Questioning Amit Singhal's Questions

May 8th

Google's Amit Singhal offered more "clarity" into Google's approach with the Panda update. However I am not convinced that any clarity was actually added, and I think a lot of the questions they ask are to a degree even a bit wrong-headed.

Would you trust the information presented in this article?

Sounds like this is all about promoting perceived authority.

Counter points:

  • Did you (or anyone you know) trust this outlet to give you a complete worldview at any point in the last couple decades & end up bankrupt, utterly decimated, or destitute because you followed its advice (on say internet stocks or the housing bubble or using excessive credit because "this time may actually be different")?
  • Did your allegiance to this particular media outlet cause you to be more likely to be unbelievably ignorant & ill informed about world-shaping anti-facts used to push things like wars based on fraud? Are there extra trillion Dollars of debt your children must pay interest on & over 100,000 people dead because a news outlet lied to you? And the US government (the largest seat of power & authority in the world today) was also complicit in ensuring American citizens were ignorant going into Iraq.
  • A lot of news sites are given additional distribution through services like Google news, which start them from a position of authority (because if you go to search to find something & Google promotes their news vertical right away, then sites in that news vertical will rank highly instantly & accrue backlinks from that early exposure). The education system itself is partly a propaganda tool to teach you to trust an obey authority. If the banking crisis taught us nothing else it should have taught us that many authorities are not worthy of our trust as they act in self interested ways at the expense of the whole.

Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?

Mainstream media sites saw a $1 billion Dollar lift in annual ad revenue from the Panda update. Most mainstream media articles are *not* written by true subject matter experts, but rather by devout generalists who grab a couple quotes to fill out the shallow piece & make it feel more informed.

A lot of the "official" quotes are from officials who represent industry trade organizations. That means those folks support the interests of folks in that trade, even if/when that trade is working against the interest of the common man.

The problem is, you don't get to see who is a whore until *after* they already ____ed you. See for example David Lereah: "Ahhh, so he admits to being nothing more than a paid shill whose mouth was available for a price. How does that job description vary from the Trannies who hang out by the West Side Highway? In my book, not by very much. A whore is a whore is a whore."

Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?

*Cough* Google Video vs Youtube vs Vevo.

Aren't most AP articles by their definition redundant duplication?

How are some of Google's late-to-the-party services like their ebook store or their places pages justified if we seek to minimize redundancy?

Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?

Some sites aim to sell, while others aim to tell.

If a passionate hobbyist desires to share but isn't selling something (and thus uses a quirky site design or a more personal formatting structure) should they be dinged for putting their passion ahead of getting an unneeded SSL certification & paying firms like TRUSTe, McAfee & VeriSign?

Interestingly, sites which display some trust symbols are *more* likely to scam consumers. Being a con man requires abusing trust and confidence. Some of the top brands do just that, over and over again.

Sites which don't go out of their way to sell you something are more likely to be built on passion.

Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?

"Correct spelling, indeed, is one of the arts that are far more esteemed by school ma'ams than by practical men, neck-deep in the heat and agony of the world." - Henry Louis Mencken

Further, the error of omission is one that is constantly made in the mainstream media, which is precisely why you have to read fringe rags like the Rolling Stone to get an honest look at how bankers are robbing the country blind. Of course you will read the same article in the mainstream media in 6 or 7 years, after the statue of limitations runs out. And they will sell it as "new" news, even though the story at that point is nearly a decade old.

Are the topics driven by genuine interests of readers of the site, or does the site generate content by attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?

I can tell you sure as hell that the auto-generated spam stub pages on the mainstream media sites (driven by services like DayLife or Truveo) which scrape blogs like mine are not driven by passion. You can't program a bot to have "passion."

Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?

Hard to disagree with this point. However, it is worth noting that the mainstream media is notorious for stealing stories.

Further, I have had a client featured in a well read trade magazine where they wrote an entire article on the client. They were unwilling to link to the client's site (even though the client was the only source & entire purpose for the article) because they said they felt it would be too promotional. How warped is it that they will do a photo shoot at your house & make you the feature of an article, yet they are afraid to link because that might be seen as being too promotional!

Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?

This is actually a bit of a bait and switch styled topic. Let me explain. In an ideal world every single page would be great.

But when some brands are above regulation, Google keeps screwing up source attribution & Google creates no-value-add scraper pages like their places pages, if you ensure that every page you make is unique & value add then if you operate at any scale you will likely go bankrupt in the search game (unless you have significant non-search distribution).

Most articles individually are failures that do not pay for themselves. It is the rare success that helps carry the failures. You do not know which is which in advance, but you hope that with some level of effort and scale you are marginally profitable out the other end.

This is how literally all forms of publishing work: online, music, movies, books, etc.

In terms of a money loser, take for instance this article. I am already rather well known, have a wide following, spent hours writing that article, and ultimately it garnered 1 comment & 0 inbound links (once you back out scraper sites, automated links, and links with nofollow on them).

Making things worse, you not only compete against others who will copy anything of yours that is successful, but if Google does decide to whack your site with a penalty then a scraper site (which Google paid with AdSense money) that steals your content will outrank you for your own work. How exactly do you provide a unique substantial value add when Google is paying others to steal & republish your work wholesale?

Things like source attribution issues, brand bias, and Google competing against publishers with scraper pages have a very real and significant impact on profit margins. A good sustainable company is generally lucky to have 20% profit margins. When Google introduced their places pages that scraped TripAdvisor Google instantly redirected 10% of TripAdvisor's search traffic.

Ultimately the above issue with content is not down to cost or effort, but if what you are doing is profitable. If it is not, then it is simply unsustainable.

And even when you are profitable, you can count on Google helping others subvert that position.

On the topic of value add, I have even seen people buying AdSense ads to redistribute 3rd party works, where the only value "add" was lowering the retail price!

How much quality control is done on content?

A lot of the high ranking and much hyped social media networks like MySpace, Friendster, Twitter & Facebook are almost exclusively spam. A couple days ago I deleted over 75% of my Facebook "friends" because I was sick of getting daily email updates about how some dirtbag wanted to promote some autowealth MLM blaster unlimited downstream product on my wall.

That is not to say that everyone I deleted did anything wrong (most of them are likely good people) but there was no opportunity cost to spamming. The spammers who automate drive everything toward the tragedy of the commons. A paywall is perhaps the single best filter for quality, but if you use a paywall expect to deal with a lot of freetard rage & expect Google to pay some folks to steal it.

Google polices the web, but anything goes in their ad programs.

You can see how ridiculous the double standard is by simply considering that Google let their counterfeiting advertisers count grow to 50,000 strong before finally axing them when the US government pressured Google. Bizarrely, Google had the audacity to position themselves as good doers who were cracking down on spammers, when in fact they were taking their own longtime business partners out to the wood shed!

Does the article describe both sides of a story?

Mainstream media sources often like to share "both sides of a story" to seem unbiased. But the truth is that media by its very nature is biased toward the interest of advertisers & away from consumers. See, for example, either Manufacturing Consent or the BGH lawsuit.

Further, some well known corporations (LIKE GOOGLE) blackball media outlets that question them in certain ways. Google would never give exclusives to SEOBook & the sites that they do give exclusives to would lose the relationship if they were as blunt as we are.

Is the site a recognized authority on its topic?

Lots of recognized authorities have conflicting funding sources - something that was well highlighted in early Google research, and has been consistently exposed (years or decades after the fact) in the medical space.

Many firms which can "move the market" regularly trade against the advice they give to retail schleps.

Honesty is more important than authority, but then being bland & honest is not quite as remarkable (or profitable) as putting on a coat of spin.

Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?

How would Google's efforts stand up when graded against this suggestion? Why does Google have Google Video, Youtube & Vevo?

Further, most market leaders do have large networks and multiple branded sites for purposes of branding, segmentation, and double dipping in the marketplace. Remember when Bankrate (which already owned Bankrate, Nationwide Card Services, Credit Card Search Engine, Bankaholic, etc.) bought out CreditCardsGuide.com & it got temporarily penalized for the spammy links it had? Well it ranks again & of course since then they have also bought out CreditCards.com. You see this sort of behavior amongst almost any big brand: from Amazon.com to Zappos. (Oh wait, Amazon.com now owns Zappos!)

Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?

A lot of the best content comes from people who are subject matter experts. But those people may have only mastered their subject & may be new to: writing, website design, online publishing, etc.

For a health related query, would you trust information from this site?

Let's put it this way: the media people consume is in part responsible for the current state of health in the US where there is an obesity epidemic. Further, a lot of the leading health authority sites (like WebMD) run special advert sections in their site where it looks just like content but you have to read the small print to see it is an ad.

Going one step further on this front, it is worth mentioning that a number of the large pharmaceutical corporations have repeatedly sold drugs for off label purposes & yet none of their packaging is required to highlight those ill deed they did that have literally killed millions of people.

And let's not forget Google's take on educating misinforming the public about these drugs.

Would you recognize this site as an authoritative source when mentioned by name?

A lot of "authoritative" sites are simply sites with large ad budgets.

Quick, tell me which company advertises a clever gecko with a British accent. Other than as a mascot (& perhaps alliteration), how relevant is that gecko (or the accent) to their business? Not at all. But they do spend nearly a billion Dollars a year on ads.

Does this article provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?

Most articles that do are money losers.

Especially true while Google is funding so much no-cost automated web scraping.

Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?

Held to your own standard, how would Google Places pages hold up?

Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?

A lot of the stuff which is shared is shared precisely because it is ill-informed, controversial, or shares someone's pre-existing biases.

Does this article have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?

In the Manufacturing Consent DVD a big media guy highlighted that they like to have a 60/40 split between ads and content. Google already pushes online publishers to do less, even if Google does the exact opposite:

Would you expect to see this article in a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?

Aren't print magazines where a lot of the bait and switch headlines came from?

Are the articles short, unsubstantial, or otherwise lacking in helpful specifics?

Do you mean something similar to most magazine articles? Or do you mean the content farms that Google funded & then used as a justification to torch 10,000's of small businesses?

Held to your own standard, how would Google Places pages hold up?

(I know. I know. If what you do looks like what Google does then you MUST be a spammer.)

Are the pages produced with great care and attention to detail vs. less attention to detail?

This basically excludes almost any user generated content site, with the exception of Youtube.

Would users complain when they see pages from this site?

I'll complain about something I just saw. ;)

While searching for a link for a blog post I was writing today, the #1 Google result (not voted up by social circle stuff) was a Tweet linking to a Hootsweet framed page linking to a music industry site which posts RSS feed content and linked to a BusinessInsider article that referenced the TechCrunch article I was looking for.

If we want to get rid of unneeded duplication & noise then why is Google tying their bonus system to promoting more social media noise? After Amazon.com has done a great job with Kindle why is there a need for Google's ebook marketplace? After Yelp has created a strong community review site (with real editorial expenses) why is there a need for Google Places to scrape & displace its reviews?

-----

tl;dr

If you look at what actually happens in reality (rather than what folks claim to support in their "ideals") it is anarchy. The bankers stole what they could and moved on. The pharmaceutical corporations create fear-driven propaganda about the dangers of drug re-importation, all the while pushing drugs for off label purposes. Google pays people to steal your content, then tells you to suck it up & it is your fault you are not a big brand.

Anarchy is here.

The only difference is that it is dressed up in suits and fancy language, where people perceive anarchists as like ripped jeans, megadeth shirt wearing, pyro's.

Published: May 8, 2011

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Comments

May 8, 2011 - 3:19am

also answered Amit's questions on the associated Google blog post, but Google deleted it. he decided to view Amit's post through the same lens Google suggest using to look at other content. Here is what he wrote:

Let's see how this blog post rates according to Google's recommendations:

* Would you trust the information presented in this article?

Definitely not. This is a public relations piece which ventures far from the truth. It is patently dishonest.

* Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?

Amit may be an expert, but this post is the very definition of shallow. It presents no useful information. It's worse than an eHow page.

* Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?

Definitely. This post is yet another regurgitation of Google's standard content-free public relations platitudes.

* Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?

It's Google -- we don't really have a choice any more. Google has handed the top SERPs to bland brand sites which lack relevant content -- forcing everyone else into AdWords. Coincidence? Cui bono?

* Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?

This article purposefully contains serious factual errors. It is written to obfuscate the truth, which is that the Panda update is a dismal failure which has penalized quality web destinations like MerckManuals and AskTheBuilders.

* Are the topics driven by genuine interests of readers of the site, or does the site generate content by attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?

Based upon Amit's unwilling to provide honest answers, it is pretty clear that he isn't "driven by genuine interests of readers of the site." This is a bait-and-switch page. The readers came looking for information and were delivered only prevarication.

* Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?

Nothing in this post is original. This is simply a mashup of half-truths and misdirection which Google's PR droids have already posted elsewhere. This page should be removed from the search engine results by the duplicate content filter.

* Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?

This page provides no value at all. It purports to discuss the Panda updates and instead lists a number of attributes which Google would like web pages to possess. The vast majority of these attributes, however, are not algorithmically measurable. This means that they cannot be part of the Panda algorithm, or any algorithm. This is purely duplicitous behavior on the part of Google.

* How much quality control is done on content?

Quality control on this article was performed only by the legal and propaganda departments. This article has no technical quality to measure. Simply put, the quality is vapid.

* Does the article describe both sides of a story?

Absolutely not. The article equivocates regarding Google's side of the story and completely fails to address the concerns of web publishers.

* Is the site a recognized authority on its topic?

Blogger, as a free web hosting platform, cannot be considered an authority on anything.

* Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?

Blogger content is mass-produced by a huge number of creators, many of which do not give their individual pages significant attention or care.

* Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?

The article looks like a cheap cut and paste job from Google's webmaster forums.

* For a health related query, would you trust information from this site?

I would definitely not trust health information from any should who could not clearly and objectively explain their diagnosis. This article clearly fails to meet that standard.

* Would you recognize this site as an authoritative source when mentioned by name?

Definitely not. Blogger is a spam pit.

* Does this article provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?

Definitely not. This article is virtually content-free. It provides absolutely no useful information.

* Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?

Definitely not. This article eschews analysis, and in fact recommends against analysis.

* Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?

Definitely not. I wasted enough time reading this drivel. I would hate to be responsible for another person being subjected to this soul-sucking post.

* Does this article have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?

For some reason, Google won't run AdSense on their own pages. Perhaps that should be a hint for the rest of us.

* Would you expect to see this article in a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?

No one but Google would publish this article, because it is completely lacking in honesty.

* Are the articles short, unsubstantial, or otherwise lacking in helpful specifics?

There are no helpful specifics. The "content" is completely unsubstantial.

* Are the pages produced with great care and attention to detail vs. less attention to detail?

There are no details, only broad and useless platitudes designed to deflect criticism of Google's failure.

* Would users complain when they see pages from this site?

The comments are full of users complaining about this content.

Clearly, the entire blogger domain should be penalized for hosting low-quality pages such as this one.

May 8, 2011 - 4:36am

It is amazing to see how Google produces such a poor content on his Webmaster Blog. Hey that post should not even rank for its title. Anyway, my favorite part is "Panda was just one of roughly 500 search improvements we expect to roll out to search this year." As you know when Google says something do not take it as real. The last line should read, After a disaster first quarter earnings and our stock got sunk, we are going to make about 500 changes in the year in order to make more profits. Really I do not know if Google is full of BS or ignorance but saying that they will roll more than 500 changes in an algorithm that they have said has bout 200 signals makes no sense. It is like if they are going to change the entire algo 2.5 times during the year which might produce a completely different SERP about every 4 months. Great job trying to fool the ignorant souls that believe everything you say. In the mean time Google stock has lost about 12% or 75 points since Panda. A better title for their post should be "Panda sunk Google stock: WE NEED MONEY"

May 8, 2011 - 5:34am

...that they are testing (with loads of white space driving down organic results, but the right rail ads aligned high and tight) will likely create at least a 5% lift in AdWords ad revenues when they roll it out.

May 8, 2011 - 7:50am

It's easy to hate Google, they are the new MS, just a couple of years ago generally referred to as M$. I have plenty of issues with the SERP's but truth is Google has it's hands full trying to satisfy users, shareholders and site owners while fighting some consistent competitors and newcomers.
The company is just too busy with irrelevant side projects and useless features instead of trying to reinvent search all together – something a competitor is bound to do sometime in the future. 10 result (and shrinking) mixed with local and personal just doesn’t' deliver the wealth of the web, certainly when even the little you get is cluttered by garbage.

May 8, 2011 - 4:56pm

Aaron you just pwned Amit,

May 8, 2011 - 5:24pm

Great post Aaron total pwnage what I wanna say is that the questions asked are so hard to be analyzed by an algo. Panda update was/is one of the biggest Google failures.

Google has gone crazy trying to fight against Twitter and Facebook and going social. The idea of getting social has made them insane they are trying stuff which just sucks.

I wouldn't be mad but my 10 years of work on my nails website has gone in vain because now junk/scraped content sites are beating my site. I have over 20 years of experience on the topic. But still lost over 60% of the traffic with this update.

WebmasterForum is such a joke they always give you the same answers.

This update has killed all of our plans, I wasn't earning big like others but I was earning enough to support my spendings as I had quit my day job.

$1billion shift to big brands have certainly killed us small people.

May 9, 2011 - 1:36am

...of seeing the work disappear arbitrarily after a decade of work that will make so many webmasters so livid.

I don't think Google appreciates & anticipates the wave of spam this update will have ushered in as people decide to play by a different strategy, but they sure as hell will notice it in 6 months to a year!

May 8, 2011 - 8:00pm

I would love to see this in a debate format. Aaron, you have pointed out the hypocrisy of much of this "advice". Google should apply their standards to themselves. It would be great to put Google content under a neutral or competing brand and submit it for a site review with Matt or Amit on the panel ;)

Having said that, I think we should all celebrate the fact that Mahalo, Demand Media, etc have taken a hit with Panda and push the debate towards the sites that have been hit with collateral damage.
A couple of my clients where hit pretty hard by Panda II, including GreatSchools.org and two others. All three of them have taken some time to do a little self reflection. While none of these sites are content farms, the changes that we have undertaken to improve the sites are 100% positive for the user. Culling 20-40% of your pages is painful, but asking yourself what pages don't deliver any value may be a good idea. I just wish Google would re-run the Panda process against penalized sites and let earn our position back.

May 9, 2011 - 1:46am

Aaron, you have pointed out the hypocrisy of much of this "advice". Google should apply their standards to themselves. It would be great to put Google content under a neutral or competing brand and submit it for a site review with Matt or Amit on the panel ;)

The trick is not only to analyze their own websites against how they analyze others, but also to analyze how they have chosen to arbitrarily grant their late-to-the-party clone jobs to the ranks of the original sources & explain why it is a requirement for third parties to jump through all these expensive hoops (brand building, link building, original content creation, guessing which pages Google doesn't value & pruning them, etc.) when Google can just simply hardcode their own rankings for self-promotion.

I think we should all celebrate the fact that Mahalo, Demand Media, etc have taken a hit with Panda and push the debate towards the sites that have been hit with collateral damage.

But Google's drunken heavy-handed approach calls into question their other approaches. If so many smaller webmasters had to be destroyed for Google to hit a site that was flagrantly violating Google's guidelines like Mahalo, then how does Google justify their spam hunting, FUD spreading, and snitch promoting policies.

Why is it that they rarely promote the importance of linking to quality sites while they keep spreading FUD about the fear of linking, even as they displace the natural link graph with a bunch of junk AdSense websites?

A couple of my clients where hit pretty hard by Panda II, including GreatSchools.org and two others. All three of them have taken some time to do a little self reflection. While none of these sites are content farms, the changes that we have undertaken to improve the sites are 100% positive for the user. Culling 20-40% of your pages is painful, but asking yourself what pages don't deliver any value may be a good idea. I just wish Google would re-run the Panda process against penalized sites and let earn our position back.

It is the idea that some innocent bystanders have to suffer for months and months so that Mahalo could be handled "algorithmically" which is so laughable.

May 8, 2011 - 8:08pm

At this point I honestly see the most likely solution coming from the states. Just like MS never suffered any real pressure until the states started their own investigations, I see a similar outcome for Google.

Google and this administration are like two peas in a pod, and honestly, law enforcement and intelligence LOVE Google because it's a one stop shop for data mining.

If some states start antitrust investigations (which are already brewing) then Google might take notice.

If you look at Google's promise to French regulators to be more transparent in their Adwords suspensions and give advertisers notice worldwide, they pretty much wiped their ass with it as soon as the regulators agreed there would not be further investigation.

The only good thing I see is that public perception of Google, especially from the most active online population (which helped them rise to power), is shifting. Google is no longer the golden child they once were.

If Bing can get their results right (they correctly place me at the top above scrapers of my content at least), and attract new advertisers (gasp...they actually call me) they could, in the long run, grab half the market. MS has certainly dumped piles of money into projects before and came out winning.

May 9, 2011 - 1:33am

...that Google made an enemy out of almost everyone over the years. Even the sites which they just gave a boost too (the brands and the mainstream media) still feel under-represented. So if and when regulatory action comes, they won't have many folks siding with them (other than maybe some other online ad networks like Facebook, when it is convenient).

May 9, 2011 - 11:59am

Obviously governmental stuff should be trusted, but in after reading about all the blunders, lies & deception around al-Qaeda = Iraq, it is interesting to look back a half-century and see how corrupt the US government was even back then:

In the early 1960s, America's top military leaders reportedly drafted plans to kill innocent people and commit acts of terrorism in U.S. cities to create public support for a war against Cuba.

Some people seek facts that confirm their conclusions are willing to create the facts along the way. That is ultimately why the centralization of power becomes a bad thing. Those in power can create a vision & then force it onto others, even if it is based on flawed ideology & simply wrong.

May 9, 2011 - 1:46pm

Quote of the decade so far my man:

"Anarchy is here. The only difference is that it is dressed up in suits and fancy language, where people perceive anarchists as like ripped jeans, megadeth shirt wearing, pyro's."

May 9, 2011 - 2:12pm

That quote was from vanillacoke. I will let him know you liked it. :)

May 9, 2011 - 3:28pm

"Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?"

Webmd health network (eMedicineHealth, MedicineNet, Bootswebmd) seems to be doing exactly what Google is claiming to be bad. However, I see them improving them appearing high in search engines ;)

May 9, 2011 - 3:32pm

Correction to my last line: However, I see them appearing high in search engines

May 9, 2011 - 11:34pm

...the duplication that exists amongst brands, but in almost every market large enough to have billion Dollar brands you will find those same brands with more shallow niche sites that mirror a portion of their main business. And what is worse is that they not only appear in the organic results multiple times, but also in AdWords too.

Here is a good example of where this leads. All the highlights are of 1 company in that screenshot.

May 9, 2011 - 3:59pm

Google tells you to play the game accordingly like dont do this dont do that, but then you see the guy ranking#1 is breaking all the rules and still ranking and earning.

Then you hear people tell you, they will get punished, they will get penalized, they will lose the ranking, this is such a CLICHE by the time they lose ranking they would have earned enough to support another venture.

There are so many good examples I can give, where the the top in some verticals has been the top guy for over 5 years now using spam techniques. Based on what I know in that niche and that the guy ranking top is my friend he earns $50k a month, add it up for 5 years and by now he has made enough to support tons and tons of other ventures.

This whole bs of bh/gh/wh drives me crazy. People are using junk tools like senuke because it simple works, people are spamming forums because it works, people are doing comment spam because it works. If it didn't then they wouldn't do it at first place.

Worst part is that none of the stuff mentioned by Amit makes sense in many of the keywords I have looked.

And last but not least why they rolled out the algo at first place if it wasn't 100% accurate.

The rich are getting richer and us small people keep losing the small chunk with every update.

May 9, 2011 - 11:58pm

In terms of perceived risk. Those who didn't use SENuke & stuff like that in the past did so because they wanted the perception of low risk & of permanence in their efforts. But then if Google just wipes away tons of the long standing high quality stuff arbitrarily suddenly your risk of doing high quality is way higher than the risk of spamming & jamming, because the person doing high quality has a way higher cost structure & may still get torched anyway.

If Google wanted to deal with the content farm problem they could have run the Panda filter against sites that were of something like 5,000 pages or more. But the fact that they hit even rather small sites with the content farm update is going to make a lot more publishers take a much more adversarial approach to SEO.

In the past many SEO consultants pushed low-risk strategies out of perceived risk protection & wanting to have increased margins (it is hard to justify paying someone $10,000 to run a $200 piece of spamming software). But if those same SEOs feel that projects have a high risk of failure even if they are quality, then if they are concerned with professionalism they will create back up sites, higher margin spam sites, etc. to help protect clients from some of Google's arbitrary adjustments.

May 10, 2011 - 12:10am

You touched a great point Aaron if they wanted this filter to run then they should started with super big sites. Another thing is just for 10-20 sites out there tens and thousands of other publishers are being torched.

After reading what Amit has suggested on his site I ran analysis on tons of verticals and none of the top guys fit the match.

But now here is the shocking part Ehow is ranking once again for tons of words this time for some good competitive terms. I thought these super big sites were the ones causing all the pollution.

May 10, 2011 - 12:30am

eHow's month over month traffic stats (and the % change in downstream traffic from Google to eHow.com) when Compete.com has April data available. That said, their daily reach metrics still show eHow.com at something like 74% of what it was before the Panda II update. A 26% decline is huge, but that still puts them up about 58% year over year (and part of their peak was from many of their competitors getting hit when they did not...boosting their Google search traffic like 16%). If a penalty that destroys many of your competitors means you "only" grew 4% or 5% per month then it doesn't seem all that harsh. It may not even alter the economics that much.

May 10, 2011 - 12:50am

Thanks for the post Aaron, I like how you played devil's advocate and you make some great points.

But I'd like to point out that the TechCrunch article was an early April-fools joke... and a tough one to spot, at that. They made note of it on their site: http://techcrunch.com/2011/04/01/april-fools-2011-the-big-list/

Matt Cutts also tweeted about it.

May 10, 2011 - 1:38am

...doesn't make the truth in it any less truthful.

If Google held Google properties to the standards (and forced sunk cost) that they hold 3rd parties to then a thin scrape job like Google Places wouldn't rank very well for very long.

Alas they don't!

May 12, 2011 - 9:52am

I did enjoy reading your rebuttal, or the rebuttal from "community member Will". Ultimately, however, you are debating the points of people who, no matter how bright they are, chose to live in an alternate reality.

This Amit guy actually believes what he writes. Just like Matt Cutts and the rest.

You've mentioned cognitive dissonance somewhere, and it explains it perfectly. For years now, in all of their public communication they have consistently disregarded EVERY issue/question/complaint for which they did not have a pre-packaged answer representing them in the best light.

Read just about any comment thread in Cutts' blog (I stopped doing so years ago, exactly for this reason): he sidesteps every question and complaint that's not a low hanging fruit to answer, to the point that he's not even willing to "notice" those comments.

Googlers' black and white world view works only if they fully ignore the "un-black-and-whiteness" and the anarchy of the real world.

Their twin gods, "Algorithm" and "Scaleability" also thrive in a black and white universe, and Googlers fear everything that might offend their gods.

Cognitive dissonance lies behind their engineers' seemingly complete indifference towards the business interests of Google (those that ultimately pay their salaries, too). It's psychologically more convenient not to realize how their high-minded jobs are increasingly serving those interests and nothing else.

"If Google wanted to deal with the content farm problem they could have run the Panda filter against sites that were of something like 5,000 pages or more."

That's the latest manifestation of a maddening phenomenon. Any of us could point to at least half a dozen issues a single search engineer could probably solve or fine-tune in a day (hour?), making the SERPs a better place. They just don't care.

Search quality is not a main focus for Google any more (as roiesp mentioned). When you realize you can make money hand over fist by using power, market dominance, duplicity, disregard for rights etc., suddenly, maintaining a truly great search experience is too much like hard work in comparison.

May 12, 2011 - 7:09pm

Came to the post via Jim Boykin's blog. Must say, a remarkable response to the Google. Quite poignant. Sooner or later they will reach a kind of negative tipping point. Someone/thing else will take their place. Thanks for holding their feet to the fire. It's their search engine, so they can do whatever they want, but we don't have to suck-up to them. Keep on blasting!

November 20, 2011 - 4:16pm

Google is naive when it comes to content, especially cloaked/scrapedcontent with referrer based redirects. I personally have tracked a competitor that uses cloaked content of all is garbled scraped content... it goes like this:

1) They promote one product (site)
2) 2400 plus domains of scraped content
3) 80,000 pages under 2400 domains
4) 50 plus domains on first 10 SERP pages, 8 unique domains on the first page
5) All are cloaked and redirected to one site
6) Profits must be insane
7) Successful using this technique in Google for 3 years plus

Did you catch the last part, 3 years plus where Google has not stopped them. Pretty much have put me out of business.

It is a simple concept really, constantly acquire new domains, auto generate scraped content, redirect traffic based on referrer and then redirect to sales page if not a bot.

Now you go to Googles report a scraped site page and you can enter one domain to report a bad site???

For all the knowledge that Google has under it's belt, the fact that they cannot figure this out or at least provide a form for multiple infractions is an indication that this cloaked/scraped content will continue for some time to come - I mean really, for every day that Google might nail one of these sites (domains) 3 new ones are created.

I say - come on Google - Panda Really? Get with it and really look at what the Blackhat community is really up to and hit it hard - right now Panda is a big joke that has made Blackhat work better than ever before.

And... putting legit sites like mine virtually out of business.

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