Saturday, February 26, 2011

Google Algorithm Changes #Fail and Tank Foodie and Recipe Blogs and Sites with Recipe View

Google changed their algorithm on Thursday (2-24-2011), so if you are visiting Barbecue Master - bless you and thank you.

While Google maintains that the changes to the automated search rules were designed to weed out spammy web sites (including content farms and content mills) and news sources are repeating that as gospel, the reality is that the application of the new algorithm has not been so clean. eHow (one of the worst content mill sites online) and (content mill and link farm) click in high on Google search while many small and non-spammy web sites virtually disappeared from search.

To compound the problems, Google rolled out Recipe View along with the algorithm changes. If you search for recipes now, you are directed to major content producers like Food Network. Such sites have tech support and huge budgets, so they have HTML code that specifies recipe ingredients, nutritional information, and calorie counts as well as the time needed to prepare a dish. Big recipe sites also have professional food photos that are not reflective of what you're likely to see in your own kitchen or in your backyard if you're grilling. This is all well and good (I suppose), but it was never difficult to find the big cooking spaces and cookbook style recipes. Big template-style food sites didn't need a search engine boost, and the new Recipe View simply serves to limit your choices.

To put this all in real world terms, you now have a McDonalds approach to searching for recipes and cooking information on Google. They have it down to a science. You click boxes, and Google provides you with a slick recipe from a big name online site. This may be just what some online surfers want, but you suddenly lose Grandma, Mom, or a guy who grills in his back yard who will share information and tips along with personal photos that capture the indoor or outdoor cooking experience. The personal touch is lost. You no longer have the option to post a comment or send an email to the person who took the time to share a favorite recipe. It's all big business, and you're on your own.

Am I just sour grapes? No. I've had this barbecue grilling blog for six years. The idea was to provide useful information and help others get started grilling and to offer new ideas and grilling recipes. It took four years to make the first cash out from Google AdSense, because the threshold is $100 earned to get paid. I'd be nuts if I were banking on a food blog for income. No. I was not in it for the money. I simply enjoyed sharing information. Now Google decides that they know best, and they bury the little guys. Perhaps everyone should just buy a Betty Crocker cookbook and call it good. Google has organized the internet to death. Instead of having the world at your fingertips, you now have Food Network and a time estimate on how long it takes to crock pot a Boston butt.


J.Q. Rose said...

In this age of commercialism, all the big companies will take over the Internet just as they have nudged the mom and pop retailers out of business too. I'm so sorry to hear this cause I know how hard you have worked on your barbecue site and providing such a great service. I'm afraid this is only the beginning of controlling the internet...Janet Glaser

Cindy said...

It actually gets worse than this. I have a 700+ page site (7 years old) with a large food section. What I'm seeing is AdSense advertisers are also reacting to this algo change in their bids (as they probably should, considering). My income for Jan & Feb took a sudden 50% drop, although traffic is higher than ever. Sure, some of it will shake out, but recovering from these types of events takes way too long.

And, it has been no help that some of the content-farm sites considered mine an "authority" site and were linking to it as reference in articles.

Chris said...

So you are saying Sandra Lee, a bottle of bbq sauce, a crock pot, and a butt isn't authentic q? ha ha ha, sorry. Couldn't resist.

I am curious to see how this affects my numbers too. Right now, 36.95% of my web traffic comes from search engines. In a week or two I was going to compare before and after to see if there are substantive changes. I don't get any advertising revenue on mine but I still keep an eye on traffic flow.

Cookshack Smokers said...

The algorithm change has effected a lot of sites, not just food ones but you're right in saying that it effects recipe sites more than other industries.

There is a law going around for "net neutrality" so that every site has the opportunity to show up in search results, not just the big ones with corporate backing. Maybe we're getting a taste of what unfair search results look like now.