It was only a matter of time before this happened. Google’s algorithm is in the midst of a massive “cleanse” and it now has its sights set on affiliates and syndicated content.
In addition, Mr. Cutts warned his followers about this update as well. If history has taught us anything, when Matt tweets, action happens:
So what exactly does this mean for webmasters? Let’s use this example that I found in literally 10 seconds:
I ran a Google query for “buy garcinia cambogia” one of the top affiliate products right now and copied the first sentence from the first listing then pasted that sentence in quotes into Google.
Over 50 results using this exact sentence verbatim:
This example is just a tiny fraction of 1% of the content being “syndicated” or just outright copied right now.
Google gave the example of porn websites that use syndicated videos as the prime offender in this update.
Obviously I’m not going to paste any pornographic screenshots in this blog post, but if you dare to search any “tube” related porn query, you will undoubtedly see the same videos over and over again.
Just take a look at just one of the popular WordPress “tube” plugins and you will see that they openly promote video syndication on their sales page.
This was the first question I asked myself when I first read Google’s latest blog post. It seems as though they are just penalizing sites that use duplicate content, right? Maybe, but probably not.
It seems as though this is a targeted algorithm update that is targeting thin affiliate sites specifically.
So while the principle behind Panda and this new update might be the same, this latest update looks like it will be focusing on affiliate sites with content syndicated from another source.
According to Google, a thin affiliate site is defined as:
Google believes that pure, or “thin,” affiliate websites do not provide additional value for web users, especially if they are part of a program that distributes its content to several hundred affiliates. These sites generally appear to be cookie-cutter sites or templates with no original content. Because a search results page could return several of these sites, all with the same content, thin affiliates create a frustrating user experience.
Some examples of thin affiliates include:
We are definitely going to keep our eye on this update. As search marketers, it is frustrating for us when we try to promote legitimate products only to be beaten out by these “thin affiliates” in the rankings.
This is one of the reasons why I am quitting affiliate marketing. It is such a shady industry and continues to be dominated by spammers, scammers and scrapers.
It is good to see Google doing their part and continuing to clean up their side of the street.
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