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Are You An Echo?

by PotPieGirl on October 13, 2011 · 70 comments

Post image for Are You An Echo?

Are You an Echo?

Yes, I repeated that twice… it was an echo (just me entertaining myself…lol). But let’s talk about being an “echo” online. What do you think that means? To me, it was something I promised myself I would NOT be with my blog and my “PotPieGirl” work online.

I refuse to be an echo.

How about you?

There is so much noise online. It really amazes me at times how LOUD the internet can be. Now that social media like Twitter and FaceBook are mainstream, the noise is overwhelming at times. When I spent a week or so researching for my Google Panda survival post, it became so painfully evident to me that much online IS an echo.

When the latest release of Panda was confirmed, the same story was repeated on many, many sites. Very few had anything new to add to it. Very few even gave the details in a unique voice. Just the same ol’ information on another page on the internet. The web pages I linked to were ones that made ME think. Gave me something new to ponder…another piece of the puzzle.

I’ve heard people refer to being an echo as “Me Too Marketing”. That pretty much means that one doesn’t add anything original to the subject. They read what someone else thinks about the topic, post that info on their site, and are pretty much saying “Me too”.

News sites do it all the time – but how many of us are running news websites?

On my Panda Survival post, someone said this at the beginning of his comment:


“Always love your ability to formulate your own opinions about things Jennifer, and not merely jump on the bandwagon so to speak!”

(thank you, Joseph!)

But at the end of the day, isn’t that what I am supposed to do? Have my own opinion? Formulate my own thoughts told in my own voice? Stay OFF the bandwagon?

And then Allan said (thank you):

“Jennifer, that’s one of the most well researched, well thought out and useful posts I’ve read in a long time!”

Again, isn’t that what I am supposed to do?

I read a great post over at the SEO-Theory.com blog called “My Links are Better Than Your Links“. In that post, Michael says:

When you’re marketing on the Web you have to divide your time between three basic activities:

1. Creating content
2. Telling people about your content
3. Using your content to tell people about your content

And I agree, that is what we do.

But I think that we get so caught up in doing those three main things that we easily slip into becoming yet another “echo” online – especially with affiliate marketing.

How many times have you used Google to get some info on a product and find that most – or all – of the Page 1 results all have the same information on them? Heck, many times the sites even LOOK the same.

When you’re researching a new niche to get in, do you ever type your target keyword into Google and really LOOK at each web page on Page 1?

It amazes me how many people do NOT do this.

We are taught to worry about keyword research,how many results we get when we put the keyword in quotes, who is using the phrase in their title tag, what kind of keyword density the pages have, what kind of Page Rank does the competition have, and alllllll those other things that enable us to gauge “competition”.

But we are never told to really LOOK at each page.

There’s a reason a web page ranks #1 – and no, “quality” is not always the reason. Back links can totally get you to #1 – but getting to #1 doesn’t mean you’ll make money…and being on Page 1 definitely puts you front and center for a manual review. Manual reviews are done by people, right?

In my last Google Panda post, I talked about two case study sites. I told everyone what the top 10 results for a keyword search for one of those target keywords looks like NOW.

No, it wasn’t great. The product owner had 3 listings from 3 different domains in the top 10 – and all 3 were pretty much an echo of the others.

Then there were a few affiliate sites that also echoed what the product site said.

And then, there were 2 forum threads that ranked on page 1. One of the threads was from 2005…the other from 2006.

It baffled me how a search engine that prides itself on fresh new content could be putting years-old forum threads on Page 1 – and I’m seeing this more and more often lately in other query spaces.

But then it hit me -

Know what people do when they type to others in a forum situation?

They just talk – each in their own unique voice. No one (for the most part) is trying to sell anything…no one is trying to “optimize” their post – they are just talking.

Forum posts tend to NOT be an echo.

Forum posts tend to share people’s genuine thoughts on a topic. They tend to start with someone asking a question – and then lots of people give their unique answers.

Echo-free.

(unless, of course, the forum allows affiliate or promotional links in the signature line…then the echos DO happen)

I’d like each of you to really LOOK at your affiliate sites…. then really LOOK at those that rank in the Top 10…

Are you an echo?

Are you bringing anything new to the table or are you just repeating the features and benefits that the sales page has?

Does your site even LOOK different than the other sites?

Does your site scream “Affiliate Site!!!!” within seconds of the page loading on your screen?

I am not pointing fingers here at all. Trust me, I am guilty of it too!

Do you know what questions manual reviewers at Google are asked to answer when they look at a web page? (thanks Rach)

Here they are – straight from the Official Google Blog (I’m spacing these out well so we can each REALLY read them):

  • Would you trust the information presented in this article?

  • Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?

  • Does the site have duplicate, overlapping, or redundant articles on the same or similar topics with slightly different keyword variations?

  • Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?

  • Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?

  • Are the topics driven by genuine interests of readers of the site, or does the site generate content by attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?

  • Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?

  • Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?

  • How much quality control is done on content?

  • Does the article describe both sides of a story?

  • Is the site a recognized authority on its topic?

  • Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?

  • Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?

  • For a health related query, would you trust information from this site?

  • Would you recognize this site as an authoritative source when mentioned by name?

  • Does this article provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?

  • Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?

  • Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?

  • Does this article have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content?

  • Would you expect to see this article in a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?

  • Are the articles short, unsubstantial, or otherwise lacking in helpful specifics?

  • Are the pages produced with great care and attention to detail vs. less attention to detail?

  • Would users complain when they see pages from this site?

  • Pretty heavy list, isn’t it?

    And when I think about YouTube ranking so well…. yeah, I get a bit confused…lol. Not to sound like a fast food commercial asking “Where’s the Beef?” – but Where’s the Articles? (but that’s a post for another day. Besides, Google has their hands full with government agencies as they try to defend that they don’t favor Google-owned properties in their organic results).

    Back to the list of questions…

    I can tell you first hand that I have plenty of sites that would get blasted to no-where land in the Google SERPs if a manual reviewer ever came around…ugh!

    Then I have others that while they don’t LOOK pretty, the content is good.

    And no, I’m not going to say the content is good because “it’s unique” – unique content is not enough anymore.

    On those sites I actually took some time to learn about the topic – and then took what *I* learned and wrote it in my own unique voice. As I’ve said before – if *I* learn something, I feel good about what I write. That’s like my “litmus” test for writing in markets I am not familiar with.

    In that content, I didn’t say what I thought others wanted to hear… I also didn’t say the things that would be found on a sales page, either.

    Know what? Those sites do pretty darn well. Go figure, huh?

    We all know the feeling we get when we search online and find crap, right?

    But we also know that feeling we get when we find just what we needed.

    That’s an awesome feeling, isn’t it?

    When the world thinks of the internet, the majority thinks (and uses) Google – and Google has a mess on their hands.

    That list of questions above tells me what Google is trying to do.

    When the average consumer searches Google, they find the same “echo” crap we find. On the other hand, the average consumer thinks Google is ranking the BEST content – the best ANSWER on page 1 of their results…and they tend to naturally trust the #1 result.

    Hey, almighty Google said it’s #1 so of course they should trust it, right? Sadly, that isn’t true… just read this story of one lady’s horrific story after trusting a #1 search result in Google….ugh!

    You and I both know that #1 in Google does NOT mean #1. It DOES mean that somehow, that website owner (or staff) worked their way there via the Google algo. A #1 ranking from Google is not an endorsement for that web page…it simply means that web page is winning the SEO race at that moment.

    No other search engine is going to do better – at least not for a long time. Google is it now and they won’t stand still to let another search engine even TRY to catch up.

    Good for them. Google, to me, is a prime example of “keep moving forward”.

    That list of questions above tells me what Google is trying to clean up – loud and clear.

    In the comments of my last Panda post, many asked me if SEO was still important.

    YES it IS still important – very important.

    Having a solid understanding of good SEO and the ability to use the skills is really important.

    Think if you were building a house. The blueprints show how to build a solid structure that will last, right? That’s what good SEO does for your site – helps you build a solid structure. SEO best practices are super important.

    Just like those blueprints make a HOUSE, the same goes for your site. Good SEO makes a solid site with good accessibility, structure, and the signals Google looks for in a site.

    But a blueprint does not make a HOME… YOU make it a home. And YOU – your unique voice – make your site a place for PEOPLE. A place online they trust, they talk about, they come back to… they want to SHARE with others.

    In the SEO-Theory.com post I referred to earlier in this post, Michael goes on to say:

    “You earn links by making people think. You don’t actually have to change their minds. You just have to make them think.”

    Now I know that when it comes to affiliate sites, all we really want people to think is “Wow, I am SO clicking that link and buying!!!” – I totally get that…lol!

    But how much of your content is created for that sole purpose – just to get them to click?

    I know, I know… the other sites on Page 1 of a Google search are garbage – and we’re gonna have to deal with that for a long, long time to come. Worse yet, many times “garbage sites” will out rank us – it happens.

    But let’s all really LOOK at our sites… think about the questions Google asks their reviewers – and review our own work. Do you pass your own manual review? Can you do better? Can you bring something new to the query space?

    Are you an echo?

    Just think about it.

    Special Note from Jennifer: From today forward, those that sign up here at PotPieGirl.com to get notified when there are new posts (form at top of every page) will get a free copy of my exclusive eBook – The Mind Eraser Method.

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    { 68 comments }

    Pete Moring October 13, 2011 at 5:55 am

    Hi Jennifer, a very interesting post you got here, especially the Google pre-requisites :-)
    Like many I got my Adsense account closed for some minor infringement that I spent a whole day trying to correct, but then had to give up on :-(

    Having said that, I do have one generic domain name that I’ve added over 20+ sub-domains to and all are doing very well in Google search even though (get this) every one has almost identical content. Just one page that says almost the same except for the ‘subject’ titles/names have been edited in each one.

    I did this not to deceive Google or anyone else, but just to serve as an example to potential leasees of those sub-domains that they would be buying directly into page one of Google for their specific keywords :-)

    I apologise if I’m adding to the trash you find every day, but it’s an interesting strategy I’m sure you’d agree – Yes?? :-)

    Cheers ….. Pete.

    PotPieGirl October 13, 2011 at 6:03 am

    Wow, Pete… you’re fast! I just published this (and then corrected another typo, and republished…then fixed another typo and republished, etc etc…lol!)

    Sorry about your AdSense account..that really stinks!

    As for “almost identical content” – oh yeah, it can still rank really well.

    For example, I took one really good product review, spun it 8 times and made 8 individual sites out of one spun copy each. I did it mainly as a test to SEE what would happen in this post-Panda age, but I’ll be darned if they all don’t rank well AND make me money.

    I guess it all comes down to the “why” for your content, what your goal is, and what you’re willing to risk.

    Love the fact that you’re trying stuff… good for you!

    Thanks for adding to the conversation!

    Jennifer

    Ron October 13, 2011 at 7:03 am

    Love your thinking. I apologize for being so quiet (at least I’m not part of the echo), but my work keeps me quite busy. Keep up the good work.

    PotPieGirl October 13, 2011 at 7:09 am

    Thanks, Ron!

    I’m usually pretty quiet too and don’t post a lot. Works keeps ME busy too!

    Thanks for the comment!

    Jennifer

    Nathan October 13, 2011 at 7:16 am

    It really is an interesting topic. I have always been of the opinion that a “good” business is one that provides value to the customer (pretty basic I know). I think affiliate sites can definitely do that (by providing extra content to the end user, as well as a funnel for the business/advertiser), but as you say, it must provide that value. “Echoing” isn’t providing value unless you are echoing good content to an audience that otherwise would not get to see it.

    When you’re doing 10-20 niche sites at the same time, providing great value can get lost in the SEO mix:) But a business that doesn’t provide value will be a short business, regardless of whether or not it’s an affiliate site or a corner store.

    PotPieGirl October 13, 2011 at 7:17 am

    Well said, Nathan! Thank you!

    Jennifer

    latha October 13, 2011 at 7:56 am

    Thanks Jennifer.. Will keep these in mind, BEFORE I spin my next article :)

    PotPieGirl October 13, 2011 at 9:15 am

    lol!!!!

    One Lucky Mama October 13, 2011 at 7:56 am

    Very enlightening article. A great reminder that having a voice makes the internet worth the trouble. Not every one of my domains is about a topic I feel strongly about, so finding a great voice for each is not easy. But you make a great point that we should at least be trying.

    We live in a time when nearly anyone with access to a computer can publish web sites, even physical books. Create videos in the palm of your hand instead of with a roomful of expensive equipment. Sell your art, music, content of any kind, or even a sweater knitted by hand. The world has truly opened to us in ways that were unimaginable even a few years ago. The question is, what are we doing about it?

    Reading your post really helped me to understand WHY I am not good at creating garbage sites. I just can’t stomach them. However, there is still a lot of room for improvement on some of my niche sites.

    Thanks for giving us more to think about and for being a voice of clarity. Many people who aren’t echoes are still not worth listening to. You take the time and thought to be a true leader – and that makes all the difference.

    PotPieGirl October 13, 2011 at 9:16 am

    Thank you, One Lucky Mama!!!!!

    Duy Nguyen October 13, 2011 at 8:41 am

    Nice heading for your ebook Jennifer :D

    About your post, I agree that there are too much noise on the Internet nowadays. And to be who we are and speak what we really think to other people might be a tough mission. I find myself falling many times before in listening to others and didn’t have any trust or confidence in what I was doing.

    But it was when I first started. Now I’m more advanced and can test things on myself. And to be honest, I tend to speak against the massive lol. If they say article marketing is dead after the Panda update, I say it still working and I’m a living proof with my Squidoo lenses and many long tail keywords. But it’s just one example.

    What I want to say today is to survive and prosper, we have to be BOLD. We must not be an echo and fall to others thinking. Just be ourselves and speak what we know and tested to be true, people will listen. I’m too tired of following the mass, I choose to go my own way. I am what I am :D

    Thanks again for your post, it always fresh, informative and, you know it, “so Jennifer!”

    Duy.

    Trish October 13, 2011 at 8:47 am

    Thank you for this extremely informative post, Jennifer. The google review questions were a real eye-opener.

    As as newbie in the affiliate area, this post will be a great guideline.

    PotPieGirl October 13, 2011 at 9:16 am

    I think those Google questions a real eye-opener, too, Trish…

    Thanks for stopping by!

    Jennifer

    Omar October 13, 2011 at 9:22 am

    Sometimes I think the echo is caused by the push to “leverage” existing content too.

    PotPieGirl October 13, 2011 at 9:34 am

    Oh absolutely, Omar…very true!

    Gill October 13, 2011 at 9:38 am

    Great article as usual. As internet marketers, we tend to cover a lot of subjects, many that we’re not really passionate about. So it’s easy to fall into a slump where we just rehash the same old information that’s already on the internet. Your article is a nice reminder to step it up a bit.

    PotPieGirl October 13, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    Yes, Gill, it is easy to fall into a “slump”…so true.

    sharon slater October 13, 2011 at 9:44 am

    Jennifer what an excellent read, this is so true. I have a lot of faith in Google as far as delivering relevant content to my search but it is hard to imagine how they do it with all the “echoing” online.
    ps…love your new site.

    PotPieGirl October 13, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    Thanks, Sharon!

    george akwowe October 13, 2011 at 9:59 am

    Thanks a lot Jennifer. This post has served as my “start of the Day” lesson.
    I am a newbie and I suspect I fall within this particular class of people.
    You should know how it feels when you are just starting up.
    I there fore see your post as a wake up call and handy tutorial on
    “DOS and DON`TS” of the big G.

    PotPieGirl October 13, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    Yes, George – I totally remember what it feels like when you’re just starting all this mumbo-jumbo! Overwhelming, frustrating…but for me, it was also liberating.

    Thanks!

    Brad October 13, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    Good post Jennifer, i agree with you when it comes to youtube videos i just don’t know why they rank higher and i see a lot of duplicated videos all occupying the first page in many cases. Doesn’t google have a better technology to identify and remove duplicate videos from search results.

    PotPieGirl October 13, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    Well, Brad…they can’t exactly “read” videos that same way they can with on-age words/content, can they? I am also a bit baffled by this – but hey, people love videos and Google just happens to own a video sharing site….

    Thanks!

    Jennifer

    bj October 13, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    Good post, Jen! I’ve always been amazed when I get google returns and four or five of the first ten have the same exact article title. I’ve looked and it’s always the same syndicated article. Why does google need to show me that many? I thought their own filters were supposed to filter out the duplicates and just show the original. More and more I’m disappointed in their results. I swear Panda and caffeine have made their search engine near useless instead of better.

    Anyway, back to the subject. I have two rules when writing content, and they pretty much encapsulate what you’ve said.

    1) Don’t be boring.
    2) Give your audience what they’re searching for and over-deliver on the promise of your page title.

    When I pay attention to my own rules, I get search engine love.

    PotPieGirl October 13, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    I’ve found that multiple same articles thing ranking well in query spaces that seem to be “hungry” for relevant information to return to a searcher. The more competitive the space is, the less I see that happening.

    Thanks for reading!

    Jennifer

    Tony S. in FL October 13, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    “ZING!!”
    That’s the sound of the light bulb that went on in my head when I read your post. I recently bought your One Week Marketing course and have been working on my Squidoo lenses. I’ve got everything done except writing the content for the lenses. That’s where I’ve been stuck for days. Days.

    I’m not a writer so I guess it’s a case of “non-writers block”. I’ve sat and stared at my computer screen for hours trying to formulate my thoughts into slick content. I guess my problem is I have a belief that what I write has to be as good as what’s written by the guys on Madison Avenue.

    So, when I read your post today and came across the sentence that says:
    “…Know what people do when they type to others in a forum situation? They just talk – each in their own unique voice. No one (for the most part) is trying to sell anything…no one is trying to “optimize” their post – they are just talking…”

    “THAT’S IT!!” as Charlie Brown used to say. I can do that. I participate in several different forums on a daily basis. And, even though my lenses will be pointing to a Clickbank product, I actually have some expertise in the subject of my lenses. So, what I’m doing now is taking the title of my lens and pretending someone in a forum is asking it as a question such as “How do I…”. I’m then answering them in my own voice not worrying If it’s Madison Avenue worthy.

    I know this might not have been exactly the intent of your post but I want to thank you for giving me some insight on how I can overcome the Mount Everest that was in front of me.

    Tony S. in FL

    PotPieGirl October 13, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    YAY! I got a “ZING!” from someone!!!! Woo Hoooo!!!!

    Yes, Tony, EXACTLY – talk to people. The concept of pretending you are answering an email with the keyword as a question is one I recommend a lot.

    And look at you – you get inspired and you write REALLY well. Great comment!

    Go get ‘em!

    Jennifer

    Oh, and a big LOL at the “non-writers block” comment :)

    Candice October 13, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    Excellent post Jennifer………….if we work with integrity everything else will fall in to place:-)

    PotPieGirl October 13, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    True, Candice… at the end of the day, we are at least proud of what we put out there.

    Roger October 13, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    I guess I’m too busy trying to come up with worthwhile content, format it properly and promote it to keep up with the winds of change at Google.

    PotPieGirl October 13, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    Not a bad thing, Roger!!

    Thanks for stopping by – great to see you!

    Jennifer

    Eric Pinola October 13, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    Jennifer,

    You have put my thoughts into words! (Is that an echo of some type?) Being very new to this path I stumble around more than most people do, but I have my dull pencil in hand and am good at taking notes.

    Many of the sites I run into in the “niche category” realm seem to be printed out of the same machine with the same blah content that makes you want to take a bath after encountering it. I have resisted entering some niches because of this feeling.

    My greatest challenge is identifying what I LIKE. By day I build a company in an industry that I have no care in the world for, but I am very good at building. By night I poke around still in an endless search for ANYTHING I can believe in. All I want is to find my niche that I can build something around as a starting point……..

    Great post as always, and YES you do have your own voice. (That is one of the reasons why I finally started this crazy journey.)

    Eric

    PotPieGirl October 13, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    Hey Eric =)

    Writing about what you like really makes things easier. For example, I love Google… it fascinates me … and I truly believe it will turn out to be the most “impactful” company of my lifetime. Based on that, I really enjoy researching and writing about Google stuff – especially organic-related topics.

    But I want to say this – don’t let waiting on the “one perfect niche” stop you from moving forward. Get things online – even if you aren’t nuts about the topic. The time you spend doing that will take you on a journey that just might lead you to that “one perfect niche” for YOU. Plus, you’ll have a lot of experience once you find “it”.

    Best of luck to you!

    Jennifer

    Eric Pinola October 13, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    Thank you Jennifer,

    I will get started doing………..

    EP

    Bill (LoneWolf) Nickerson October 13, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    I have several sites which have content that is unique, well written and I believe that it meets most of the criteria that Google outlines in their 23 questions (maybe they should have an ominous title for that “The Big 23 From Big G” or something 8=). I don’t know about whether people would trust my sites with their credit card since I’m not a good judge of that. I trust very few sites myself.

    But all of my sites languish at the bottom of the pile. I use WordPress for most, Drupal for one of them and a couple are html. I use h2, h3, h4 tags. I use meaningful anchor text in links. I have keywords, tags and categories that are meaningful and appropriate. I use SEO plugins (some use All in One but I’m using Joost’s WP SEO for my newer sites). I don’t obsess over SEO but by the same token I don’t ignore it.

    I have written some articles — no where near enough to call it article marketing. I comment on other blogs and sometimes in forums. I’ve written some articles on HubPages for one of my sites. Nearly zero traffic on both the hubs and the site even though it is in a very popular (although overcrowded) niche.

    So, I just don’t get how I sit at the bottom of the heap all the time. Others (like yourself Jennifer) just throw up a site (or 6 as you mentioned in your reply to Pete) and zing to the first page. Even if it’s only temporary you still get there. And people do it with spun content (sometimes even MY content, some legally copied from an article directory, some simply scraped).

    I am not an echo but I feel like the sound that isn’t there when the tree falls in the forest.

    PotPieGirl October 13, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    You’re not alone, Bill – and it’s soooo frustrating. Just hang in there…try new things. It’s a process and you’ll get there!

    Thanks for all your contributions here!

    Jennifer

    Tonsil Stones Guy October 13, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    I have to take issue with part of your post:

    “Do you know what questions manual reviewers at Google are asked to answer when they look at a web page? Here they are – straight from the Official Google Blog (I’m spacing these out well so we can each REALLY read them):”

    Okay, correct me if I’m wrong, but when I read the page you mention, there’s no evidence at all that this particular list of Webmaster Guidelines is actually used by Google’s manual reviewers to review a site. In fact, that page speaks exclusively about algorithmic changes and “the ideas and research that drive the development of our algorithms”. It doesn’t even mention G’s manual review process.

    If Google’s reviewers actually had to answer these questions, they’d have to spend way too much time evaluating a site or page from a site. I get the occasional visitor from Mountain View to my sites and none of them spend even close to enough time to ask and answer the list of questions you mention.

    PotPieGirl October 13, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    Well, well, well… I’m NOT going to correct you – you’re not wrong.

    HOWEVER, you sparked a new post in me and I’ll show – and reveal – some things I’ve found that might let you share the same train of thought I’ve had.

    Thank you!!!!!

    Jennifer

    PS – Oh, by the way…. manual reviews don’t necessarily come straight from Google. I’ll talk more about that in the post.

    Tonsil Stones Guy October 13, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    That sounds interesting. I use an alternative to Google Analytics and when I see visitors from Mountain View, they’re from the domain googlebot.com or (too clever by half) 1e100.net. However, these visitors hail not only from Mountain View, but apparently also Vietnam, several APO locations in Europe, and several other locations around the world. If this info is accurate, I guess they must outsource the review process, which isn’t surprising. Do you see this, too? Bottom line: if someone in Hanoi is reviewing my site, I’m not reassured.
    As far as the Webmaster guidelines go, I do think there are probably some hidden nuggets in the list. For example – and this assumes that the list is genuine in the sense that the factors listed actually contribute to G’s algorithm – how can I make a health-related site appear more trustworthy to Google? Assuming it’s a piece of software that evaluates my site, I probably at least need a medical disclaimer that the bot can find and identify. Linking out to authority sites like the CDC or NIH might also generate “confidence” – and these kinds of links are something an algorithm can be programmed to recognize. So, at least as far as these guidelines go, I think we need to answer them in a way that’s meaningful to a bot first, and not necessarily a human. Although I have a couple of health-related sites, these are things I hadn’t really considered before reading your post, so you did get me thinking!
    Hope the direction is right. Looking forward to the reveal…

    PotPieGirl October 13, 2011 at 9:38 pm

    Reveal is Here!!!!

    And I think it will answer a LOT of your questions (hint: would having a copy of a Google Rater Training Manual help?)

    Here is the new post: How Google Makes Algo Changes.

    Hope it helps!

    And thanks for the inspiration!

    Jennifer

    hagar October 13, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    As usual, accurate and interesting! Yay for you!
    Always enjoy your stuff – and there’s always “something to think about”.
    Good job!

    PotPieGirl October 13, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    Thanks, Hagar!

    Jason October 13, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    Your article completely sums up the reason I read just about every one of your emails. You provide quality content on a topic that I care about. And, you do it in a way that is easy to read and builds trust.

    Great work once again, and now I’m off to restructure some of my affiliate sites to be less… affiliate-y. ;-)

    PotPieGirl October 13, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    Thanks, Jason!!!

    Shane October 13, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    I’ve been giving a lot of thought to this topic lately Jennifer, especially after stressing over Panda since it happened. For those of us that Panda didn’t totally scare away, it’s gotten a lot of us thinking about how we can improve our content, especially on affiliate sites.

    I used to just make low quality affiliate sites – you know, the ones where you’re obviously trying to sell something, which naturally backfires on you. But after taking the time to research each niche, use forums to get to know my audiences, and really dig in and give the most useful content I can, I’ve had much better results. And I feel a lot better, too, knowing I’m not wasting my customers’ time.

    Thanks for posting this. Given me some more food for thought to how I can improve my content.

    PotPieGirl October 13, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    That’s awesome, Shane! Good for you!

    Thanks for stopping by and sharing!

    Jennifer

    dave October 13, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    i always learn something when i read your posts, Jennifer. you are one of the real teachers in this arena of internet marketing and you have had my respect for quite a few years for that very reason. you always share what you know to make us all better. for that, i’m very thankful.

    dave

    PotPieGirl October 13, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    Thank you very much, Dave! I like to share what I learn…and not necessarily what I know (if that makes sense). Glad you find it useful!!!

    Jennifer

    Ome October 13, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    In the end, it is about great and unique content :) and make sure the backlinks are relevant. :) great post Jenn.

    PotPieGirl October 13, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    Yep, great and unique content that users find helpful…you got it!

    Thanks!

    Jennifer

    Mister_Papagiorgio October 13, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    Good thoughts and excellent insight Jennifer- Google wants quality and these days you just can’t expect good long lasting results without providing quality as job 1, if Ford will pardon my borrowing their slogan.

    Jim October 13, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    I have a health and fitness website, and I am continually amazed at all of the echoing that goes on in the health and fitness niche. So many of the websites I visit just repeat the same information and have no unique voice, but many of these sites rank very well.

    Genesis October 13, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    One of the things I discovered early on was that when I followed other people’s step by step methods for affiliate marketing and picked out keywords and such that would rank well, my sites did terribly. It wasn’t until I realized I was doing things backwards that things started to work! When I really enjoy something or find something online that fascinates me, then I learn all I can about it, as I’m sure many people do. Then I start checking for keywords and write about THAT . . . and have had great success. Why? Because I’m not an echo. I’m not doing it just for the money, it’s something that I really like and have an opinion on!

    PotPieGirl October 13, 2011 at 9:39 pm

    Awesome, Genesis! I love free-thinkers…and non-echos!

    Jennifer

    Rach72 October 13, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    Thanks again Jennifer
    (and for the mention ;) )

    Rather than a ‘here’s what we are judging right now’ list of rules, that list was a guideline for contributors to the Google Search Engine and as you say, is an indication of their ultimate end goal. With a combination of manual review and algorithm I believe that they will reach it, but in the meantime it is essential that content providers see this list as fair warning that things are going to keep changing.

    The ‘self review’ process is quite a hard one to take on the chin but marketers have to be aware that until this point they have not had to seriously deal with the type, quality and intent of the content that they are putting out.

    Those who outsource their content should also take note and consider these changes when assigning work.

    I read a forum post once where the OP was bemoaning about his writer putting their prices up and then extended it to all quality writers overcharging their clients while excusing the price that his graphic designer charged him. I thought that it was pretty rich for someone whose entire business model is based on the quality of the product and information that they are putting out.

    At the end of the day, your content will make you far more money than your flash graphics ever will.

    Great conversation Jen – Looking forward to the next post …..

    Rach

    PotPieGirl October 13, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    Hey Rach =)

    I actually have the real list of “here’s what we are judging right now” from Google … thing is, it’s 125 pages long. I figured those questions from the Google blog got the point across MUCH more easily….lol!

    However, if you want to read the 125 pages and know “exactly” – it’s on my new post here.

    Thanks!

    Jennifer

    michael October 13, 2011 at 10:21 pm

    Jennifer, you’re like my “Goddess of Internet Marketing” – The things considered in this post are really eye-opening.

    My Credo :
    I Michael Robinson, from now on, vow to no longer be an echo. I vow to only put up contents that actually adds value to the time of my Readers. To honestly say my opinion like it is, not saying things that i think people want to hear. I vow to give my readers the exact solution to their problem. From today on, I am determined to proudly declare, “I refuse to be an echo” :-)

    PotPieGirl October 13, 2011 at 10:39 pm

    Oh that’s awesome, Michael! I love it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Jennifer

    Genevieve October 13, 2011 at 11:06 pm

    Agreed that you should put out quality content instead of the same rehashed junk on the net. Because when people come across it, and they think it’s really good, it sticks with them for a long, long time, even if they don’t remember or buy anything from your website.

    I’m curious though, how you do that. Take a product from Amazon. You’ve got all the features and reviews in front of you. If you look at a camera and it’s small in size but takes great pics, you might say, “This camera is really light and takes quality photos, so you’ll be enjoying your vacation for years to come.”

    Is that your own voice then? But how can it be if you’re still using the same material?

    Thanks for opening up your blog!

    Online Learning October 14, 2011 at 1:07 am

    In my opinion echo’s are so common on the net because most people including myself have a hard time expressing themselves in their writing.

    mj October 14, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    Jennifer, how true it is, this post I mean. I suppose that most marketers are wearing blinders, that is to say they have dollar signs in their eyes, which prevents them from seeing the truth of the matter (this post hit the nail on the head). Thanks for setting us straight.

    Missouri has the most bill-boards in the nation, drive along Interstate 44 towards Branson, Mo. or Interstate 70 towards Columbia and you’ll see what looks like an giant Adsense website.

    Meg October 15, 2011 at 2:19 am

    Well, now that I’ve read your post, Jennifer, and all the comments I just have to say -

    ME TOO! :)

    Actually I think that list is a good set of guidelines for anyone in this business. I think I’m going to print it out so I can see it and refer to it more easily. It’s almost like a checklist.

    I’m currently plodding through my first campaign based on your One Week Marketing (or as it’s turning out to be with me, One Month Marketing :) ) and I think part of the reason it’s hard is because I picked something that I really believe in (which was one of my personal requirements) but I don’t know much about. So I’ve had to do a lot of research and when I’m doing it online *I really do find a lot of the same thing* – which is very frustrating. I do hate rehashing things so I went for a walk to the library and found some books on the subject. I’m so glad I did that; I now have not only *more* information but also *different* information. As for writing it out – that’s still not easy. But the comment from Tony S. has me thinking about a different way to do it – maybe as if I’m answering a question on a forum or on Yahoo! Answers instead of giving a lecture.

    I really like reading your posts; I can tell you’ve given the subject a lot of thought (and sometimes done a lot of research) before you even write anything. I don’t always understand everything you or the commenters say, but I think I’m learning a lot from all of them.

    (Now I have to go and sign up for emails on new posts since I obviously missed these on my RSS feeds…)

    Deane October 16, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    Hi Jennifer, There is no danger of you being an “echo”. I learn something new from every post you make. Your obviously put a lot of time into each post, answer your readers’ questions, and do your research. I keep follow many IM gurus, but you are one of the few people who I always trust in what you say.

    Cindy October 18, 2011 at 10:36 pm

    Hiya Jennifer,

    Yet another inspiring post! I love how you are sooo honest and straight to the point even if it does anger some people. I say, “Good for you!”

    I read that post that you linked to from the NY Times in its entirety (it is a looonnnggg read). I really feel for that woman that basically got duped by following Google’s #1 ranking. It taught me that just because a site is at #1 on Google that doesn’t mean you should trust it 100%. So, from now on, I will do my due diligence on every site that I’m going to buy something from.

    Thanks!
    Cindy

    Lawyer October 20, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    So now I understand why a site with less links, bad links, and newer domain age is now outranking me. I need to look more at my landing pages now!

    Gerrit - Audible Languages October 20, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    Jennifer, this is great! I’ve just decided to focus all my attention on my main site and are planning to redirect all my old content from my other sites to my main site. (After I’ve reviewed and improved the content.) This will help me stay focus and write more unique content for my own site, and will hopefully help more readers and brand building. If you have too many sites it’s easy to lose focus and your quality of content are also watered down. I’m sure if I follow this advice I’ll be 100 ready for the next Panda update or will it be called Fox 2.8…

    Take care!
    Gerrit

    Plumbers Austin November 4, 2011 at 2:50 am

    Well, if I can’t find anything else to blog about I can sometimes become that echo you talk about! Where do you find inspiration on the days you need to blog but you don’t have anything to blog about? I love to blog for our business blog because it allows me to talk about our services and that is easy. But making sure we are more than just an echo is pretty hard to do. thanks for listing the tips.

    christian louboutin November 8, 2011 at 5:47 am

    So now I understand why a site with less links, bad links, and newer domain age is now outranking me. I need to look more at my landing pages now!

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