Friday, March 4, 2011

It's Not So Sweet in Suite-land

On February 23rd or 24th, Google changed their main ranking algorithms. Over years and months Google had figured out that a lot of web content wasn't really original content. Unscrupulous writers had "scraped" material from other sites, typically reputable sites, and passed it off on their own sites as if it were original material. So search for any subject, and you would find that a lot of it was the same. News site JKM had the exact same words as the New York Times. PQR Blog was identical to Wikipedia. And they all could rank high in a Google search engine results page (SERP).

Google knew it was long overdue to fix this. And fix it they did—or, from some perspectives, break it—in a new ranking algorithm last week. The objective was to weed out the scrapers and weed out the content farms from ranking high in the SERPs. By content farm, I mean those sites that hire a bunch of writers to rush out loads of low quality articles—400 hasty words about something popular. Get it posted, get the ads automatically running, get readers finding the pages then clicking on ads. Money into the coffers., where I have 127 articles posted, is a site that many consider a content farm. The writers of it would beg to differ, however. Yes, we have a lot of poor writing on there. Some is from native English speakers but a lot is from ESL people who have trouble with smooth composition. The writers who hang out in the Suite writers forum don't think of ourselves as a content farm.

Google disagrees. We've been hurt bad by the algorithm change. You can see the graph accompanying this post, which shows my page views cut in half since the Google change. My articles didn't change and I haven't added any for about three weeks. Whether they were good, bad, or indifferent quality, they didn't change. But Suite now has less "Google juice", and my page views are suffering. It's a little to early to know if my revenues have taken a similar hit. They're down, but they fluctuate enough that they might just be on the low side of normal. It's going to take another week or two till I know about revenues.

What to do? I never made a lot there anyhow. I enjoyed writing the type of articles I wrote there, however. Whether it's done anything toward establishing my writer's platform I don't know, but I suppose not if it has now been relegated to the bush league. Plus, if I'm going to self-publish my stuff, the platform carries less importance.

I'm so into writing Documenting America right now, and so close to finishing, and have so many other writing projects begun, under research, or cued up, that a hiatus from Suite might be a good thing. Let's see how it all shakes out in a week.

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