Does the Google algorithm update fight content farms?

As you already know, there have been some recent changes in Google algorithms aimed at providing better search results for Google searches. I have read various reports, blog posts and all sorts of nondescript stuff on it.

Some of the articles I went through say that the Google algorithm change is targeted against content farms that mass-produce highly search-relevant articles and other stuff including videos. It is argued that Google seeks to reduce the rankings of such sites, and bring high-quality original content on the top of Google search results.

Google search-users might not have felt the difference, because the change in the effect of the new algorithm may take some time, as new search indexing replaces the already indexed pages in the cache. As Google claims to improve the user-experience with every change in algorithms, most people are of the opinion that the change will produce better results by booting out content farms.

There are others who feel that it can turn out for the worse, because the search results that were way down the front pages of the SERPs may replace some of the top results. These can be sites that had low-quality content as determined by the previous Google algorithm updates.

If high-quality content comes up in the top searches, and Google actually reduces the relevance of content farms on top search results, the real beneficiaries will be those people who produce top quality original content, and it can include bloggers, journalists, researchers, and others who regularly bring out original content.

What are content farms?

First of all Google does not say that the new algorithm update is aimed against content farms. All it refers to is low-quality content. But most people in the know-of-things say that the change is aimed against content farms.

As the name suggests, content farms are websites that publish large quantity of content that are optimized for top search rankings, but the content may not be original, or of top quality. These companies aim at high advertising revenue, as they top in searches and get heavy organic traffic.

They usually hire content writers paying as low as $5 per article (of say 500 words); whereas a journalist or a content writer or copy-writer may charge in hundreds of dollars per article. But the people writing for content farms also make good amount of money by writing several articles a day from data collected from several original sources.

Such mass-produced articles are published by sites or companies that are known as content farms. Highly optimized content (because they too use some algorithms to find out the highly paying keywords using which the articles are written), coupled with large number of pages published by them help them come on top of the results for most of the high-paying keywords and keyword phrases. Such search results brings them huge advertising revenue.

How Copyscape views copied content

screen shot of copied content as shown by copyscape.com

Screen shot of copied content as shown by copyscape.com (CLICK to enlarge and read)

The day started rather funny for me, while checking my mail. There was a message from Twitter that @anshucute66 was following me, and when I clicked on the follower’s profile link, I got the message from Twitter, “Sorry, the profile you are trying to view has been suspended.” The suspended Twitter account belonged to www.hotlooks290.blogspot.com (referred to as HOT LOOKS in the rest of this article).

Out of curiosity, I typed the URL of HOT LOOKS at Copyscape.com and found 10 results that matched it. CLICK HERE to read the screen shot, or click this link

As the 10 links shown by Copyscape.com did not show who copied whom, I further checked every link shown by Copyscape and I summarize the results as below. If any of the links are wrongly quoted, I apologize for the mistake, and if the owner convinces me, I will make corrections.

So, here below are the final results:

  1. The first result showed a comparison of HOT LOOKS that said it has 698 words (16%) matching the content at www.wikihow.com/Be-a-Hot-Girl, and it seems the content from the Wiki was copied by HOT LOOKS and published as his/ her own content.
  2. The second result showed that HOT LOOKS has 437 words (10%) matching the page from modernghana.com and this site has partly reproduced an article from StevePavlina.com and the site has duly attributed ‘Steve Pavilon’ (Sic! Read it as Steve Pavlina), though a link back is not given to Steve. But why does HOT LOOKS match modernghana.com? Simple, both of them have matching content copied from Steve.
  3. The third result from Copyscape showed that HOT LOOKS contained 1,209 words (27%) matching a page from www.soulneeds.com. The percentage of words shown as copied is low because this author copied 2,715 words (88%) of the content from Steve’s article, but, the author honestly starts the post with the words “10 Reasons You Should Never Get a Job by Steve Pavlina, though he does not link back to Steve.
  4. At the fourth row comes the result that says HOT LOOKS has 1,065 words (24%) matching the content at MichaelCarwile.com. Michael Carwile, the publisher and author of this site gives a note at the end of the article that says, “The vast majority of this article is originally from StevePavlina.com. I have modified it a bit to fit my needs here”. And he has duly and honestly given the credit (link back) to Steve.
  5. Fifth in Copyscape’s scanner comes that HOT LOOKS has 1,338 words (30%) of the page from TheOxfordChristian.blogspot.com. The author of this Blogger blog is honest and starts the copied content with the note that says “Friday, 21 January 2011- ’10 Reasons You Should Never Get a Job’”, and honestly attributes the article to Steve with a link back to his article.
  6. The sixth that Copyscape comes up with is that HOT LOOKS has 961 words (22%) of the content from the article at MySecretMarketingSource.com. This site has copied 2,733 words (88%) of the article from Steve, but interestingly this site neither mentions the source, nor credits Steve, pretending that the content is their own.
  7. The seventh case of HOT LOOKS matching another site is 1,211 words (27%) of the article at WillBlogForFood.typepad.com which has duly and honestly attributed to Steve’s article.
  8. The next matching result shows HOT LOOKS has 1,338 words (30%) of Steve’s article at his own site StevePavlina.com. It is only 30% because HOT LOOKS did not want to copy all the 3230 words (approximately) from Steve, but copied only the beginning paragraphs, making it 100% copied content, without any attribution and giving the impression that it is his/her own content.
  9. As the ninth case Copyscape quotes HOT LOOKS having copied 1,095 words (25%) of the page at HighExistence.com, which has 2,834 words (48%) matching Steve’s article. The article starts with the words “Note: This was originally published by blogger Steve Pavlina and is the first “guest post” on HE’”. Interestingly, though he calls it a guest post, he gives no link back to Steve. Did Steve write for HE? Or, is it just copied and published? (He may do so, as Steve may not mind.)
  10. 10 And the 10th case of copying by HOT LOOKS shown by Copyscape links to a forum, which is inconsequential (only 121 words matching 3% of the forum page), and has irrelevant, random or scattered words.

So, the outcome is that HOT LOOKS, copied from a Wiki and Steve, or the other sources that copied from Steve. These may not constitute legal problems, though search engines may treat them as copied content.

But why was HOT LOOKS suspended by Twitter?

How to use content from StevePavlina.com

Steve Pavlina, one of the most respected and popular bloggers and an entrepreneur, who gets about 10 million visitors per month to his site, has released his copyrights and released his articles/ other materials to the public domain on December 15th, 2010, and allows anyone to use them. But, definitely, he does not like plagiarism as he explains at his page on copyright. If anyone is interested in using his content, it would be proper to visit his site and use the contents, as he describes in his site.

So, the final question is, if the article in question is in the public domain, what is wrong in copying and using them? Nothing wrong, but consider the following:

  • The articles/ contents were placed on public domain only on Dec 15, 2010, where as many of the articles quoted above were published earlier than that day, and some of them even do not link back or give credit to the original source. It is definitely wrong.
  • If allegations of plagiarism come up, both Steve and the person who copies contents may have problems, and Steve has clarified that he does not want that. So always quote the original source that allowed you to publish with a proper link back. Do not make minor changes and try to present the articles as your own content.
  • Search engines always treat duplicate content as DUPLICATE and you will not get credits and you may even be penalized.
  • The person who copies content from others illegally is cheating his visitors who come to his site for good content, if he does not disclose the original source.

Building Affiliate Marketing Websites The Easy Way

There are some myths in affiliate marketing, which attract a lot of people to it believing they are true. First is they think managing an online business is easy and second, they think that one can make a fortune through online marketing in an instant. Probably not even 10% of those who are into affiliate marketing became rich overnight. There may be some who fortunately achieved overwhelming success in just a short span of time after setting up an affiliate program, but not a majority of them can confidently say they only had luck. Anyone who is successful in this kind of business would say he worked hard to get to where he is right now. Success in affiliate marketing takes time and hard work, but it’s worth it.

If you are planning to start an affiliate program, one of the things you have to consider is having your own website, not just an ordinary website but a professional looking one. How do you build an affiliate marketing website? What are the easy steps to build one? First, you must have already decided on the theme or niche of your website. It would be better if you already have an idea what products or services to promote as this would help you plan the design and lay-out of your web pages. The next thing to do is to choose a domain name and get it hosted. The domain name is a unique name used to label the actual address of your website on the Internet. In deciding what domain name to register, look into the type of products you are endorsing and the theme of your site. Having the right keywords in your domain name would give you better chances of drawing more visitors to your website. Also, choose a top level domain or extension, such as .com because it is more popular. In selecting your web host, consider the security of servers and up time guarantees.

Now, you can start creating your webpages. Don’t be disheartened when you know a little in this field. There are page generation tools and fast launch sites available online; you just have to search for them. Countless online sources could help you build an affiliate marketing website, though you might need time to study and learn the whole process. This is one of the reasons why your site or the products you are going to promote must match your interest. Building your marketing website for the first time would be a lot more fun if you know very well the theme of your site. If you don’t have time to make your own website, you can use templates or purchase readily available websites. The latter, however, is a more expensive option. Creating an affiliate website on your own would be cheaper and more interesting. In the process of building your website, you may also increase your knowledge in Information Technology and the use of computers, softwares and the Internet. As you educate yourself in these fields, you are increasing your advantage against other affiliate marketers. It helps a lot, though, if you already know the basics in web page development like programming languages and graphics softwares because you can make your site extra corporate-looking, more convenient to use or easier to navigate. Furthermore, if you are knowledgeable and skillful in this area, you can already concentrate more on the content of the page rather than the design.

The key to draw visitors to your website is to have high quality content; thus, the next thing you must pay attention to in building your marketing website is this. There may be several other factors that contribute to the success of your affiliate marketing site, but a good content tops the list. This is precisely the reason why users choose to enter your site. They want to get information and so when they don’t find it, they would definitely go elsewhere. Write interesting articles related to your theme as this would make them frequent your site. If you have already looked for affiliate programs that complement your site, add links to the business sites and other very good informative sites. Links contribute to how well you will be listed in major search engines as well. Also, create pages for the products you are endorsing, but don’t just promote the products by putting hyped-up ads. Keep your readers interested by injecting lots of relevant and useful information. This would make them click the link to the business site and buy the product. Remember that no good content means no frequent visitors, no sales and ultimately, no commission.

Make your site simple yet not without a touch of class in order to make it appear more of a business website rather than a personal website. This would be pleasing to the eyes and more interesting to browse. To help you with the design, you can check some successful online stores to get an idea on how you can make your site look better. Make sure you don’t place too many banner ads since these could distract some site users; and thus, instead of clicking your ad, they might just leave your site and look for other interesting websites. After all, banner ads are not the only means of advertising your products. Now your website is complete, submit its URL to major search engines to increase your traffic.

Grow from where you started. Learn about use of keywords for search engine optimization and apply them in your content. Update your site regularly or add new webpages. Make sure to inform your prospects about the latest updates in your site. You can use newsletters to accomplish this. The Internet offers a huge source of information about just anything, make use of it. Continue to educate yourself on how to improve your website and soon you’ll find yourself successful in affiliate marketing.