So, as you may have noticed with my notorious link whoring, I recently joined a freelance writing site. I picked Suite101 over Examiner due to higher editorial oversight and general content quality. I made about $3 in 5 days, which is actually better than average for the average newbie freelance blogger. But still, I checked out their writer forum to see if others had insight into how they were doing.
Apparently, people who have been on the site for years found a massive drop in revenue in the last couple months. People who had way more articles than me were not not doing vastly better. The phrase “Google panda” came up over and over again on the forum. Instead of trying to trace the orignal conversation, I, of course, turned to Google. (No, unfortunately, Google didn’t adopt a Panda cub.)
I found a great article, apparently unharmed or able to surpass the limitations of Google Panda. Here’s what I learned:
- Google has a codename or nickname for their search algorithm. Formerly “Caffeine,” it is currently “Panda,” named after one of their engineers.
- The change was prompted in early 2011 by a call to help weed out “low quality” sites from the searches. This includes websites from content farms.
Via wikipedia: “Content farm is used to describe a company that employs large numbers of often freelance writers to generate large amounts of textual content which is specifically designed to satisfy algorithms for maximal retrieval by automated search engines. Their main goal is to generate advertising revenue through attracting reader page views.” < Suite 101 sounds like it fits the criteria.
- Unfortunately, what determines this “low quality” isn’t always relevant to the quality of writing. Wisegeek, which I always thought had great articles, took a 77% hit in traffic, based on keyword exposure. Simply by having a site with multiple ads hosted by AdSense (iroincally owned by Google) can hurt your ranking.
A Wired.com interview discusses Suite101:
Wired.com: I spoke to someone yesterday who runs a site called Suite 101. His rankings have tanked, and his keyword traffic is down 94 percent. He says that it’s not fair, since he commissions and curates his own articles and contends the quality is high.
Cutts: Oh, yes. Suite 101, I’ve known about it for years.
Wired.com: So why did this guy take a much bigger hit than Demand Media, which has a reputation as the classic site that wins high rankings for low-quality content?
Cutts: I feel pretty confident about the algorithm on Suite 101.
I’ll still be using Suite101 for certain articles, simply because a couple bucks is better than the nothing I’m getting on WordPress. But in terms of SEO (Search Engine Optimization), my experience finds WordPress better for Google exposure. Fair or not? Probably not, but at least I’m aware of it.