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The Real Reason I Broke Up With Google

Jennifer Ledbetter

by PotPieGirl on April 19, 2012 · 113 comments

My last post about me breaking up with Google caused a lot of conversation…as well as some speculation as to WHY I ‘broke up’ with Google and WHAT that means now.  Am I leaving the business?  Am I no longer going to ever consider Google traffic and ranking again? No, I am NOT leaving the business – I LOVE what I do and have no intentions of going anywhere.  As for me and Google, let me tell you what really happened in my world that caused that big decision from me.

In life, there are many defining moments.  Certain events, decisions, and gut feelings can cause an abrupt change of direction – or an end to a relationship.

I had a defining moment with Google the other day and it was like the straw that broke the camels back.

My relationship with Google is probably a bit deeper than anyone really realized.

I’ve read books about them, read endlessly online, read their history, and on and on.  No, not to figure out how to get them to do what I wanted them to do (tho I tend to be pretty good at that), but instead, because the company and the algorithm fascinated me.

While most other people pick their own keywords and urls to track the rankings in Google, I pick random keywords.

Yes, I literally pick random keywords and then put the current top 20 or so ranking urls into a rank tool and simply WATCH those spaces over time.

Now, these aren’t “my” keywords or query spaces that I am working in – these are OTHER query spaces.  I pick ‘big term’ phrases and phrases I know are HEAVY with affiliates…and I pick some smaller query spaces too.

Why would I do that?

First off, yes, I am that big of a Google Geek.  But I do that so I can SEE what happens when Google says they are doing something.

For Google Geeks like I’ve been, it’s fascinating stuff.  I’m a big ‘ Don’t tell me, SHOW me’ type person too.

For example, I could tell Panda hit at the end of March without even hearing it from Google or any other source.  I can see the after-effects some sites/urls are feeling after the blog networks got de-indexed as well.

And, there are urls I am watching where I am literally WAITING to see Google do what they say they do.

For example, in an insurance query space, there is a site/url I have been watching for a LONG time.  It is a prime candidate to get totally nailed by Google based on what the site is doing to achieve it’s Page 1 rankings.  But no, it keeps hanging in there…sometimes it even ranks better.

Frustrating, but hey, at least I can really SEE when Google truly ‘walks the talk’ instead of just talkin’ it.

The other day, I reached out on Twitter because something was going on with rankings, but there was no talk of it and no one really had any insight.

Something was going on….

 

And for the record, I wasn’t the only one that noticed.

Turns out, I/we were right (or as right as any Google observer can be).  A couple days later, Matt Cutts admitted that there was a problem with the algo and it was classifying some pages as Parked Pages – and nailed their rankings.

Matt Cutts posted this on his G+ page:

Ok, those things happen, right? And, well, it is kinda cool that at least Matt spoke up and admitted it.  They/He sure didn’t HAVE to do that.

My point of telling you these things is not to ‘show off’ or anything like that.  I simply want to convey how HYPER-focused I have been on what Google does and says.  I have spent hours each day keeping up with things, taking long analytical looks at things (as much as I am capable of), and helping others identify their problems to hopefully get Google to love them again.

However, if you’ve read all that, you didn’t hear me say I’ve spent hours trying to get Google to love ME.

My main money sources do NOT rely on Google 100%.

Now, I have lots of test sites that I do allllllllllll kinds of things to just to see what Google will do.

I test domain extensions, exact match concepts, duplicate content, spun content, just about every type of back linking….I even test BLANK web pages (which, btw, have been ranking great for YEARS now.  Yes, a totally BLANK web page ranking well for it’s target keyword with very minimal back links. No, it’s not a competitive query space, but it still ranks.  Content is King, huh?)

I build these test sites KNOWING Google will probably nail them after awhile so I test, watch, and wait to see what eventually does the site in.

For me, that’s fun.

I enjoy doing that AND I learn a ton.  It also makes it so I can look at another webmaster’s site and if I see something I’ve been testing, I can genuinely say to the site owner, “Hey, that’s gonna get you nailed” or “Yeah, you might be able to fly with that for a little while longer” – or “Get rid of that NOW!”

Ok, all that said….

As I mentioned above, my money sites do NOT rely on Google and I haven’t for a long time.

To me, if each % of traffic sources is like one share of my business’s stock, if I let Google have 50% or more, they own ME and I have lost control over my business.

Here is a quick screen shot I just grabbed from inside my analytics account showing recent traffic sources for this blog here at PotPieGirl.com.

As you can see, search engines only account for a little more than one-third of my traffic.  To me, that’s like Google being about a one-third owner of this blog.  I still don’t like that high of a percentage, but if Google nails me, I’m still in business AND I’m still in control.

If all 100% of my traffic came from Google, then they (Google) OWN me and I am at their mercy.  That is NOT a game I want to play.

But many, many DO play that way and truly want Google to supply 100% of their traffic.  Then, Google nails them and they LOSE 100%.

That’s not good business. It’s the whole eggs/basket thing.

Sure, Google has massive control over the internet economy.  One little algo tweak and many businesses owners are forced to close up shop.  That is a LOT of responsibility for Google to get things right – or at least appear right….or heck, appear even remotely fair.

Perception is everything, right?

So this brings me to my defining moment – the proverbial straw.  Ironically, one of my wonderful readers made a comment in my ‘I Broke Up With Google‘ post that mentioned ‘the straw’, which amazed me!

Google says… compelling, unique content…don’t over-optimize or hyper-focus everything on one keyword.  Good on-site structure so they can crawl you better.  Good use of defining keywords and phrases so they know what your page is about.  Don’t play with link schemes or do anything to manipulate your ranking…. and if we do all that, the ‘good stuff’ will magically rank at the top.

Pretty much – ‘play by the rules and be rewarded’.  Isn’t that the way you understand it?  Isn’t that the way you TRY to play so Google will love you?

As I mentioned, I track keywords and the Top 20 or so players in that query space when I start tracking.

One of those query spaces is the keyword ‘make money online’.

I’ve watched that query space get trampled.  In the past 2 months or so, only 11 of the original 20 are still ranking in the Top 20.  Nine of those sites are gone to NoWhere Land in the Google SERPs.

BUT

In all Google’s supposed effort to get the BEST results at the top and sink those that are not good results or are supposedly breaking Panda rules or linking rules or whatever the Penalty of the Day is.

So after all this that we have suffered through….. this is what I find now ranking on Page 1 for ‘make money online’ :

(these are my search results on Thursday, April 19, 2012 at 11:02 am EST/Atlanta time shown in FireFox [which I use daily] as well as Internet Explorer and Chrome [both of which I never use but for 'clean' rank checks time to time])

 

 

 

Note: I’m showing all 3 to  a) show that its not a ‘glitch’ or personalized, and b) because most likely this will magically disappear after there is more awareness of the situation by the uh… ‘powers that be’.

So, wanna know what that site that is ranking #9 or #10 for the VERY competitive term ‘make money online’ looks like?

It’s probably an awesome site, right?  I mean c’mon, that’s a REALLY hard keyword to rank for…. their content must be AMAZING, right?

Here’s what it looks like:

 

 

Yep, you see that right – there is NOTHING THERE.  No Posts…no nothing.

Now, that is not some ‘new’ blogger blog that never got built out.  That used to be Griz’s site and he ranked will with his content there for years.  Apparently, Blogger (owned by Google) flagged that BlogSpot blog for spam…and Griz got locked out.  I know he took steps to get it back, but I have no clue how the rest of that story went down other than what he said last about the situation when it all happened back in 2010.

So how the heck does it rank there?  Other than two things – Blogger/BlogSpot is Google-owned and back links, I have NO CLUE how or WHY it ranks there.

From what Griz said, he did some crazy testing on that site too – things that, by all accounts according to what Google says lately, should NOT allow that page…that EMPTY blog…to rank well for ANYTHING.  Especially not for a highly-competitive, dog-eat-dog phrase like ‘make money online’!

Seeing this empty blogger blog suddenly rank and continue to rank kinda broke my heart a little.

More than anything, it makes me really sad for the small business owners and one-man/one-woman shows online.

As I watched this nothing blogger blog rise to the top, I also watched other perfectly good mmo info sites sink like they were wearing cement shoes.

Folks like Pawel from AffHelper.com…I used to always see his face in the rankings for lots of competitive terms.  He also used to rank really well for ‘make money online’ as well.

Now, he’s in Google Purgatory (you can read his open letter to Matt Cutts here)

Yep, 269 is his rank in Google now for that keyword… and it’s been that way for quite some time.

Regardless of WHY his site got tanked, I can tell you this – as a Google user and consumer of search, I would MUCH rather find and read what’s on the AffHelper.com site than find that NOTHING blogger site, wouldn’t you?

This was a very sad and frustrating moment for me.  How in the WORLD can I tell people to write really great content that offers Google great answers to their users queries, don’t try and force anything, and don’t play with link schemes – when it’s all BS?

Google properties will always win.  Back links will always win (as long as Google keeps ‘em indexed)…and content?  Show me what part of this situation shows that great content wins.

I DO see Google taking up VERY prime real estate on the first page of the SERPs for ‘make money online’ – I absolutely do see that.  That means Google says, “We’d rather have our blank nothing Blogspot blog ranking so none of you make any money from this space”.

That’s how I see it….and it was the last straw for me.

There isn’t even the perception of fair with Google anymore.  It’s gotten to where it almost feels as if Google wants the worst to rank well so search users will click their AdWords ads instead in HOPES of getting a better answer to their query than what is shown in the organic results.

HOW do you help people with this?

Should I start saying… “Write crap…or nothing at all…. back link like hell and then enjoy the ride while it lasts”????

Or – “Just pay Google for traffic?”

Both of those things seem to work WAY better than doing what Google says.

This is what happened that resulted in my breaking off my private love affair with Google – and reducing them to a hobby (at best).

Sure, we’ll remain friends, I hope… we did have good times together.

Does this mean I will never TRY for Google traffic?  Of course not!  It is bad business to totally over-look Google as a traffic source.  As long as they have a monopoly-death grip on the internet economy, we have to make sure our traffic plans include that single traffic source.

It would be like owning a diner and totally ignoring, or restricting, walk-in traffic from the massage parlor across the street (or the government office).  Sure, you may not like ‘em or agree with what they do, but it’s still traffic and sales.  But Lord knows, you sure wouldn’t RELY on them to make or break your business, now would you?

I hope this clears things up.  I’m not going anywhere.

 

 



{ 108 comments }

Palusko April 19, 2012 at 5:24 pm

Although I do not have any tests sites, I myself do random searches for some keywords I want to rank, and there was not one search term, that would not have 1, 2, or even more totally thin, crappy sites on page 1. Not sure what is the king these days, but it is not a content. Well, let me rephrase – not sure what is the king for GOOGLE algorithm, but it is NOT content. Of course, if you have a great content that people want to consume, than there are other ways to get people on your site (just like your screenshot demonstrates). I am totally with you on this subject. One day, I realized, that most of my visitors come from other sites, like StumbleUpon, Reddit etc, as well as from my syndicated content. It would be nice to rank high on Google, especially when you see that there are many crappy sites in front of you, but Google is just ONE way to bring traffic – and it’s the hardest to get, as it is like a roller-coaster ride. Suprisingly, most other methods I tried are much more predictable and consistent.

PotPieGirl April 19, 2012 at 5:33 pm

Yes, other sources ARE more predictable and consistent…. that’s why they get more of my “stock”.

Affiliate Marketing Mom April 19, 2012 at 5:27 pm

Thanks Jennifer – that helps clear a few things up. Listen to this… I have been revamping my sites to get the adsense stuff further down the page, and more great content ON the page.. you know, all the stuff we have been told to do. Well when I did that I figured I’d play it totally safe and only added two adsense units per page.

I got an email from Google this morning letting me know that I should add another unit to my pages so that I could make more money… and they showed me where I need to add it. At the top. LOL

So go figure. I think I will just do whatever feels goodto me, on my sites from now on and let the pieces fall where they may! =)

PotPieGirl April 19, 2012 at 5:33 pm

LOL! I get those messages inside my AdSense account as well. “Hey add more ads!!!!”

Too funny!

Kimberly April 19, 2012 at 5:30 pm

Damn Jennifer, you have done your homework plus about 100s of other peoples’.

This aligns perfectly with what Leslie Rhode is saying in his Link Liberation II Promos (no, not an affiliate ploy, just sharing).

To paraphrase, any traffic you’re getting on behalf of Google is traffic you don’t truly own. A colleague just watched every page get de-indexed by them April 5. Just. Gone.

Great, and eye-opening. Thank you,

kimberly

PotPieGirl April 19, 2012 at 5:35 pm

Thanks, Kimberly! And no, there is no “ownership” or control over Google traffic (just as Leslie said). Love his videos!

Onefineham April 19, 2012 at 5:39 pm

I think there are lots of people who would be willing to pay for traffic – but that Google *WHACKED!* their AdWords accounts too!

It’s a mad mad mad mad mad mad world… as they say.

PotPieGirl April 19, 2012 at 5:42 pm

Oh, y’all… I just HAVE to share this clip from the Jon Stewart/Daily Show about Google. Thanks to @dannysullivan the full post is here.

TOO FUNNY! And sadly, very true as well.

Wally April 19, 2012 at 5:43 pm

Good post.

The thought of looking a few years down the road and having Google control ANY aspect of my traffic makes my stomach sick.

They want everyone to buy ads with them, and then it will all be fair…for them! But what about the bigger picture?

If tons and tons of blogs and really great sites keep hitting the dust then who’s left? Amazon.com and Walmart buying ads in every space imaginable and everybody else just being a consumer.

A lot of people are losing a lot because they believe the Google lie, and playing by the rules frankly sucks when it comes to getting them to “love you”. You can totally see why guys go Black hat…why the hell shouldn’t they?

As for Matt Cutts and the spam team. They just repeat the same lame phrases like robots over and over…”Quality content that makes people WANT to link to you”.

Come on Matt, you KNOW that technique doesn’t work…so stop preaching it.

Anyway, good post.

Reagan April 19, 2012 at 5:49 pm

This was very interesting to me. I’m pretty new to all this stuff and I have a few small sites that I’m trying to rank for not very competitive keywords. One of them made it to #7 and stayed for a couple weeks and then disappeared a few days ago. I was pretty bummed about it because it way my first little sign of success ever on the internet. It was gone for 2 days and then came right back to where it was at #7. So it must have been that mix up at Google on the 16th because that is when it happened.
I’m planning to grow a diverse internet marketing business over time and all this great info helps strengthens my resolve to put my eggs in multiple baskets, but also not to give up on search rankings totally. Thanks for all your help.

David April 19, 2012 at 5:53 pm

Hey Jennifer,

You made a new post with an example we both discussed in your last post. I feel honored…lol. It’s never been good business pratice to rely on only one source for your main income. It’s especially true if that one source changes their rules every few months.

Google lately is kind of a train wreck. There are many other ways to get traffic. If I get some traffic from Google thats great. It doesn’t make any sense to be totally reliant on a company that can annilhate your business at a moments notice with no prior warning.

Darrell April 19, 2012 at 5:59 pm

You would think that with the legion of resources Google has they could do the sort of testing you do on a much larger scale to produce more relevant and stable results. So it certainly underscores the notion that the Google search engine is more self-serving than service to the public. (If that has even ever been questioned).

John Kirsch April 19, 2012 at 6:02 pm

Dear Potpie Girl,

You recent posts are a breath of fresh air!! You finally broke up with those Jocks from Goggle High. It was not so much I was jealous, it was just that you are just were such a kind hearted person that worked so hard (at being loved) that it hurt to see you being defiled (and not helping others avoid getting abused). Now that you are free to love again (smile) the entire Internet world smiles with you. Keep up the good work!!! We will all “hobby” Goggle with you.

JP

Ken April 19, 2012 at 6:03 pm

it seems like most other sources of traffic eventually boil down to Google anyway, but would be curious to what the best other ideas are…

Bill April 19, 2012 at 6:05 pm

Wow. I’m speechless! Now watch someone spam that page with 10 million xrummer links and see it hit #1. THAT would be funny.

Christopher April 19, 2012 at 6:09 pm

Hey Jennifer,
I’ve had one of those sites with basically nothing on it ranking in the #1 spot for over a year.
I got busy with other things and never built it out. I think the only reason it’s there is the domain name. #1 in 16,100,000 Google results with no back links at all. The funny part is some people will spend 15 min to an hour on it. I think they’re scratching their head that long trying to figure out why it’s ranked so high.
Anyway Google treats me better than I deserve.

Mark April 19, 2012 at 6:11 pm

How to fight back with Google without getting shut down.
Before you make a mistake, I want to share my lesson learned to save you some headaches. If you want to survive early, dont do what I did. I did not know the small print policy on Googles perception of a “Get Rich Quick” scheme. I started out my internet career making a big mistake.
I assumed I could put ad word ads on my making money site. WRONG! Google shut my Ad Words account down and locked me out of my Google Adwords account.

When I started doing research, this has happened to hundreds probably thousands of others. Seems they decide if your pages have value or not. I took the time to contact them and all they did was send me back a canned message. I gave up. Now, I am not sure how to get traffic to my making money pages. Very frustrating. Before you make that mistake yourself, better ask your self what thier perception may be. Regardless, I have adjusted and continue to grow my other blog sites with success. I like what Pot Pie Girl says. Dont put all your eggs in one basket.

Derek Blandford April 19, 2012 at 6:12 pm

Unfortunately, I think “good content” is probably the hardest thing for a “robot” or “algorithm” to determine accurately. In my mind, an algorithm is all based off metrics. It can’t make a decision like a human can. And just because a site has the right keyword a few times, some backlinks and social likes, and is grammatically correct, does that mean it’s great content?

In my opinion, not necessarily. Why? Because metrics are too easy to manipulate.

So how can an algorithm really measure great content? I don’t know. Without an actual human reviewing every single website, I think these type of ranking discrepancies will always exist. And even if humans reviewed everything, it would still be left to a lot of opinion on what’s good and what’s not.

The way they most likely measure “great content” is by people linking to a site because if people are linking then it must be “great content”, right? Well again, metrics, backlinks, social “likes”, and everything else are easy to manipulate so I honestly don’t know how a search engine can ever accurately measure great content without human eyeballs looking at it and making a determination.

Given all that, I think Google does a pretty decent job. Is it perfect? Absolutely not. Are there instances where you just want to pull your hair out and go WTF?!?! Absolutely!

But I personally don’t buy into the theory that Google just wants to screw everyone over and make money for themselves. Of course they want to make money (just like the rest of us), but if that’s ALL they cared about, then why have organic search results in the first place? Just have everyone bid for the top spots.

Google will always frustrate the hell out of you if you let it. I’ve gotten to the point where I just focus on my sites and let the rankings fall where they may. I don’t have time to focus on every little algo or site ranking change. It will drive you nuts.

If worse comes to worse, we can make a mass movement and all start searching Yahoo and Bing to level the playing field. Google needs searchers and they need people creating the content people are searching for. Otherwise a search engine doesn’t exist.

Derek

Greg Travis April 19, 2012 at 6:17 pm

Great post! This really helps me understand some things. I’m always asking myself what is ethical in SEO (especially off page) and now it is really hard to know what is ethical… I just checked and the site you mentioned is still ranking on my browser. Amazing!

Thanks for sharing,

Greg

pd. As usual awesome and very helpful posts

Jhoecannon April 19, 2012 at 6:24 pm

Jennifer…your story is frightening.

I also checked Google for the search term “make money online” and you are absolutely correct…it’s ranking #9 and it’s totally blank…AND…it has a Page Rank of 3!

Sure makes me wonder about all this work I’m doing online.

Marvin April 19, 2012 at 6:31 pm

Hey Jennifer,
I’ve been a silent fan of yours for a couple of years now, love how you go about your business. I have been trying to get a handle on internet marketing for a while now, especially ranking in google. This really takes the cake!

It’s 2:20 PM 4-19-2012 Atlanta time, I am from Georgia too, and the site is still on page one of google.
From what I see it also has a pagerank of 3, and 5 indexed pages, all exactly the same, so much for duplicate content huh.

You have opened my eyes (at least a littly wider) with this post. I will still use them to my advantage when I can, but have no respect at all for them at all anymore.

Keep up the good work, I always enjoy reading your stuff!

Marvin

Blue April 19, 2012 at 6:32 pm

Thanks for clearing that up, Jen – makes perfect sense. Surely Google’s promoting empty Blogger sites over other, well built sites is an FTC violation of some sort. They are in the business of selling rankings, after all.

@Affiliate Marketing Mom – so Google told you to do something they have previously said NOT to do? Unreal.

@Jennifer – I purchased OWM about a year ago, but didn’t make time to use it. I received a layoff notice on Monday, so now I both have the time and the need. I may be emailing you a lot over the next month or so.

steve April 19, 2012 at 6:39 pm

Hi Jen,

This kind of thing has happened before. I have seen blank sites rank very well in the past. My only guess is with just the main keyword they are 100% relevant. Relevancy is still a very important part of the algo, no matter what else they change, it has to be a huge factor.

I could not agree more that the results are certainly not better after all the changes. Google buries everything good under a load of crap. Are 5 minute to make You Tube videos really better than a real on topic website and deserving of higher rankings? Not to me. Do I really have to wade through a page of big brand stores, with little unique content to find a decent product review or a mom and pop merchant?

I hope Google chokes on its own puke! I think not just us marketers, but average people must be getting sick of Google garbage and self promotion. I think Google is headed for a fall which is one more reason not to count on them for all your traffic.

As far as playing by the rules goes, there are no rules. Google seems to be making them up as they go. Maybe instead of building quality sites the black hatters are right in the approach of building scraped 3 minute blogs and making quick cash while it lasts. They can build them faster than Google can deindex them so it’s kind of like a daily newspaper you read once and throw away rather than an encyclopedia on your shelf. I guess they should all be built on Blogger sites too.

I don’t blame you for breaking up with Google and I am disgusted with them and their antics. But unfortunately I don’t have the resources you do and so I am kind of stuck in their game at this point whether I want to be or not. But thanks for the insightful posts you do, without them many would be stuck in a cage without even knowing it.

Steve

Chris April 27, 2012 at 7:22 pm

I switched to Bing for all my searches. Nothing but crap results now from the big G.

How many people will it take switching to Bing/Yahoo for Google to lose massive market share? Hope this happens sooner rather than later. I’m still ranking on page one on Bing/Yahoo.

Gordon Youd April 19, 2012 at 6:41 pm

What a shame the method of search is run by big businesses.
I would like to see a kind of “open source” program to run the web searches.
No paid adverts to get top ranking, just good old seo, content, likes, etc.
Then websites would rank on merit.
Just a pipe dream, but Aaarrhh!

Steve Wyman April 19, 2012 at 6:55 pm

Hi PotPieGirl, such a great name :-)

I dont comment much on your blog but follow your every word.

I too test, not as much or as well as you do and i see the same things. Single page 12 year old sites with terrible english text, making money from amazon and google.

The problem is simply. Matts trying to scare people plain and simple. And Yes it is Matt its not adsense team etc its the Spam team setting rules and enforing what “THEY” want to see.

Sorry its true They have some of the greatest minds ever known to man kind working at Google with the best resources and they still can sort this out.

For eample why dont they pan and penalise the sites of people teaching the wrong methods? The black hat community (its big and an open target). People that show you how buy high PR sites and point th elinks to the money site (against T&C’s i think? or is that OK).

Its like the FBI targetting the petty thief for stealling sweets whilst Terroists (yes strong words) rob banks.

Whathappens is the samll guys get slammed and the big guys carry on still making money like the good old days of snake oil..

BTW I LOVE LOVE google. Im not leaving or falling out of love BUT they are near to getting divorced :-)

Rant over and I hope it has some contribution to the subject..
regards

Jade April 19, 2012 at 7:28 pm

I have noticed this with Google for a long time and most people I mentioned it to thought I was paranoid. I always said: “Google is the ONE ring to rule them all”

David April 19, 2012 at 8:47 pm

Need companions to take it back to Mordor!

David

Deane April 19, 2012 at 7:39 pm

I had seen that search example of “make money online” at Affhelper. com’s site, too. And it made me angry and sick to see it again. Concerning search result at #9 with nothing on it – where is a manual review when you need it?

Dusan April 19, 2012 at 7:46 pm

Jennifer,

Regarding the blank page that was ranking high, could it be an indication that Google’s found spirituality? It’s invitation to stare at it for a while, empty your heads of any thoughts, relax, sink into a deep trance?

Can’t put anything past Google’s abilities, besides ranking great stuff at the top.

David April 19, 2012 at 8:02 pm

Hi Jennifer, How can Google show Ads for that term, My Adwords Account got banned for creating an ad, note just creating, an ad!

Gotta Love Google
David

Ian April 19, 2012 at 8:35 pm

As an SEO who only deals with the legimate side of life on Google and only abides by the rules, I am pretty sick and tired of the whole Google game to be honest.

We work endlessly for our clients, and get amazing results, but I once read a comment:

“never make money from a third party”

And this is how I now see google.

They change the rules, thats fine, but as long as the rules are the same across the board, which they are not.

They make mistakes, we all do, but they are slow to fix them and then hide behind faceless emails from the webmaster tools.

My clients are all ok, for the moment, until they change the rules …. again.

Great post as always.

Chris April 27, 2012 at 7:26 pm

I can handle an algo change and lose rankings in the process. I can’t handle my competitors using the same SEO methods (and in some cases abusing them more) and not being penalized. In some cases they have ranked higher, with less content and crappy sites.

Switch to Bing/Yahoo.

Greg Morrison April 19, 2012 at 9:12 pm

The funny this is this site has been there for more than a month now.

People need to stop circulating the “content is king” stuff when it comes to ranking sites in google.

Good post.

DWaters April 19, 2012 at 9:35 pm

Hi Jennifer,
This and your last post have indeed been very interesting. It will also be interesting to see how long that blank website says on Google’s page one.
While trying to do whitehat SEO and play by the “rules” it has to be kept in mind that those rules, made up and regularly changed by Google, and those rules are not exactly whitehat themselves!

Patti April 19, 2012 at 9:42 pm

Jennifer,

You really have done a lot of time consuming research into Google, just to find out there are so many inconsistencies. So glad you’re making changes in your focus (away from Google, and focus on content and your readers), I plan to do the same. I’ll just have to do what I feel is best for my sites and (as someone else said) let the pieces fall where they will. As long as I have quality content for my readers, I can be proud of my sites and have a clear conscience!

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences!!!

Umatilla Web Design April 19, 2012 at 9:49 pm

“It’s gotten to where it almost feels as if Google wants the worst to rank well so search users will click their AdWords ads instead in HOPES of getting a better answer to their query than what is shown in the organic results.”

Here, more than anything else in this post, is the wooden stake through the heart of the vampire. Google’s organic search tool exists to enable it to suck profit from searchers. And most of that profit now comes from the large corporations that can afford to pay top dollar for competitive Adwords phrases. If Google’s executives were as smart as they like to think they are, they might realize that their corruption of search will kill their own income stream in the long run. The earlier poster who wished for an “open-source” search engine has hit the nail on the head. We the people must reclaim the internet before the corporations take it from us.

Keith April 19, 2012 at 10:19 pm

Jennifer,

Another great article. It (Google’s 2-faced practices) sucks, but I’m not really all that surprised any more. It seems that I have been reading a lot lately about all of Google apps and how they are trying to take over the world of IM, but only if you are on their team. I think that it will only hurt them in the long run.

Keep up the good work,

Keith

Jim April 19, 2012 at 10:27 pm

I’m involved in the health and fitness niche, and I’ve actually seen more high quality sites ranking high in Google for various health and fitness keywords after all of Google’s algorithm changes. I used to see a lot more crappy sites ranking high before the algo changes.

John April 19, 2012 at 10:33 pm

So what do people recommend as alternative sources of traffic?

Brian April 19, 2012 at 10:47 pm

Getting out of the business. I gave it a great shot for a year, doing local and other clients. I did OK, and got great results for clients, but I find it unsatisfying to chase down the “next best thing” forever, and then get whacked.

I took your Local Biz course and it was great. I don’t regret doing SEO for others for a year, but now I’m going to concentrate on my own websites, and create more content, build my lists, learn more about social networking so I can communicate my own message to my “fans” and clients, and enjoy my own ride.

All the best to the rest of you fighting it out with faceless megaliths.

David April 19, 2012 at 11:19 pm

Google appears to have two words for affiliates and small moms and pops business; drop dead. I read somewhere that the big guys, you know, the ones who bring in like 90% of Google’s advertising revenue complained about their affiliates outranking them. Could it be the reason for all those brand names dominating their SERPs?

There is also the matter of Facebook. For the first time ever Google has something to be scared of. And I love it.

Pawel Reszka April 20, 2012 at 1:53 am

Those big brands don’t realize that people like to read reviews and they want to buy from affiliates. I was in a position that you have described where the merchant kicked me out from their affiliate program because I ranked for their brand name. Guess what I did? I changed my review and pointed that traffic to their best competitor. They thought I would just forget so they could get the traffic without paying me for it. Newsflash! I am still getting paid while stealing customers that search for their brand name lol …they didn’t see that coming.

Ade April 20, 2012 at 12:07 am

Maybe Google don’t want people like you (or me…or anyone else for that matter) giving advice about seo or how to rank no1 in Google..and it certainly seems to be working because nobody has been able to give any credible advice outside of don’t rely on Google. That make money blog could be a curve ball thrown in to get everyone pulling their hair out. Maybe they know or think that the term make money online attracts people that try to game their system so they spread disinformation with strange search results…who knows. Maybe it’s just part of the SEO cold war that goes on every day.

rick April 20, 2012 at 1:21 am

What are other good sites to get traffic from? I saw stubleupon which I use but the traffic seems to die off after a day or two from them. Also, I do not have facebook or twitter, should I. If so how can you get traffic from them? Thanks for your help.

Alex April 20, 2012 at 2:21 am

Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and Digg are all great traffic sources. Getting traffic from them is pretty simple…post interesting content and be active. That’s basically it :)
Good luck.

Paul April 20, 2012 at 1:27 am

interesting post – but isn’t “make money online” a bad choice of keyword on which to base an assumption of what Google’s up to re its overall algo strategy?

they’ve been thoroughly spooked by ‘make money’ and biz op type markets in general for a couple of years now and seem to VERY readily penalise sites with any type of biz op element. I’d guess there’s a strong possibility that a big part of the reason they allow such a cr@p site to rank for that particular keyword is because they – by default – almost consider any website on that topic akin to spam…

meaning that their “valuation” of MOST sites in that niche/keyword is so low that no content is equally good/bad to no content, hence the ability of such a blatantly poor site to rank here? i.e. other content driven sites in the same niche are seen as equally low quality as a blank one in Google’s eyes!

you mention (which is quite interesting) that you’ve monitored a bunch of keywords and markets that you don’t compete in just to get a sense of what Google’s really up to overall – I’m betting that this pattern (empty sites able to rank highly for mega competitive kw’s) hasn’t emerged in the same way across the board in other markets?

regardless of how well/badly google’s rankings algo assesses “quality” and how unfair or ineffective it may be sometimes, have you really seen the same type of occurence in other competitive that are areas seen as more “legit” (by the mainstream and by Google themselves) than “make money online” such as jewellery, insurance, shopping, etc? they’ve definitely swung heavily toward favouring household name brands etc, but I don’t think you’d find empty sites at the top of ranks for competitive terms for these more ‘uncontroversial’ keywords??

would be interested to know…

David April 20, 2012 at 1:53 am

First of all the whole concept of write good content is purely nonsense from googles own perspective. There is no computer I am aware of that decipher what is good content, bad content or any kind of content. It can’t, content is subjective to the readers eyes only.

I could make a website about quantum physics and write total bs in a manner that makes no sense whatsoever to someone who is learned in that field but I may sound like a genius to someone who knows little on the subject. Would Google know the difference? Of course not.

The only way Google can decipher content is to send a human there to read it. With the billions of websites already on the net and who knows how many more being created daily it is impossible for them to judge a site on content alone. Google can tell you to make great sites with great content and they will love you but they are flat out lying when they say that.

It can’t possibly have a thing to do with quality or content and their search results prove that very fact. So what does Google want? That is the million dollar question. Many of us are tired of chasing the ever moving, ever changing target that calls itself Google.

There are a lot of different ways to get traffic to your sites thatdon’t include goolge. Facebook, social media, guest posting, forums, banner exchange, podcasts and on and on.

Pawel Reszka April 20, 2012 at 1:43 am

I think Google needs to make some changes and fast before it gets worse. Did you see some of the threads on TrafficPlanet forum? It’s definitely possible to tank your competitors now. The only people who benefit from all this are the brands with deep pockets and spammers who can replace penalized domains quickly. The way things are at the moment it’s riskier to build authority content websites than producing low quality thin niche affiliate sites and using spam to rank them. Not good. Great post Jennifer. Thanks for the mention.

rcgal April 20, 2012 at 1:56 am

Some of the search result changes lately actually do seem to be good. Google has just been too fickle these days, though. I think they’re getting lots of people to look for other ways to market their businesses, and not through Adwords either. I certainly have been doing more lately to get traffic from other sources, including paid traffic. It will be interesting to see how things shape up through the summer months.

Dana @ Acne Chatter April 20, 2012 at 6:00 am

Hi Jennifer,
Another great post that actually left me laughing. It’s 1:50 am but I could not stop reading the post and subsequently the comments. My favorite was Christopher’s (above) with his hardly any content site ranking #1 in 16,000,000 and getting visitors staying for 15 minutes at a time. As well as Dusan’s “Regarding the blank page that was ranking high, could it be an indication that Google’s found spirituality?” And what about duplicate content. I think, Jennifer, you succeeded to inspire some humor about all this Google mess. Thank you.

Roger Shann April 20, 2012 at 7:50 am

Thanks for that insight Jennifer. I was pretty badly hit by the problem on Sunday/Monday. 3 pages at no 1 for keyword then nothing. Coming back slowly but very frustrating.

Changing my whole approach now and aiming to rely far less on Google as my projects unfold.

Carlton Johnson April 20, 2012 at 10:59 am

Jennifer, I always gobble up your content. Your last two posts I have particularly enjoyed and it aligns perfectly with what I have been saying since about October last year when one of my sites that I consider to be one of the best quality content sites in it’s particular niche, dropped a few rankings in Google.

It didn’t drop much, but if you have been riding number 1 for a buyer keyword with a few thousand searches a month for over a year and then all of a sudden you drop to number 8 then you sure to feel it hit your pocket. Great post and insights (with a personal touch) as always.

p.s. I really enjoyed learning more about you and your golf in your previous post. There are only a handful of “Real people” in this IM space. Thanks for being one of them.

Dave April 20, 2012 at 1:22 pm

Google changed beyond recognition from the around the time where they went public – as soon as they had shareholders to answer to they really started dancing to a different drum. Out goes Labs, in comes Flight / Credit Card / Mortgage search etc.

I remember not long ago hearing that some shareholders weren’t satisfied with the 23% rise in profits, and what should happen after that? A noticeable rise in Google properties on page 1 of the SERPs. So much so that some results returned a page where near enough every result (certainly above the fold) would provide Google with the potential to earn money. To me it’s like they have a dial, and when they crank that dial up, their advertising becomes even more aggressive at the detriment of good quality search results.

Back in the day Google made its name and money by providing the best uncluttered search results and offering truly innovative products like Maps, Earth, and Mail. In return it gained a lot of love and even though it’s now changed its focus, it still continues to ride the wave it created so long ago. Unfortunately (for Google), I see that wave breaking against the rocky shores of its competitors before too long. Right now it’s not only site owners that are noticing the change, but users as well – Nearing her 70’s, even my mother is even commenting that Google results aren’t what they used to be.

So it’s time to face facts. Google’s NOT a search company any more, but an advertising company, and a very good one at that. The problem we face is that there’s been no announcement of that fact and so people finds themselves with misaligned expectations of the service that conveniently provide Googles with one of its biggest money spinners.

I suppose another thing that we forget, is that the likes of you and me are the people that feed Google and allow it to continue battering the small guy. People complain, but there’s never been a backlash capable of rattling Google’s cage. Have you ever wondered what would happen if enough site owners said…

“Ya know what Google… User-agent: Googlebot Disallow: /”

…?

Dusan April 20, 2012 at 2:22 pm

I did a search, ‘APR’ (annual percentage rate). In my case, I was looking for a good article on it. And I found one (It’s mine, wrote it a year ago and forgot about it, he, he, he). But a lot of people who’re looking for APR might want to find a bank or mortgage broker with a low one while a lot of people are googling APR because they want to know what it is and how you use it.

So, good content is not always the same.

If you Google Chicago or New York and a lot of mortgage terms, you get, at the top, Wells Fargo and Bank of America. If you’re looking for a mortgage, they’re not great sites. Because the mortgage you’ll get from them by applying directly will have a higher interest rate (almost always) then if you get your mortgage from them but through a mortgage broker.

Why? Because Wells Fargo and a lot (maybe all) banks like it are also wholesalers. Yup, if they give it to you at 5%, they’re giving it to a mortgage broker at 4.65% or some other lower than 5% interest rate.

Quality depends on what I, the searcher, am looking for. But I might use the same phrase when looking for different things.

I was looking for children’s dentists a while back in my little suburb. I kept getting directories that had little information (just contact info) and a few that had some reviews.

But, first, I got 4 dentists that all said, though in different words, “We’re great. We love you. Fork over some money.”

Good content for me, in this situation, was a directory/review site that had reviews. The 4 dentists at the top, just a waste.

My wife, who thinks I speak a foreign language every time I talk about backlinks, anchor texts and such, has become certain that all the good sites are on page 3 and beyond. So, when she searches, she skips page 1 and 2.

Conclusion? Jennifer, alas, you are right.

In case you’re wondering why I had to use so many words, Pawel Rezka’s comment above is to blame. It stirred something deep in me.

carlos April 20, 2012 at 3:37 pm

Hi everyone,

I’m missing something very important here;

Everyone knows by now that Google is playing us around, and everyone is saying that we shouldn’t rely on Google only for our businesses.
the things I’m missing here is someone telling us where to go, to get free traffic as in SEO.Are there other search engines that provide the opportunity to do SEO, or does anyone knows of any other way?cause it’s nice to know that we’re screwed by Google, but I rather put my focus on what DOES work, than focussing on what’s going wrong.So, anyone?

Max April 20, 2012 at 3:43 pm

Hi Jennifer,

I agree with what you are saying, and it seems that affiliates are getting pushed and pushed out of the SERPs to favour the big brands. What about the impending update though where Matt Cutts has talkied about the over optimisation update coming in so that new sites with ‘Great’ content have the opportunity to rank above the highly SEO’d sites. This suggests that content is key as Matt has said so right? But the reality is to me an untruth, Matt Cutts has often come out with statements in the past but the data to back it up is off. The problem is we all know we should diversify into social media to drive traffic etc but I guess the bottom line is that is just too time intensive for most people, unless they are spamming it to death with services from Fiverr.

Bud Corwin April 20, 2012 at 5:43 pm

Hi Jennifer,
Great post as always. I understand completely where you are coming from. Google is just TOO BIG and they think that they can rule the internet. If enough of us do what you are doing, they just may back off and start realizing that we are the ones who made them who they are today.

As a few have already said, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. There are so many other ways to be found on the net. If we want to be found, then we need to start doing business with other folks.

Please keep us informed on what happens in the following months and thanks again for such an excellent post.

Bud Corwin

Kurt April 20, 2012 at 5:54 pm

Not an isolated incident by any means with no content ranking like crazy for competitive keywords. I work on local clients as well as my own network of affiliate sites.

For me at least in my snapshot….it seems to target “affiliate” keywords, as my local clients haven’t seen any movement whatsoever.

One of my sites is a news/reviews site in the bizop market, and see an example exactly as you describe, content ranking very high

Go google “mlm business” and right there, listing #3 is a blank blog that a marketer just went up and deleted months ago. (without the quotes)

“Hello world! Posted on January 9, 2012 by admin. Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!” right there in the meta description.

I’m just quite frankly speechless at the moment.

Mary Ann April 20, 2012 at 7:44 pm

I love your common sense attitude. Do you have a post or info that show what other traffic sources you use? New to all this. Glad I found you

The Great Gordino April 20, 2012 at 7:47 pm

Very interesting discussion on both posts…
Here’s another way of putting it – if I said you should focus on Myspace for all your traffic, youu”d say I was mad, right?

Maybe, but remember when Myspace seemed all powerful? If you weren’t on it you were missing a trick as it has so much traffic.

Then facebook came along, myspace made changes the users didn’t like, and that was basically that – if you had been using it exclusively as your traffic source, you were back to square one.

My point is one that others have made, if you use Google exclusively, you are putting the control of your traffic flow in the hands of an external influence and it can be switched off at a moment’s notice.

How about switiching to another search engine? It may seem right now that Google will never be overtaken, but that could be a mistake…!

Mike Clarke April 20, 2012 at 7:52 pm

I’ve always viewed Matt Cutts as Google’s propoganda minister; his job is to say the reasonable, sensible things that sound good, make sense on the surface, and keep the journalists happy. If you’re in the SEO game, or active in earning a living online, you know most of the things he says are nonsense. The good news is that Google is not the only game in town, and if people do not get quality relevant results from their searches, they wil go elsewhere. And when they do that, Google is in big trouble indeed. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what the SEO community wants or cares about, only Google’s search audience matters. And if the constant tweaking and fiddling doesn’t build a better mousetrap, we’ll all be optimizing for Bing.

Sounds good to me.

Chip April 20, 2012 at 8:34 pm

Hey PPG!My main site (wealthsmith.com)that I have had for over 12 yrs used to rank page #1 for ‘fastest way to make money online” for years and since 4/11 it was obliterated into never-never land, thanks to an imported black and white bear from China! (Go figure, imported tool)

Well, I have to say that you are the most down to earth blogger around and you tell it like it is. I like that a lot.

Considering the outright greed and yet ignorant masterminds, why are we not mounting a grassroots effort to either put a lot of stock in BING or Yahoo since they still operate their search engines the old way, by correctly building meta tags and such to get proper placement will get your site ranked?

My main site still ranks well in those search engines, but the percentage of traffic is considerably less.

Or, why is someone not erecting a new and bigger search engine that will have the Panda running back to China licking it’s wounds?

Just want to hear your comments

David K April 21, 2012 at 8:20 pm

Hey Chip, in response to your question as to why someone is erecting a new bigger SE, the answer lies in what Dave said above. Google “continues to ride the wave it created so long ago”. The wave might last but sooner or later it will calm, subside or break. I can’t wait for that day. Google got where they are because of conversations like this one, only positive. More of this especially from the general non-marketing population and it will be beginning of the end for the search – correction, advertising – giant.

Charlene April 20, 2012 at 10:38 pm

I have been following you for a long time and I have to say that was the most amazing and eye opening post I have read! I have been procrastinating about building an email list because I am confused about who to learn from. I now realize that I must get this done no matter what the cost.

Sunny April 21, 2012 at 2:01 am

I can understand why people are getting frustrated with Google’s tactics but we also need to remember that if you are trying to compete in a competitive space it is harder to get ranked than if you go for the low hanging fruit where few sites are even writing anything. I think a change of strategy is all that is needed, big brands do not own every topic or subject.

For example look at many micro-niches which have isolated groups of people who are all searching online, a good example would be the “Steampunk” genre. These micro-niche sectors have a passionate audience and they are starving for relevant information.

To me that is what will make the difference in this search engine game plus with mobile search growing bigger everyday due to smart phones, now is not the time to jump ship because things are about to explode with opportunity and profits.

Rose April 21, 2012 at 3:15 am

Actually anomalies like this search ranking are great for providing insight into how Google thinks.

From what I gather Grizzley did do a lot of stuff to that blog, but he also had a TON of loyal fans who linked to him all over the place. He was a BRAND, a genuine one, unlike some of the other people who rank for MMO. What this says to me is that G has dialled up the branding signals in their algo.

You should be pleased, as you have a brand too…

Joe April 21, 2012 at 6:01 pm

Great Post!

I dont think anyone has a problem with a search engine having an algorithm that changes and fluxuates. I dont think anyone has a problem with a search engine having ads that you can bid for against the material that appears in the engine. But I do think that many people have an issue with a search engine owning destination websites that can magically outrank other websites.

it creates a morale and ethical conflict within that company and to many looks very monopolistic. When a search engine can drive traffic to their own blog network, video hosting website, maps, shopping vertical, travel verticals, and social networks over competition websites and be responsible to no one it really starts to look like Standard Oil, ATT and Microsoft all over again.

What I always hear people say about google is this “it’s their engine, they can do what they want.” but likewise Windows was Microsofts software, why couldnt they do what they want? The difference is that Google is not strong arming suppliers to force the issue, they are the supplier so they are just claiming that Google owned properties happen to be more relevant.

Cory April 21, 2012 at 6:01 pm

I think you’ve done a good job showing just how difficult SEO can be and the frustrations inherent with the practice. Seeing these types of poor results lends no credibility to our trade and further diminishes the value of our efforts. Clients want results and when sites like your example show up so well for no (clear) reason, it makes it look like anyone can do site optimization with minimal efforts.

It would be nice to get by without Google and it looks like you’re well positioned to possibly do so, but for so many businesses that depend on the web for income it’s just not feasible. The market (consumer) is on Google and therefore you must be there as well or you’re missing out on a substantial piece of the pie.

Tudor Davies April 21, 2012 at 6:02 pm

With the uprising of social media people don’t have to rely on Google as much. Like you say if you get most of your traffic from Google then they own you.

SteveG April 21, 2012 at 8:16 pm

Welcome to the club, it’s always nice to see a new member.

First I wanted to comment on your analytics screen shot. AWESOME! I have preached for years and years that people need diversified traffic to survive online for the long term. Anyone relying on search for 80%, 90%, 99% of their traffic is going to fail at some point. It’s just the way it is. Seeing your overall search traffic at 35% just warms my heart.

Second, I own a site that I basically forgot about. Hadn’t looked at it in over a year. Imagine my surprise when I saw it in my domain list and thought, I should check on it, only to find it showing a single error line caused when a php upgrade killed the site. 9 months ago. I fixed the site then went to Google to see if it was still ranking. Imagine my surprise to see it still ranking in the top 5 for some reasonably competitive terms.

Google, and search in general, is simply one out of many potential sources of traffic and customers. relying solely on them and building your site to please them s no way to run a business.

Aaron McNeil April 21, 2012 at 9:02 pm

It’s a real shame. Imagine owning a store on Main St. somewhere in the the USA or Canada and the town got to dictate all your signage inside and out, your product placement, who you could set up shop next to etc, it would be horrible! Not to mention that the mayor’s brother, sister, mother, father, cousins, and best friends got dibs on the best locations because he got a small cut of their action. Imagine further, if you decided you didn’t want to have a blue sign like they said you had to, or you wanted to put a different product showcase in the window, the mayor could simply kick you out to set up shop on skid row. Now, it seems to me like google is pretty much the mayor, and if you don’t want to play their way, you get pushed to the side.

Not impressed.

Derek Bowman April 21, 2012 at 10:31 pm

Hello Jennifer:

I am a student at the Search Engine College and have been studying Search Engine Optimization and Pay Per Click Marketing for quite a while now. Even though I think that I will learn enough valuable skills to make it worth it, sometimes I have to wonder if I chose the wrong classes.

Some of the things that you have mentioned in your article, I too have noticed or thought myself in the last year. I’m glad you wrote it, because it put it in a way that will least make everyone think about this reality and what they want to do about it. I think you wrote a very effective post and it must’ve took you a long time to research it and then write the article so I thank you. You’ve convinced me of a few things, that’s for sure.

Best Regards,

Derek Bowman

David Kartuzinski April 22, 2012 at 10:51 am

Whenever I read posts like this, my blood boils. You’re right. The only solution to “pressure” google to behave is simple. Bing just needs to do three things: 1. Contact website owners and convince them to delist themselves from Google, 2. Run TV or other ADs “Great Site” NOT seen on Google. 3. Convince enough websites to do the same. (By offering a huge discount on Ad pricing or something like this)
I assume if enough sites do this, more and more spammy and low quality sites will rise in the search results pushing people over to Bing.
If Bing went on this campaign, reduced or kept their page clutter to a minimum, and dare I say, sort and provide three different type of search results into “Shopping”, “Research or Information”, and “Social” – for the different types of searches – to be different than Google.
I suspect what would happen is searches would flock to Bing and Google would have to shape up and follow their own rules.
Just a couple ideas. Good post, I like your blog and this is the first time I visited you.
-DK

James Welch April 22, 2012 at 12:25 pm

As Tudor Davies says above:
“…if you get most of your traffic from Google then they own you.”

Couldn’t agree more.

Casey Camilleri April 22, 2012 at 5:16 pm

I love your reason why you broke up with Google and you have very valid points. I too believe they are in love with themselves and their properties they create.

I hope some competitor blows them outta the water and we have someone with a smaller head step in.

Stephanie R. Coleman April 23, 2012 at 1:13 am

Hello Pot Pie Girl,

Thank you so much for this information. Being slightly new now to internet marketing this has helped me to figure some things out. I think that what I have figured is that I will do my best to stay ethical within Google’s guidelines, however, I will stop letting these guidelines keep me up at night worrying whether I am doing everything just right when it comes to my blogs! Thanks Again!

Take Care

Wandspiegel April 23, 2012 at 8:16 am

This was such a great read – tells a compelling story, walks through details in an interesting way, and makes you really feel for the author. I wish more stuff in our sphere had this type of personal, narrative voice in the story.

Raymond April 23, 2012 at 2:24 pm

Want another reason for breaking up with Google? Here’s one… Negative SEO is possible! The discussion is in the link below…

http://trafficplanet.com/topic/2369-case-study-negative-seo-results/

Thanks so much Jenn for sharing continuing to share your opinions and knowledge. It would be awesome if we can hear your thoughts about negative SEO in your next blog post. Thanks and take care.

Manuel Steege April 23, 2012 at 4:14 pm

I agree that the whole “write quality content and the links will come” thing is nonsense, at least at this point. My clients and I all took big hits in rankigns with the recent updates, and our methods are nothing but whitehat. Ironically, some of the least “spammy” methods are getting penalized, and it’s even harder for those of us with great content to get noticed.

Jim Spartan April 24, 2012 at 6:28 pm

When empty sites rank above authority it brings a new meaning to diversification. I have thin poorly written 7 page sites from 3 years ago that passed my quality .025 / word 200 page sites when I “cleaned up my act” about 18 months ago. Re-did the ads on the thin sites and helped compensate the lo$$ when the “quality” sites dived. To me diversification now means duplicate quality sites with garbage sites and win either way.

PPG how much of the 35% search was Google only?

RVASEO April 24, 2012 at 9:37 pm

I have two sites where a junk EMD is ranking above my aged authority sites. Panda 3.3 is driving me absolutely nuts. However, we’ve seen “low priority” projects get more love from the big G. I guess the absence of link building combined with exact match domains is a winner now. Way to go Cutts….

Dietrich L April 24, 2012 at 9:38 pm

Absolutely love love love this article! I am a web developer and I generally act under the assumption that google is part of a greater equation, not the final authority. I believe google should do more with regards to “coming to us” vs making us play it’s games. Solid content should be prioritized! Certainly not tricks or shady practices. On a personal note (not for business), I’ve actually dropped all things google… android, google+, google search (indirectly use duckduckgo.com which does anonymously search google), chrome and other various google services/products.

Lex April 25, 2012 at 12:48 am

I used to make good money with google, like two good ICT salaries a month, and they used even to send me some of thos fancy xmas gifts.. so life was good and I was doing my work the best I could. But some 1.5 years ago their algo’s started going crazy and nearly killed my money making site, even though I never used black hat. I posted some stuff on google’s blog where dudes from webpronews claimed ‘google was listening’ but in a few weeks time that I tracked the post, nobody bothered to give some decent answer, so I just moeved on. Now I’m making less then $1000 a month with adsense, but it’s ok with me, google had way too much power over me anyway. So I now have a little daily job next to my web stuff, it’s a job I enjoy and where I’m getting more and more hours, which means, from 80+ % being dependent on google, I’m now dependent less then 50% on them and I intend to be not more then 30%. Today they asked me once more to do survey, refering to their e-mail from last week, but I kindly said NO… I don’t want to.

I know I’m walking some minor riscs by writing this, but I used to love google and sadly like this story points out, I too can see some crappy shit floating on high positions while sites of some hard working folks are suffering for no particular reason or no reason at all. Either way, I’m willing to take this risk as within a month or two my dependency on google shall be 30% or less, so they can do whatever they want, I don’t care… and if they want my respect back, they better start talking to me and people like me, in stead of being ignorant. Roman empire didn’t last forever either, they should know that.

Lex April 25, 2012 at 12:58 am

Forgot to mention, from being 100% dependent on google for traffic, I’m busy for a while now to drive the most part of traffic from facebook, twitter and else where. In ideal world I want google to be responsible for not more then 30% of my entire traffic.

One more reason why I like your blog post. It’s honest and to the point.

Robert C - The Wholesale Products Guy April 25, 2012 at 3:45 am

Wow, this is one of the best articles about Google’s “best practices” (lol) I have read in a while. I always thought that Google was a bit dodgey when it came to ranking sites. I was kind of disappointed and saddened as well to see your example of the blank “make money online” page ranking so well.

Sort of makes me want to get a bunch of cheap “one dollar a month” web hosts and put up blank pages for all the keywords I want to rank for! I also agree one hundred percent that you cannot rely on the Google Gods to totally provide you with all of your traffic. I know that I did not get into this business to work for a search engine.

With that being said (and in case I missed it somewhere on your site – or in this article – my apologies) how are you generating traffic to your money sites – minimizing the Google SE foot print?

I would assume that you are using social media? Any unique methods of using SM you want to share? Also, what type of paid campaigns, if any are you using? Adwords? CPV? Your thoughts?
Thanks in advance…..Robert C – The Wholesale Products Guy

????? ??????? April 25, 2012 at 9:01 am

hey,,great post first,,we have in google when we search about tech news..in 1st and 2nd pages 80% of them haven’t been updated since years !! i don’t know why google keep them in this ranking while other blogs about tech who really dailly update at 3rd and 4th pages ! thats really sad

nick April 25, 2012 at 9:17 am

after doing internet marketing for about 4 years and 1 thing i’ve learned is that SEO is short term business. a few google updates will make you realize just how much time you waste on something you do not own. i’ve been slowly building a web service that will rely 100% on brand name and recurring visitors. although it will take a long time to polish and exceed the competition, it will have a much bigger, and longer-lasting payoff than doing SEO
jm2c

Fernando Veloso April 25, 2012 at 10:14 am

Google only has one goal: sell Adwords to scared/frustrated webmasters. Sadly, this is what the biggest SE of the world has become: a money sucker.

Ryan April 25, 2012 at 10:36 am

Btw, That site, as of this moment is ranked #2 for that search term. It’s ridiculous.

I will never break up with Google as long as they have traffic. I like to gamble with them. They aren’t very smart either.

Derek April 25, 2012 at 7:07 pm

Oh, wow! This new Google “webspam” update is a joke. You know the keyword and website Jennifer mentions in this post….well, now that site isn’t just on the first page. It’s the #1 website for “make money online”…

Are you kidding me?!?!?!

Vera April 25, 2012 at 7:19 pm

I was amazed today to see a site I’ve been tracking from a company I used to work for – when I was there I worked diligently on fresh, well-written content – no spammy links etc. I watched it begin to drop after I left (3 years ago), due to not updating but also bad management. Now all the top navigation items lead to BLANK pages – something is up with their content management. I thought – this will kill the site – and it did start to drop. One year later Google updates their algorithm and this site is back on top – #2 on that most competitive phrase in my industry. And all those main pages? Still blank.

GoldenMan April 26, 2012 at 4:41 am

Very good post… I have learned a lot just here. It’s so true if Google gives you 50% of your traffic they own 50% of your company. So now your at their mercy. Google SEO Slap anyone?

Ricky Staniforth April 28, 2012 at 10:40 am

Oh wow. Just wow. Read this post with my eyes getting wider and wider.

Things STARTED to go wrong for us when I attended a Google site-clinic with a colleague. After reviewing what we ‘had learnt’ over the next few days, we started to clean up our content to make them (Google) happy. Basically, according to the bods from Google at the clinic, we had good content, but it could be better.

It’s been a downward slip, with a plummet onto the poison coated spikes at the end ever since.

Content means virtually nothing. It’s all about the adwords.

Penny Go April 28, 2012 at 2:43 pm

Hi Jennifer,
I know you broke up with Google, I’m looking for a good 12 Step program myself: Hi my name is Penny and I’m in recovery for affiliate marketing codependense with an abusive partner that I love and just want to please…. Daddy Google doubled my traffic on the day of Panda, and wiped away 75% on the day of Penguin. I’m taking some positive steps for my own sake. I’m pushing through on a few online goals that do not require Adsense, and I’m making an unpublished blog with a copy of each post from my camper site. I’m going to remove my ads, increase the content of each post and re-publish. I’ll be going live with my new revised content, but I’ll have the backups on an unpublished site. I really do think I can clean up my content to ad ratio, and that’s what I’ll target. “Hi, my name is Penny, and I’m a recovering internet marketer.”

Kim April 29, 2012 at 2:01 pm

Penny, the same thing happened to me. My website is full of top-notch content, nothing spammy, playing by the rules. I sailed through Panda and watched my traffic increase. Now I’m down at least 50% in traffic and about 2/3 in earnings. I think the focus moving forward is 1) building the list, and really learning how to market and build relationships, and 2) Social media, guest blog posts, and other forms of traffic. I really did believe that doing the right thing (content is king! no black hat!) would win out in the end with Google, but it’s just not true. I’m considering leaving internet marketing all together.

Helen April 29, 2012 at 5:30 am

I can’t believe that latest Penguin. What is going on. Come on there has to be a roll back for that! Results are coming up that are basically one page junk pages/ large companies selling something that maybe remotely linked to the phrase and things getting muddle up for things not even near the keyword.

Marcus Holland April 30, 2012 at 7:44 pm

I came across this SERP earlier. Loon at number one – what a joke!

https://www.google.co.uk/search?aq=f&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=excalibur+oil#hl=en&sclient=psy-ab&q=forex+guides&oq=forex+guides&aq=f&aqi=g4&aql=&gs_nf=1&gs_l=serp.3..0l4.274718.276220.0.276283.12.11.0.0.0.0.279.1229.4j4j1.9.0.NqCUAHL6N6o&pbx=1&fp=1&biw=1517&bih=741&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_cp.r_qf.,cf.osb&cad=b

jp May 1, 2012 at 3:27 pm

This really means don’t use any other advertisers to drive traffic to your Web site ONLY use GOOGLE if Google sees you advertise anywhere else they will PUNISH you and remove you from their listings. This is the GOOGLE DOMINATION FACTOR highly illegal and is considered to be an ANTITRUST VIOLATION as it’s trying to be a monopoly on the Web! Yes those RUSSIAN have landed!

DesignsOnline May 1, 2012 at 4:04 pm

It is incredibly fraustrating, having paid many different SEO companies to do whitehat SEO for us for 10 years, and now the understanding of what is constituted white hat has suddenly been changed and we along with many other are being penalised for What we did years ago, when Google said it was fine to do it.

They shouldnt be allowed to penalise you for following their own guidelines, if they find links that they dont like or feel are irelevant, they should simply ignore them.

Im with you regarding looking for another stream of traffic, im fed up with relying on Google to bring me customers…

jp May 1, 2012 at 4:32 pm

Regarding: makemoneyforbeginners.blogspot.com

I searched for the phrase “make money for beginners blog” and could not find your site. About 21,500,000 results without quotes
I also searched for the phrase “make money online” and again could not find your site. About 2,000,000,000 results without quotes

So I did a search to see how many listing the site has in Google, it shows only 8 pages are now listed and they apparently removed your previously highly ranked page which was in a top listing of position #9 from their index.
site:makemoneyforbeginners.blogspot.com

According to Compete the site is Dropping from 9,000 visitors per month down to 700 per month
http://siteanalytics.compete.com/makemoneyforbeginners.blogspot.com/

Google is up no good again and dropping blogs from their high rankings!

I suspect that any combination of Adsense and trying to get rankings will be penalized as soon as they recognize you have developed some kind of real traffic. I recommend trying alternative CPC channels that have high payouts. If you can generate 1M visitors per month then Yahoo and Bing are a good option to their Ad delivery system. Anything less than 1M you’ll need to really look hard for other Ad delivery networks.

YM May 3, 2012 at 6:47 am

If you’re in the same situation as I am, and have been screwed by Google without an apparent reason or explanation, please submit formal complaints to the FTC: https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/

The FTC has hired a big shot attorney, Beth Wilkinson (40-0) who will kick Google right where it hurts. Help by formally posting your complaints and urge others in the same situation to do the same! Together we can win!

Best,

Your Friendly Anti-Google Guy

Chris May 11, 2012 at 12:39 pm

Complaining to the FTC is too slow. If everyone switched to yahoo/bing, that would topple Google. I’ve switched. Have you?

Matt Fielding May 11, 2012 at 7:59 am

I love this post, I could chat to you for hours about what you’ve learned over the years. I’ve seen some strange results too, not as extreme as the above but seeing things like blog posts ranking for our top service-based keyword targets, I don’t see how this answers the query of someone looking for the services we provide. Frustrating.

linda May 11, 2012 at 11:39 am

What do you think about situation with SOPA/PIPA protest, when wikipedia.com actually hid they text under black picture with absolutely other text (and it was the same at every page). Cutts said in his blog that webmasters need to use 503 server answer while on protest, so the “new@ contect wouldn’t reindex and website would loose their rankings.
Wikipedia.com didn’t follow this instruction. The used hidden text. Their ranking didn’t change.

Matt Fielding May 11, 2012 at 3:17 pm

I would imagine Wikipedia’s domain is so strong that it would take much, much more than this to bring them down. Nobody’s campaign succeeds or fails on a single ranking factor, IMO.

lizette May 17, 2012 at 3:04 am

I think it’s time to stand up to the Google tyranny. I mean, this is the United States and we’re being terrorized and treated unfairly by a near monopoly. So, this is a real shout out for folks to stop using Google and start using Bing or another search engine. If many of us did this, defended ourselves and showed it by pulling away from these Google twits, it just might have some kind of an impact on an out-of-control search engine like Google. Now, I’m not all that fond of Microsoft (who has their own brutal business story) but what I’m saying is that we’ve all had more than enough from those idiots over at Google. So, now go and really do something about it!

David May 19, 2012 at 2:15 pm

You to know what really irks me about Google? The pushing of brands. Google is no longer a search company but an advertising company: but that has been said already. I’ll give an example.

I was recently looking for information about “bovine colostrum” without the quotes. Google threw brands (their shopping comparison thing) in my face. So I decided to go for a more information-oriented keyphrase and entered “what is bovine colostrum”, again the quotes. Again I got brands thrown in my face. So I decided to go to Bing.

A search using “what is bovine colostrum” (without quotes) on Bing brought me all kinds of REAL information. I was seeking information not brands. I now know what “bovine colostrum” is, why it is named that way and a whole lot more about colostrum, thanks to Bing. This has happened many more times previously for other searches, where I simply wanted information but got brand names on Google and then got information on Bing.

Google could shoot itself in foot seriously with this brand names obsession. Brands are NOT always the solution as they seem to believe. At least in my above case they weren’t. If I want information, I want information. Good information at that. If an affiliate is offering the best information, that’s what I should see. Period.

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