Holy Shit! The Sky is Falling…

It’s been quite the interesting week.  First my website gets hacked and infected with a nasty bit of malware.  Then my computer becomes a victim of said virus.  Finally Google did another of its infamous dances which has many people screaming bloody murder.

Yup.  Another fun-filled week as an Internet marketer.

As you can see my site is back.  Actually I owe a HUGE thanks to Steve Youngs.  When the blog was first infected, Steve was sending me Tweets and personal emails offering to help out.  He didn’t just give advice.  Steve took time out of his day to go into my account and completely fix the malware issue.

So again, I owe Steve BIG time!  Take time to check out his blog and say hi.  Its people like him that make me feel truly blessed in life.  Seriously!

Google Drops the Hammer….Yet Again!

Sometimes I feel like a victim of domestic violence.  I really love Google.   But it (she? he?) keeps hurting me.  Yet, I’m the one who always comes crawling back and apologizing.

Chicken Little - The Sky is Falling!As you’ve probably heard, Google changed its algorithm last week specifically targeting what’s known as content farms.  Their goal was simple – Remove articles that don’t provide genuine value to the searcher.

I definitely applaud what Google is doing.  They’re trying to give the best experience for people seeking valuable information.

On the other hand, Google specifically targeted EzineArticles.com (EZA) which is a major source of traffic to my affiliate sites.  Oddly enough, my traffic hasn’t been affected.  But EZA has now dropped its own hammer which is now affecting all of my future projects…

As I write this, EZA has become insanely strict about their  article posting requirements.  Draconian is a word I’d use.  I’d call them something else, but I want to keep this post somewhat professional.  (I’ll give you a hint.  Think of the German worker’s party that gained popularity in the 1930’s.)

Ok, Chicken Little. The Sky is Falling.  What Should You DO?

The title of this post alluded to the fable where Chicken Little ran around making proclamations that the sky is falling.  In truth, many people’s entire livelihood is at risk because of this change.  For a few, this means they have no money coming in.

So I don’t want to make light of this change.  It’s real.  And it’s here to stay.

In fact, Google is getting stricter by the day.  This will affect all businesses that depend on Google for traffic.  Especially content/article sites like eHow.com, EzineArticles.com, HubPages.com and Squidoo.com.  It’s no longer possible to crank out subpar content on these sites and expect they’ll rank for a keyword.  In my opinion, we’ve just seen the death rattle of Bum Marketing.

My advice is simple:

1)      Create great content. I don’t mean okay content.  I’m talking stuff that will really stand out in your market.  (For more on this read my MVP article.)

2)      Build an audience with an appropriate platform. Find a place where you can communicate with your audience.  This can be a blog, website, email newsletter, or a podcast.  The point is you need a place where you’re providing great content on a regular basis.

3)      Control your audience and web traffic. It’s the height of stupidity to have your online business depend on a website that you don’t own.  Sure it’s nice to have a successful video or article channel.  But they should enhance your online business – Not be the sole source of your income.

4)      Keep evolving. Honestly, some things aren’t meant to last.  I loved writing 300 word articles that generated web traffic for years.  But that’s really not possible anymore.  Don’t bitch and moan that things are harder now.  Instead find what IS working and concentrate on that.

I don’t claim to have all the answers to what works with Internet marketing.  Like you, I’m a simple person trying to make his way in the world.  I have experienced game-changers similar to this Google change.  And I’m still here to tell the tale.

Ultimately this change favors those Internet marketers who work hard and produce excellent content.  In a way, that’s a good thing because it’ll eliminate a lot of competition from the people who give a half-assed effort with their online business.

Google has created a survival of the fittest situation.  To live (even thrive) you have to work harder and smarter than other marketers.  I think I’m up to the challenge.  Are you?

Take Action. Get Results.

50 thoughts on “Holy Shit! The Sky is Falling…”

  1. Great post Steve! Glad to see the blog back up and running – this has become my go-to IM blog lately and I’m really glad to see everything’s cool.

    The Algo update gave me a good scare, but on the whole my rankings are up across the board – hooray good content!

    Good luck adapting and overcoming. You produce excellent content, and as far as I’m concerned, the competition has just been dealt a blow with this change.

    • Thanks Devin,

      To say the least it has been a frustrating week, so far. Hopefully all will be good from here on out.

      So far, so good for my existing content. Hopefully things stay that way, but I am sure this change has hit a lot of people right in the pocketbooks, and it is still a bit early to say it has not had any real effect.

      Being adaptable and rolling with the punches is certainly the key. Thanks for the positive comments and I am damn glad I am back…mostly unscathed

  2. Hey Steve!

    You are very welcome for the help, mate. And thank you very much for linking back to my site. I very much appreciate that.

    As for Google moving the goal posts yet again, well that’s just part of the Internet life. What works today might work tomorrow, but it might not either. You just need to be flexible and willing to change. Also, tying this into the good ol’ 80/20 rule… I think 80% of your time and efforts should go into people and not into appeasing the search engine gods. 🙂

    Kind regards, and very happy to see you back!

  3. Hi Steve,

    I’m glad you’re back on track here! And kudos to Steve Young for helping. 🙂

    I think one’s first reaction when Google messes with them and theirs is fear. Fear of what might happen to what they’ve already got going and fear of the unknown future. What does it all mean to ME? Scary stuff!

    But after the initial moaning, whining, and gnashing of teeth, it’s important to look for the silver lining. It’s time to look at the Google slap, nay… kick in the face, as an opportunity. How can you and I capitalize on the changes?

    Perhaps by putting out products that help people follow the new Google (and EZA) rules?

    😀 Peggy

    • Peggy,

      You make a very good point. Every single obstacle has a silver lining of success. It is just a matter of looking for the angle an opportunity that is inherent there. I just hope it’s not nine going opportunity the takes a “big business” to realize.

  4. Steve, I am real glad to see you back man! It is great that you found Steve to help you with the problems you were having.

    As for Google changing the search algorithm; this is certainly going to hit hard on the ones that have been utilizing the bum marketing techniques. For people that work hard and bust their ass off, this is a great sign.

    Later on brother!

    • Thanks Adam,

      I’m certainly glad to be back. I definitely have mixed emotions about this Google update. I like the fact that hopefully clears out some of the trash and noise at the same time it does seem to affect the methods most often used by people just getting started to get a toehold. Not all of the stuff they put out is crap either. There are going be some very good and informative articles that get downgraded along with the bad ones.

      We shall see … only time will tell

  5. Hi Steve,

    Although I’m only new to the online scene, the more I go on the more I realise that if something doesn’t seem right or make sense than sooner or later the loophole will close.

    For example, to me writing one article and then spinning it into many different versions doesn’t seem like it is really enhancing the value of the internet so it is something that I have chosen not to do. Many bloggers who I greatly respect do/have used this method so I am not making a moral judgement.

    I guess what I’m saying in a round about way, for my opinion if you adopt approaches that don’t honestly increase the value of the internet then while they may bring benefit for a certain time, you need to be prepared for these techniques to become obsolete.

    • Article spinning is certainly close to the dodgy side. If that is all effects Bravo to Google. The problem is I believe that affects a lot more than that. It is hard to say how affected it is this point but writing articles for things like Hubpages, Squidoo and Ezinearticles has or is likely to take a hit. This was a place where an “average” guy could work hard, write a bunch of articles and get some solid back links. now it is hard to say how much (if at all) this will be effected.

      If it shakes out that all it is affected is “spun” and duplicate content, then I’m all for this Google update.

  6. I’m glad to see you back online and look forward to all the posts that were meant to be published before all these troubles started.

    I think all your readers should work hard on linking back to you with the key words “holy shit” and see how you can rank for that term! I decided to pop it into the search bar, and I’m sure you could easily take on some of the sites that are listed if you really wanted to.

    Anyways, hope things keep going up for you with this site and your other sites that you have been working on.

  7. Hey Steve:

    I sigh of relief seeing you back, must be really hard for you. Put it behind you and secure your spot tight. I missed you .

    I like the title of the post. You are talking about Google Slap and Eazine Articles changes. I wrote a post on that.

    The business owner “probotics” is saying that traffic is feeling much better than before, so it is good.

    However, Google likes worpress, so blogs probably have no problems . The rest is yet to come.

    All the best.

    Fran A

    • Fran,

      you’re right WordPress shouldn’t be affected at all. should have little effect on SSS at all since I have done very little bum marketing whatsoever. Ezine, Squidoo, Hubpages and all those other free forms of links which of them great for the “common” man so far could be significantly affected.
      We shall see. There is no use ranting this hearing is here to stay just a matter figuring out what the best thing to do take advantage of this new paradigm

  8. Firstly Steve, I’m glad to see you back and well done for Steve to sorting you out. I had a similar problem a few months ago although as a result of a faulty plugin rather than malware. Murray Lunn (www.murlu.com) kindly fixed it all for me and that’s the real benefit of having an awesome community.

    Interesting about Google, as you say reliance on someone else for your business is clearly not a great business model. I read that ultimately you don’t want google to account for more than 25% of your traffic as if things change (like they have here) you can still survive.

    • So far SSS is really minimally effected by the Google hit, since I have done almost no Ezine type stuff for this site. But my other niche was hit bad. Maybe even a little more than I thought at first, so I am going to have to make myself far more independent of Google and SERP results there…specifically since that is the money maker.

      All I can say is that I am glad I took some effort to build a mailing list.

  9. Hi Steve really great to see the site back up. Huge thanks to Steve Youngs for getting you back online.

    As soon as the Google Hammer dropped I saw the EZA email come through with the updated requirements. Luckily all of my articles are around the 500 word mark so I’m covered on that (and Squidoo).

    No doubt though things are changing. Relying on a single method of traffic generation no longer works it seems and you gave some great points to keep people moving ahead. Quick money hasn’t been around for a long time, and these updates put the nail in that coffin IMO.

    I for one look forward to great days ahead.

  10. Hi Steve, good to have you back. Great tips too!
    Now let’s be honest with that! These changes have to take place every once in while because there’s a lot of exploitation going on, for example in Ezines, and Google had to purge that sector. Bloggers sacrifice quality for the sake of plain quantity. We know that “over SEO-ing” and over use of e-zines was sometimes giving fake results. As Steve suggests, let’s focus more on the reader and offer value, than on SEO gods which are pleased even with BS, as long as they are SEO optimized 🙂

  11. Good solid points. As long as the playing field is really leveled, it should all work out in the end. A little bit of patience and seeing how things fall out should hopefully clear a lot of things up and show the people who are willing to work for it the best methods to get ahead under this new system.

  12. Steve!

    Back in the mix, which is a great thing. We won’t even reflect upon the crap-ola of the past week, let’s rock on, man.

    I think the recent changes at Googs and Ezine are simply intended as a weeding out exercise. When changes like this come down the pike, they provide opportunities for those that recognize the situation. We should be looking forward to the future as the nimble who adjust quickly will end up in a better position.

    Nice article to get rolling again. Really glad to see you back and a big THANKS to Steve Youngs as well.

    • Jimi,

      I appreciate your positive sentiments. It certainly is nice to be back in the saddle again! Time to get back into the groove and figure out how to take advantage of these speedbumps

  13. Yes… this Google thing is kinda crazy.. I just “dabbed my foot” into the pool of internet marketing, and I must admit the most advice I received relates back to Google visibility… We’ll see how it goes – glad to here your traffic wasn’t altered!

  14. Hello Steve,

    It looks that those bloody hackers are hitting people left and right, I bet this was a really bad week for you but, no matter, after the sun has set over our little village there can’t be any darker, only light can come back.

    Google will always do its thing but we (I hope that includes me too) will always find new ways to do our things.

    It’s great you are back Steve, I hope this we will forget this week fast (maybe if we forget about it, it never happened)

    • Yes it definitely was a bad week, on all fronts. No doubt. I am sure we will have to find some new aventues, for me it is going to be a dedication to getting even more on my email list BEFORE they come out with even more stringent hits. It is ealr yo to tell, but I think I have about a 10-15% decreae in traffic for my main niche. Not “horrors” but not a great sign….and likely because I relied A LOT on ezine articles. Likely too much on a single source.

      There is a lesson there…

  15. Steve, sorry to hear that your ezinearticles.com articles are in jeopardy. I have 11 or so articles there, but I never put much focus on the site. It doesn’t bring me much traffic, and I never got a backlink from the site. I’m actually considering removing a few of the articles and using them as blog posts.

    I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Google. The company reproduced nearly all of my trade paperbacks online for anyone to read. And yet two weeks ago my search traffic doubled, and then doubled again. It could be temporary…

    • Ezine was a big part of my traffic. (not for this site..but my others niche) I got about 70% of my “new” traffic from there… At least a at least 400 visitors a day. So it does still hav me worried. Taking 10-15% off that is not the end of the world, but I am certainly going to want to diversify more.

      In a way it is a good lesson not to rely too much on any one source.

  16. I’m happy that you’re up and running Steve.

    Man, it’s so important to be nimble in this game! Things change, and they can change really quickly so it pays to be change along with the change….if that makes any sense. That being said it’s quite challenging to remain calm when crap storms like yours hit.

    Great insight in this post and a valuable lesson for all online entrepreneurs. Be prepared to evolve, and quickly!


  17. Awesome. Hey sorry about your malware problem , glad Steve helped. Also thanks for the great tips. If you have great content than you shouldn’t worry too much about the Google dance.

    Do you know of any other alternatives to getting back links now that article directories might not be that effective?

    • Youtube is fairly unaffected. For some links ezine is fine…just a little lower volume of traffic and tougher standards (which is fine) Just a good lesson in spreading out your sources.

      I think it comes back to quality. WHen you do “just enough” to get something in print on these sites…when the rules tighten you are out in the cold. If you always strive for quality, you weather these storms a lot better.

  18. I think many webmasters need to realize that they can’t rely on Google 100%. Their algorithm can change anytime as we have just witnessed, and when it does, you have no clue whether it’ll hurt or benefit you.

    I think we as webmasters should look for alternative sources of traffic and revenue. Like building up our mailing list. Networking with similarly minded people in forums and building our readership that way. Perhaps introduce a product you can sell to businesses.

    • I have long been a proponent of an email list…for that very reason. Of course you lose people on your list over time…and Google is the way to keep it building…so evewn then you cannot totally escape.

      The good thing is that though it had an “effect” it was not the death of the system, just a dip in traffic. Of course they could hit it worse. I will be working all this week on my other site trying to prepare myself for inevitable increasing changes.

  19. Hi Steve

    So pleased to see you back Steve. You have been missed. Goodonya Steve Youngs for coming to the rescue.

    I have only just started writing articles. They were accepted and after reading some of the stuff that has been accepted in the past; at least it will hopefully get rid of the below-par articles!

    Patricia Perth Australia

    • The ezine articles quality increase isn’t too much of an issue. If it is plain what they expect it is easy enough to give it to them (I had a system for 350 word articles that converted really well…but writing longer and higher quality is no worries if everyone is doing it)

      The problem is that ALL articles are affected as far as I know. Sp even the masterpiece 2k work ezine article will be hit as much as the 350 work bare bones lead to the resource box.

      I do applaud the remove of a lot of the subpar stuff though…so hopefully in the long term all of this will be a positive.

  20. Steve,

    It’s great to see you up and running again! Did you figure out what vulnerability was exploited and used as the entry point by the hacker? I see that you have not enabled the top commentators plugin. Is that a suspect? I’m curious to know about the weak point as it could save many others a lot of trouble.

    As for Google changing the algorithms, well, what can I say? I never quite liked the fact that Google is creating a near monopoly on the whole Internet search thing. But if the change is going to help people get better search results, then I think it is the right thing to do. I was getting tired of seeing sub-standard, meatless and pointless articles from sites like EZA ranked in the top 5 results every time I searched for anything. Hopefully, with this change, some good results will start showing higher up.

    Am I up for the challenge? More than you’d imagine! 🙂


    • I think it likely my point of entry was my own stupidity. My password was quite weak. Anyway that is in the past now. Hopefully it shall all be good from here on out.

      Anyway for the Google. I agree. It is shame that they have a monopoly and use it so ruthlessly and that this move sort of squeezes the “little guy” and helps the bigger established companies with a bankroll.

      But there are opportunities too as with every change. Hopefully those quick and ready shall capitalize on these opportunities.

  21. Honestly, for bloggers I believe this will be a blessing in disguise.

    I found it ridiculously hard to outrank anything that was on Youtube or Ezinearticles. In fact so much so I was just starting a new strategy where I wrote 30 articles specifically for Ezinearticles (They’re good content not horrible like how you see so many articles) so I could then spin them and build massive backlinks back to EZA instead of my blog cause of how easy it is to rank on there.

    With that gone, this is a Rennaissance for individual sites giving out content.

    I think in the long-run as the dust settles, it will make ranking on the SERPs easier for blogs than ever before.

    But… it’s still a pretty new (And very dramatic, I also felt like I was in a Lifetime domestic abuse movie much like you Scott haha) so we shall see what happens here in the coming months…

    • Greg,

      Well Youtube results won’t be affected a bit. They are WAY too closely tied to Google. But besides that… you make a great point. It is scary because of the implications it has for us, but it also creates a great opportunity as well as a great means for diversification. Relying too much on a few sources is never a good idea.

  22. Steve

    The point about writing quality content is an excellent one. Two other things that this change in the Google algo throws up are:

    1) the importance of a list
    2) Diversifying traffic streams so they come from multiple sources

    Those that provide excellent content and are resourceful about getting it out there (YoUTube, Guest Posts, Twitter, Facebook, Content Syndication etc etc) shouldn’t have too much to worry about.

    It is a warning shot across the bows though, that sudden and unexpected changes can and DO happen. I like a line from Stephen King’s ‘The Stand’ for situations like this: Hope for the best, but expect the worst.’


    • Here is the “official” word. http://blog.ezinearticles.com/2011/02/quality-matters.html You can also bet anything that is “close” to not meeting standards is aired on the side of rejection too. As long as your writings are over 400 words, not in one of the banned topics and over 400 words, you SHOULDN”T see any difference. (I had a “template” that fell into 350ish words for max CTR, that is the main reason it affects me at all)

  23. Scott,

    I realize I’m late to this. I knew about the Google thing, but never got any word about Ezines. For me, it was business as usual. Submitting articles as a key strategy. Well, I have about 11 articles PENDING and that is after fixing this and that for them. Not sure where this story will end but, I definitely agree with diversity.

  24. I have articles at EZine and HubPages and strangely enough traffic to them didn’t change at all, if at all they are increasing, so I think Google is specific about what sort of content they are devaluing in those sites

  25. Hi Steve, I can’t believe I forgot to comment on this! I’m so happy you were able to get your website fixed, and kudos to the other Steve. 🙂 February saw a few blogs I know hacked, including my own. Fortunately we were both able to get them back to normal.

    I totally agree about not putting all your internet eggs in one basket. When you don’t control the platform, rules can change without warning.

    I learned this in the past when one outlet for my article market suddenly removed my archives and hid them on another website. I had to pay someone to painstakingly re-upload years of old content back to the original website before the webmaster deleted them permanently. The funny thing is this crushed their Alexa/Google rank.

  26. Glad to see you back after your hacking and malware problem Steve. It was good to see that another blogger, Steve Young, helped you out. Gives a warm feeling to the heart.

    It’s a shame that the eZine 400 minimum hit you so hard, but as you said, we must adapt, and the changes are creating quality, which is a good thing.

    Leamington Spa, England

    • Thanks John,

      Glad to be back. In the long run the ezine stuff is a bump in the road. I just have to spend a little bit more time “working” my main niche to make sure my income doesn’t slowly fade away. I have been spending a LOT more time working on SSS even though I am only making marginal money (actually losing, since I have expenses). Hopefully the push for better content will be god in the long run, I am just going to make sure i go above an beyond for the future. I was playing to too close with my perfect 330-350 word crafted articles. It certainly did improve CTR, but from here on out I am going for quality only (like on SSS) and CTR be damned when it comes to articles. That should make my articles stand the test of any future “hits”

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