The real purpose of the Farmer Algorithm update
Over the years Google has always relied on a tried and true method of curbing the manipulation of its search algorithm. They take a few well known sites and spank them. Matt Cutts releases a new algo udate post indicating that they now have a way of using the algo to take down sites that don’t fit G’s guidelines and the webverse takes a cumulative dump in its boxers. The example sites are bandied about in forums and leading websites and everyone speculates on the how and why and what this means to them. Google is branded as evil by the losers and cheered by the winners. Happens every time…
Did Google really eliminate all the content farms with this update? Did they really remove all the low quality content from the serps? C’mon… What they did was set an example by slamming some of the most conspicuous violators knowing full well that the marketing establishment would get the word out lickety split. And it did – in record time no less.
Article directories exist for two reasons – to provide adsense earnings for the owner and a backlink for the writers. Those owners and writers who pretend they exist to provide quality content and drive targeted traffic are fooling themselves. Article directories are used to game Google. Ezine Articles is the most conspicuous article directory online. Slap it hard and people will stop using article directories.
Ranking well in the serps still – let me rephrase that – STILL – depends foremost on what links you have pointing to your site. Everyone knows that. G has not found a better way to rank content – maybe they never will. People buy and sell links. If you want to rank well you need links. Google believes that writing quality content will get you links. Sure it will – if you happen to have a site that is information based and you are an authority in your field. The problem is that the majority of sites online don’t fit into this description. Does not an eCommerce site have a right to sell its wares online? Why not? The thing is an eCommerce site is never going to get backlinks from happy purchasers who also happen to own a website and can’t wait to tell their readers how wonderful ABC was in selling them a toothbrush… or oil filter… So what do eCommerce sites do – they buy links. They have too. JCPenny did it and would have likely been left alone (Yes – they spend 30 million a year on adwords but they also happen to be relevant to the keywords they ranked for) had the New York Times not outed them. Overstock.com did it and got spanked. They were outed as well. Can an algorithm pick out all the sites that buy links? Nope. Can a competitor? Yup.
I put up a post yesterday just to make people aware that Google is spending money on manual reviews. Before G spanked EZA they had to be sure that they didn’t act hastily – maybe the content was quality? Spend a little money and review some of the site’s pages and see what the consensus is from paid reviewers. They don’t have to review every post to see a pattern – if 80% of the reviews are negative then they can probably make a few safe assumptions from that data and maybe even find enough common footprints regarding crap content posts that enable them to tweak the algo. This is of course speculation as I don’t know how they decided which pages would be dumped and which would live to see another day.
What I do know is that over the past year I have had a number of readers email me with their own tale of being slapped hard by Google. The first to come forward were the owners of big and successful sites – they all had 10k plus a day visitors, they all made between $5k and $15k a month, they all used adsense, they all had original content and they all had their adsense disabled first and then slowly dropped out of the serps. Did the algo do this? Probably not. They were all in very competitive niches and I am pretty certain they all got reported by the competition or were reviewed by the adsense team. Yes – they all used crappy links – forum profiles and paid links. If the algo can discern these links then they wouldn’t work anymore – but they do. A manual review brought on by complaints would easily see the link manipulation and penalties would be leveled at the sites. And they were. Many of their competitors have link profiles just as shaky but I noticed none used adsense. It is possible that they were manually reviewed by the adsense team and not reported by competitors. Either way – regardless of the content, the sites existed to profit from adsense and were obvious about it. Does Google want to eliminate made for adsense sites? Yes they do but the algo cannot do this on its own. If you are using adsense and questionable linking tactics then you may well get the boot if you make it high enough in the serps to start generating real income. What this threshold is I can’t say but $25/day is probably under the radar – $100/day from a site and you can probably expect a visit at some point. If your links are legit you probably won’t have a problem – if they are spammy then don’t be surprised if you lose your adsense and likely your serp rankings as well. This isn’t all conjecture – I lost 3 of 9 high paying adsense sites this year myself and received two warnings regarding the remaining 6. Guess what – the 3 I lost were all using crappy links to attain ranking. The other six have legit links that have accrued over the years from authoritative sources – media, wikipedia and leading sites in the niche. I never had to build links as the sites grew naturally.
At this point I should clear something up that I saw on a recent Hubpages forum thread. One of the resident experts made this comment;
Its just another theory. Im not sure how Grizz even has an adsense account anymore and Im pretty sure he gets a check from Google’s PR and Propaganda department now to make up for the massive loss to his splog empire after he received manual review.
Two things… G would never pay me and I never built splogs other than a few I used for demo purposes. My readers built splogs unfortunately and G didn’t much like that and nuked me for aiding and abetting. My sites however have grown and prospered because I have always built original quality sites that have a purpose other than adsense – in most cases they provide legit free info that the competition charges for. This is still the best way to get traffic and real links.
I’ve read a lot of comments similar in tone to the one above and it seems people don’t quite get me – I’m not telling you to stop what you are doing – I’m telling you to catch up. What worked in 2008 still works… until you get outed or rise above the radar. If your sites never make it to the big leagues then you have little to worry about but if you find your sites on page 1 for some competitive terms that drive traffic and produce income then you had better beware of the competition. If you are still using 2008 linking tactics then you may be in for a surprise. I’m not telling you this because Google wants me to – I’m telling you this for the same reason I always have – to fleece your pockets. My methods worked in the past as most of you learned and was worth every penny I charged you – funny that people don’t want to listen now. Am I charging too much?
So what exactly am I saying?
Use the knowledge you have acquired, take into account the fact that G will likely review a successful site at some point and make sure you are comfortable having it critically evaluated. I have a small group of readers (Lisa, Kimberly, James, Les etc) who recently asked me to check out their sites – I have and for the most part they all have very good content and provide useful info. I haven’t replied to each individually as I can do so here and perhaps help a few others out at the same time. All the sites (there are 23 in the list) are in one of the following categories; Weight Loss, Insurance, Finance/Banking – Mortgages or CD rates and the ever popular MMO. 23 different people and yet only 5 niches – niches that are known for spam since they are also known for being profitable. Almost everyone is using Adsense (a couple are lead gen sites) and have made some headway for a few popular keywords but haven’t quite reached the “holy shit I’m making big bucks” stage. Let me say this to all – look at page 1 of the serps for your keywords and notice the type of sites G has listed. Most but not all are legit sites in the sense that they are real insurance companies and real banks and real producers of weight loss products. The MMO niche excepted – everyone is a crap site. Now also notice most of the competition doesn’t use adsense – they are selling their own products or services. And you are trying to get page 1 ranking for an info site plastered with adsense…
My point – you may make coin from some of the long tails you rank well for but don’t pursue page 1 ranking for the main keywords. You will get destroyed if you ever succeed and all your work will be lost. Some times you are better off hovering close to but not attaining the top positions – best to stay under the radar and reap what you can for months and years rather than make payday that will be short lived. Yeah I know – F**k you Griz – I’m going for it anyway – what do you know?
I’ll tell you one thing I do know – the friends I’ve met online that are doing well and will continue to do well all have niches that are far removed from the spam topics mentioned above and cater to… drum roll… women and kids. In fact most of the successful marketers I know are women. I live with three females – a wife and two daughters (condolences accepted – thanks) and I am amazed, on a daily basis, about what women find interesting and what they will spend money on. Have any of you guys heard about “silly bands”? Do you know how elaborate kids birthday parties are these days – my wife has no problem spending a small fortune on them. Apparently this is common to mothers everywhere.
Two years ago big business hadn’t caught on to IM – today the big brands are dominating the landscape. Their money buys all the SEO’s they can get their hands on and will eventually own the big niches and most of the long tails that go with them. And G is ok with that as they are still happier with JC Penny ranking number 1 for “bed linens” – gamed or not – than having Bob`s no name adsense site in the top spot. This is the new reality but it doesn’t mean that Bob can’t make a living online. Bob has to find a niche that isn’t brand orientated and there are millions to chose from – start with those that kids and their mothers are interested in. I’m not joking – it works for me. The thing is most of you won’t – you are planning to rank #1 for “Payday Loans” come hell or high water and that’s the end of it. I wish you well.
I say this in all seriousness – many of you have been at this for a few years or more and have shown you are in it for the long haul. Do yourself a favor and stop spinning content, building MFA’s and spamming link profiles – you have enough of those nickle and dime sites – spend at least part of your time (and it is time consuming isn’t it folks?) working on something that will last. You can thank me in 5 years.
I have a ton more to talk about – Facebook – Tests – You Guys – but this is long enough – I hand the crown of “Long Posts” over to Dave at his Marketing blog – always a fun read but pack a lunch… (If you want to lesson your dependence on Adsense he has a lot of free info monetizing with Amazon – huge resource you should read – no sales crap.)