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Has Google's algorithm been demoting one-person sites?

     
3:25 pm on Feb 21, 2019 (gmt 0)

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One impression I get from reading these threads is that one-person sites (also blogs) are steadily losing out in google against larger operations. Most likely google's algorithm can usually identify a one-person site from various clues.

As a hypothetical example, why would google send more traffic to a 3-year-old one-person general news site than to the site of a large well-known news organization that's been around for decades?

Of course there can be exceptions. I know of a "news blog" started by one person about 20 years ago that's still doing pretty well. But after its initial success, several new writers and regular contributors were added. So it's no longer a one-person site.

But I think this trend also applies to various other types of sites, both one-person e-commerce sites and informational sites.
10:47 pm on Feb 21, 2019 (gmt 0)

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i have to say I hadn't noticed this, but while it wouldn't particularly suprise me, I'd be more inclined to believe it might be the clues themselves, not the one-person aspect, that gave rise to it: what you call clues might in fact be just ways in which the one-preson site falls short of the corporate one.

I'll certainly keep it in mind when looking at results form here on, however.
11:12 pm on Feb 21, 2019 (gmt 0)

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The resources of a one person site can't compete with anything larger. The content would have to be so unique an desirable to make any real impression ... sadly, there aren't that many such sites.
2:52 am on Feb 22, 2019 (gmt 0)

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You can't churn content fast enough to compete. Freshness is it. Doesn't matter what you're saying, so long as you're saying a lot, and often. I think the reason you see little activity around here and other places is because of this point. The ability to rank and make some earnings with a one person operation could be summarized that the squeeze isn't worth the juice.

I'm one of these one man sucking sh_t machines. I still haven't decided what to do because I feel like i'm in the middle of an onslaught. Working for a churn site is about an unsatisfying as you can get. What you create means nothing. It's meaningless essentially. To edit those articles? What a waste of life.

But to the original point, I can't see a lot of scenarios where one person can create articles on a regular basis that makes it worthwhile. Ironically Google didn't want content farms but the only way to really stay in rankings is to have that content churning out. Of course I can only speak to the area of my own experience and there are obviously exceptions to every rule. Webmastering is ultimately dead, or dying. I would think this site has been a victim of this? If you run a big site who really has time for these types of discussions? Apparently not many.

Niche sites could be a one-person operation but too bad Google killed those. Try and find one.
3:16 am on Feb 22, 2019 (gmt 0)

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The ROI on effort is not dead ... but the expectations of fame and fortune have to be modified. These days the one man shop is "mom and pop local" ... and a living can be made, but the pie has ascended higher into the sky.

Reality is that "ad space" (that billboard painted on the barn in the farmer's field) is not as desirable as those "urban ad spaces" that larger sites offer.

HOWEVER, one can still make bucks, develop their own ad sales (or sponsors) and stay in biz. How much longer that will continue to be true is yet to be determined.
6:20 am on Feb 22, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Please, do not make me cry,,, so early, I just got up and I'm not ready for these discussions.
11:55 am on Feb 22, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Google says they do not want content farms but in reality that is what they are rewarding again. In our niche their are a couple of companies that run different niche websites. All they must do is figure out the popular keywords for the niche, create a bunch of different article titles and churn out the articles. They have no interest in the niche.

Even some larger media companies are doing this now. They identify a profitable niche and just churn out articles which flood the serps. All the articles say pretty much the same thing.
12:37 pm on Feb 22, 2019 (gmt 0)

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It's not like Google can peak in and see how many people are running a site. It's that any profitable niche is highly competitive and your competitors are likely to be big companies that can throw mega-bucks at SEO, content creation and marketing. Great content without marketing does not a business make and doing both is often beyond the capacity of one person no matter how smart and hard-working
1:06 pm on Feb 22, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Back in November, as one of my experiments, I threw a site online to see how it would get on. I decided on no specific ongoing SEO just to see what happened. A smaller business won't do any ongoing SEO, usually because of lack of resources, and time.

Google's found it, and it's indexed, but it doesn't rank anywhere significant for any of the specifcs.

Guess what, nothing.

I'm just going to leave it and see what happens.

I doubt Google is deliberately demoting "one-person sites." I cannot see how it would know what's a one-person site compared to a bigger business.

It's surely got to be newness and quality-related.
3:06 pm on Feb 22, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Deliberately demoting "one-person sites"? People are smart around here. Google can't bias anything right? One person can't produce enough articles/content each and every day to maintain rankings. Isn't that the point being made? If you are in an area where some sites can churn out mass content, you're getting nowhere unless you yourself start churning out rubbish on a daily basis. Some content needs to be daily and lots of it which isn't apt for one person. This is only about whether you need a collection of people churning out content in order to rank. In my area, yes you do. You might have a better expertise but it doesn't rank. What ranks is a bunch of new words and articles that show action and freshness which Google equates to meaning quality and something that beats out all else. I've tried this. I know this. Google can sour on you in short order if you slow down on that content churn. Again though, the main indicator for me is webmaster world and how the excitement and contributions have dried up, just like the smaller one-person "webmaster" folks.
3:37 pm on Feb 22, 2019 (gmt 0)

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the main indicator for me is webmaster world and how the excitement and contributions have dried up


Not sure that's true ... will say that there's more takers these days than givers, and those who once gave the most are being a bit more cautious about sharing what is successful simply because that can be turned against them (as competition from others).

WW remains special, but the open energy of the old days has matured and, sadly, some of the ones who really made WW so special have passed and none have come to take their place.
5:15 pm on Feb 22, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Can we agree that the pulse of the "webmaster" is webmaster world? And can we agree that there is a steep decline in participation? Enthusiasm and motivation are two words that don't come to mind around here. If this is the pulse (try to dispute that fact) then the state of affairs speak for themselves. You could also say the money/revenue generation being sucked away from webmasters is a driving force. The single "webmaster" made the industry go round. I'd be curious how shared hosting and domain companies are doing these days. Sedo much? For the most part the juice isn't worth the squeeze unless of course you a resting on a website that gained traction in the glory days or you don't mind create senseless and largely meaningless content all for the sake of "freshness" (rankings). Even then, most people know success can and does change on a dime. It's Google's playground. Aside from these few issues, things are fantastic. Call it a glorious day if you will.
5:40 pm on Feb 22, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Chuckles. WW lives by and large by who plays, how they behave, and the current topics of the day. What I have noticed, over the years, is an impatience to get answers RIGHT NOW that fix a problem with a particular third party income generator and how to game the system. Personally don't have much to offer in those discussions.

Meanwhile,the myth of throwing up a website to make zillions ensures that hosting companies will have clients for some time to come.
4:15 am on Feb 24, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I have a google news website that covers a niche topic its not a general news website

Ive been in since 2009
I was getting good traffic for the first few years but in 2013 all my traffic disappeared I publish articles but receive like 5 or 10 visits from Google news

All my traffic comes from social media now

I think they are wiping out smaller blogs too, google news has stopped showing my articles unless I put sort by date.
4:18 am on Feb 24, 2019 (gmt 0)

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MrSavage
you are correct especially for news websites, before I would only put one or two articles a day heck id even have like 3 articles a week only and still rank well in google news

now you cant rank anymore if you are a smaller website even if you write detailed unique content.

they favor the millionaire news corps that dish out 4000 articles a day. So niche websites who cover a certain topic still lose out to these general news websites like NY times and LA times

and to top it off many of those AP articles are written by a computer algorithm software thats how they are able to dish out those two to 3 paragraph updates after events so quickly.

you just cant compete.
6:57 am on Feb 24, 2019 (gmt 0)

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I was getting good traffic for the first few years but in 2013 all my traffic disappeared I publish articles but receive like 5 or 10 visits from Google news

All my traffic comes from social media now
Is that about google or about human users? Are there still the same number of searches, making the same queries, only instead of #2 you're now coming in at #227? Or are there fewer searchers because those same humans are getting their recommendations from FB instead?
7:45 am on Feb 24, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Or are there fewer searchers because those same humans are getting their recommendations from FB instead?

Excellent observation. I know that on several sites I manage that users fell off when FB exploded about the same time (2013-15)

One might say there are too many destinations out there these days. (sigh)
1:36 pm on Feb 24, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Is it me, or is this place getting crazier?.
5:16 pm on Feb 24, 2019 (gmt 0)

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lucy24
Is that about google or about human users? Are there still the same number of searches, making the same queries, only instead of #2 you're now coming in at #227? Or are there fewer searchers because those same humans are getting their recommendations from FB instead?

For single keywords in my niche I no longer appear on the first few pages. I only appear on the first two pages on title searches when I publish a new article.

Whats weird is websites that have nothing to do with my niche but mention a person involved in my niche out rank me.

When I post an article link on my twitter or facebook ill get anywhere from 100 to 500 visitors

If I dont post my article links to facebook or twitter, and just publish a new article I receive around 10 to 15 visits a day, and my website is included in google news but I dont get any more traffic from it like I used to pre 2013
6:16 pm on Feb 24, 2019 (gmt 0)

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News, in particular, has changed. Look to recent deals between FB and G re MSM and advancing (investing? extortion?) $300M (presumably a year) for news feeds? These kind of back room deals to prop up MSM outlets is sure to have a deleterious effect on all websites everywhere. That deal has been publicized and is not "conspiracy" stuff, but I suspect that the average webmaster has not considered what that kind of deal-making will have on their own product. Recognizing that part of the playing field has been altered and no memos were issued is step one in taking steps to mitigate that change.

Just means the goal posts have been moved a bit and more work and time will be required to make up the difference.

Meanwhile, the black box remains opaque. (sigh)
6:19 pm on Feb 24, 2019 (gmt 0)

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"News feeds" above should read "legacy mainstream media sources" ... don't want to confuse things!
6:54 pm on Feb 24, 2019 (gmt 0)

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tangor
A lot of small publishers who dont even cover politics have seen this as well they call it google shadow banning.
I noticed they even moved the publisher forum to an obscure one where its hard to navigate, some people were complaining about their articles not appearing in google news unless they put sort by date and they lost tons of traffic
And you are correct it is not a conspiracy, I dont vote or follow politics but Ive read several articles on sites like CNBC talking about coming down on fake news

so to silence the thousands of smaller publishers who are getting pushed back even when they break news they decided just to transfer the forum to some area that nobody visits.

Facebook and twitter keep sending me emails to pay to get a good position for my website, I just ignore them because im broke, but they call it promoted content they will post them on various popular twitter accounts on their feed or something. like and advert.

Before I would get a lot of retweets and likes on my twitter, now I get zero. Seems Twitter, Facebook, and Google all follow the same type of decision making on who gets traffic and who doesn't.

Whats funny is yahoo and bing still use the same old ranking that google did before they started tampering with algos

Ill find so many articles with keywords on yahoo search and bing, like how it used to be on google

now on google you type in a string of keywords and you cant find jack on what you are searching for instead they just have high authority sites ranking on the first page and you cant find answers like before.
7:11 pm on Feb 24, 2019 (gmt 0)

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When I post an article link on my twitter or facebook ill get anywhere from 100 to 500 visitors
Any way of telling how many of those 100-500 are legitimate visitors who will spend time reading the article and then going on to explore the rest of the site? I have one category of content that gets listed in a respectable curated directory, and I've noticed that every time a new item is listed, there will be a flurry of visitors. (This, incidentally, is a good way to confirm that some browsers have stopped sending a referer, because I know where they're coming from although logs say "-".) But I have the definite impression that most of them are just routinely clicking whatever is new in the directory; I could be publishing tables of logarithms to 8 decimal places and they'd still click.
8:12 pm on Feb 24, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Whats funny is yahoo and bing still use the same old ranking that google did before they started tampering with algos

And THERE is where I spend most of my serious time (as webmaster or user). My biggest fear is that MS will make the same mistakes g has accumulated in recent years which seem to make search just that much more difficult to do. Bing and Y however, do not have the market reach of g (or even fb) and so these problems will continue to grow.

Fun note: I offer Site Search on a few info sites ("powered by Bing") (simple form using site:example.com parameter) and have had a few comments happy with the option. "Didn't know there was another search!" ...

Still, you do what can be done with g as it is the largest traffic generator out there.
8:18 pm on Feb 24, 2019 (gmt 0)

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You can't churn content fast enough to compete. Freshness is it. Doesn't matter what you're saying, so long as you're saying a lot, and often.

Actually that isn't what I had in mind when I started this thread. People who keep churning out new content could eventually have what looks like a "content farm" to google's algorithm. When panda first rolled out in 2011, google said that it was mainly aimed at content farms, although it actually appeared to affect many other types of sites. I'm pretty sure that panda has killed far more websites than any other part of the algorithm.

I've never churned out large amounts of content. My biggest site has 36 articles and I wrote all of them 10-12 years ago, and have hardly touched them since. It's still doing well in google.

But I have another old site that I created in 2004-2005 which has been slowly losing traffic. It's about preserving rare and endangered plant species. I took half a dozen field trips to national parks and wilderness areas to take photos for the site. I remember once I hiked most of the day but never found the plant I was looking for. I got most of the information for the articles from old books.

That site has 18 articles, and most of them ranked number 1 in google for years for their main keywords. But over the past few years they've slowly fallen in the rankings. Most are still on page 1, but toward the middle or bottom.

Why have those articles fallen in the rankings? The answer is simple -- Those search results have been taken over by sites of big conservation organizations, university sites, arboreta, and even the U.S Foresty Service. My articles are still the most informative, but that doesn't matter.
10:02 pm on Feb 24, 2019 (gmt 0)

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The key is that anything positive you're enjoying traffic wise was from a period of time that is completely irrelevant to 2019 and beyond. Sure when there was a partnership one could acquire some authority even if small or one person operation. Being labeled a content farm? Lol. People aren't that stupid in 2019. Easy to game. Just hire and churn out new and fresh news regardless of merit. Oh, ensure the proper or safe word count and all is good.
10:24 pm on Feb 24, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Those search results have been taken over by sites of big conservation organizations, university sites, arboreta, and even the U.S Forestry Service.
In that case, stop thinking about google and start figuring out how you can get those big-ticket sites to link to you. That's assuming your real interest is getting people to spend time at your site, regardless of how they got there.
10:48 pm on Feb 24, 2019 (gmt 0)

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lucy24
I really have no clue, Ive been trying to find who links to me and who visits. I think they could be robots because sometimes Ill check my adsense and it says 1.5k visits but ill have only 5 clicks on my ads so most of them seem to be bots or people who are ad blind or have ad block, when I had a news article that got in the top stories sections a while back the first in years, I had 20k visits and had 1,350 clicks on my adsense ads and made over $600. That was the very last time I ever made money like that or get organic traffic.

What I notice I have that jetpack plug in in where you put socialize plug ins on the bottom of articles and the facebook icon has a lot of shares
Another thing I notice is some facebook pages will steal my entire article and just link back, So I dont get much traffic back to me, one of my articles on some guys facebook fanpage had 3 thousand comments on their facebook, he posted the entire article after I published it and I saw the link back from there, only 100 people actually clicked the link to my article
After all why bother visiting the originator when the guy posted the entire article on his facebook for his thousands of facebook fans, it would be nice if he just posted a snippet and a link so I can get some traffic my way.
10:58 pm on Feb 24, 2019 (gmt 0)

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Lucy24
That is against Googles rules according to an hangout the google employee said focus on good content and NEVER ask for links that all links should be organic by people who search and find your article and decide to share it without being asked to spread it.
11:24 pm on Feb 24, 2019 (gmt 0)

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NEVER ask for links that all links should be organic by people who search and find your article and decide to share it without being asked to spread it


How is that going to happen if they can't find you?

A lot has changed since I started, but without links your site won't rank well enough to get seen by those searchers today, any more than it would have done 20 years ago.

Or, on second thoughts, it won't rank well enough in organic listings. Is what you are reporting the clearest signal Google can give that without adwords a new site is doomed?
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