Julian Farley : Spread Love

The Next Google Algorithm Update: Crap On Affiliate Marketers

The Next Google Algorithm Update

Google changes their algorithm nearly every day, sometimes multiple times a day. So by forecasting the next algorithm update I am talking about the next BIG Google algorithm update. Like 2010′s May Day (May 5) update that screwed eCommerce sites, particularly their long-tail searches. Google rolls out one of these big mama’s every 12-18 months and so it might come in 2011 or the first half of 2012. We’ll know when it happens….

Nevertheless, I am laying down my prediction right now: Google will make a huge attempt to screw affiliate marketers.

I say a huge attempt, because Google will never get rid of affiliate marketers. There are too many extremely smart ones out there, and there is always going to be loopholes, black hat techniques, and ways to use white hat marketing tactics with creativity for them ever to stop affiliate marketing.

Nevertheless…. when you look at the trend and pulse of Google search consumers (not SEO’rs but the other heavy internet users) there is without a doubt a growing discontent with Google’s search results.

Think like Google for a moment: the biggest revenue stream is paid search (Adwords) and so yes they want more people clicking on the ads. Right now it is currently around 8% of searchers. But 60% of searches click on the first organic result, going down to 20%-30% for the second organic result, 10% for the third result and so on. This shows that people go to Google for the organic results – they trust Google to give them quality results. When they happen to click on an text-ad in paid search Google goes CA-CHING! But paid search isn’t what gets people in the door (to use a brick and mortar anaology). Organic search is their indirect driver of revenue.

So what about the next Google algorithm change?

Google’s search quality is rapidly deteriorating and being filled up with affiliate marketers. Looking for a product? Do a search and you’ll find Page 1, Page 2 and probably Pages 3-7 filled with reviews and articles. Look a little bit closer and you’ll find these aren’t reviews at all, but instead thinly disguised advertisements for the product. Sure, most people don’t notice that when they click through to the product’s sales page there is a an affiliate tracking code on the URL so whomever link you clicked on gets paid for your purchase. But it’s still there nonetheless.

Affiliate marketers flooding the internet with these advertisements that barely pass for articles is not just skewing the search engine results, but also putting a strain on the search engine’s crawling spiders. This last point prompted Blekko (the new open source search engine) to, at midnight on January 1, launch the spam clock which counts how many pages of website spam have been launched: Blekko Spam Clock.

The crap quality of Google’s (and other search results…. looking at you Bing!) search results has created a trend of consumers going old school on us internet marketers. People are getting frustrated enough to actually pay for unbiased reviews. After searching Google they finally give up and purchase a Consumer Reports magazine.

I’m not close to the first person to observe this trend.

Broadstuff did a great post about the increasing uselessness of Google.

Search Engine Land reported findings from different polls about consumer happiness with search. The findings: it’s the best way to go about searching for stuff… but there is A LOT of noise and spam.

Google has long hated affiliate marketers. Try buying Adwords traffic to an affiliate link and you’ll be laughed at for being, oohhh about 7 years too late. Try SEO’ing a site with blatant affiliate links on before you’ve got substantial traffic and it’s going to be much harder to get those precious rankings. The reason is easy to decipher, Google doesn’t want to send it’s users through a middleman. They’d prefer to go straight to the source. So would their users. If users prefer it, Google prefers it.

What has happened in the last 6 months of search? Google rolled out local results – even for general keyword searches, curation became hot and the emphasis is slowly shifting more towards on-site factors. I think Google is going to hone their local results showing up in searches. We’ll see it less for general keyword terms where people don’t want local results and more for local business searches such as “hair salon” or “roofing company.” Real time results will continue creeping into the SERPs as Google begins to grasp how to effectively crawl, index and filter this information. With the increased emphasis of on-site factors they will finally fix their issues with duplicate content.

The problem Google has with duplicate content is that they often rank sites re-purporsing content ahead of the original. You can read about a reputable webmaster that has suffered from this immensely over the past year:

Stack Overflow reported how their scraped content was ranking ahead of them in “trouble in the house of Google”.

So what the hell is the conclusion of this long-rambling blog post about the next Google Algorithm change?

For more great “insider information” on the algorithm read this businessweek interview of 10 Google search quality employees. And above all… let me know what you think! Am I a stupid idiot that has no idea what he’s talking about? Maybe so….

POSTED: 01.19.2011

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