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/webmasters/community?hl=en
12/16/08
Original Poster
ismedia

Ranking Suppression Penalty Advice for PopularArticles.com - Need Strategic Guidance From Gurus

I believe our 9 - 10 month old article directory, http://www.PopularArticles.com/, was assessed a ranking suppression penalty of some sort on April 30th, 2008 due to excessive backlink building techniques involving a 301 redirect from a well-ranked existing site to a new URL on PopularArticles.com ( http://www.populararticles.com/tools/ ). Now, any traffic we get to the site from Google is from SERP listings 200+ (e.g. #262 for "blue widgets"). At the time I set up the 301 redirect, I was operating under the assumption that a widgetbait could be used on any site to boost rankings, so I added what I thought was a relevant widget to http://www.populararticles.com/tools/
Since then, I've learned about the proper use of widgetbait and other legitimate links from the excellent interview of Matt Cutts by Eric Enge here: http://www.stonetemple.com/articles/interview-matt-cutts-061608.shtml The off-topic widgetbait has since been removed. In addition, I've also removed links to PopularArticles.com from our other sites, stopped all other questionable linking practices, removed unintentional internally-duplicate articles (thanks Webmaster Tools), cleaned up misc. listings in our directory, and, most importantly, re-focused on publishing original, well-written content.
To make a long story short, I firmly believe that PopularArticles.com can be an excellent long-term brand for decades to come. (It's a good brand for the non-tech crowds.) I've received a lot of positive feedback from visitors, and I want to invest further time and resources into developing original content for the site and to build natural awareness to the site through legitimate methods as outlined by Matt Cutts' interview.
I've earmarked $20,000 USD for the acquisition / development of original content for the site, so I do have some funds to work with - if the risk can be mitigated somewhat by assurances that I'm headed in the right direction. (Everyone needs some positive reinforcement from time to time, right?) Going forward, that should be enough of a shoestring budget to start generating some level of revenue to allow for reinvestment in new content generation (via UGC or original content acquisition).
My questions to the community are these:
1. Is the site, as it is now, suitable for a reconsideration request? If not, what specific changes should be made before submitting a reconsideration request, considering the content that's on the site right now and the current backlinks to the site?
2. Please check out the following URL that lists new articles added to the site: http://www.populararticles.com/index.php?page=article_datewise&date=2008-12-14 Are we on the right track with these types of articles? After much research, I've identified dozens of repositories and classes of original content that are nowhere to be found online, but I need to know that we're going in the right direction with this site. The last thing I want to do is throw $20,000 down the drain. My wife would kill me. ;)
3. We have about 16,000 non-unique articles (i.e. they are syndicated on other sites) on PopularArticles.com right now (which pales in comparison to the number of non-unique articles in other article directories). This was just a batch to get some traffic going to the site initially. In order to meet the Google Quality Guideline of not having "substantially duplicate content," does this mean that we will need to add greater than 16,000 unique articles to the site? Should we remove all the articles that are published somewhere else online, and just start from scratch? I hate to split hairs, and I know the emphasis should be on following the spirit of the guidelines, but I need some numbers to work with.
I appreciate any advice the community can give, and if someone from the 'plex should stop by, I'd appreciate some specific tips for getting out of the doghouse.
Alan Grissett
Editor in Chief, Popular Articles
con...@populararticles.com
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All Replies (14)
Google user
12/16/08
Google user
Hi ismedia

I'm going to be honest in saying that I am not a fan of article sites and remain unconvinced about their place on the web. I read what you say but do not believe for one minute that will come to fruition. No matter what you feel, most people submitting articles will at best do as self-publicity and primarily, for links.

The whole area of author links is a little grey, in one sense there to reinforce original authorship but there is another argument that they are just created links. On that theme, am I reading this entry correctly in your conditions page:

5. Make sure that the author resource box and links are present and that the Article Source link (back to the original article on PopularArticles.com) is working and clickable.

That appears to say you require a link back to your site as a condition of using the content, nothing to do with the author. 

Your own concerns on duplicate content are well placed, I tried 5 articles at random and found all 5 elsewhere. No point in that, neither is this a scenario you will escape from. Your other suggestion for this:

After much research, I've identified dozens of repositories and classes of original content that are nowhere to be found online,

also raises a few concerns. Be interested to know what you meant.

Pure personal opinion, spend your money elsewhere. Judging by the past efforts of every single site in your industry, article directories should be going through the process of being removed from the index, not more added.

BbDeath
12/16/08
BbDeath
In fact cannot really argue with Chibcha- the whole article directory industry IMO was built on the simple idea that online virtually everybody is in lack of content, so let's encourage duplications. But Google looks to be more and more strict in handeleing duplicate content (obviously- for them it's wasting resources to index/rank multiple copies) what can quite easily kill article directories.

1. Where the article directory is strong fewer and fewer people is likely to submit, fewer and fewer people willing to use content from them as the "directory-copy" will be indexed.

2. Where the article directory is weak- simply the directory will not get traffic.

3. The really high quality content is a huge value and nobody will give it for free- and as time goes by in the near future it's not likely to remain true that regarding to Google traffic "loads of junk" (or not so high quality) content can bring equal or better results then fewer high quality content. The evaluation of content quality surely one of the factors that will be more and more important in the future for Google.

So personally for the first view mainly in the long run I don't see the real-jackpot in your site, as cannot see how these conflicts can be solved.

But I'm completely open to hear how you want to solve/neautralize these quite serious conflicts in the long run, and if I have any additional idea, thoughts will try to help.
seo101
12/16/08
seo101
I checked some of the articles in my area of expertise; I hope Google never ranks them well for the crap that was there. Good on ya google for not raking this site.
12/16/08
Original Poster
ismedia
Chibcha, thanks for your thoughtful response. I appreciate the time you spent to give your feedback. Here are a few thoughts:
 
1. If you read the interview at http://www.stonetemple.com/articles/interview-matt-cutts-061608.shtml, Matt condones article syndication to a certain extent.
 
2. I don't think asking for a link in exchange for free content is against any guidelines whatsoever.
 
3. As to your concerns about the classes of original content, don't worry about it. It's 100% legit; Google itself is investing hundreds of millions of dollars into it, and I'm not sharing. ;)
 
Let me ask you this: If this site had 16,000 unique articles, and we did not allow syndication, would that change your perception of it?
12/16/08
Original Poster
ismedia
BbDeath, thanks to you for your valuable advice. I agree with this statement wholeheartedly: "in the near future it's not likely to remain true that regarding to Google traffic "loads of junk" (or not so high quality) content can bring equal or better results then fewer high quality content." That's why I think scrapping the syndicated articles on the site and starting from scratch with unique content might be best.
8 MORE
12/16/08
Original Poster
ismedia
Autocrat, your comment about "Get[ing] some braincells working" was borderline offensive, and I won't digress into commenting on your use of the English language, but you had some good points about syndicating snippets of articles with links back to the full versions. We have a Copyscape account for our Exclusive Articles, which are non-syndicated, original articles that we post on the site. Akismit looks very promising for automating comment spam monitoring. Thank you for mentioning that.
 
Phil, not sure why you posted the URL to our link buttons and banners page, but if you're implying that there is something wrong with giving people buttons, banners, and links to voluntarily place on their site, then I would have to strongly disagree with you.
 
This post has really been answered folks. Thank you for your time and comments.
 
Alan Grissett
Editor in Chief, Popular Articles
con...@populararticles.com
 
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