Everyday use of the Web is about two major functions, Search and Social. Building traffic through search is still the best way for the average individual to build a successful e-business. Social is an increasingly powerful adjunct.
When people search, they want the best information possible.
That's why the concept of C T P M is so powerful.
Unfortunately, like any successful approach, basic human instincts find a way to do it cheap, quick and fast. We have long been warning of the dangers of basing businesses on the concept of “pap” (our word for “regurgitated content”), long before the term “Content Farms” leapt into prominence.
Pap has come between searchers and their expectation for informative, quality search results. Pap has had a free ride for years now, intermingling with real, high-value content because search engines can't actually read a page and say whether the content is high quality or not.
Individuals' (most infamously “sploggers”), techniques such as automated article-marketing, and prominent companies such as hubpages.com, have used the technique to fool Google into delivering bad search results for years.
Of course, no search engine trick lasts forever. And, after increasing publicity (to which Google is particularly sensitive since their business depends on public confidence), Google releases what is now referred to as the “Farmer” or “Panda” release.
Google did much good with this algorithm, knocking many “pappers” (large and small) out of the top search engine results. Some have been absolutely slammed (e.g. suite101.com).
Up until now, quality content sites have competed with lesser, regurgitated, re-spun content sites that clogged up their niches for so many years. For example, total traffic to SBI! sites (over 40,000 of them) jumped by 3% immediately after the change, some by as much as 25-30%.
However, Google's changes were far from perfect. Two types of errors persist, the false-positive and the false-negative.
False Positives And Google's Lack Of Communication
Much criticism has been focused on Google for the “false positives” (good content that was penalized) and how they handled, or “ahem”, mishandled the furor that erupted from many SEOers, net marketers, webmasters and site owners.
A good part of that was sour grapes by sites that in fact violated Google's guidelines to add value and keep it real. But much of it was legitimate – solid content sites that got slammed in error.
I've been critical of Google too, not for the false positives, but for how they denied problems until the noise was too loud, at which time they released this “safety valve” to report sites that suffered but should not have.
Approximately 800 sites have submitted and I highly recommend that you do, too. Google does not, they claim, make direct changes, despite evidence to the contrary. But they do say that they use reports such as the above to improve the algorithm. So submit.
Do NOT submit if you've made mistakes with your content and/or inbound links – fix instead. Generally, you know if you've cut corners or become a little lazy…
- Do you copy or paraphrase? You know what you need to do.
- Do you use outsourcers? Verify that the content is not copied. Use Search It! (see Site Legalities > Find URL Thieves) to do that.
- Is your page cluttered with ads (affiliate banners, text link ads, popshops, etc., etc.), especially above the fold? Cut the lowest earners.
- Do you have a bunch of “skinny content?” Expand it with high-value material.
- Is material out of date? Update it.
- Report pages that are copying your original material, especially if they rank above you.
- Pay attention to the quality of your links, too. Many people have fallen into lazy ways to generate tons of cheap inbound links, such as software that submits you to 500 crappy directories, automated article-marketing, etc. Build a solid, diversified inbound links program.
Be honest with yourself. If you have not been adding value and keeping it real, repair what you've done wrong.
But if your site is an honest, hard-working site with legit, original material, and if got hit hard, DO submit. The more who do, the greater the public pressure for Google to improve this algorithm sooner, not later.
Even after Google released that program, they've done nothing to publicize it. If it was a legitimate attempt to find out as much as they could, in order to improve the algo, they'd do all they could to publicize it. That's why I call it a “safety valve”… so you can let off steam and move on.
Don't move on. Publicize the URL. Encourage those who you know to do the same.
Again, I believe that the Farmer/Pap algorithm, overall, has made things better. False-positives are inevitable for an algo change of this size.
When businesses are decimated, folks scream. Google is receiving high-degree heat. There does seem to be a louder uproar over this than any other I can remember about previous “Google dances.”
Google's response? They played down the negative publicity with vague denials. At least one site, owned by a former executive editor of WIRED magazine, clearly looked like it received a manual change, apparently to quieten that issue down.
Google staunchly insists it does not make manual changes because they do not like to. Why not? “Because it does not scale.”
If you decode that, it means that they make more money if humans do not have to get involved in investigating and acting upon individual issues, no matter how badly THEIR error impacts the lives of others.
Nice for them. Bad for you. I believe that a site with Google's power has a social responsibility to “get it right.” They owe the abusers nothing. They owe “the good” honesty and the top priority to get better, fast.
That's why I say that, knowing false-positives were inevitable, Google should have set up the submission mechanism at the time they announced the release of “Farmer,” instead of in response to negative publicity.
Would that hurt their image? No.
We ask SBI! owners to report issues of new releases in the forums, as well as reporting them to Support. It helps us improve usability and get a quick handle on bugs. No one expects perfection. So just be honest and ask for their help instead.
OK, I've suggested what you should do it you've been “naughty not nice.” What should you do if you're sure your site is solid (no abuses) and you submit your false-positive?
Keep building high value, original content that will answer “What's in it for me” for your audience. Keep it real, add value and continue building. Google's algo will catch up and restore your traffic, sooner or later. It always has.
Google does not want false-positives. They want great sites in their results.
False-Negatives And What You Can Do About Them
False-negatives are pappy articles that still have high rankings. Google's new algorithm should have identified no-value, regurgitated content and knocked it all out of the rankings.
Strangely, there are tons of reports on the Web of high-ranking pap articles. And everyone expected ehow.com to drop like a rock. It did not.
What can searchers do about it? Again, publicity moves Google – so report it. In a a recent SiteSell Blog post, I explain how you can help to get Google's attention using false-negatives.
An algorithm should not have a high rate of false-positives AND false-negatives. It's usually one OR the other. Google's new algo seems to have both.
And yet, Google denies problems. Their top priority seems to be managing negative publicity.
So get involved and report your own patently absurd “how to” article that Google ranks highly.
Obviously, there's room for improvement. Let's help them see that.
Slow And Steady Wins The Race… Again
SBI!'s symbol is the tortoise for good reason.
SBI! owners (SBIers) fared well, as they always have during the myriad of Google dances over the years. Instead of falling into “quick and easy” pitches and taking shortcuts, SBIers follow the solid C T P M advice of “giving humans and search engines what they want” using all the tools that enable regular folks to do it well and the guidance needed to keep them on the right path.
It takes more work to do it right, of course. And the fast-hare approach is tempting, especially when you see “tricks” like pap working for a while. Yet, the tortoise philosophy has stood SBIers in good stead, continuing to grow their e-businesses slowly and steadily always adding value and keeping it real.
Going forward, avoid the “quick and easy.” If you want to build a serious, long-term e-business, it's the sure road to disappointment. Building a real business, online or off, takes work and time.
If you've been caught in the Farmer's net (now there's a mixed metaphor!), I hope this article has proven helpful.
If you have not? Now is a good time to review your content and links to make sure it's all delivering what Google wants… which is what humans want.
Do that, continue to do it, and avoid the siren calls of those who would convince you that there's a “quick and easy” way to riches, and you'll be one happy tortoise.
Site Build It – Ken's insider knowledge of the Internet marketing business is second to none, that's why we promote SBI as one of our top affiliate products as well as our top affiliate training programs.