Hey… can you guys hear that? I think I may be able to hear the winds of change advancing upon affiliate land!
In recent weeks I’ve been hearing campfire-esque affiliate horror stories told in hushed tones from some corners of the internet. There are tales of affiliate websites being hit with the dreaded Google slap and *gasp* some of them have unique content.
Google’s New “Low Quality” Algo Tweak
It was only ever a matter of time – but in recent days Google’s very own Matt Cutts has announced that there has been an algo change to try and weed out sites with “shallow or low-quality content“. Of course the announcement is very vague in nature, but it’s clear this is a further advance on the Mayday Update which had so many affiliates shuddering in horror.
The key question here is, what constitutes low quality content? I’d suggest that this is something all us affiliates should be giving some mighty careful consideration. “Low quality” is not the same as “Non Unique”. Two recent cases in point from the Google Webmaster help threads when the algo tweak began to bite should serve to illustrate my point neatly: –
The Case Of The Travel Site Owner
A travel site owner found his site complete with unique content had been slapped silly. Now, whether or not this was justified aside Google Employee John Mu posts some useful points to the thread including: –
- “One thing that is very important to us with affiliate-oriented sites is that the site provides enough unique and compelling content of its own, that it would stand on its own feet if the affiliate content were removed.”
- “our algorithms generally tend to prefer sites that are either the original source (saving the user time on clicking through) or sites that have really strong content.“
I really feel for the webmaster in that thread, when you read through it his anguish is all too obvious.
The Case of Unique Not Being Unique Enough
In another thread, a webmaster complains that Google has penalized my entire network of 30+ sites (credit to Lee McCoy who posted the link on Facebook!). He scores a reply from Matt Cutts himself. In this case Matt is saying that although his content is unique on the face of things, it’s not very high quality and therefore not considered unique enough by the algo.
Specific Examples Aside…
What we as affiliates should all be taking away from this is that we need to make sure what we are providing users isn’t just the same as a merchant site, or equal in quality. It must surpass the information people can get by going straight to the merchant.
Due to a lack of wholesale wailing and gnashing of teeth from the affiliate world I’d say that Googles algos are developing subtly. However, as we see time and time again Google constantly raise the bar on us affiliates. I think it’s time for us all to take a step back, look at our sites sites, and ask “Does this add value over and above what my users can find on the merchant site?”.
If the answer is no, or you’re not sure I think it’s time to start working towards changing that. The thing about a truly valuable resource is that it takes a heck of a lot of time and effort to build. In my opinion it’s better to start now and avoid potential pain later. I’m certainly going to do this as of today. My mantra will be “I have to be better than the merchant”.
If the Google boogey man doesn’t eventuate (and lets face it Google love to slide on the boogey man outfit where affiliates are concerned!), my websites will be much better for my efforts and will ultimately benefit my business more.
I’d say that was a win-win, huh?