There has been much wringing of hands and much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth about the latest and greatest Google algorithm update.
First of all if you were not aware of what the Panda Update was and what it was meant to do, here is a quick summary.
The Panda update (sometimes called the Farmer Update) had a specific target in mind. When Matt Cutts (head of Google webspam) and his team of “spammer hunters and destroyers” formulated these changes they were going after some pretty common pests.
We know SEO has been packaged and sold to every online spammer and frantic marketing zealot out there –
“No wait, don’t leave this page! You can now get the front page of Google in 27 seconds for… no, not $697, not even $67, yes – you have just 14 seconds to buy at an amazing $27…
…oh, and a monthly fee of just $99… and in 14 seconds we will be taking down this offer foreeevvveeerrr!!!”
Yes, we have seen these so many times!
What this resulted in was huge quantities of spam masquerading as value-giving content. Marketers were writing a short, sub-standard piece then running it through an article spinner, then using submission software and Whammo! 1,000 back-link producing pieces of content at the press of a button! Or more! And front page results on Google! And traffic and sales!
As these practices became more and more prevalent it became increasingly obvious where this content was being published. The Google Webspam team identified what became known as “Content Farms”. For the most part these were low quality article and web 2.0 sites with thousands and thousands of pages. So they made a major change which saw these sites plunge from the front pages of Google to deep in the search results.
And this got the spammy content farms out of the picture… but the interesting part was who else was caught out by the change.
Ezine articles went from being seen as a highly respected, highly sought after article directory to being tagged a content farm overnight. Their traffic plunged by over 80% within 2 weeks – can you imagine what the drop in revenue from advertising must have been?
So they reacted – they vowed to remove all poor quality articles, to get rid of authors who didn’t reach a certain grade, to purge the site of articles with broken links, they even threatened to remove all link juice from the links in the resource boxes! (Not for long though – that would have been commercial suicide)
Other higher quality sites followed suit and tightened up submission rules and quality levels, I mean Google was supplying these sites with a massive amount of traffic and advertising revenue!
To be honest I have found indecipherable garbage on several of the main sites and I have seen multiple spun articles accepted by Ezine Articles as well, so they needed to pick up their game.
Now what does this all mean for article marketing? Is it gone as a marketing strategy?
Is article marketing pointless for search engine optimization companies?
Well, the answer is yes and no…
The days of identifying a low competition keyword then publishing an optimized article on the big article players and watching a couple of results for the same piece of content rank front page for different directories within days are gone! Leveraging the massive size of these sites will no longer give you the search engine positions you are looking for. You may place page 2 eventually if you are very lucky!
But the link power is still there. Correctly optimized articles can give you at least two anchor text links to your website. If these are great keywords and your site pages have been optimized correctly then this is still extremely valuable in SEO terms. The rules are still the same – steady, consistent, quality, structured and focused content publication strategies are still exactly what the search engines demand.
The change wasn’t anti-SEO, it was anti-SPAM!
And who benefits? The big winner on the day was quality blogs! Blogs which share expertise and quality information, analysis and opinions. Frequently updated and highly interactive blogs. Blogs by people with good authority scores on social media sites!
The truly gratifying thing is that the hordes of minimal effort, minimal training, minimal talent SEO cowboys have moved on to the next low effort – massive reward – get rich quick technique.
What do you think that might be?
Facebook marketing maybe?
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Mike Morgan works with innovative businesses in New Zealand and Australia developing custom web marketing strategies integrating SEO, Content Marketing and Social Media. Mike has been featured in 41 Rising Stars of SEO and Top 100 Most Followed SEO Experts on Twitter and has his opinions on SEO and Content Marketing published on a range of global content marketing blogs.