I’ve already written about Google’s recent algorithm update that has resulted in many websites losing search rankings while benefiting WikiHow and eHow, both considered content farms by many SEOs and Internet marketers. Google’s algorithm was intended to address content farms and lower their rankings. I think the result, from a marketer’s perspective, is that Google’s attempt to kill content farms has failed.
Here’s the primary example that I’ll give (and I have refrained from talking about this, but I just can’t resist any longer):
Really? Article directories? Google, puh-lease!
Why is this upsetting? Because article marketing is one of the earliest and most time-honored Internet marketing strategies. Search engines have traditionally given them a nod of approval, pretty much across the board. Only recently have Google not approved of them. And for the record, EzineArticles was not the only article directory affected by this algorithm change. Here are others:
- Associated Content
- Articles Base
- Find Articles
These are all sites that can be referred to as “article directories” under the traditional definition of article directory. Other sites like Business.com, Answerbag.com, and Examiner.com were also affected. But eHow gained. Huh?
I understand the low quality content debate. Some of the sites that took a hit clearly contain low quality content as does eHow, and I’m sure that there is content at EzineArticles and other article directories that can be considered low quality content, but it’s nothing short of ridiculous that EzineArticles was so high up on this list, particularly when you consider that their article approval guidelines are stricter than any other article directory on the planet. And why wasn’t Article Dashboard, the provider of the most popular article directory software, on that list?
But Google’s algorithm is also leading to more changes at EzineArticles (again, already with the strictest article approval guidelines of any article directory online). From the EzineArticles blog, here is a short list of some of the changes being considered (these are all in Chris Knight’s, CEO of EzineArticles, own words; my editorial comments are in parentheses):
- Our proprietary anti-derivative software has been modified to reject another 10+% of article submissions that are not unique enough. This will result in more false positive on legit content, but that’s a risk that we feel is necessary. (Another 10%? As if EzineArticles wasn’t strict enough already.)
- Our keyphrase and keyword density limits are already thought to be too intense by many, but it’s clear to us that spammers can be identified by statistically unusual keyphrase limits. Watch for the bar to be raised here. (I’m watching. Believe me, I’m watching.)
- Expect to see our current article rejection rate (40.6%) climb by another ~20%. (I knew EzineArticle’s rejection rate was high, but I didn’t know it was that high. So it’s going up another 20%, give or take? Will that take the rejection rate over 50%? My guess is, Yes.)
- We may change our position on this and begin rejecting content that is not unique to EzineArticles.com alone. (Currently, your articles do not need to be exclusive to EzineArticles, but your articles do need to be exclusive to your name. In other words, you can’t publish an article under your real name at EzineArticles and under an alias somewhere else. If this changes to ensure that your articles can only be published at EzineArticles and nowhere else, then that could effectively kill article marketing as it has been practiced in the past.)
I don’t blame Chris Knight or EzineArticles for any of this. EzineArticles is a business and as such is looking out for its own interests. I blame Google. But I love – I just LOVE – Chris Knight’s last paragraph:
The end goal is to rebuild the market trust lost on Thursday and to reiterate with action our commitment to delivering our tens of millions of monthly end-users with a positive experience every single time they surf EzineArticles.com.
Rebuild market trust? I think EzineArticles clearly has market trust. It is the most popular article directory online. I think what it has lost is Google trust, and that’s the problem. If the rest of us trust EzineArticles, shouldn’t Google?
I fully support Google’s attempt to fight search engine spam and to target low quality content farms, but article directories are not content farms. I thought Google had added a nofollow algorithm for article directories and that it wouldn’t count those links because the idea is to get your links from publishers who use your articles rather than to rely on links from the directories. Personally, I think that would be a better solution than adding directories to the “content farm” category. I can’t remember a time when a Google algorithm had this much negative impact on all the wrong sites. It makes me ask the question: Should we continue to trust Google?