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?
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.
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?