You know, many of us have been griping over the last six weeks about the Google algorithm changes that ended up killing our traffic. Some folks, like our buddy Carl have brought up what Google said the algorithm changes were based on and how they were trying to eliminate bad linking, bad SEO and the like. Some people even speculated that it had to do with bad grammar, something I totally disputed and shot out of the water here.
by Jonathan Assink via Flickr
People have kind of lost their minds. Goodness, I think I lost my mind for a short period there, and obviously I’ve talked about it more than I care to even think. But now I think there’s a new way of talking about this thing, and though I’m not totally sure I agree with everything that I’m going to mention in this post, I do think there’s something to some of it if we look at things with a more critical eye.
For me, this all started by reading a post by a guy named James Hussey, who writes a blog called The Average Genius. He wrote a post titled Why Google Penguin Mauled My Sites and What To DO About It, which I found fascinating and commented on. He wrote back and expressed his opinion on what I said, then he said this: “So stay tuned. The conversation gets really, really interesting.”
That looked good and intriguing, and it then lead to this post which is titled Does Google Really Reward Quality, Original Content? An Interview With AsktheBuilder Tim Carter. This is a seminal post, great post, and one to really make you think. It includes an audio file with a guy named Tim Carter, who has a website called Ask The Builder, which of course you saw above. I’m going to give you some highlights of the audio file, but I think you should both read the post and listen to the file, which is about an hour long, for more detail.
In essence, Tim was the perfect Google guy. He started his site before Google came around, and he’s made tons of money online. When Google came around he added Adsense and made a lot of money off that as well. He’s not a guy who ever got into any of the SEO stuff that many other people did, including me to a certain extent. He was held up as the poster boy for how to do things right by Google. They wrote reports using him as an example. They invited him to seminars to talk about his success in working with them. He even went to Congress on their behalf once, talking about how things worked with him and the fairness of it all.
What happened to the poster boy? Panda and Penguin went through and he lost 70% of his traffic. Bad linking? Nope. Bad content? Nope. Pretty much overnight his website, which means his business, took a major hit. Well now, how does one reconcile that based on what Matt Cutts and company said the update was there to do? How do you crush your poster boy, who never did any of the stuff you said you were going after, in such a convincing fashion?
Now, I had to think about this for a bit, and I want to address a couple of points before I go forward. I wrote a post on April 30th wondering where my web traffic went. I indicated that this blog lost traffic and my business blog lost traffic as well. I mentioned that my finance blog stayed the same and that my SEO blog went up barely.
Well, those aren’t the total truths. Yes, this blog’s traffic suffered, and my business blog’s traffic suffered, which also took down my main business website. But within a couple of weeks traffic on my finance blog started jumping, and my SEO blog traffic almost doubled. My local blog stayed the same, and I hadn’t mentioned that one before.
Here’s the thing. I do the same thing on all the blogs. I do my internal linking, I link to the words that seem to make sense to link to, and I do it on all the blogs. I also link to external sources and, when appropriate, use keywords. Yet out of 4 blogs only 2 suffered; what’s that about?
My theory was actually addressed by Tim in the interview. I thought that there was some kind of adjustment against older websites. Indeed, my business blog has been around since 2002, but then again this blog started in 2007, my SEO website didn’t come around until 2007, and my finance site in 2008. This was and still in my top ranking site, but my business site was actually doing really well at one point. I had talked about my medical billing site, which has only been around since 2009, and traffic there jumped as well; my Adsense money on that site has started to increase since the updates went through.
So, was it age? That’s what I thought, which Tim touched upon, but obviously it doesn’t work across the board. But Tim also touched upon something else, that being that Google has made some changes that aren’t necessarily algorithm changes, yet after the algorithm changes helps to enhance what they’d done.
One, they added the G+, which in their way makes websites where your friends, or at least people you know, that have G+’d something takes higher priority than other links used to. Two, they’ve gone out of their way to make local companies and websites come up more than websites that aren’t from the area for many things.
Tim found that many topics he used to be number one for on Google were gone, and often he wasn’t found on the first 5 to 10 pages of a Google search. He also found that some pages that were suddenly ranking higher than him were actually using his content in some fashion; wasn’t that supposed to be something Google was protecting us all from, that someone would rank higher for content we produced first?
If you know what this is
you’ll understand the metaphor
of why it’s here now
In essence, the “reality” we were given doesn’t seem to real anymore. What some of us were doing for SEO is just fine; it has nothing to do with how we linked, or broken links, or good or bad content. It has to do with supporting some things Google’s been working on in the background. One last thing Tim mentions in the interview is how suddenly more large companies, those that are actually paying Google, are ranking higher than those of us providing pretty good content. I can’t prove this one, as I tested some search terms and didn’t see that.
Anyway, Tim is irked to say the least, and he’s got some other conspiracy theories he talks about. He’s also getting ready to go postal in his own way, as he’s going on a big congressional campaign to get an investigation going into Google. Seems he’s not alone, as James also advocates this on his blog post. Not that there isn’t already someone in Congress that wants to look into this but these guys are serious.
What’s my stand on all of this?
One, I stick by my premise in another post that some companies like Google are getting too big for our own good.
Two, I think there was a different goal in mind that penalizing people for “bad SEO”, which is actually the type of SEO Google themselves told us to do years ago. I believe this as much as I believe Pacquaio beat Bradley Saturday night. By the way, in case you were wondering about the image above, that’s people playing Dodgeball, which I relate to this because I think Google dodged the truth.
Three, I think losing your mind and deciding to write to Congress is a major waste of time for the majority of us. Then again, if I’d lost as much money as Tim I might have a different mindset on this one.
Four, I still think you should read James’ post and listen to the interview he did with Tim because it will get you thinking and maybe you’ll come up with something else.
And five, I think this is proof that we all just need to continue doing what we were doing, especially in producing the best content we can, because in the long run we’re going to still attract traffic and visitors, whether it comes from Google, Bing, Yahoo, or our own efforts in driving traffic to our sites, and it’s imminently more important to spend time producing that worrying about the why’s and how’s of it all.
And there’s always The Duck. 😉
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