HOMETIPSTER AND ITS REFUSAL TO ALLOW GOOGLE TO DICTATE WHAT IT PUBLISHES – At Hometipster.com we provide articles, videos and infographics on all things Home and Garden. I launched Hometipster.com back in January 2011 and it got off to a flying start.
For anyone who has ever started a website they’ll understand just how difficult it can be and contrary to belief it is extremely hard work; especially in the area of creating content.
At first we engaged in content used under a ‘Creative Commons Licence’ CCL which allowed us to use information from other websites providing appropriate credits to the source were provided by the way of a URL Link back to the original content.
During February 2011, just one month into operations, Google introduced its Panda Algorithm that effectively wiped out any search traffic for websites that consisted of Farmed or Duplicated content; this affected around 12% of all search results leading to a huge number of websites, who were scraping a living, being wiped out.
As we are now all aware; since February 2011 Google has not only updated its Panda algorithm several times but it has also introduced others including the Page Layout algorithm, which attempts to stop web owners from earning revenue by placing advertisements in the upper half of a webpage and Penguin that restricts back-linking practices.
The ongoing algorithm updates and creations of new ones is; by Google’s omission, to reduce content being indexed that is neither unique in orientation or of low quality.
As a user of search I will admit that Google has a point. After all I certainly want my search results to be useful. However whenever I undertake a search it appears that Google refuses to take its own medicine as it constantly places advertisements at the top of each search result and somehow YouTube videos always seem to appear at or near the top; regardless of what I am searching for.
Approximately 6 months ago I remarked to my business partner that it appeared that we were recovering from yet another invasive attempt by Google to wipe us off the map. The little organic traffic, despite our efforts, was still insignificant and this latest update almost prevented anyone finding Hometipster.com through a search in Google.
His response; which I thought at the time to be somewhat flippant, was “Until next time.” which got me to thinking whether we were on the right track and whether we should treat a No.1 Ranking in Google as the Holy Grail of web success.
It took over 1 year to remove all the duplicate content from Hometipster.com and build up a bank of nearly 1,000 unique articles that are all designed to help Homeowners with their Home and Garden projects. We even started to recover our rankings and then without warning we again lost 80% of our organic traffic from Google. This was a mystery so I started digging and the result was, according to the SEO experts, that our content was probably considered ‘similar’ to other content on the web and therefore we had taken another hit.
Not to be deterred I set about removing even more content then invited ‘Contributors’ to add content and in return we would allow a back-link within the body of the text.
Things appeared to be progressing nicely until approximately 6 months ago when we got hit yet again. This time the SEO guys said it was probably down to the fact that you are allowing people to create back-links and you could be viewed at a back-link farm.
Since that time we have worked with our contributors so that the quality of the information published is even more useful and our efforts were certainly well received by our visitors as they began sharing even more of our articles through their social networks.
Regardless of our efforts Hometipster.com has seen traffic from Google fluctuate violently from day to day and on the 11th May 2013 we got hit again.
I scoured the forums and message boards for an insight as to what Google had introduced this time. Google is shrouded in a veil of mystery; frankly it’s a mystery wrapped in a puzzle, inside an enigma and therefore one can only guess or at best assume something is going on with the Google algorithms. It did appear that I was not alone in my experience of seeing a massive drop in organic traffic from Google as many in the forum detailed their loss in rankings and traffic.
I was sitting at my desk when the wife walked in and upon seeing my face she knew exactly what the issue was and simply asked me; “And what has Google done now.” Every time I have an issue with Hometipster.com Google is always at the center and I am beginning to think that like a dog watering a fire hydrant it just isn’t going to get any bigger and even less so when the evidence is perfectly clear that Google is manipulating its own algorithms for financial gain.
So what’s the solution? The real value, if there is any, has to be with people and not Google. The social networks are now very well established and by producing content that people like, regardless of how some magnanimous computer program assesses it, is what counts.
In fact get enough social shares and Google’s algorithms simply cannot ignore it. Of course that doesn’t stop Google from manually manipulating an individual websites rankings so if Google does feel that your little business is going places it’ll certainly restrict that possibility and even more so if you happen to be attempting to compete with one of Google’s cash generating services.
Does this all sound a little cynical or even another unproven web conspiracy? Well think again as whilst the U.S Justice Department last year found Google NOT guilty of manipulating its search in order to suppress the competition the same could not be said for their counterparts in Europe who uncover a number of monopolistic and uncompetitive practices that violated a number of international trade laws.
As a result of the EU Commissions findings Google finally admitted to purposefully manipulating its search engine results in order to bury the competition in order to boost its profit margins for competing services.
As I sat there staring at my wife, knowing that our finances where in the dog-house, I finally came to the conclusion that I have to distance myself from Google. My incessant efforts to try and appease Google are simply getting me nowhere and as my business partner said; ‘While you overcome one issue I guarantee you Google’s next algorithmic update will be worse.’
He’s right and like a bad and abusive marriage it’s time to stop Google slapping me in the face just because it doesn’t like what I do. The decision I have made, and I think many small website owners have made, it to forget about Google and move on.
My choice of partner now is my visitors; I’m going to produce content they want and if Google doesn’t like it that’s just tough because Google no longer provides me with any significant amount of traffic and really is not worth bothering with; let alone spending days, weeks and months trying to figure out what Google does and does not like.
Hometipster.com does really well with the Social Networks and because these are driven by real people, and not a piece of software, the results we get are testament that real people do like our content we produce and support this by sharing it across their social networks.
I for one refuse to be held hostage by Google any longer. Hometipster.com is MY business and I refuse to allow any other business to dictate to me what I can and cannot publish; only my readers have that right and so today I have officially dumped Google and I will no longer pay any attention as to whether Google likes my content or not because quite frankly Google have become irrelevant to my business model.
I have to say that since taking this decision I feel like I have finally got rid of a monkey that has been clawing my back for so long.
I have no intention of blocking Google from indexing my content but I certainly will no longer worry about my ranking or the amount of traffic they send. I’ll let my visitors share my content if they like it and use the power of the people to determine whether Hometipster.com should or should not succeed.
Have you had serious issues with your Google Rankings? Have you tried using the Social Networks to great advantage instead of just relying on Google for traffic? Have your say… leave your comments below.