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Major Google Update (24th April) - The END of mini-sites

Discussion in 'Google' started by spycraft, Apr 26, 2012.

  1. #1
    I have been involved in the industry for the past 4 years. Been doing SEO very successfully for the past 2 years. I had about 100 sites with 80 in the first page for their terms and the other 20 in the first couple of pages. I made most of my money through Adsense until July last year when I was banned for no reason - no need to debate about that.. it's not the purpose of this thread. Around the same time, most of my sites' rankings dropped by a lot. It was one of the Panda updates - I survived most of the Panda changes (they started rolling them out in Feb) but this one had hit me. So, I concentrated on only a few of my sites that had retained their rankings and switched them from Adsense to various Affiliate offers. I was almost back in the game until the 24th.
    SEMrush
    I was concentrating on a handful of sites, adding some more unique content, making some good backlinks and watching their rankings get higher and higher. On the 24th, one of my sites that has been 1st for the past year and a half went down to the 3rd page - another that was 1st for the past 3 years went down to 6th - another that has been 1st or 2nd for the past 3 years went down to 5th - another from 4th to 50th etc etc.

    ALL of my sites have now been hit. All but one. I recently started a much larger project - a site with 1000s of pages - and on the 24th, my traffic doubled, and I started ranking for a BUNCH of new keywords.

    Now here are some stats about the old sites. All 100 of them were similarly made - they had the following characteristics:

    1) Wordpress with a customized or semi-customized theme

    2) About 10-20 articles - a few on the main keyword and a few more on related keywords (ie. a few articles about blue widgets, and a few more about large blue widgets, blue cheap widgets, etc)

    3) ALL had 100% unique and useful content

    4) Linkbuilding
    a) Social Bookmarking
    b) Article Marketing (ONLY unique content.. nothing spun or anything like that - ONLY on select big directories - ONLY submitted manually)
    c) A couple of Press Releases
    d) Web 2.0 properties - no link wheels.. only with unique content
    e) Social Media - ALL had a Facebook page, Twitter profile, and YouTube channel
    f) A few comments - nothing substantial
    g) Some had a few link exchanges - ONLY 3-way

    For all the above, I varied the anchor text and I made links to both the homepage and the inner pages of the sites. I never made loads of links in a short period of time or submitted the same articles over and over again - everything was unique, everything was done manually, and everything was done on a specific timeline/schedule to ensure that the linkbuilding profiles looked as natural as possible.


    In other words, and PLEASE correct me if I am wrong, I did everything "by the book" and yet almost all of my sites were hit, and then hit again.

    But here is the interesting part - my new site, a site with 1000s of pages (it's a business directory in case you are wondering) got a boost from that latest Google update. The site is made on Wordpress but it has a completely unique, fully customized design. It has roughly about 30 pages with unique content and the rest are just listings and categories with business info that can be found elsewhere. The same linkbuilding methods were used for it, but to a MUCH MUCH larger extent. While I made a few comments for the old, small sites, I made MANY comments for this one - and the same goes for every other linkbuilding technique.. everything was done much more extensively since it is a MUCH larger project.

    So, what is my take on this? Google is "killing" all the small guys, and is boosting the big boys.

    Furthermore, and maybe the most important point to take out of all this.. The old sites were blogs with articles about certain products/services. For example, I have a site about large handbags - I don't actually sell large handbags, I just write about them. In other words, chances are that the people who were landing on my sites after searching for the product/service that I was writing about did NOT get what they were looking for. I am referring to "search intent" - an area that Google has been concentrating on for the past year or so.

    If I search for cheap large handbags, chances are that I want to BUY a cheap large handbag.. I would maybe appreciate some advice on where to buy it from (which is what you would find on my sites) BUT I would much rather land on a site that actually sells what I am looking for. Makes sense right?

    In my new project, the directory, I am giving visitors exactly what they are searching for (business contact info), but in my old sites, I was just giving information and advice about products/services when people wanted to actually buy those products/services. In short, my sites were not what people where looking for, and I think that this is why they got hit.

    What is your take on the update? To me, it seems as if Google is destroying all the middlemen... the small sites. More specifically:

    1) If you don't actually sell a product -> you are not what the searchers are looking for -> you shouldn't be ranked in the first page.
    2) If you sell products through affiliates -> you are not the original source of the product -> you shouldn't be ranked in the first page (the original seller should)
    3) If you only have a few STRONG links -> you are not good enough -> you shouldn't be ranked in the first page for any term with decent search volume (long tail, short tail or anything) -> a BIGGER site is better overall, so they should be ranked before you.

    I want to hear your thoughts about everything. My whole business was based on mini-sites and my whole business is hurting right now - all but the new project. Is it the same for everyone?

    P.S. Please don't waste your time in this thread with comments like "quality content is now more important than ever" or "keep building quality links" and things like that. We keep saying the same things over and over again for the past however many years SEO has existed.. Remember that I am not some sort of a newbie who doesn't know what they are talking about. I have been around for a while and I know what we were "supposed" to do and what was to be avoided.. But things are changing.. so let's concentrate on understand what the **** happened on the 24th and how we can move forward :)
     
    spycraft, Apr 26, 2012 IP
    stock_post likes this.
    SEMrush
  2. holkapolka

    holkapolka Well-Known Member

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    #2
    I heard from some seo people that it doesnt matter.. but i have never ranked #1 on any "one page sites" and such type sites ive only made recently last half year or so.
     
    holkapolka, Apr 26, 2012 IP
  3. spycraft

    spycraft Member

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    #3
    It didn't use to matter - a "one page site" could rank for a term if it was built properly. I don't know if that's the case anymore though.. and I don't know how your post is relevant to this thread.
     
    spycraft, Apr 26, 2012 IP
  4. dungdenvn

    dungdenvn Well-Known Member

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    #4
    1) If you don't actually sell a product -> you are not what the searchers are looking for -> you shouldn't be ranked in the first page.
    2) If you sell products through affiliates -> you are not the original source of the product -> you shouldn't be ranked in the first page (the original seller should)
    3) If you only have a few STRONG links -> you are not good enough -> you shouldn't be ranked in the first page for any term with decent search volume (long tail, short tail or anything) -> a BIGGER site is better overall, so they should be ranked before you.

    I have no idea about what you said is true but I can guarantee 3 things listed above have nothing to do with this google update since lot of spam site (Yeah I mean spam) still on top of me. The site with no content but just a few page. No idea how they did it but they did it.
     
    dungdenvn, Apr 26, 2012 IP
  5. dynamicsoul

    dynamicsoul Member

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    #5
    Spycraft.. I think you have answered your own question really.

    A great original post, and you higlighted the exact reason why Google are rolling out all these updates.

    They want to make search better, faster and for the end user - actually useful. By allowing sites that actually sell what the person is looking for come up higher, rather than a site that only "writes" about what the person is looking for, or provides affiliate links to the site that the person is looking for, is more useful, a better result for the end user.

    You said yourself that the new larger project you have taken on is providing exactly what people are looking for, listings of businesses that provide a certain service they need. This sort of site should do well for those searches and rank high.

    Google are not going to continue to allow sites that are not providing a "real" use to the top of results anymore.

    Those who reply and say that there are still spammy sites ranking above them, be assured that as the updates roll out throughout the rest of the year, they will most likely be taken down one by one. Some websites will have different characteristics to others and get missed on this update but caught next time, some will always slip through the net. But instead of trying to find the holes in Googles net and contantly be swimming against the tide, webmasters now need to look for an area in which they can actually provide a service, provide a site that searchers need, provide something that people want to come back to and use again.

    Not just a 2 - 3 page Wordpress blog with articles, adverts and a boat load of backlinks..
     
    dynamicsoul, Apr 26, 2012 IP
  6. petyard

    petyard Well-Known Member

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    #6
    they are not boosting big websites..probably your website, being newer, was not hit this time, give it a month or 2 and you will see how it goes in the next update..they clearly have no clue what they're doing anymore..
     
    petyard, Apr 26, 2012 IP
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  7. dbinto

    dbinto Well-Known Member

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    #7
    Spycraft,

    Great post and thanks for a good case study using your actual experience.

    My best example is my site has been sitting number three for months getting decent traffic. It had a few pages of content and was not updated that often. It mostly had tech forum backlinks. The site was well aged (three years).

    It moved down to six but whats interesting is that all big "brand" names moved up ahead of my site. The sites that moved up are strong websites.

    I think that some sites using non-related content links within blog networks got slapped hardest.

    All the best,
    Dave
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2012
    dbinto, Apr 26, 2012 IP
  8. Claudek

    Claudek Well-Known Member

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    #8
    Claudek, Apr 26, 2012 IP
  9. lapseo

    lapseo Member

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    #9
    At the end of the day it doesnt matter whether you sell a product or write information about it, as long as your page provides the user what he/she is looking for, then you will be fine. If you write information about a product and target kewords that a user would be likely looking to buy, then yes you are going to get hit. If you write information about a product and target kewords that a user would be looking for information about that product then you wont get hit as you are providing the end user with what they are looking for.

    You'll find google use bouce rate as a ranking factor now and if your bounce rate is high then you site will likely drop. So in my opinion it doesnt matter whether you have a small site or a big site, as long as your website is useful to the end user you will be fine.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2012
    lapseo, Apr 26, 2012 IP
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  10. dynamicsoul

    dynamicsoul Member

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    #10
    For instance, one of my main sites has went up in traffic, although I can't see any movement in main keywords (infact one is down two places).. but it provides a service and I put a lot of time and effort into it.

    It's a currency portal. I pay for my own live currency rates feed, I had a unique design done, I had a guy on elance set up my feeds and populate pages with current rates, currency converters (built using Ajax and PHP), I serve relevant content to each currencies page in the form of unique news (I pay a content writer each month to write 20 news items), I pull in twitter feeds and other stuff via APIs to each currencies page to create further content.. and encourage users to bookmark, share etc each page..

    I have a good natural following on Facebook and twitter.. I have even set up Twitter accounts so users can get a Tweet every hour for a certain currency.. which is all automated..

    The site does well.. and has consistantly brought in mid $XXXX per month in adsense and revenue share .. for nearly 3 years now since starting to rank well.

    All in all the site cost me around $2000 to design/code and set up running properly.. as I can't code all the backend stuff on my own so had to pay for it.. and costs around $150 a month to host and add the content.. I rarely backlink to it, I initially paid for listings in about 15 high quality directories, including Yahoo directory and Business.com, other backlinks have come naturally from users.. but overall this is a small price to pay to have a site that is providing a service users want and need..
     
    dynamicsoul, Apr 26, 2012 IP
  11. dicksonwoo

    dicksonwoo Well-Known Member

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    #11
    Thank you for your info anyway
     
    dicksonwoo, Apr 26, 2012 IP
  12. scoobby

    scoobby Active Member

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    #12
    The most accurate view of the update i have read so far....
    Maybe some other users can point out some more factors for this update so we can handle it and make our sites better,and with google love again..
     
    scoobby, Apr 26, 2012 IP
  13. stubsy

    stubsy Well-Known Member

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    #13
    Google has gone mad, I have several sites in the same niche one is about 4 years old the others are about 6 months.

    My 4 yr old one got slapped in october then it came back in January and was doing better than before. It had about 200 first page rankings

    Now slapped from 1st to 5th place for it's biggest term and dropping, one site outranking it has the meta description saying under construction :confused:

    My newer sites are outranking it on certain terms aswell

    Google are not helping anyone with these search updates, it's just a way to try and get more people paying for adwords
     
    stubsy, Apr 26, 2012 IP
  14. Valkerie

    Valkerie Well-Known Member

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    #14
    I've been on 4 different forums. The only solid conclusion everyone has reached is that Google is still working the bugs out of this update. The SERPS are a mess right now. EMDs are all over the place, with mini-sites rising or falling, depending on who you are talking to. Before you can do anything, you need to let the rankings settle, which they haven't done yet.

    Analysis is useless if your rankings are rising and falling hourly - which a lot of them are doing.

    As far as your assumptions 1-3 LOL.
    1. Reviews of products should place well, since most people want to know if a product works before they buy it. And some sellers spam their product sites so much Google has no trust in them. While I shouldn't be able to outrank Amazon for Amazon - I should be able to outrank a clickbank product, if I'm not regurgitating their sales copy.

    2. Affiliates often have information the original site doesn't have, so ranking on the first page shouldn't be an issue.

    3. If you can put all your info in a 2,000 word article, why shouldn't you rank as well as a site which parses info into ten 200 word pages. (Flipping from page to page with constant video ads annoys me to no end.) If you have fresh, relevant info on a subject, with a few strong links ... you should rank better than someone with a thousand spammy links. A site that has better quality AND a better link profile in terms of quality AND more pages with relevant info should rank better. Just bigger means nothing.

    Of course, this is just my opinion and not the way Google actually works.

    With the negative SEO scandal spreading, Google is looking to put more emphasis on links from social sites with real profiles and people who actually interact. That is the future update which scares the sh*t out of me.

    In the meantime, the only search result I look at constantly is "search engine." If Google's not in the number one spot for this result, (they are #8,) the SERPS are still being adjusted.
     
    Valkerie, Apr 26, 2012 IP
  15. ashleyjohn2347

    ashleyjohn2347 Peon

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    #15
    Thanks for such an informative article.
     
    ashleyjohn2347, Apr 27, 2012 IP
  16. dropcatchsell

    dropcatchsell Active Member

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    #16
    Wondering if folks could clarify something for me . . .

    Are these sites being delisted completely, or are they just now ranking a bit lower?
     
    dropcatchsell, Apr 27, 2012 IP
  17. Greg79

    Greg79 Member

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    #17
    Wow this thread is complicated but really interesting. It sounds like Chinese to me, it shows I have lots to learn!
     
    Greg79, Apr 27, 2012 IP
  18. danasurvey

    danasurvey Well-Known Member

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    #18
    Panda updates have been hitting a lot of people and their sites hard. If you read through this forum, there are unfortunately 100's if not 1,000's of posts about this.
     
    danasurvey, Apr 27, 2012 IP
  19. katy2005

    katy2005 Member

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    #19
    I don't know why my quality site disappeared and a rubbish spam site(copied content) made for adsense rank #1 for many keywords.
     
    katy2005, Apr 27, 2012 IP
  20. optimizer

    optimizer Member

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    #20
    It is now the worst kept secret that Google seems to push its own assets through updates...YouTube , which has become the spammers den , is topping in video results..Focus is to rank bigger guys in organic results who pay heavy via ad-words..Google is going Microsoft way...
     
    optimizer, Apr 28, 2012 IP