Google Panda Victim EzineArticles Calls on Users to Improve Link Quality

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Google Panda Victim EzineArticles Calls on Users to Improve Link Quality
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Since Google’s Panda update, we’ve been looking at a lot of the sites negatively impacted, as examples to learn from. Determining what these sites have been doing wrong can help us understand how other sites may be viewed in Google’s eyes.

We’ve also been looking at what some of these sites have been doing to try and recover some of their lost search traffic. Some sites have indeed seen an uptick in search referrals, after being victimized by the update.

EzineArticles has been one of the more widely-publicized victims of the update, and also one of the most vocal in terms of reaching out to its users in efforts to improve content. On the company blog, there have been numerous tips and guidelines discussed in recent months. This continues with a new post from a managing editor, who discusses landing page quality for article contributors.

The editor lists a few “article rejection-worthy scenarios,” including: linking to a site unrelated to the article content, duplicating article content on landing pages, having more than one exit pop-up, having limited or poor user-navigation or forcing users to affiliate pages without transparent intent, and having a poor or unbalanced ad-to-content ratio.

In terms of navigation, the editor specifically mentions slow-loading landing pages.

While much of the guidance EzineArticles has been giving to users of late has been focused on the content that actually appears on EzineArticles itself, it is interesting to see them now turning focus to the content that EzineArticles is linking to.

In other words, the goal is not only to improve the site’s content, but to improve the content that is being associated with it in the eyes of the search engines.

Linking out to poor quality content is not good SEO. This isn’t new to Panda. It’s a pretty old, well-known element of the game. EzineArticles’ reminder of this to its users somewhat reflects a point we discussed in another recent article. Panda victims will do well not only to dwell on the Panda update specifically, but to get back to SEO basics.

Remember, Google has over 200 signals, and just because your site may have gotten hit by the Panda update, doesn’t mean that there aren’t other SEO practices you couldn’t be doing better – practices that may have benefited you all along, pre and post Panda.

The point about site speed is a valid one too. We know Google uses site speed as a ranking factor. We don’t know the weight of it (though DaniWeb has some interesting stats related to this). If Google views the landing page as a less quality page because of the page load time, it can’t help the article linking to that page either.

So, if EzineArticles is able to get its users to take quality more seriously on their own sites, it could go a long way in helping Google’s perception of EzineArticles itself. Whether or not users will follow the advice and this will happen, remains to be seen.

It’s worth noting that EzineArticles is still running some pretty ad-heavy content. At the time of this writing, this is the top article on the site. There are three Google ads above the content body, six ads directly below it, two Google ads below those ads, a bunch of “related” links below those, and five more ads below those. To the right of the article body there are ten Google ads, stretching a vertical length of about twice the amount of the body itself. Oh, and there are 4 more Google ads at the very top of the page, above the title. This seems to be the basic article template the site is running with.

Google Panda Victim EzineArticles Calls on Users to Improve Link Quality
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  • http://www.seo-theory.com/ Michael Martinez

    They still need to redesign their landing pages.

  • http://www.rcmleads.com Rich

    Great stuff.Thanks so pop ups and site load time does effect ranking. Great to know.

  • http://www.website-articles.net Allen Graves

    Hi Chris,

    EZA’s site colors are red and black, but before you finish the article, they’ve turned to “browser-link blue.”

    All of this post is relevent, definitely important, and a lot of it is just plain HUGE, but I think EZA’s biggest problem right now lies in the very last paragraph.

    When you look at all the “losers” and then look at all the “winners” – this idea would hold true in a large percentage of them! This then leads me to wonder if EZA could survive with just a couple of ad blocks per article.

    Keep the info coming! Love it.

  • http://EzineArticles.com/ EzineArticles CEO

    Chris Crum,

    We did remove 40% of the ads above the article body (there used to be 5 ads above the body and now there are 3) but I get your point. We’re also split-testing ad layout changes constantly via different segments.

    As for the example article you used, you must have a monitor and resolution that only a minority of our users have. Majority of our users see an article body that is bigger than the ads because their resolution and monitor size isn’t as big as yours.

    In addition, lower word count articles have less ads.

    Our solution to your perception that our ad density is too high or wraps the length of the body (only on 24-30″ wide monitors running double the resolution that the majority of folks have or use) is to move to a fixed width layout.

    You can see our new layout template here:
    (just a random live example)

    …and very soon, the article view template will have the new fixed width template plus several new major modifications to assist us with delivering a higher numerically-qualified positive user experience.

    Now, back to the issue at hand:

    We’re convinced that landing page quality scoring (something we’ve been doing for years) is as important to the trust relationship being built with our users as the content by itself.

    Last month, we made a huge crack down by rejecting all content where the link in the resource box wasn’t relevant enough to the article topic (we call it a link-relevancy-rejection) and we’re continuing to sweep our history to isolate articles that were written about one topic and then link to a completely unrelated topic (this causes a trust violation with our users and therefore must be a practice that ends). It was our fault for accepting this type of content because we had previously only focused on the quality merits of the article alone with only mechanical formatting QC on the links themselves. This is a new era though and what was ok last year, isn’t ok any more this year.

    It makes sense that the bar should be raised so that when our users leave EzineArticles.com to surf your website, that you continue to deliver them a quality experience. If our user hates your website because it’s an MFA or you’ve got multiple exit-pops or you’re an affiliate marketer with no intention to build an on-going relationship with your client base…this reflects poorly on us.

    You’ve called us a “Panda victim” but I see Panda as the greatest wakeup call that has ever happened to us. No doubt we’d prefer to have been giving better guidance from Google, but over-time, the best sites with the best quality end-to-end user experience will rise up and I’m confident we’ll rebuild market trust. We’re a radically different company today because of the 125+ quality changes we’ve made in the past 2 months that normally would have been made over a longer period of time…and there’s several hundred more quality control mods on deck for both us and to help our members meet the new standards.

    Christopher Knight

    • http://www.webpronews.com/ Chris Crum

      Hi Chris,

      Thanks for weighing in. Point taken on the monitor size/split testing. I just saw a fairly short article (not there’s anything necessarily wrong with that in my opinion) with a pretty large number of ads, and that seemed to not jive very well with recent comments made by Google.

      Regarding landing page quality, the strategy sounds like a wise decision to me – not just for Google, but as you said, for user trust.

      Good outlook on the victim vs. wakeup call perspective.

    • http://www.seo-theory.com/ Michael Martinez

      The new template looks better, in my opinion. I’m not sure it will provide enough focus on the user experience to pass muster but I guess that’s something for Google to decide.

    • http://www.webpronews.com/ Chris Crum

      Any data to share in terms of search referral recovery, by the way?

  • http://www.ocodewire.com Krishan

    I see some really good information here. But this is still a problem for small businesses with little or no brand presence. It’s still hard to engage or create very good social media engagement program per their budget, while the bigger companies have got upper hand once again. What do you say ?

  • http://www.facebook.com/pages/Brick-Marketing-SEO-and-SEM-Firm/14204584980 Nick Stamoulis

    “The goal is not only to improve the site’s content, but to improve the content that is being associated with it in the eyes of the search engines.”

    A basic rule of SEO that many companies often forget. It’s called the “web” for a reason. Every link coming in and out of your site is scrutinized by the search engines and you become accountable for them.

  • http://rant Jessie Vosburg

    For instance, if the user flies to Japan and he wants to fax something to a client in Australia, all he needs is a phone line. Of course that was after I had already given the number out like crazy.

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    I was just searching for this information for some time. After 6 hours of continuous Googleing, at last I got it in your site. I wonder what’s the lack of Google strategy that do not rank this kind of informative websites in top of the list. Generally the top sites are full of garbage.

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