Google’s Algorithm Change in 2011 And Its Impact

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On 24th Feb 2011, Google announced a major change in its search algorithm. This time, the target of this change are those content farms.

I’m not going into the details of the change. You can read it here.

Following the change, I receive lots of inquiries all asking about its impact on our Ezarticlelink network. Well, I’ll come to that later. But first, let’s take a look at some interesting research I’ve done.

Who Are Hit By The Change?

Following the announcement, Matt Cutts (head of Google’s Webspam team) said, “Google has been thinking for quite some time about how to deal with content that isn’t obvious spam but is clearly not designed with the best interests of the user in mind. Google needs to be open to ways where we can improve.”

When I read this, my immediate feeling was Matt is referring to sites like Ezinearticles and other article directories, which have been gaining a lot of traffic under the new Google Caffeine system.

You see, these article directories are not spam, neither are they qualified as a great resource. Yet they seem to be dominating Google’s search result, simply because tens of thousands of webmasters are working very hard to build contents as well as backlinks for them.

Is my feeling right?

You bet!

Take a look at the traffic stats for the 3 highly popular article directories: Ezinearticles, Associatedcontent and Buzzle.

As expected, all got hit! But taking regular fluctuations into consideration, Ezinearticles got the least hit of all.

My next suspects are Squidoo and Hubpages, since they work like article directories in many aspects. Here are their traffic stats:

Hubpages is obviously hit by this new change. Taking regular fluctuations into consideration, Squidoo’s impact is not really significant.

It does seem that the new algorithm is doing what it should do, i.e. to penalize content farms.

But is that really the case?

Well, let’s take a look at another content farm, one that I absolutely salute to – Bigresource.com

For those who don’t know about this site, Bigresource is a mega website that scrapes contents from all over the net, from forums to blogs, organizing them into related topics and then present them in its own search engine optimized pages.

Technically speaking, this website has no unique content at all. All its contents are short paragraphs from other websites on the net. Take a look at one of its pages to see what I mean.

I expected this website to be heavily hit by the new algorithm, but take a look at its traffic stats:

There is no significant impact!

Finally, let’s take a look at the articles published in our article directory network.

Below is a screenshot of Google’s search result for a term that I searched.

The results can be summarised below:

#1 & 2 position – 2 articles from ehow.com
#3 & 4 position – 2 articles published in our article directories
#6 position – article from articlesbase.com
#7 position – article from hubpages.com
#9 position – article from ezinearticles.com

It seems that the articles published in our article directory is still doing pretty well in Google’s search result.

Something to note about the 2 articles in our article directories is that they are spun version of the same article. You can see their similarity in the screenshot above. This suggests that spun articles are still considered unique under the new algorithm.

My Guesses…

From all the information I’ve gathered, here are some ideas I arrive at:

1) It’s not the end of the world.

What I mean is the content farms are hit, but they are still getting tons of traffic from Google. So it’s not the end of the world for them and many other webmasters.

2) Content duplication is still okay.

I say so because Bigresource.com is relatively unaffected by the new algorithm, suggesting that content uniqueness is still not a big deal.

But do note that Google evaluates duplicated content based on the overall webpage. This means if you put 30 paragraphs of duplicated contents, taken from all over the net, as what bigresource.com does, you’ve got unique content! I believe this is still the case under this new algorithm, as evident in the studies above.

3) Backlinks are still more important

From the studies above, you can see that Ezinearticles and Squidoo are less hit by the new algorithm. What could be the reason?

Is it because they have better contents? I don’t think so.

What I do know is most marketers, when publishing contents in article directories and social publishing platforms, will only build backlinks to selected sites. In the case of article directories, most marketers will only build backlinks to their articles in Ezinearticles. In the case of social platforms, they will only build backlinks to their Squidoo Lenses.

What that means is these two sites not only have a high site authority, but also have lots of backlinks to lots of their internal pages, as compared to other sites that have equally high site authority but relatively less backlinks to their internal pages.

Could that be the reason why these sites are less hit? Well, that’s my guess. What’s yours?

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Share your thoughts

  1. Timothy Millar

    Nice research and data, still comes back to the same old thing-Content is king-write it yourself and never worry about google.next thing to get hit will be all of these so-called Automated systems,waste your money if you want to

    Reply
  2. Shaun Baird

    Hi keith, nice report – very interesting and how other sites have been hit the most – maybe being “too big” can sometimes be a burden for sites… quiite happy with ezarticlelink :)
    Shaun

    Reply
  3. Joe Stewart

    Hi Kenneth,

    It’s always interesting to read what others have to say whenever something like this occurs. These are my observations, for what they’re worth.

    I’m really surprised that HubPages took as much of a hit as they did because unlike Squidoo, HubPages (supposedly) only accepts unique content. Are they still allowing Hubs from “bad neighborhoods” like Acai Berry, Financial, etc?

    EzineArticles was still allowing articles on Acai until yesterday, but not anymore. Squidoo put a stop to those types of Lenses a long time ago, so maybe that’s something in their favor?

    I just read earlier that EzineArticles.com is no longer accepting articles that:

    1. Are from certain unpopular markets favored by affiliates and “Bum” marketers.

    2. Aren’t 100% unique to them. Whatever you submit can’t appear on any other site.

    3. Aren’t a minimum of 400 words in length. BIG jump there.

    One thing I’ve noticed in many of the long tail searches I’ve done is the presence of authority sites like Amazon, Nextag, etc occupying several of the top spots. In some cases they may hold all or most of the listings above the fold. However, this is only on physical product searches.

    Of course, there’s no way to tell what’s actually happened by the few searches I’ve done. Only time will tell how this shake up affects things in the long term.

    Best,

    Joe

    Reply
  4. Tammy

    Hi Kenneth,

    Very interesting post you have here. I have heard this new algorithm change has only taken effect in the USA so far, yet I had several UK sites all take a dive on 9th Feb.

    I found lot’s of my own unique content on 3rd party websites, so I have re-written it for two of the sites to see what happens.

    Reply
  5. Dusan@ChicagoSEO

    Nice work. However, I think it’s too early to draw meaningful conclusions, seeing that some of the site had huge downward spikes before.

    A few days from now, if they’re still low, we could conclude that the downward spike this time was truly caused by the new algorithm.

    Reply
  6. Jimmy West

    Thaks for the advice I got an email yesterday about the change in the new algarytim system but this really clears it up pretty well.

    I d have to wonder if this is a way for big government too start censoring content on the web because you do know that the CEO of google is a revolutionary and thinks that media should be controlled/sensored. This includes internet content. Now I’m not sayin that’s the reason but there has been alot of talk on this for anyone who watches fox news especially the Glenn Beck program. But again I can’t say that there is or how much trut there is too this.

    Jimmy West

    Reply
    1. Darlene Isberg

      Anyone that listens to Glenn Beck and much of Fox News is like walking around with your eyes closed, and your mind shut. They are not very responsible sources for making any kind of decisions or credibility. Just watch some of the other news sources to determine this.

      Reply
  7. Chad Flick

    Great post Kenneth, I always try to keep up whenever Google makes one of their changes. What I found was that like you said it will have an effect on content farms as well as those using push button techniques such as auto-posting to blogs and the like. Another site that was hit was Articlesbase.com.

    However, also like you said it’s not the end of the world. What I’ve noticed, so far anyway, is that for those who are mixing auto-posting with manual posts are still ranking well. Let’s see how long that will last. We as marketers should always be prepared for such changes as they happen. I personally haven’t been affected by these changes just yet. Will keep you updated!

    Reply
  8. David Sharp

    Thanks for your post Kenneth, it certainly helps to clear a few things up regarding the recent changes with Google’s search. My first reaction is that it is a bit early to draw final conclusions and not panic too much.

    It does appear however that a lot of article directories will be hit and that is no bad thing. It means that anyone with a half decent blog, which has decent content has more of a chance ranking in the search engines when we are not competing with article directories that are full of similar spun content.

    A few of my friends have actually seen their blog rankings improve in the search engines this last week or so.

    David Sharp

    Reply
  9. Paul Forcey

    Nice review!

    My adsense went down for 2 days then is back to where it was.

    I think you are on the money when you talk about links to the internal pages helping. Since marketers seem to use squidoo more than hubpages they are building more links to squidoo than to hubpages.

    So maybe hubpages will start telling people to link to their hubs. I seem to remember that the guy behind hubpages used to work at Google so he will work it out I am sure.

    For people who have been hit my advice has been to add more unique content and build links to internal pages.

    Paul

    Reply
  10. DAN PEREZ

    Just checked one of my keywords in Google; almost the entire page is spun articles on ezarticlelink blogs!

    I think the more narrow/long-tail the keyword/phrase, the least likely it will be affected.

    Reply
  11. Blogginhealth

    Any time google announces a change to its algorithms it causes panic among webmasters especially those that depend on organic traffic. I remember the time when the duplicate content issue was hot and yet we see sites republishing contents from article directories.

    Secondly the caffeine thing and then this. It would seem to me that google knowing its impact on the internet sometimes want to play on the nerves.

    Is this probably an attempt to make people build quality sites as google has been saying all along.

    I have seen one of my sites jump in ranks recently even though I built fewer links to it than others which rank low. Maybe this is it after all.

    Ken, thanks for sharing your knowledge with us.

    Reply
  12. Lyle Kannenberg

    I can say from personal experience, as I test all I can afford to see if traffic will automatically come to a site based on plugins for wordpress(not free Plugins) vs. (free plugins) and the workload it will entail in the long run.

    I just got started with an autocontent.. I guess could be classed as a scraper for getting articles posted on ezine articles.

    I still get traffic, but my ranking just over the last month or so took a dive into the dumpster.

    Its not a problem though with this site in particular, its my test site. from keywords to s[pammy backlinks, to tags, to whatever a person can think of to gain an advantage.

    When I thought I had the right plugin, I launched a new site, but was not going to totally rely on the plugins I selected.

    I figured a 50/50 Auto/Personal would probably give me a safe area to work with. I never put all my eggs in one basket when launching the real thing. I love what I’ve learned here for the past year or 2, and am always monitoring for what is changing. Keep up the good work.

    For all those out there, that are attempting, and think they can save work, just wait for that god for saken tumor to show up on your cluttered desk. I welcome Google initiative to provide the right stuff. But oh, man, could there be any way that they could save us the trouble of getting a migraine.

    I don’t like to play games, but when my adwords account basically wound up with no traffic to my advertisements (mostly affiliate) I was put out to dry. Now my website, and any other which do contain 50% of my own … well, you get the picture.

    Reply
  13. Chromatix

    Thanks for your insight Ken

    I would have to agree google’s algorithm change is definitely aimed at the ‘big’ article networks etc.

    Until such time that google’s algorithm is as effective as human eyes, spun article marketing will always be a big part of SEO in my opinion.

    Reply
  14. King Ralph

    Hopefully Bing will start to to catch up and there will be some real alternatives to google. Facebook is also working on it. Websites should be designed to benefit the user and not Google. Google is an arrogant monopoly that has too much power and competition is the only way that they are going to be humbled.

    Reply
    1. Seth Seventoln

      I quit agree. Most webmasters think more about making a site Google Friendly than making a site User Friendly. And Bing is far better than Google.

      Reply
  15. green smoke reviews

    This is very useful article.

    It is not just content farms that are hit, it is about quality of links as well. Basically sites with lots of junk links like forum profiles, spun article links etc. got hit hard.

    I am watching few sites, and the sites that have a lots of links from less known content farm blogs did not get hit at all. These content farm blogs are networked into big systems and are very similar to the above mentioned Bigresource.com

    Basically it’s G’s move to quality.

    Reply
  16. sonik

    As a Designer Developer Web Master, I am relatively stoked. This further proves that you may need to alter your tactics to keep up with the bots, but you do not alter your model. This is relatively welcome as it does return value to those sites that are truly organics (in theory), but we’ll see the impact on valid link wheels… I am feeding a wheel now and in essence, I should be fine (and still boost rank) as each site is different and uses different content… actually this should be GREAT for me! Cant wait to see this one flesh out! Besides that, this spammy content is just dirty, and who wants to surf in dirty water?

    ~SONiKSYSTEM

    Reply
  17. Dr. Michael Haley

    The thing I still wonder about is how having massive backlinks pointing to your site from duplicate content affects rankings. For instance, if you use posterous to duplicate content on multiple web 2.0 like sites all linking to your primary website, will Google ever “penalize” that. It seems as though they couldn’t… because it could create a method of sabotage on the competition… but you never know.

    Reply
    1. Kenneth Koh Post author

      It will work. But overdoing it will trigger Google’s spam alert and Google will do something. What it does is it will ban your site from the keywords you are trying to optimize, but your domain is still safe.

      I think that’s fair. So if someone really sabotage you for certain keywords (no reason why people want to do that but just assume that’s the case), Google will just ban your site from ranking high for that keywords. In a way, if the someone sabotage you by ranking your legitimate site high up in some porn search result, Google is doing you a favor by removing you from that listing.

      Reply
  18. Jeff Faldalen

    I agree That something has to be done about all the black hat tricks out there. But I also think a lot of good people get taken out just because they are in the home based industry

    Reply
  19. Leah

    Last November marked the start of all these changes that are just now catching up but nobody wants to hear about the links that need watching. Any type of link known to attract spammers is uselessly ignored now that the majority of the weight is being given to contextual links within the content. Linking to your own relevant websites is perfectly fine.

    Duplicate pages are ignored unless page title/descriptions are UNIQUE Content, duplicate or not won’t even be indexed on duplicate pages anyway.

    HINT: Listen to what is NOT being said because Google is NOT going to keep sounding the same warnings over and over again. Real authentic in every way is what Google will eventually force on every website and Blog across the Semantic Web as new technology keeps improving.

    Reply
  20. micheal

    In some respects i agree with what google is doing on the internet content is important, but on the other hand hitting sites like this also affects affiliates in a way that affiliate users will make a loss on there product sales etc which in turn will affect Google in the long run less people will use Google to promote products and affiliates and use other search engines instead,I think we will see a big drop in adwords campaigns and adsense earnings in the future

    Reply
  21. wiser

    Every site whether content farm or not has at least a few articles that need to make it to the 1st page of Google. Why? Cuz they are useful and have great quality. They should design algorithm that does that instead of attacking “title” of the website.

    The newest algorithm is placing all spam sites on the first page. Believe me, I don’t get ehow or anything, but a bunch of forums and sites which promote irrelevant things. Why should amazon or ebay be on the 1st page? They are all about shopping and that is technically considered as spam. Other times, I get a bunch of reputable illuminati news websites in my search result. No, I want to hear the truth and not something that a reporter wrote at gun point. Private blocklist app is my only friend now.

    Reply
  22. Jimmy West

    I did notice that with this new algorithm that they take a percentage of each adsence click it’s called a eCPM. But I read a little more on googles site and they said in the long run this will pay off I guess I will just have too wait and see.

    And for all you affiliates out there.. Your going too have too come up with original content this is what google I think is tired of dealing with. There are 2 easy ways too do this.

    #1 Start a blog and then get followers.. Don’t try too make your blog a direct sell for your affiliate program but rather make it a disgushion were you give free information on how too do something or how too improve somones life. Basically just talk about something your interested in and then let other people know. You can alway put your affiliate links on your blogpage just try too keep it neat and not too full of banners pages because google does rank on how fast you page downloads.

    #2 Like Ken told me too do get your own niche website don’t worry about it lookin real fancy or anything at first just take your time and you will get it. Alot of these E commerce websites are step by step building websites anyway and will guide you through step by step kinda like Turbo Tax when doing your taxes. Well I hope this helps your reader Ken.

    Thanks
    Jimmy West

    Reply
  23. Rieke

    Ken, thanks a million for this article and great research. I wasn’t aware of it.

    On the other hand, it should bring us to the point to think more about other search engines. Google isn’t all in this ‘www’.

    Reply
    1. Leah

      Hmmm, Rieke? Any relation to Rieke Containers or Spouts by chance?

      Anyway, there has been quite a few mentions about other search engines lately so maybe it’s time to bring up this 12-year old search engine advertising network owned by one of those heavily degreed Web Developer/ Programmer/ Engineer/ Inventor not to mention visionary in Florida.

      Amazing at only 48, approachable and very easy to deal with and all that. Here’s why I’m telling EVERYONE about this website: TrafficCentral.com Now the rest won’t make much sense but I can only tell you what I know and that’s not much.

      That site is a search engine network with nodes that somehow span the Globe. I don’t know how it works but if there ever was a ground floor for something big, this would be it.

      I am just a friend, NOT an affiliate or paid spokesperson. Maybe you all can start something huge like “CloudSites” on your own search engine network.

      If I don’t say anything and I’m right, that’s not good but if I do say something and it’s nothing but a bunch of hogwash, what’s the harm? Nothing!!

      That’s why I’m saying something and I hope you don’t mind, Mr. Kenneth because you sir, get the engraved invitation whether you allow my comment or not!

      Reply
  24. Jimmy West

    Yes google know it has alot of competition out there so they are craking down on the way that you can advertise.

    This is so they can keep up with the competition but I don’t think you have too worry about this too awful much if you just use unique advertising

    Reply
  25. Juicing With Rika Susan

    Thanks for your take on the algorithm update, Kenneth! Yes, it is scary, but this kind of change is part of the online world. Providing quality content and adding value are becoming more important than ever. And good old link building.

    Reply
  26. Free Article Directory

    Yes Kenneth,this are also my opinions about new Google changes…
    But I seen also the sniper sites (with 4 articles,promoting a product) , have lost the ranks for many keywords…I don’t know exactly why…because articles content were not spun,not duplicate and well researched.Google not like this sites…

    Reply
  27. William

    That was some awesome information… This entire SEO stuff is very confusing and it seems like the more I read about the search engines (Google) the more confused I become. Please continue with more articles like this one… Information concerning Googles algorithm helps me look at the search engines a little clearer now but still the they remain very confusing especially Google.

    Reply
  28. Make Money Bank

    I think that those who prepared their SEOs that conforms to what Google wants were not afraid of this Google Algo update. But for those who weren’t, this article is an eye-opener.

    Reply
  29. King Ralph

    One should build a website for the benefit of the user and not google. We need more competition in this area in order to reduce google’s quasi monopoly. Facebook is making inroads against google and so is Bing. If all goes well google’s algorithm changes will become irrelevant over time.

    Reply
  30. Jimmy West

    I don’t believe everything that Fox news says and I do watch Glenn Beck from time to time . But I do believe that Fox news seems too be telling the most relevant truth thesse days.

    Anyway this blog isn’ about poloticts but the effects that this new change will have on internet marketers. Like I said before google knows it has alot of competition and is trying too leverage it that’s my thoughts on this…

    Reply
  31. Darlene Isberg

    I have been a Google member since the membership was only 25,000 plus and it was still run by the students at Berkley. I have always used Google for all of my research as they have always focused on what is relevant. When Google grew gigantic and PPC was the vogue I disregarded all of these ads. So did many others. Now, many times I see pages without any PPC ads on them. Organic searching and traffic is where it is at and always has been.

    Original content is nothing new so I don’t understand the surprised responses or bad mouthing Google. GE is a big Company and although they do get some negative feedback, overall I wouldn’t want to be without them or Google.

    I don’t use many of Google’s relatively new features like “Chrome” for the same reason I will not register with Alexa, but where would many of you be without your Google email accounts, which I deplore. I love their translations feature which allows me to communicate with many folks worldwide.

    Another service Google offers is the WebMaster assistance. This is invaluable for working with all Search Engines so in some ways Google gives back what they take away too.

    What Google has done in a way, is starting to eliminate some of the Black Hat methods many marketers use. Sounds good to me.

    Thanks Ken for giving a straightforward report of what is currently happening with Google.

    Reply
  32. Jimmy West

    Yea Darlene I agree that google gives as much as they take. I really like my Gmail account. Google also give people free blogs that they can advertise with and a free google adsence accoun so all in all I have no problem with google and plan too further research and use there product dispite what other people say..

    Reply
  33. cheap flights to nairobi

    Its very true that it is not the end of the world. After the change of the algorithm I tried spinning articles and link wheeling which really boosted my rankings. So I came to a conclusion that link wheeling is working fine, so now I would start cross linking, profile linking to see to what extent it works. Google dont detect spun articles because if it does like that always then no content is UNIQUE. So I am sure that the spun articles are fine.

    Reply
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  35. Monavie in Des Moines

    Does it matter how many backlinks you get from one site? Like yours for instance? If I make 4 posts that link to the same site, do they all count or do they act as one?

    I am linking to my Monavie site in Des Moines and can’t seem to get it moving since it is a replicated site…although, no competion in my area.

    Reply
  36. James West

    Ya I noticed that in the long run that this new Algorithm is paying off too. It’s basically making it more fare too everyone who advertises there blog or website by evening out the payouts that each person gets. You may even notice such has I on my blog that even when I didn’t get a click on my blogs adsence account I still got paid at least one cent. I’m not really sure how it works but it does seem too be workin out for me in the long run.

    Reply
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  38. Joe Byrd

    I’ve seen sites that were predominantly linked to the home page take hits but those with lots of links to internal pages (product, category, or article) hold a bit better.

    The overall linking distribution plus link sources makes a difference. I think that’s going to add to the trust ranking for the sites the more links you can generate to internal supporting pages vs. just the home page.

    Reply
  39. Geeb & SEO testimonials

    Google often change its algorithm but still article directories are important for internet marketing. Yes it will make a huge impact on ranking of many websites but if you are not spammer and making really good post to your website then there is no tension for you.

    Reply
  40. Immigration

    Google is dramatically change the Google Algo and the update drive me nuts. and Yes! The ezines article submission is still important as it brings traffic to the website but for backlinks per se google devalued it after Google Panda update.

    Reply
  41. Roger G

    Hi

    I have read your findings with interest but would like to know if you have recently reviewed them to find out if google have slowly been introducing the effect of the changes as I suspect

    Regards

    Reply
  42. Brian Soco

    Nice article. Even today, Panda still affects the way internet marketing is performed. Some are still asking why they are hit by Panda even though they do white hat SEO technique.

    Reply

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