EzineArticles Aims to Get Rankings Back, Following Google Algorithm Update

CEO on Getting Back in Google's Good Graces

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Google’s recent algorithm update aimed at content farms has drawn a mixture of praise and criticism. Much of this has from those questioning how Demand Media’s eHow was actually helped by the update, despite often being associated with the phrase "content farm".

EzineArticles was one of the hardest-hit sites by the update. CEO Chris Knight wrote a blog post about how his site was affected, and what he is doing to try and get back up in the rankings. 

"While we adamantly disagree with anyone who places the ‘Content Farm’ label on EzineArticles.com, we were not immune to this algorithm change," said Knight. "Traffic was down 11.5% on Thursday and over 35% on Friday. In our life-to-date, this is the single most significant reduction in market trust we’ve experienced from Google."

Chris Knight of EzineArticles Talks Impact of Google Algorithm  Update"Google has a lot of smart PhD types working on this problem that I believe is not over by a long-shot. Reason: If you do a query for popular terms that we formerly ranked very high with, instead of an EzineArticles result, you may find low-quality sites that deliver even lower value to the user than our own members’ content! This is frustrating for sure," he added.

To try and get back into Google’s good graces, EzineArticles is reducing the number of article submissions accepted by over 10% – articles that "are not unique enough". It will no longer accept article submissions through a WordPress Plugin. They’re reducing the number of ads per page. They’re raising the minimum article word count to 400. They’re "raising the bar" on keyword density limits. They’re removing articles considered "thin and spammy", and will put greater focus on rejection of advertorial articles. Submitted articles are required to be exclusive to the submitter (but won’t be required to be unique to Ezine Articles). 

Adding NoFollow to all links was on the list of things to do, but Knight decided against it after complaints from submitters erupted in the comments on his post. Among the first to complain was copywriter Susan Greene, who said that many of the copywriters actually give priority to EzineArticles because of the lack of NoFollow. 

When another commenter suggested that EzineArticles doesn’t exist to provide authority to submitters’ sites, but to provide  beneficial information to the readers, Greene wrote, "Not sure what Pollyanna planet you’re from but let me assure you, EzineArticles does not exist ‘to provide information that is beneficial to the readers.’ EzineArticles is a business, not a government organization or charity. EzineArticles was created to make its owner(s) money. There’s nothing wrong with that, but don’t fool yourself into thinking they’re a bunch of do-gooders. By the same token, the majority of us who publish on EzineArticles don’t do so to benefit readers. We too are running businesses, and EzineArticles helps our own websites get traffic and ultimately sales."

That ought to help EzineArticles’ case. Google loves content that isn’t written to benefit readers (note sarcasm). 

On removing NoFollow from the to-do list, Knight told commenters, "If you notice, it was near the bottom of our short-list which means it was only icing in the cake to further prove to Matt Cutts and Google that we’re not here to game Google nor let our Expert Authors do so via our platform." 

I’m not sure that point is going to be very well proven if Cutts and co. read the conversation. 

While he said he wouldn’t be acting on it for now, Knight did seem interested in another idea from a commenter: making NoFollow the default and making DoFollow something that could be earned through proof of quality. 

Knight did point out that competing sites that have been including NoFollow were also hit by Google’s update. 

EzineArticles Aims to Get Rankings Back, Following Google Algorithm Update
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  • http://www.greatlegalmarketing.co.uk Boyd Butler

    Why doesn’t Mr Knight call Mr Cutts and ask him
    what it would take to get back on board with Google?

    Or is that too normal?

  • http://www.daniweb.com Dani Horowitz

    We were hit equally as hard. We are an online community (www.daniweb.com) that includes both active forums and editorial, and we literally lost over 70% of our US-based traffic overnight. It boggles my mind how we can be considered a “content farm”. In fact, like most forums, we were looking forward to Google’s crack down on “content farms” and “made for AdSense” sites because it was supposed to mean an improvement to sites like us that put out fresh, original, quality content. I know a lot of forums in other niches that saw significant improvements from the update, but it seems that every forum in the technology sector was hit hard.

  • http://www.notmysite.com Guest

    In a normal world scenario, getting the two parties to talk would be the ideal solution. However, Google seems to relish in it’s role of not actually interacting with users and/or customers. If you’ve ever had a problem with AdWords or other such Google products you’ll know what I’m talking about.

    I’m bagging on G because they have too much power. But in their defense, imagine the volume of phone calls they’d have if they personally responded to most complaints? It would be staggering.

    I personally hate dealing with impersonal companies like G. There’s little more frustrating than trying to get in touch with a company about their products, but they don’t offer a phone number to make it easy to do so.

    Note: I am not rising to the defense of content farms here. As I see it, they got what they deserved in this one.

  • Bobo

    Thanks Google. At last I can breathe. Thanks for the Algo. update. Original content is now flowing to the top…

  • http://antiaginghgh-wrinkles.co.uk Ed Beck

    All our sites gained with the exception of an article directory we own. So it seems article directories were hit the most. Could it be the duplicate(same) content we tend to receive in article directories.

    One article could be posted at Ezinearticles.com, Articlesnatch, Articlebase and a lot more and I believe that could be one of the factors why article directories are being hit the hardest.

  • Guest

    I am the victim of people like you. Remember you deceived me by telling wrong traffic. Good to know people like you are out of business. Charlatans have no right to claim fairness.

  • http://blogs.wcnickerson.ca Bill (LoneWolf) Nickerson

    I’d like to point out that your quotation of Susan Greene is actually taken slightly out of context. She was responding to another comment that implied the only reason EZA exists is to provide quality content for the readers and that commercial interests by the authors was not part of their mandate.

    If you look at the context and the other comments that she made you can see that she was pointing out that the basis of EZA is not purely altruistic. The quality content is provided in order to generate revenue. The authors provide the content to generate revenue. Even Google can understand that — it’s what drove this algorithmic change in the first place.

    • Chris Crum

      I (like Google) realize that revenue is a factor, but that particular wording could not be something that Google would find particularly convincing. I don’t feel like I missed the context, as I did read the conversation up to that point.

      As long as we’re talking about context, let’s look at the exact comment that Greene was responding to:

      “EZA doesn

  • http://www.susangreenecopywriter.com Susan Greene

    I see you reprinted a comment I made on the Ezine Articles blog regarding the content it publishes. That comment was misinterpreted here, and I’d like to set the record straight.

    The point I was trying to make is that Ezine Articles is a business. It is not a nonprofit group, government organization or charity, a concept that many commenters on the Ezine Articles blog didn’t seem to understand.

    Ezine Articles runs ads alongside every article it publishes because that’s how it generates revenue. By the same token, the vast majority of authors who contribute to Ezine Articles have an agenda; they too are trying to generate leads and sales for their own business.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with that business angle for Ezine Articles and for its authors. To be successful, both Ezine Articles and its many authors must produce quality content. And they do! After all, anything less won’t get the desired results.

    Ezine Articles is very much like a local newspaper. The newspaper isn’t a nonprofit or government organization trying to keep citizens informed at all costs. It is a business that makes its money off advertising. But the only way to get those ads and attract the subscribers it needs, it must turn out compelling content.

    Like newspapers in their respective cities, Ezine Articles provides a wonderful service to the online community. It offers hundreds of thousands of well-written and well-researched articles by experts in their field. It also provides those experts with an outlet to disseminate their knowledge and gain visibility. It is truly a win-win-win situation for Ezine Articles, the author-experts, and the millions of visitors who look to the site for quality information.

    • Chris Crum

      Hi Susan,

      I appreciate you weighing in here. As I told Chris Knight, our comments system has been having some issues, so I’m sorry for the delayed response.

      Anyhow, I’m sorry if you feel I misinterpreted what you were saying, although I don’t think I did completely. I understand the nature of needing revenue to support a business. The point I was trying to make is that Google is likely to frown upon the idea of putting the making money part ahead of the quality part. It seemed a little odd to me that you were so quick to jump onto somebody who suggested that EzineArticles exists to provide information that is beneficial to the READERS.

      I realize you’re coming at this from a “that’s a naive way to look at it” approach (please correct me if I’m wrong), but Google’s whole stance is that it wants to deliver the best experience for users AKA: readers.


      • http://www.SusanGreeneCopywriter.com Susan Greene

        Chris C.,

        While you focused on the words “help readers solve problems FIRST” in the comment to which I was responding, I focused on the words “EZA exists to provide information that is beneficial to READERS.”

        While Ezine Articles DOES provide information that is beneficial to readers, the reason it EXISTS is to make money for its owner(s), just like any other business.

        Answer these 2 questions:

        1. Do you think if EZA did not make money for its owner, it would continue to operate?

        2. Do you think authors would continue to provide free content to EZA if the site did not credit them with a byline and link to their website in exchange for their contribution?

        Of course, the answer to both of the above questions is NO WAY. If EZA and its contributing authors were not getting some financial benefit, whether direct (EZA) or indirect (authors), we all know that EZA would cease to exist. It’s very noble to say that EZA’s objective is to provide useful information to readers, but really, that’s simply the business they’re in, the means by which they make a buck.

        I don’t understand why the people at Ezine Articles are offended by my pointing out to some of its more naive supporters that it’s a for-profit business, and a very successful one at that. Since when did it become embarrassing to admit you run your business to make money?

        As I mentioned in a previous comment, Ezine Articles is very good at what it does. It provides quality content to readers, and it also provides an opportunity for experts in diverse fields to be published and gain visibility. But the reason it EXISTS? That speaks only to its business objective which is, like nearly all other businesses, to make money. And in that regard, more power to them!

        • Chris Crum

          Answers to questions:

          1. I have no doubt that making money is an important part of EZA’s business model.

          2. I’m guessing that most authors probably are mostly motivated by the byline/link.

          I would, however, say that you can still make money by providing quality content. In fact, providing quality product is generally the way most businesses stay in business.

          The way I interpreted that original comment is that quality shouldn’t be sacrificed just to make a quick buck. I would wager that Google has a similar stance. In fact, the whole point of Google’s alrogithm update is to de-value the less quality content.

          So it is understandable that EzineArtilces would want to be viewed as a site that places priority on quality.

          • http://www.susangreenecopywriter.com Susan Greene

            Chris C.

            I agree with your comment that “you can still make money by providing quality content” and that “quality shouldn’t be sacrificed to make a quick buck.” Absolutely, on both counts! That’s exactly what Google wants. And as a professional copywriter, that’s precisely how I make my living. It’s how Ezine Articles makes its money too.

            In the past, Ezine Articles has provided good content. And its CEO, Christopher Knight, has been vocal the past few days in stating that it plans to raise the site’s standards even higher in response to Google’s algorithm adjustment. That bodes well for Ezine Articles, its authors (including me) and its readers. Everyone benefits when quality is a priority and that especially includes for-profit businesses.

  • http://www.smokelesscigarettes.com Aaron

    I love the comment about Ezine articles being a business, it’s refreshing to hear a CEO come out and lay things on the line like that.

    It would be nice if Google gave a little more consideration to what their changes were going to do or at least eased people into it and took feedback as they went. But they are Google so I guess that they can do whatever they would like.

    Just my 2 cents

  • http://homesteadwebsitebuilder.com Jordy

    I publish articles on Ezine. I also do not mind reading the articles on their website. Now eHow on the other hand, I avoid like the plague.

    I think Ezine needs to move from old school and into the present. If they would implement images and videos, they would be keeping up with current trends.

    Google wants to provide the best content possible. Content is more than “just” words in the algorithms.

    I believe that Google wants to see it all:

    -Plenty of text
    -RSS Feeds

  • http://www.softtrix.com Softtrix

    We have 30 k articles in our website and traffic was 3k per day. After google updated our sites traffic is 30 visitors per day. I was earning $ 15 to $ 20 per day. now i am earning 20 cent per day. Google update destroy my whole income now I have to think of a new business. :-)

  • http://teakdoor.com Thailand

    I’m pretty sure google considers article directories as the lowest priority, we occasionally use articles from ezine etc just to build up or add a bit of value to the page, but to find them using google you need the search term “directory” in your search.
    I think it doesn’t help that most authors also submit the same article to multiple article directories, and obviously many sites then use the article as we do, ie if an article is on 100 sites thats 90 – 99 sites you have to serp better than with exactly the same content.

  • Garry

    I’m not sure who you guys are trying to snow-over here regarding Ezine Articles but everyone knows that that site was designed for 2 purposes, and PLEASE, take note but Google knows, as well as the rest of us:
    1. Anchor Text from the article to improve organic ranking to the writer’s sites.

    2. Trigger AdSense ads for that topic to generate revenue for Ezine (and ArticlesBase, etc).

    It was PAINFULLY transparent that that was the purpose of those sites. They were laid out awful, didn’t even allow BOLDED Section headers or formatting, and were nothing more than SEO vehicles.

    Further, there was some interesting editorial approval issues where some authors were allowed to write ‘ Coupon Code’ articles and insert their Affiliate links inside the articles and some authors were not allowed this.

    Depending on the time of day, and day of the week submitted, your article would be either approved or denied. There was no consistency and the user experience was absolutely awful.

    Google saw right through their BS and kicked them to the curb. Now, Ezine and friends are trying to say that they provide valuable articles.

    Bullshit. They were mostly all crap in their content and crap in their presentation.

  • http://www.jroller.com/bookreview Helen Neely

    As with most things in life, there are winners and losers. The latest update not only benefit us, but has also pushed our site higher in the rankings.

    In the last couple of days, our traffic has moved from 4k a day to 7k – that goes to show that having good unique content still helps a lot.

  • http://probuytolet.com Erik Savage

    I write the occasional article and can’t see why I would choose to donate that to a site if I don’t even get a dofollow link back to my site and the related content that I hold. The link is relevant to the reader – they like my work and want to see more of it and therefore is relevant to Google.

    I actually agree with the points in the interview around the low quality stuff that seems to rank in Google in place of the articles that had prominence before the update. I’ve noticed some quite ridiculous, spammy one or two page sites appearing and wondered what exactly was wrong with an article providing somewhat useful information instead.

  • seccops

    I have had to stop using Google in my daily routine as a security researcher. The quality of content has significantly decreased. I have been using Bing lately and find the items I seek right away where as with Google I have to get to at least page 3 every time.

  • http://www.writemysite.co.uk Emily Hill

    Ezine Articles does seem to be an undeserving casualty of the Farmer update. Having their traffic slashed by 35% seems unfair, as a) they already inspect all the content to make sure it’s not spam, and b) eHow, which has much lower quality articles, seems to have benefitted from the change.

    However, if Google can sort this out, the new algorithm could be a real watershed moment for better quality web content.

    A clean up of ‘content spam’ has been long overdue. We’re a content agency and we’ve always needed to be very picky about which sites to use for article marketing, as we don’t want our clients’ content sitting alongside a poorly written $2 article from India. It’s also a big relief to have our position on the importance of original content vindicated!

  • http://ducktoes.com Cathie

    I don’t quite get how the ranking was cut…you mean Ezine’s not a 6 in page rank anymore, it’s a 3 or something? I thought the articles were pretty high-quality for the most part and that Google wanted content instead of trash, spam backlinks. So it’s confusing these Google pandas and penguins etc. It is getting hard for small companies to do SEO anymore, creating a lot of content is expensive, so what Google is really doing is slashing the little guy’s ability to compete…the companies who can afford content writers now will be at the top.

  • http://www.goodfriday2013.com goodfriday2013.com

    This blog was… how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something which helped me.
    Thank you!

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