Google Strikes Back At Low Quality and Duplicate and Stolen Content

March 1, 2011 · 18 comments

in SEO

Two Recent Updates
To Google SERPS
Work in Favor of Bloggers.
(and punish Article Directories?)

Google updates its search ranking algorithm regularly in increasing efforts to produce high quality, original, organic, valid content results for visitors.

In two back-to-back changes Google has taken taken a massive efforts against two different types of low quality results – that may impact your business.

Bye Bye Thieves!

The first change, known to most as the “Scraper Update”, takes action against “scraper sites”  – which are usually autoblogging type sites that grab the content from sites they do not own and repost it. These sites were being terribly effective at outranking the original site with content that plagiarized and this was hurting bloggers both emotionally and financially.

This is actually a one-two punch for autoblogging sites as the “Scraper Update” is designed to drop their ranking while a change to the Google Adsense policy now official makes it clear that content theft will result in termination of the sites Adsense earnings.

Now if someone is re-hosting your copy-write protected content without permission and outside of the boundaries of the Fair Use policy, then visiting their site and checking for Adsense and reporting them for copyright violations becomes an effective way to fight back!

Reducing Low Quality Content

The second change, being called by many the “Farmer Update”, has the potential to be another helpful update but however has the possibility of a dangerous catch-22.

This change is currently USA only but being slow released to other countries.

So what’s the scoop? Essentially, Google wants to take large portion of sites producing “low quality content” out of the search results and has confirmed that as much as 12% of search results were affected by this.

This could possibly affect “content farms” (which Google denies) , article directories, and even regular bloggers whose sites are considered sub-par.

The impact on reducing article directories SEO value will be a game changer for many.

Of course, any site that takes lots of guest posts and is not strict about quality (several large ones come to mind) is also likely to be impacted. The same would be true of any bookmarking site that gives link juice automatically to every submitted link without a quality analysis of some sort (usually by peers).

What’s Hot vs What’s NOT!

The SISTRIX VisibilityIndex, a score of traffic on keywords, ranking and click-through rate on specific positions was used to create a list of the 25 biggest losers.

Here’s the top 12 as I feel they most accurately indicate what we’re seeing regarding article directories dropping like flies!

(Also note quite a few sites that republish content from other sites)

1    wisegeek.com
2    ezinearticles.com
3    suite101.com
4    hubpages.com
5    buzzle.com
6    associatedcontent.com
7    freedownloadscenter.com
8    essortment.com
9    fixya.com
10    americantowns.com
11    lovetoknow.com
12    articlesbase.com

Thoughts

QUALITY CONTENT is KEY!

Regarding the scraper site policies, all I can say is about damn time! I do suggest that you know your rights under copyright laws however.

A post that is slightly out of date now but full of all sorts of good ideas and discussion and talk about the subject is “Copyright Infringement – What Should You Do if Your Blog Post is Stolen?” by Sherryl Perry over at @KeepUpWeb.

The penalty to the vast number of article directories I feel is vastly overdue and I am thrilled to see them get out of the way in the search results in favor sites with high quality unique content on the home base of the author.

It will however have a major negative impact on those who have been doing article spinning for article marketing and link building!  As a long-time internet user, I’m not a fan of spun content for SEO. It works for the purpose of link building and can work for nonSEO reasons to put new eyes on similar content on different sites, but from a search engine results to my query it certainly will not be missed.

What are your thoughts on these changes and how they will impact your blog marketing strategy?

Thank in advance for sharing and tweeting this with others you think might find it useful!

Kimberly Castleberry
Your Partner In Online Success

PS: Enjoying all the SEO education and looking for more? Stay tuned for an upcoming SEO course I’ll be sharing!

PS: EzineArticles just released a major statement regarding their now-much-more-strict submission guidelines. 
http://blog.ezinearticles.com/2011/02/quality-matters.html

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18 comments
Micheline
Micheline

Heya! I just wanted to ask if yoս ever have aany trouble with hackers?

My last blig (wordpress) ѡas hacked and I ended up losing

several weeks of haqrd work due to no back up. Do you havе аny solutionѕ

too prevent hackers?

yui
yui

Good news to all blogger (i mean the one that make meaningful content huh). Google never really fails their follower. Thumbs up for this post.

jkar
jkar

I definitely with Google. Me too, I am so annoyed of the low quality and duplicated contents. It does not make sense to read the same content over and over again.

Greg
Greg

Kim I recently wrote you on Facebook about this topic. I have been extremely frustrated with EzineArticles. Even though they said my article was top quality they could not approve it. Why? Because it linked to a site owned or controlled by me and also because they can no lonher approve articles that link to sites/pages that are on topic, category or niche as the article? HUH???? Isn't that the idea of articles on there, that you link to your site/page and it used to be that the link had to point to something that was on topic????

I have chronicled my recent conflict with them (including the response by them at

I would love to have everyone read the post and leave me your thoughts.

Basam
Basam

It is true that contents are king. Ranking is for only those sites that have good contents or links from sites that have good contents. These links should be relative.

Cool New Gadgets
Cool New Gadgets

Ouch, so there goes that famous saying that 'quality content' is always the king right?

Alex
Alex

Hello Kim,

When others were talking about content is king some of them didn't agree now Google, although they have their own ulterior motives, have once again pointed out that if you have high quality content you will be golden.

But now I see an other problem, for example lets say you published heap loads of great unique, quality contents but some mischievous scrapper scrapper took some of your articles, he got indexed first because he had the bigger website and know google is taking your articles as the scrapped content. What can you do about it?

bilal
bilal

thanks Kimberly for sharing this change make by Google..keep up the nice work

Mitch Mitchell
Mitch Mitchell

I love how it's going after scraper blogs and content farms. I guess I hadn't thought of ezinearticles along the same line, though I've seen a lot of junk there as well from people just looking for that link back to their site.

Of course, the big implication is how they'll decide to view the rest of our blogs in general. I like to think that my one blog is written fairly well, but it doesn't have a defined niche. Does that make Google decide it's not relevant enough, even though I have lots of specifically relevant or educational posts, or do they just leave it alone, since I doubt I'd bump up in any fashion? Unsure, and I guess that's a problem in a way.

Brad
Brad

I wonder how this will impact sites with a high amount of reposted RSS content?

Julieanne van Zyl
Julieanne van Zyl

This is great news! And, thanks for describing it so well Kim! I remember a couple of years ago, I was competing with a couple of Articles on Ezinearticles.com for top position on a keyword I was optimizing my blog for. My blog would jump up and down, but the Ezine articles always won. It was very disappointing when I was so close.

Some Articles sites are (were? ) a great way to get highly ranked backlinks to your site. You can still write totally original articles for those sites, but it's going to be a LOT of work. And, if the sites don't have a high PR, then it's not worth all that work.

bye for now, Julieanne

Daniel
Daniel

Hi Kimberly, I am first time visitor of your blog and thought to say hello. It was truly a learning experience browsing your blog posts and articles. I am happy with this change brought by Google in ranking websites and blogs. But at the same time, I am also concerned like Tuan , the first commenter here, is about the original articles thinking whether they might be identified perfectly. Even, at times, I find some article posts of our company blog similar to that of the posts of other blogs relating to our business. I know ours is original because we have our own content writers.

Dr. Bob Clarke
Dr. Bob Clarke

Thanks, Kim for this great summary of the recent changes over at Google.

I think for bloggers who work hard at their craft and put out the quality content to the best of their ability, this is a win-win situation. On the flip side, I know many article marketers who are shaking in their boots right about now.

I used to do extensive article spinning to gain a foothold for certain valuable keywords in my niche. And it worked. But it always felt a little sleezy, like I was trying to beat the system without original thinking.

I guess we'll see how it plays out for sites like EzineArticles, and I know they are taking extensive action to compensate for the loss of traffic. It's a great site to submit quality articles, but I've seen many poor quality articles coming out of there as well.

It's my hope that this move by Google will be yet another push for marketers to clean up their act, stop trying to beat systems and just focus on providing great content for interested readers.

Tuan
Tuan

This is really a good news for authentic bloggers. I have seen some autoblogs get content from my site without permission and their posts are even ranked better than my original ones on Google SERPs.

Hopefully the new change will work well, I am afraid that it can be mistaken in determining original articles sometimes.

Kim Castleberry
Kim Castleberry

Any website can be hacked given enough persistence of the hacker. However, there are a lot of things you can do to make WordPress more secure. However, you should always have a very current backup that you have tested recently to ensure that the backup file actually works to restore from. Getting a regular backup - of both your database AND your contents - is where you should start.

Kim

Alex
Alex

Where does it go? I think it actually strengthens the concept that the content is king. Because with this actions google promotes those websites that write quality, unique content and buries those that copy it or write low quality, not useful content!

Kimberly Castleberry
Kimberly Castleberry

Alex this has been kinda the crux of the larger problem. This is why we are still concerned about how Google will determine which source was the originator. The same is kinda in line with our concern over what their definition of content farm is as that can look interestingly like an un-niched blog. There's a lot of questions here that we really don't know. One thing that comes to mind is that because most of the scraping is done via feed, that altering the site a bit to put a "delay" in the feed production from the post might become a much more prevalent idea. I already use a small delay because I tend to catch glaring errors AFTER I hit that publish button, but delaying the feed by hours, up to maybe 24hours, would be an interesting concept. That would not be feasable for sites that do "breaking news" but other sites it would not be such a big deal. At the end of the day we really dont know. We are certainly going to remain needing to file DCMA take down notices and adsense reportings of copywrite violations regardless.

I hope that gives you some ideas, I know its not really the answers we want to hear.

Kimberly

Kimberly Castleberry
Kimberly Castleberry

Once google sorts out how to tell which post was original, that is the end of those posts ranking twice. The site that is reposting will take a major "ding".

Kimberly