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Thread: The New Google Slaps - Now with A Dose of Cuteness

 
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  #1  
Old June 21st, 2012, 02:10 PM
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The New Google Slaps - Now with A Dose of Cuteness

Here is some more hard proof how Google is saying "show me the money"!

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There’s an old joke. It goes, what’s black and white and read all over? When you hear the joke, though, it sounds like, what is black and white and red all over? You aren’t expected the play on words, and that’s why when you first hear the joke - usually before the age of 10 - you don’t think to guess the answer - a newspaper. Then again, in the not so distant future, the punchline will have to change as people won’t necessarily know what a newspaper is. Perhaps it will be something like this. What’s black and white and red all over. Panda. Penguin is an equally acceptable answer. Now, for the continuation of this really bad repurposing of the joke - These black and white animals are causing red for quite a few companies after their traffic fell off a cliff about two weeks ago.

Penguin and Panda have ostensibly the same purpose but attack it from different angles. Panda is already in version 3.7 and it looks at the content of the site. It supposedly punished those with less relevance, e.g., content farms who produced pages specifically to rank high for certain terms. (Check out this infographic Search Engine Land produced when Panda 3.2 came out.) Penguin is newer and focused not on the content but on factors often associated with driving traffic to sites - domain name strategies, link strategies, and other unspecified means that Google uses to determine relevance. It is an algorithm update, not a manual ding. Then again, there is overlap between the two animals so trying to suss out where one starts and the other ends is difficult.

Lots of companies have been impacted by Penguin and Panda, but one of the more interesting story lines played out quite publicly, and for industry folks is the type of drama you could almost make a tv show out of. It begins with an Op-ed article in the Wall Street Journal written by Nextag CEO Jeffrey Katz titled, “Google's Monopoly and Internet Freedom.” (sub. req.) Nextag’s history is story in and off itself, a search marketing machine that during its heyday was not only one of, if not the largest display buyers but search too. It had a lead gen business in mortgage and clicks business with comparison search. The founder was, well, he built a company that in 2007 accepted a bid of $830 mm for two-thirds of the business. They have since gotten out of lead gen but been acquisitive in other areas, e.g., coupons. They made a lot of money for Google and a lot of money from Google.

In his article, CEO Katz writes about Google saying, “The company has used its position to bend the rules to help maintain its online supremacy, including the use of sophisticated algorithms weighted in favor of its own products and services at the expense of search results that are truly most relevant.” He adds, “At my company, Nextag, a comparison shopping site for products and services, we regularly analyze the level of search traffic we get from Google. It's easy to see when Google makes changes to its algorithms that effectively punish its competitors, including us. Our data, which we shared with the Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. 21, 2011, shows without a doubt that Google has stacked the deck. And as a result, it has shifted from a true search site into a commerce site—a commerce site whose search algorithm favors products and services from Google and those from companies able to spend the most on advertising.”

Katz’s words do not soften. Take for example, this statement. “Most people believe that when they type "convection microwave oven" or "biking shorts" into Google, they will receive a list of the most relevant sites. Not true. That's how Google used to work. Now, when someone searches for these items, the most prominent results are displayed because companies paid Google for that privilege. In addition, Google often uses its prime real estate to promote its own (often less relevant and inferior) products and services, prohibiting companies from buying its best advertisements” He readily admits the benefits the company has seen in the past. That is not in question. It’s the present, because “...Google's latest changes are clearly no longer about helping users.” He argues for greater transparency and greater access - both for businesses and users.

Well, the next day Google responded. It released Panda 3.7. It was not the response that Nextag would have preferred. Google also responded in a common Google way, via a blog post by Amit Singhal, senior vice president of engineering at Google. In it he says "While we're always happy to have feedback about how we can improve, it's more useful if that feedback is based on facts." For fun, we did a search on which Nextag would have normally appeared.




Nextag or for that matter any comparison shopping site is nowhere to be found. The same is true for quite a few other searches, like this one.




It used to be that Google’s comparison shopping product was organic, results driven. Now, it’s purely pay to play. Like many Google changes, there might be a true user benefit, but the explanation of the change leaves room for a little too much doubt. Why would they show a company paying for example $.35 per click who made $.60 off that click when they could make $.60 a click? The financial incentive for removing “the middle man” reads just a little too strong, despite the user motive. The timing of the changes certainly doesn’t help Google’s case either. Unlike Katz, where he argues Google is a brand killer. The opposite seems true. Looking at the results, they only want brands...just not other comparison related ones.
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  #2  
Old June 21st, 2012, 02:50 PM
Beachy
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Quote:
These black and white animals are causing red for quite a few companies after their traffic fell off a cliff about two weeks ago.
On the other side of the coin, however, are those sites who have been boosted in the SERPs - and are seeing an increase in revenue. Y'know, the ones which actually provide unique, releveant and useful content for readers. It appears the majority of the "chirping" is from the article spinners, cookie-cutter coupon and datafeed sites, the recipients of inbound links from massive link-building campaigns, etc. Those are the sites built primarily to sell something without providing additional value for the reader. They made it "big" by gaming the system and that gaming is now biting them in the ass.
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  #3  
Old June 21st, 2012, 03:06 PM
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I always though the answer to the question was a sunburned zebra, but I guess pandas and penguins can also stay out in the sun too long. Whatever the animal, they need to spend that time in the sun researching, creating, and writing, and putting on sun-block, rather than thinking up new schemes and tricks, or using their sun-block money on ppc.

Build sites for people, not arachnids.
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  #4  
Old June 21st, 2012, 03:10 PM
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It appears the majority of the "chirping" is from the article spinners, cookie-cutter coupon and datafeed sites, the recipients of inbound links from massive link-building campaigns, etc.
I have to disagree here, as I have two sites that were hit by one of these "cute" algo updates!

As a starting point, I wouldn't even know how to game the system... my issue was related to poor programming on a datafeed section (not cookie-cutter, it was original design) that, fair enough, earned me a spot of trouble. But what I found unfair was that G decided to push all my content down at the same time. Even a sub-domain that contained 5,000 original content stories lost its ranking (I have been writing 4 stories/day for 3+ years). There are sweeping site-wide penalties that have been unwarranted.

At the same time, I built a PURE content site with 12 completely unique pages (geographic consulting services) that got hit 2 months ago. My best guess is that it happened because of "pdf" icons that came with a standard CMS template - those PDFs got indexed by a handful of ebook-pdf sites, and the original site was slapped with the duplicate content penalty.

I know there are individual stories out there, but I'm not sure if the majority deserved the slap... I know I didn't...

Running a website is no longer an amateur's game.. if you plan on using CMS apps, or hire someone to build a script, make sure you know exactly what's in there..
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  #5  
Old June 21st, 2012, 03:42 PM
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Quote:
At the same time, I built a PURE content site with 12 completely unique pages (geographic consulting services) that got hit 2 months ago. My best guess is that it happened because of "pdf" icons that came with a standard CMS template - those PDFs got indexed by a handful of ebook-pdf sites, and the original site was slapped with the duplicate content penalty.
Why wouldn't Google slap the other sites and not the source?
  #6  
Old June 21st, 2012, 04:04 PM
Beachy
Join Date: November 20th, 2005
Location: At the Beach
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That's an awesome task. I wish I had that kind of talent. It is, indeed, an injustive to have had that much effort "slapped" by the goog. But they are still doing well in Bing/Hoo. Right?

I consider myself a good writer (and speaker) and I live in an area ripe with good/interesting/diverse things to share. But I would be hard pressed, very hard pressed indeed, to create four unique pieces on different topics every day. I just (an hour ago) received an article from a retired editor (who has done pieces for a major hotel consolidator). I can put it online in a few minutes - but first will need to match up some photos with the narrative and create a few captions. I'm paying for creative talent and still have to spend an hour or more to get it where I want it. In our travel vertical that is the type of information for which people are searching...and it seems to be working. Our readers like it (from the feedback we often receive) and apparently the Goog likes it as well. We realized a 20% jump in traffic on the 25th of May - the day after the last Panda "adjustment."

If I were describing hundreds of datafeed items, such as the checks we sell, I could probably do four a day - but they would all be adding fluff to the individual products. Why? Because I am not talented enough to make them all uniquely different; the vocabulary and writing style would make them seem production from a content mill (the Goog symantic algos can easily detect that). I find it much more effective to describe "categories" and then display the products without descriptions - and let the images speak for themselves.

While our variety of checks sites did not see a sweet up-tick like our main travel sites, none of them were penalized either. In fact, this week has been one of our best weeks since we left the "merchant" side of this industry to become just a plain ol' "affiliate" again. In fact, one of our narrow-focus sites (presenting "cool checks") is only a few weeks old and is gaining some serious traction. It has zero descriptions and zero banners.

Oops...sorry for the verbosity. (need to re-write and put on my own site)
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  #7  
Old June 21st, 2012, 04:48 PM
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Good results

I am so glad that most of your sites did better Bill.

I still think Google is showing poor results for a lot of search terms. They were much more relevant before this Penguin update.

You have to know that something is wrong with their system when you own two sites in similar niches and one that has less content, less everything is outdoing another that has had hundreds of unique articles written for it.

The entire monopoly that Google has on the search industry is rather amazing. Why do they make their algorithms so secretive? Mostly I think because then people would know exactly how to fix their sites and then they wouldn't spend as much on adwords.
  #8  
Old June 21st, 2012, 04:53 PM
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Affiliate Practices

Bill - When I considered selling checks direct online, I was told that I would not be allowed to be an affiliate in that niche. That the merchants would drop me from their programs. Just because they wanted to decrease competition I suppose. So why is it that past merchants in a specific niche get to float from merchant to affiliate? Knowing how much data is available to merchants, don't you think this gives them an unfair advantage? And why is it that your coolchecksnetwork is not a spin off of my site name?
  #9  
Old June 21st, 2012, 05:02 PM
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I have that same question Bill as I know bluewaves1. You seem to be flaunting your site on ABW which looks like a direct ripoff of her domain.
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  #10  
Old June 21st, 2012, 05:04 PM
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Be nice if the author would date his/her work for relevancy sake...
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  #11  
Old June 21st, 2012, 06:49 PM
Beachy
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Originally Posted by Chuck Hamrick View Post
I have that same question Bill as I know bluewaves1. You seem to be flaunting your site on ABW which looks like a direct ripoff of her domain.
Wow! I'm sorry you feel that way, Chuck.

I've known bluewaves1 for a long time and have a lot of respect for her and for what she does. She was one of the first people to sign up as an affiliate when Jill and I first launched the GirlyChecks program. I met her at ThinkTank a few days after she signed up - and since then have had dinner with her a couple times at two different Affiliate Summits.

So, Chuck, would you say the same to the person who owns the "exact same domain" as her site - only in dot-com. (Ours is NOT the exact same, we have three words in the domain.) We are focusing on a small segment of the checks vertical - the "cool" segment - with a twist on that term (ice cream, polar bears, etc.). She has a site covering the entire vertical and claims to have over 14,000 products available. She knows what she is doing and does an outstanding job at marketing in a competition-laden vertical.

Would/should I be upset if bluewaves1 were to put a "Girly Checks" section on her very popular site - in direct competition with one of our main checks sites. Oh, wait - she did that - a long time ago. Of course "I" am not upset. We call that competition. If I were to own ArmyChecks.com - should anyone get upset if we were to sell "Army" checks? Maybe the person who owns MilitaryChecks.com? Oh, wait - bluewaves1 also has a Military Checks section - with militarychecks.php in the URL. Again, competition.

We have over 120 targeted domains in this vertical and are buying more as ideas arise. It's inevitable, as we develop them, that some will be similar to existing sites. That, I assure you, is not the intent - most of what we are now developing are tightly focused sites - in some cases targeting only a very small group of checks (even as few as one or two individual products).

Flaunting? Ripoff? C'mon, Chuck. If you really think that of me, please feel free to delete this post, the last post, or all my posts.
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  #12  
Old June 21st, 2012, 07:13 PM
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You were her affiliate manager and it is no coincidence that your domain is very similar to her's. She was an affiliate of Girly Checks and that is why she had a section on her site for it, she was your affiliate. If you have 120 targeted domains why are you leaking "cool checks" on ABW? You know that she own the Top spot on Google for personal checks for years, coincidence that you create a site around the same keywords as her domain.

I have to run, have a date with the wife. Will be back in the AM, have at it!
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  #13  
Old June 21st, 2012, 07:28 PM
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Originally Posted by AffiliateHound View Post
Build sites for people, not arachnids.
Nice quote! You are no doubt right, but as long as tricks and tactics provide a quick advantage people will always take the shortcut
  #14  
Old June 21st, 2012, 11:13 PM
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Getting Back To The Penguin Issue

I think that the main issue here is that some sites were affected by Penguin and some weren't. I don't think anyone likes to see their traffic die down and their income drop.

I am glad that we live in a country that encourages competition and allows us the freedom to be able to build our own businesses like we can here.

I recently spoke to a person that had 5,000 domain names. I was amazed. None of the domain names had anything on them. Can you imagine how expensive it would be to renew these every year? Wow.
  #15  
Old June 21st, 2012, 11:22 PM
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But I would be hard pressed, very hard pressed indeed, to create four unique pieces on different topics every day
I'm not sure if I sensed some scepticisim, or if you were questioning the legitimacy of 4 stories/day, but I cover a specific celebrity niche, so it is quite easy to write 4 pieces a day. It's not uncommon to see similar sites write up to 8 pieces each day. (I don't have the energy for more, and prefer to focus on more generic aspects of the site). They may not be 1,000 word essays, but they do contain original thoughts & commentary, and quality has definitely improved over time.

My issue is more with Penguin than Panda.. if I'm not mistaken, it's Penguin that applies a "sitewide" penalty, which was unfair in my case... this sub-domain has nothing but solid content. And yes, ranking is fine in Bing & Yahoo.

Things have started to pick up lately, but no thanks to Google - I've launched an aggressive social campaign, which has increased my base readership.
Quote:
Why wouldn't Google slap the other sites and not the source
I have no idea why this content site got hit. I wish Google could tell me that... I pulled the PDFs from the site, hopefully that will do it.
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