About Author Article Credit Links Being Devalued By Search Engines From Article Farm Sites

Apr 11, 2006 • 8:34 am | comments (7) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Link Building Tips & SEO

A WebmasterWorld forum thread asks Do article links expire? He asks this because he noticed a drop in backlinks recently. After skipping over the first few posts, I noticed WebmasterWorld moderator sugarrae, respond. She said that she noticed the same "thing this week." She made a distinction between "out of the box" article directory sites and sites that have an "editorial process" when accepting articles. The links from the sites that have the editorial process are still worth something, she explains. Whereas the other "out of the box" article directory sites are not.

She concludes;

Article sites weren't a mass link building tool a year ago. And much like everything else, things being abused usually inspire changes in search engine algorithms.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

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Chris Beasley

04/11/2006 01:13 pm

I don't buy that. Not that I don't think that Google dislikes signature spam as much as any other kind of spam. But rather I don't buy that there is an algorithmic process to discern whether or not an article goes through an editorial process before posting. Perhaps "mod sugarrae" could shed some light on his/her process of deduction that caused him/her to make that conclusion. The fact is that Google's backlink reporting has been spotty for years, and has never shown all backlinks that it knows about and considers for ranking purposes. So drawing any conclusion from one update's worth of observation is probably not a good idea. Plus, is there really a problem here that needs correcting? These massive article sites that host articles on every and all topics are so large that by the time you get to a signature any PageRank (ie weight) that has filtered down from the homepage has been so diluted that the link is going to be of very little benefit. Then with more advanced link context algorithms the fact that the article site hosts articles on all topics means that your link is going to be worth less than from a niche site. Finally, article signature links really are most beneficial when you write a good quality article for a good quality site. This is because such articles don't rely on the site's navigation for PageRank etc, but often get their own incoming links, directory listings, etc. No one lists article farm articles in directories or links to them from blogs. Users don't like those sites anymore than search engines do, so as time passes they don't accumulate any addition weight, but the quality site does, and so in comparison the benefit from these farm sites drops when compared to quality article sites.


04/11/2006 04:40 pm

"About Author Article Credit Links Being Devalued By Search Engines From Article Farm Sites" ..is a pretty hard to read title because of all the capitalizing. "About Author Article Credit Links being Devalued by Search Engines from Article Farm Sites" ..would be slightly easier to read.


04/11/2006 04:41 pm

Sorry - was away and just saw this... As far as identifying crap article directory sites, <a href="http://www.google.com/search?num=100&hl=en&lr=&rls=gglg%2cgglg%3a2005-40%2cgglg%3aen&as_qdr=all&q=%22Powered+by+Article+Dashboard%22">one lone search string</a> can identify a ton of them - and that was with two seconds of thought and no effort. I'm sure the engines are putting way more effort into identifying them. My whole basic point about in that thread was that articles aren't useless, but that the engines may have found a way to start "noticing" crap sites and filtering any weight from them out. I also, said it was too early to say anything for sure. But - either way, the days of writing 300 word crap articles and submitting them to 100 article directories appear to be dwindling to a fast close. You need quality articles being printed on quality sites - or on your own site and bringing in the links from the outside. Whew - I'm exhausted... lot of travel this month.

Barry Schwartz

04/11/2006 04:50 pm

robzilla, I switched to Title Case for articles since beginning at SEW. Just force of habit now. Sorry.

Chris Beasley

04/11/2006 08:13 pm

Identifying one company or software suite and deciding to ban or penalize it is a far cry from inventing an algorithm that discerns activities that take place off the Internet (ie editorial review). One is a bandaid, the other is a cure. So unless Google has an algorithm up it's sleeves called English Teacher 1.0 that grades articles based on proper sentence structure, use of appropriate diction, and appropriately presented subject matter, I don't think they have to a way to automatically discover how much thought/effort authors/webmasters put into their variously published articles. No search engine has found a way to measure quality without human intervention. They can look for red flags that mark lack of quality, but in deciding which of two quality sites is better they still rely on us, and all the little links we make to sites we find useful. The advice of writing quality content is good advice that transcends SEO, but implying what the title of this post implies is just a mess of assumptions that no one is equipped to make. In addition to the assumption that Google has some algorithmic basis of grading sites on the AF (article farm) scale. There is also the assumption that it can weed out and thus give lower value to a signature link. I think many SEOs would benefit from a little programming experience. A signature link might be readily apparent to humans, but try designing a machine who can accurately pull out a signature link as opposed to related links, further reading, pagination navigation, miscellaneous footer navigation, links within article content, etc. Sure, if every site used the same CMS it would be easy, but they don't, so you can't use formatting clues if you want any semblance of accuracy. Admittedly Google's programmers are smarter than me, but identifying signatures using nothing but language cues has got to be up there with asking a computer to describe what a poem means. As such a more likely result would be Google devaluing all the links from a site it considers spammy. However, this is not what this theory claims. My point being that the more things within a theory an author is wrong about the less water I put into said theory.


04/11/2006 09:39 pm

>>>They can look for red flags that mark lack of quality, but in deciding which of two quality sites is better they still rely on us I never said they invented a new smarter than human algorithm. I said they've likely figured out a way to spot crap article directory sites. The article dashboard was one, *one* small, puny example and was noted as such. Automatic vs. review process was a *general* statement. >>> but implying what the title of this post implies is just a mess of assumptions that no one is equipped to make. I didn't create this thread or this title. I simply responded with a thread in another forum that was then snippeted in partial format here. >>>I think many SEOs would benefit from a little programming experience. I actually have quite a bit. And it is very easy to look for tell tale clues of a site... thats what tons of scrapers and signers *do* - if "we" (I am using that term as a general term) are smart enough to figure out how to identify specific site types such as forums and forms - Google isn't? >>>Google has some algorithmic basis of grading sites on the AF (article farm) scale Not sure why it is universally accepted that they can identify link farms this way but when you apply the same logic to article farms it becomes absurd? Would it be perfect, of course not. Would it catch a big portion of the crap, probably. >>>However, this is not what this theory claims. To each his own. But, I didn't submit a whitepaper on article link development to be graded by my teacher. I posted a passing thought, on a message board, that was clearly appended with "Too early to lean either way at the moment for me." I certainly never expected to have specific ommissions (well what about article directories on a custom CMS created by Bob on Sunday marketing only to tweens) be assumed to be included. But, as I said, to each his own. The passing comment was never meant to be sold in report format by Jupiter Research. That said, I've been away a long time - Chris - anything further, email me. :)

Michael Martinez

04/11/2006 09:57 pm

Another non-issue from the backlink-obsessed crowd at WMW. The rule of thumb in SEO is, every good idea will be abused. The faster an idea is abused, the sooner it becomes worthless. What did these guys expect, that they could continue milking what was always a fringe source of links and visibility anyway? Linking schemes only produce great results for people who are first-users. They produce good results for second-users, and they produce mediocre results for third-users, etc. The article farm idea has been overpromoted and the scraper sites just ate up all that free content. The e-ecosystem tends to recalibate or rebalance itself whenever an idea becomes huge.

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