Internet marketers and SEO specialists have learned over the last few days a hard lesson: It is not a human right to get your site ranked favorably by Google 😉 The IM community was buzzing since the latest search algorithm update, both with gossip, as well as with interpretations. Here a few voices (links will open in new tab): The Gentle Grizzly from far up north stresses two points: Suspicious link profiles (often obtained via content farms and article directories) and notoriously spammy niches, such as payday loans, weight loss etc that can bring danger to your website.
The less gentle Mark Knowles criticizes the lower quality of the search results AFTER the update with this pungent hub “Help Google is Broken” And he is right, even before the mayhem and uproar on the forums broke loose, I already noticed that Google’s search results have gotten considerably less useful. And what really takes the cookie is that scraper sites and autoblogs have taken the positions left empty by the latest update.
And Allyn from Blogger Illustrated has even some extra tips for Google in his blog post “Hey Google, I found some content farms for you to zap!” pointing out some big names that publish re-hashed, or should I say re-mashed, content.
Lis, from the little island down under that just got shaken up, that does also some good research into the newest search results, and explains at the same time what a content farm is, and what not, also notices that the search results have gotten worse.
So, what is the consensus? To me it seems that the latest algo update has actually worsened the search results and not improved them. And that also EMDs (and exact keywords in URLs) seem to go still strong. By taking out content farms like ezine, hubpages and the like ’empty spaces’ were left that unfortunately are filled in quickly by crappy autoblogs and scraper sites that reside on EMDs.
Still here, great, so before I now add my opinion into the mix, here a few stats that might surprise you:
My 100+ hubs, over several accounts, have seen actually a slight increase in traffic coming from Google.com since the update. Go figure! Only one hub has taken a dive into the SERPentines, but this is made up by others having actually risen in big G’s result pages.
My websites, this included, are basically not bothered to move either up or down, traffic is the same (from Google.com, that is the only search engine so far that uses the new, updated algo).
Earnings from Adsense? Too early to really tell, but so far so good, all is on track.
And here now my opinion about the why, who and, most importantly, what now:
I look at it from the two other sides, as somebody that does hundreds of internet searches daily and as a, very occasional, advertiser with Adwords.
- As a searcher I have to agree with Lissie, Allyn and Mark, the results after the update are far worse than the ones before.
- As an advertiser I want my ads displayed on sites that have the right audience, the ones that take action after having clicked my ad. Actions like buying a product or subscribing to a newsletter or even only reading my site and bookmarking it. I am not interested in low converting social clickers (Try Facebook ads for that 😉 ), I advertise to people that are actually interested in what I have to offer. And here Hubpages fails in my opinion miserably. Not because of their search traffic, but because of their huge social and internal traffic, which leads to a lot of ‘sympathy clicks’ that simply don’t convert for an advertiser. So, from this point of view, taking out big content farms makes sense for Google, not so much for improving the search results for people, but to improve the ad conversation for advertisers!
Somewhen, somewhere in one of the many Google help pages, forums, blogs etc I read “Would you create your website also if Adsense wouldn’t exist?” You can amplify this with “Would you create your website also if affiliate programs, direct ad sales etc wouldn’t exist?” For most internet marketers, the answer would be “No Way!”. But think a moment and try to see your website with the eyes of an online publisher that happens to sell adspace in one form or the other, instead of that of an internet marketer that creates websites around profitable keywords and possible ad clicks. Which model do you think is more sustainable long term?
Don’t rely only on search engine traffic. I know, mentioning John Chow, or one of the other A-list bloggers for that matter, is not considered good form in internet marketing circles, but he does have a track record of being slapped badly by Google and maintaining his income by relying on social traffic, regular readers, an email list etc. So, whilst I don’t say that we all should now merely hop on the social media bandwagon, think how you could engage your readers to come back to your blog or website. Or, think about giving them good reasons to come back 😉 In one word, branding 😉
Get your sites ready for a manual review, it might come earlier than you think. There are a lot of speculations around at what point Google thinks that a manual revision of a website is in order, some say it happens when you break $100 / day in Adsense earnings, some say it is earlier. Doesn’t hurt to be prepared 😉 Would your website, layout, navigation and content survive such a manual review or not? Hint: If your website or blog can be considered helpful for human readers in a way that other websites, in the same niche, aren’t, chances are better that you survive. Have a look a the top ten results in Google (as screwed up as they might be at the moment) and ask yourself what you could provide that they don’t have …
As for Hubpages and other so-called ‘content farms’, I will continue to publish hubs, mine are doing just fine, thank you 😉 But if you only rely on web properties like Hubpages and don’t have any websites that you actually own, you might want to diversify a bit! I heard >>>The Keyword Academy<<< is a great place to start learning this AND even will set up your first website, and host it, free of charge. Sign up for a free trial month as long as the offer lasts, as the saying goes 😉
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