I’ve made a few comments on various forums recently about how I think search engine evolution will change the game for affiliates.
The reality is, and I’ve proved this myself, it is possible to rank well for terms even if your site is rubbish. A couple of posts in prominent blogs have touched upon this:
It is the second post that really sums up my own feelings.
Failed Affiliate Sites
I often read on forums beginners asking why their site isn’t working all that well. I nip over to the site and see what appears to be a very standard template. A keyword optimised site, with some badly written text that doesn’t really offer any considered insight or opinion. The “reviews” are just rehashed marketing blurb and it is clear the site author has no real experience of the products being offered. The site doesn’t rank because it sucks!
The idea is that they want to rank highly in the search engine, get people on to the site, and get them off. Now don’t get me wrong, I have made sites like this too, some of them make a few hundred pounds a year which is not bad for a one off afternoon site build. But it makes sense to me that Google *shouldn’t* be rating these sites well. It makes sense to me that Google will get better and better at removing such sites, or dropping them down the rankings in favour of content that really adds something to the Internet.
Another annoyance of mine is that Google weights domain keywords so heavily that real content sites struggle to get above them. For example, at the time of writing Google Ranks SamsungNC10.co.uk above my own SammyNetbook.com:
So whereas my site has a community with 5000 members and hundreds of thousands of posts, photos, regular news, content, a wiki and lots more. The affiliate blog site with just over a massive 5 posts in 2009 ranks higher. I have nothing against this other site, I just think it isn’t as useful to someone researching the NC10 netbook and should be ranked lower. The recommended products seem to have been picked from Amazon at random and the lack of “meat” to the text suggests the owner has little real experience with netbooks!
Google needs to address this and sooner rather than later.
The Domain Name Land Grab
And finally, a good generic .com domain is now impossible to find, .co.uk domains are still there but getting rare, and other TLDs are not given so much weighting by Google. Again, this needs to stop.
If not, Google is in danger of stifling entry into the Internet, why should a good site be denied just because it’s creator was born too late to snap up a good .com?
The solution to this is easy, we just need to open up TLDs and Google should weight them all depending on their ease of registration (I can see why edu, gov, etc should have a higher status). Unfortunately, there will be much resistance to this from the “owners” of the current Internet. Obviously if new TLDs are created and they have a chance in the search rankings then this will devalue their existing domains.
These people are also more likely to be influential in the Internet world and will come up with all kinds of reasons as to why TLD expansion should not occur. The more rational amongst us will realise that there is no good reason not to allow this expansion, a .com ending is no guarantee against a malicious site as it is. Registering a .com domain first is no indication of a site’s quality.
Like I said, those that have invested heavily in large domain name portfolios will resist this heavily so as to not see the value of their domains drop to nothing. But the value of a site should be based on the content, not the name.
Google knows this, so it’s just a matter of time…
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