Google for the essay topic (the title of the submission thread are the keywords). I checked and found that while Google has already picked up the topic, it's putting is on page #2; while the top search results, I dare say, are pathetic, are clearly of lesser overall value than ours .

We never worked on generating backlinks to our site; and have been happy with the natural linksbacks.

Should we really work on generating linkbacks and promoting our unique content in Social Media? Or should we focus on creating unique content? Experience shows that unique content alone won't get you Google love.

What are your thoughts?
6:53 am on Sept 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member beedeedubbleu is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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I would say that to be on page two after a few days is pretty good. Perhaps your opinion that the results above you are of lesser value is not 100% objective?
7:36 am on Sept 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Well, my opinion is based on following facts -

Our content:

100% Unique and in depth, touches the subject from various angles.

The content that ourtanks us:

<5% in size as compared to ours, has only a few relevant points, uses repeat keywords.

Some of the links are from Flickr (all photos), Google+ (a few posts), 30 line poem about the topic, and one Facebook page with a few comments on the main post that is about 50 words.


As a user, I'd feel much more informed on our page as compared to most of the other pages which are outranking us.
10:45 am on Sept 15, 2013 (gmt 0)

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they don't care about who is the original author of content

they care about how less you are penalized

so whoever copies the content with less penalty get ranked :)
11:10 am on Sept 15, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Update: The content did get pushed to front page of Google today. We are at #6 or #7 in the results for the very specific keywords.

What's more surprising is that the web pages that are outranking us were created just yesterday and have '2013' in their title! Content wise, they are not even 5% of what we are offering. In fact ~30% of their content is copied!

It's very shocking how Google ranks pages.
1:21 pm on Sept 15, 2013 (gmt 0)

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It's very shocking how Google ranks pages.

MasterofPuppets may have hit the nail on the head. Your site may be algorithmically penalized. These days it appears that penalties take precedence over quality and any new pages you post on your domain may be automatically demoted as a result - regardless of the quality, depth and effort you put into these pages.
1:30 pm on Sept 15, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Hello @turbocharged & @MasterOfPuppets - Thanks a lot for your responses. Is there any way to find out whether the site has been algorithmically penalised?

I've been following Panda, Penguin and other algorithmic updates. Our site doesn't seem to be penalised by any of these major algorithmic updates. I had started a discussion back in 2012 about how our traffic came down with sudden increase in 404 errors (which were all created by JavaScript bug in Disqus plugin).

Google continued to deny that 404s don't cause rank drop; but the graphs indicated otherwise (404 count went up and traffic came down suddenly on September 4th).

What I'm interested in knowing at this point - What should we do to get over this algorithmic penalty? It looks like Google first determines that there are a few 'low quality' pages on the site and then punishes entire domain for it.
1:38 pm on Sept 15, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Honestly, I see very few pages that get ranked on the front page immediately. Give it some time. You are seeing an upward climb. That is the normal way things happen. Right now Google is gathering user metrics on your pages to see how searchers are reacting to your site. If it is good, it will still climb. If not it will level off or drop back down.
1:58 pm on Sept 15, 2013 (gmt 0)

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TheBigK, my previous comment was based on very limited information. How the rest of your site is performing is a good indication of any algorithmic penalties that your site may have. Google does take granular actions on specific pages by demoting specific keywords these pages should rank for, but this is normally for pages that have been manually reviewed or contain an algorithmically identified number of unnatural links.

You can always review your traffic stats and compare any drops in traffic to known Panda, Penguin, etc. release dates. But there have been many other tweaks in between the major updates that also have some in the webmaster community scratching their heads as to what these tweaks are targeting.
4:23 pm on Sept 15, 2013 (gmt 0)

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As far as i know there is no way to know which algo penalties u are under

Also it is extremely hard to find when you consider google showing valid backlinks as spam when giving example

such as marking dmoz backlink as spam algorithmically
5:06 pm on Sept 15, 2013 (gmt 0)

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On a major FMCG site I was working on, it took well over a year and a half to rank it to the top 5 results for a keyword it really shouldn't have been allowed. Not saying this is something that applies to you, but gives you an idea of how difficult it can be.

And this is for a major brand with tons of publicity and a very high volume of natural links without me pursuing them at all. The sites that were outranking for that particular keyword were blogspot blogs, YouTube videos on how to make this product on your own at home etc. with not even 2% of the links this brand has.

Your progress is stunning, really hope it will stay there and is not something that will dilute in the next 10-20 days (seen that happen on a number of occasions).
 

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