I already reported on Google’s most recent “slap” against spammy sites an content farms in my previous post. Shortly afterwards, we saw what is probably the biggest real-life difference this slap has made, in two different ways:
1. An algorithm change that apparently affects about 12% of all search results was rolled out on Thursday (February 24.).
2. Ezinearticles reacted. Or perhaps I should say they over-reacted?
Why Care About EZA?
Ezinearticles have been a pretty reliable traffic source for affiliate marketers for a long time. In fact, they’ve been such a staple in Internet marketing, it’s almost impossible for you to be in this field for more than a few days before you learn about them.
So, what happened? If you want to get all the details, you can read up on them in this post about Ezinearticle’s reaction to the Google slap.
Here are the cliff-notes:
- EZA lost over 30% of their traffic, almost over night.
- Most of their traffic was coming from Google, obviously.
- The announced that they wanted to get back into Google’s good graces (understandable) by making EZA author’s lives as difficult as possible (huh?).
- People panicked all around (the blog post with the announcement has about a gazillion comments).
Basically, EZA’s reaciont to the change is to make EZA a much less attractive place to submit articles. Increase minimum character count, lower maximum allowed keyword density, disallow people from posting the same article to their website and to Ezinearticles (does that also mean EZA articles will no longer be open for syndication? not sure), more rejected articles, potentially longer review process…
Pretty much everything that would put people off of submitting articles in the first place. They also announced that they would nofollow all links, including the ones in the resource boxes. After much protesting, they seem to be reconsidering this position, though.
The goal is, of course, to increase the quality of the articles on EZA and hopefully regain their lost rankings in Google.
The Death of…?
Ezinearticles got hit hard and now their firing on all cylinders to try and recover, which is understandable. The problem is that they’re pointing the wrong way.
Their proposed solution is to increase the quality of articles submitted to EZA. Guess what? Google can’t detect the quality of an article.
Which brings me to the reason for writing this post in the first place. On the one hand, it’s interesting to see this happening. And who knows, maybe we can soon all finally write a “the death of…” article and not mean it ironically.
More importantly, there’s an SEO lesson in this. Yes, high quality, relevant content is the best kind of content to create, SEO-wise. Why? Because that’s what search engines want to deliver to their end-users. They can’t truly separate good from bad content yet, but that’s the ultimate goal. So by creating awesome content, you’re ahead of the curve, in a sense.
But awesome content does not equal SEO. And just because Google has made a change doesn’t mean SEO has changed.
SEO is this: Figure out what signals Google is looking for when placing pages at the top for desirable search terms and send those signals deliberately.
Martyrdom is not going to cut it. Google will not reward you for working extra hard and neither will it reward Ezinearticles for punishing it’s authors extra hard (unless they make adjustments specifically for EZA, which is possible but unlikely). I’m all for good content. But the bare essence of SEO still lies in finding the right tweak and has little to do with (human, subjective, elusive) “quality”.
What are the new tweaks? I don’t know yet. For now, just keep building those links.
Well that answers the question I was about to ask you Shane – what does this change in Backlinks Battleplan?
I think it does remind all of us to ensure we have a good link diversity.
BTW I think, “just because Google has made a change doesn’t mean SEO has changed.” is priceless.
Well, since not a single one of my sites was affected by the Google slap, I tend to think BBP is a pretty good way of doing SEO. :D
Was this just a one-time, net-wide slap? Or can we except this type of a cleaning sweep every so often?
I think it’s safe to say that this will continue happening to some extent. Google are on an ongoing quest to improve the quality of their search results.
Then again, it’s not like they only set off on the quest last week. It’s been going on since the very beginning. So: Things are going to keep changing, but that’s business as usual.
Google isn’t doing sh*t to clean their search results.. and they can’t.. so they scare everyone into thinking that they have a ‘fix’ and yet they screw up legitimate businesses. lol.. how is EZ a content farm. They do provide content with pretty strict guidelines, so its not like its an autoblog with a spinner on it, which makes the site completely useless. How is Squidoo a content farm?! Squidoo has some great info on that site and now that none of those pages rank in the top 10, crap sites have taken over.. once again! I just wish Bing would be able to compete with Google on a bigger scale and they are cause IM done with google
It does look like Google’s just sniping some of the so-called “content farms” plus a bunch of AdSense sites. Everywhere else, there’s not much difference to detect.
I think that eZinearticles got exactly what they deserved. They decreased the article length to 250 words in order to get more articles, they also allowed crappy articles to appear on their site, so basically they became a link farm.
On the flip side, the changes Google made to discipline the site will have positive effect after all, because only the quality content (that takes more time to create) will be published (article writers rejoice, you will be able to command higher prices for your services)and a few people will have access to the pie (articles up and quality links).
However, I doubt I will be publishing article to ezinearticles any time soon – they get quality content and they display Google ads alongside the articles and I get nothing for the time I have spent writing them.
Not fair, in my opinion, especially when there are other websites with the same authority out there that share there revenues with you.
Ezine reacted way too fast – they haven’t a clue what the algo is targeting, they just want to show they are “doing something” so that their writers don’t abandon ship.
Article marketing is not dead – the trick will be identifying those sites which are still strong and still worth writing for. And keeping the info under your hat when you do discover one, just in case the sans culottes spoil everything!
This is a perfect example of WHY you need to diversify sources. There is no doubt that house cleaning is in order, but in the context of marketing it is not worth the time to deal with ezines new literary posture. I am sure once the panic is over they will return to center a bit and will accept good content, not requiring masterpieces.
They have been a good source, and I believe still will be in due time. But again, a good example of not putting all your eggs in one basket.
I submit articles to EZA and have found that I have to adhere to some strict standards to get them approved, so I didn’t understand why they should have targeted by Google …
I agree with Peter who said above “However, I doubt I will be publishing article to ezinearticles any time soon – they get quality content and they display Google ads alongside the articles and I get nothing for the time I have spent writing them.”
I think I will take the time to find a profit-sharing article site.
Goog’s update goes WAY beyond Ezinearticles and their (probably futile) efforts to get their site ‘back to normal’ cuz I don’t think there’s a normal to get back to.
It seems WP AutoBlogs got a widespread PageRank hit because of their easily discernible footprint.
Younger sites under a year or two seemed to go thru a ‘keyword strangle cycle’ where fewer keywords rank, and only seem to get ‘bursts’ of medium to long-tail keywords briefly before getting strangled again.
Exact Match domain names seem to be doing well – but really only for that Exact Match term and ever fewer Phrase Match variants.
All in all, I see many sites getting pulled in, twirled around BRIEFLY, then cast back to the sidelines in an ever shorter, non-comittal ‘Google Dance’ where sites get Felt-Up, but ever less love from Goog. And I highly doubt the algo is going to change and suddenly open the floodgates ever again. I’m pessimistic cuz starting last fall – and now with the early 2011 update – this is the most VICIOUS tweak Goog has done yet. I only see the noose getting tighter – and that makes me glad I haven’t relied heavily on the time-pit that Article Marketing often demands.
As of March 21, 2011, it takes a week (or more) to get an article approved.
I will still write one from time to time, but my efforts are going to shift to doing more with the traffic I already have and trying to leverage it.
It may well be that we shift from thinking of ezine as a mainstay – which they have been for many – to a checkbox which says – has your site got one article on ezine?
And I think Darrell is right – use the traffic you have already.
For my latest site I’ve started to get sales on 20 uniques a day.
First site I have used IMAutomator on a lot too.
It’s late 2105 and in spite of a million and one websites damaged by Panda then Penguin – EzineArticles still remains – and continues to be – the most authoritative article site out there. It still ranks tens of thousands of keywords in the Top-20 search result positions. (As do several others.)
Yes, it’s a shadow of it’s former self SEO-wise, but still VERY valuable to maintain an account there, particularly for Authority and Reputation building.
Rather than trying to push your money site(s) top money keywords — the Author Box is now best for BRAND and RAW URL’s, AND for linking to your FB, Twitter, G+ or LinkedIn profiles!
I haven’t given up on Article Marketing – and you shouldn’t either. Having a handful of articles related to your field of expertise at a half-dozen of the most authoritative remaining article directories is still a very wise business strategy.