Google vs. EZineArticles – Who’s Right?
by Antone Roundy | 15 Comments | SEO
In the wake of Google's crack down on content farms, which hit EZineArticles hard, EZineArticles has announced that they'll be making all links from articles on the site "nofollow" links (meaning that the links will no longer give any Google SEO benefit to the sites they link to).
This includes links in the articles as well as in the "resource box", which introduces the author and links to their website.
Yesterday, Neil Shearing shared his thoughts on the subject:
I would hazard a guess that Google probably suggested using "nofollow" way back in time, only for EZA to say that editorial checking of articles would be enough to keep out low quality content. But now Google have laid down the law, and EZA is going to comply. Sorry, chaps, no linkjuice here anymore.
Having combed through articles sites, EZineArticles included, looking for articles to publish before, I can't say I'm convinced that editorial checking was enough. Most of the articles I've ever seen in article directories were utter garbage -- obviously dashed off in 5 or 10 minutes by someone who knew the subject only well enough to avoid glaring factual errors.
As long as there was an SEO payoff for submitting to article directories, there were bound to be legions of internet marketers writing or outsourcing the writing of such articles.
As long as the article directories were inundated with submissions of these articles, the directories had two choices: accept and publish garbage, or get passed over by the masses (who's going to submit to a directory that rejects their articles?) Article directories that make their money by posting AdSense and other ads on the articles they host had little incentive to do anything that would reduce the volume of submissions they receive.
So Google gave them an incentive. Take out the trash or lose your rankings. If they lose their rankings, they lose traffic, loose clicks on their ads, and lose their revenue stream.
I don't know whether EZineArticles will be reevaluating articles that have already been approved. But by adding "nofollow" to all links, they're taking away the incentive to submit low quality articles.
Neil quoted what EZineArticles said about "nofollow" back in 2005:
We're strongly considering using this new attribute"¦not only for the EzineArticles BLOG, but for the BODY of the articles within our site.
We will not use this technology for the RESOURCE BOX (as that is considered payment to the author for sending us their content), but we are strongly considering adding the rel="nofollow" tag to ALL URLs within the BODY of any article.
Times change, eh? So much for "payment" for the authors.
(note: links to EZA have been nofollowed on principle)
I presume that last sentence means, "since EZineArticles is no longer paying authors for their content, I'm not going to send them any link juice."
I have a different point of view.
Yes, EZineArticles is making their money off of others' content, and yes, they should "pay" for that.
But how should they pay for it?
By hosting the articles!
If the point of submitting an article to EZineArticles is to make it available for eZine publishers to use in their eZines, then having the article hosted is payment. If it gets picked up and used, the author gets exposure and click-through traffic from their resource box.
On the flip side (and this is where I side with what we presume Google is saying), if the links are all no-followed, authors of articles that don't get picked up and republished (eg. junk articles) don't get paid.
So there's still incentive to post high-quality articles, but no longer incentive to post garbage. Perfect.
One final important point. While I believe that links from the article directories should be no-followed, once the article has been picked up and republished, the rel="nofollow" attribute should be removed. "nofollow" is a website's way of saying "I don't vouch for the site that link points to." If you're using an article, but you won't vouch for the sites it links to, what on earth are you using that article for?
February 28th, 2011 at 10:03 am
Only a few of the articles, I've submitted to EZA, was for back link reasons. Most were to get traffic directly. I want the readers to click through and visit my sites.
So making the link nofollow will not change much for me, or maybe only in a positive way. Hopefully, yes, this would mean higher quality articles at EZA. I've never understood their reviewing politics. Sometimes, they complain about totally stupid things, not mentioned in their editorial guidelines. Other times, they allow articles that are unreadable because of keyword stuffing or spinning.
February 28th, 2011 at 10:18 am
That is a real bummer. I've found this site in particular to be a great place to launching link building process for niche sites. Time to re-evaluate how or even if ezines fits into my model any longer. Funny, I just got an email on Google proofing your business too...
February 28th, 2011 at 11:03 am
I'm suprised it toook G this long to slap them silly.
Half of their user base is gone after this because 50% used EZA for link juice and the other 50% used them for traffic.
This is a great opportunity for smart marketers to move in and provide EZA quality articles and collect all the traffic that the spammers who used EZA for link juice, left behind.
February 28th, 2011 at 12:41 pm
Excellent points Antone. This whole 'farm slap' really shows how Google can change their rules at any time and almost completely alter the livelihood of site owners who rely on organic search traffic.
February 28th, 2011 at 12:54 pm
Yep. It underscores why its important to consider why any SEO strategy you may be considering is being rewarded.
If it's because you're providing value to the end user, you should be relatively safe from this kind of change*. If you're "exploiting a loophole", you'd better be ready to adapt when the slap comes down, because it's probably a question of when rather than if.
If you don't want to have to adapt, don't do it in the first place.
Posting junk articles clearly falls in the "exploiting a loophole" category.
* I said "relative" safe above because this change is going to affect people who posted high-quality articles in the same way it affected people who posted garbage. The difference is that people who posted high-quality articles will continue to get their content re-published, so they're not losing ALL of the benefit.
February 28th, 2011 at 1:17 pm
I just heard that the site Digital Inspiration got 'farm slapped.' I love that blog and it seems like it was unjustified IMO. Here's a link to Amit reporting it, if you haven't heard it already. http://tinyurl.com/5wwrehl
Another interesting element here is that both sites EZA & DI both are premium Adsense publishers, which means that..
A) They make a LOT of money with Adsense, so the hit they are taking is a HARD hit.
B) Google is also taking a financial hit by de-ranking these sites.
C) Links are NOT king (these sites have TONS of backlinks), CONTENT is still king, so no matter what trends are currently working, good content will always win in the long run.
D) Just because you help make G a lot of money does not grant you special treatment in the SERPS... thus dispelling a long-held conspiracy theory by a number of IM forum rats.
February 28th, 2011 at 3:05 pm
Antone wrote, "One final important point. While I believe that links from the article directories should be no-followed, once the article has been picked up and republished, the rel=â€nofollowâ€ attribute should be removed. â€œnofollowâ€ is a websiteâ€™s way of saying â€œI donâ€™t vouch for the site that link points to.â€ If youâ€™re using an article, but you wonâ€™t vouch for the sites it links to, what on earth are you using that article for?"
No...Too easy for the article writer to game that by linking to the article on a couple of blogs s/he controls, right?
February 28th, 2011 at 3:31 pm
Ross, I'm not quite sure I understand what you're saying.
My point is that if somebody goes to an article directory, finds an article they like, and publishes it in their EZine or on their blog, they ought to "pay" the other with the links the author "asked for" by putting them in the article or their resource box.
If you not willing to make those links "do follow", then I personally don't think you should use the article.
Yes, the author would still have a chance to get click-through traffic. But I think a link-juice passing link is the accepted price for using the content.
February 28th, 2011 at 8:02 pm
I just received notice from Ezine Articles outline the first 5 changes they are making. The most important being the content review process and a 400 word minimum for articles.
I definitely feel if you use an article you should change back to a do follow tag but because of the time to do it I think it will soon be forgotten.
Times are changing and changing fast, I can see g's point and Ezine's. I think the next few months will be rocky for article writers.
March 6th, 2011 at 11:28 am
I find this fascinating actually, as someone who put a lot of quality content on their own website... without ever having known about articles.
I believe Google is definitely right to take steps in curbing abuse of articles. Sure people can use them, but if its just spam its messing with the whole system and ultimately bringing it down lower, instead of transcending it and moving upwards.
I put many hours into creating articles which were actually useful, quality stuff. So I might go publish some of it on article sites, hopefully they won't end up with no follow links, so they are still worth something on Google.
March 24th, 2011 at 2:28 am
Antone, the flaw in your argument is that you can't just swap payments half way through. You can't tell people you'll pay them back one way and then pay them back another way.
March 24th, 2011 at 7:11 am
I understand your point, but disagree. Unless it was explicitly stated that publishers were getting a link from the EZineArticles site for the use of their article, then that was just an assumption and a side effect of the primary, explicit benefit of having the articles made available to be picked up and republished by EZines, blogs, etc.
As I said, I think that when someone else picks up and republishes an article, they should not use nofollow links. And the method EZinesArticles uses to give their users the content for republishing should not have nofollow links.
As it is, I don't think that's being done. They should have a big "copy article source" button that brings up a copy of the source code (including links and other HTML tags) with "nofollow" removed.
July 15th, 2011 at 5:35 am
It's now deep into July 2011 and as yet none of my articles on EZA has been 'punished' with a nofollow tag ... obviously the amount of traffic has dropped significantly since Google stopped giving any SERPS love to keyword targetted articles, however, all in all everything is good.
I have also found that getting articles accepted has been somewhat problematic with no indication as to where the punctuation mishap has occurred ... yest a comma, semi-colon or full stop in the wrong position can now send you around the block .. but in my eyes it is a genuine attempt by EZA to clean up it's act.
So, panic over? ... for now, yes ... but do we know what is really in the mind of the Google mathematicians?
August 2nd, 2011 at 1:50 pm
For me it is all very simple.
Imagine there is no internet marketing value in submitting Articles to Article directories. Who would submit in this case?
Yes, you are right - only people who really have something interesting to say and know the topics they are writing about. Because, if they don't write something good, no one will read it and no one will visit their website.
As you can see I can not write very well, but I love to read good written material, so I am totally for better content. And if nofollow is going to achieve that, I am totally behind it.
Take care guys,
August 2nd, 2011 at 6:42 pm
I seriously think it's ridiculous and it will completely cut down on the amount of good articles that Ez. has on it. Ez. brings in good SEO and google should reward, NOT punish then for it.