Google Search Algorithm change - Death to creativity


Major update, October 2011: Please see the latest updates further below.

On April 11, 2011, Google changed its search algorithm. Supposedly, the change was designed to filter out farming sites, copycats and alike and only allow high-quality content. What it did was it may have filtered out some of the undesirable spam, but it mostly hurt good sites. Tons of high-quality sites, writing only original content, have been harmed by the algorithm, including Dedoimedo. For me, 50% drop in incoming Google searches.

I may be exaggerating, reacting prematurely or even putting my own site at risk by voicing my objection to the core strategy of a multi-billion dollar giant. Things may also change, for better or worse. But I could not simply hold it inside. I had to let it out. I had to let you know what, how, when, and why. What I want to show is that this new algorithm does not work. It penalizes original content and promotes scammers, harvesters, and copycat sites.

Example 1: Linux games

Until April 11, if you searched for "linux games" or "best linux games", my article would show in the top five searches. Since this date, it does not show at all. Here's what happens. You open Chromium and type "best linux games" in Google. You get the following picture. Please pay attention to the fourth and fifth entries in the search.

Example

Specifically the fourth:

Harvesting

It reads: "Best is subjective. My best may not be your best ..." Then, a screenshot from Urban Terror, followed by another from Savage 2. Looks familiar? Maybe because this is my original content, copied entirely, including hotlinks to images!

Original work

The fifth link is Linux Today, which leads eventually to my own article. So we have a Linux news site, which is legitimate, a really good site actually, and we have a site that copied my content without permission, both showing.

Where is Dedoimedo? Nowhere. Completely gone. Original content, out.

If you search for the first paragraph of my article, you get:

Search phrase

A link to the copycat article, a link to a Facebook page, which recycles the same content, then a link to another article, which even admits: Here's a good article from Dedoimedo, but then points to the copycat.

So apparently, Google's algorithm checked how many times the copycat was referenced versus my own work and decided that majority wins. So I'm out. And everyone else wins.

Quote

That's marvelous, isn't it?

Another example: Linux tutorial

One example, a coincidence? You're wrong. Here's another, even worse example. My tutorial showing how to install DirectX in Linux using Wine. Not bad. It used to fare fairly well. But since April 11, you Google for "wine directx" and you see this:

Another example

Take a look at the second link. It's another copy & paste, word for word of my own work. Now, I've tried contacting the owner to get this thing sorted, nothing. So I replaced the first image with a "stolen" banner I use for these kinds of incidents.

Stolen, image

And here's my original:

Original work

Again, creativity and original content -1, scammers +1. How lovely. Not only does my work not show AT ALL, you get copycat sites featuring high and mighty, and even though they hotlink images, even though there's a clear notification that this content is stolen, Google's fabulous algorithm features their work and not mine, the original.

That's called mathematical justice at its best.

Example 3

Now, let's take a look at my Backtrack review, which is one of my most popular articles in terms of how often it is being stolen word for word. Here it is, my article. Now, we will copy an entire paragraph and search in Google.

Backtrack

We will grab the following: Backtrack is one of the more popular ... Now, let's see what Google's engine brings us back. You guessed right, not Dedoimedo content but a handful of parasite pages stealing my content:

Backtrack on Google

Dedoimedo actually shows in the 17th slot, on page 2, after some 15 thefts and one legitimate source quoting me. What do you think? Isn't this lovely. In this case, we have fifteen points for morons out there and -1 point for the original author of this piece.

I have many more examples. Need I say more? This is a FAILURE of highest order. I may be a little guy who can't compare even to Google's piss droplets, but I can tell a bad algorithm when I see one. I'm not afraid to raise my voice and tell the truth.

More reading

You can follow interesting discussions below:

Think you're affected by the recent algorithm change?

Official Google Webmaster Central Blog

Death to creativity

Now, the core message ... This is, officially, death to creativity. People who invest years and years of hard work, love and passion, are simply snubbed and ignored and penalized, just because someone wrote a shoddy mathematical function. Or worse, took a deliberate effort to make a change in favor of bad guys. But I can't believe that. I want to believe this is only a glitch in statistics.

Even so, I can't not feel angry and hurt.

You know me. High-quality guides and tutorials all the way, never a word of compromise, never one step skipped. Not without a reason my tutorials on pretty much everything have ranked first or among the first all these years. GRUB, GParted, RAID, CloneZilla, VirtualBox, installation guides and reviews of popular distributions, hundreds of games meticulously tested, it's all 100% original content, 100% effort and love. And now, all that is being destroyed.

It's not the money, it's not the traffic. Some people have it much worse. They actually depend on their sites for living. For me, it's a hobby. I feel good about helping people and writing cool stuff. Even if only one person read my site, I would still do it, because I love and enjoy helping and creating art. But apparently, that's not good enough. If that's not high-quality and original content as Google demands, then I don't know what else is.

Please help

Going through thousands of posts on Webmaster Tools, I'm not the only victim. Hundreds of excellent, high-quality, original, and reputable sites, including many of my favorite Linux portals, have been hit. Their reputation is at stake. Even their revenue. But worst of all, their pride and hard work have been sullied for no good reason.

Please spread the word about this situation, and wherever and whenever you can, if you see original content from your favorite sites being reused in a link-scam manner that filters out the original author, please report these as spam and suchlike.

Support your favorite sites. Now, I'm not expecting tears of sympathy or donations. Far from it. I want you to tell EVERYONE you know about this, so they think twice before they write anything in a search box or click on a link.

I'm waiting to see how things will evolve. But it seems to me that if you can't trust a search engine with your queries, then maybe you should not be using it all.

Update, April 23

A small update. I have filed some 30 Google spam and copyright infringement reports in the last two days. One thing must be said, Google is serious about these things. They have already responded on most of these and removed the offending content. At least something is right.

I have also filed a reconsideration request and it came back clean. There's no manual penalty against me for whatever reason, which is to be expected, since my site is pure and clean and valid HTML and CSS, with simple navigation and a comfortable depth of no more than three links, and this is the worst case. Moreover, I have also received a mail from Google informing me that I'm actually using too few ads on my pages. Namely, Google allows up to three banners and three text links, but I'm using two, at most. In their words, I'm missing more than one thousand ad placements.

So, clean content, few ads, just as they ask for, and no manual errors. So we have the full glory of mathematics to bear. But then I guess I need anger. In the long run, I will recover the lost traffic, I'm absolutely certain of that. My content is among the best on the Web, if not the best, and I'll bet my own kidneys on that. But I'm not sure about Google's credibility. It's not my ass they have to worry about. It's theirs.

And we shall have a review of a new and exciting search engine soon, so stay tuned.

Update, October 2011

Well, half a year ago, I whined like a little girl when Google made its algorithm change, and accused the company of killing creativity, so it's only fair to partially withdraw some of those accusations. As of mid-October 2011, there has been another Panda update. Only this time, it completely reversed the fortune of what it has achieved in the past six months.

Namely, back in April, my incoming Google search traffic dropped from some 5-6K daily visits to about 3.5K visits a day, roughly a 50% hit. Now, following the latest October update, there are some 8-9K visits from Google searches every single day and holding. All this, according to Google Analytics, which means there's some extra 10-20% Google traffic that is not counted in these statistics, as a fair number of my users are geeks who block the Google Analytics service and/or Javascript. All in all, my total daily traffic now exceeds a handsome 22-23K views. I expect some 750,000-800,000 monthly views by the end of the year, a million by April or May 2012. Let's see how things work out. Meanwhile, here's the graph showing Google's incoming searches; notice the spike midmonth:

New trend

This new figure matches exactly the extrapolated, projected values in the rather steady and linear growth that my website traffic has exhibited in the past year or so. It is as if the intermediate spring and summer seasons never happened.

I find the change refreshing for several reasons. There's the slight monetary factor, of course, but the important one is a personal feeling of accomplishment. I have not changed a single thing in how I run my website, including titles, topics, style, links, anything at all. Apparently, over a span of six months, this turned out to be either bad or good, if you judge by the algorithm changes. And therefore, it shows that it has nothing to do with actual quality or would-be SEO considerations. My content rules. Period.

A lesser man might succumb to the pressure and alter their work, affecting their creativity, trying to please the external entities dictating the trends and popularity. I have stayed true to myself. And judging by this year's ups and down, I'm winning. Of course, yet another change could supposedly put me at the bottom rung again, but that's irrelevant. Finally, why am I writing all this? Because Google now deserves praise for amending a wrong, even if the credibility stain must remain forever. Second, this little update is to encourage all the authors and web owners worldwide to remain true to their passion.

Will keep you updated.

Cheers.

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