Valuable Content? Give me a break.
I’ve been intending to write something about this for a while now, but the subject came up today on one of the forums I frequent and so I pretty much said what I wanted to say. This is of course with regards to creating revenue generating “niche” websites. I don’t have a ton more to add really, so I’m just going to re-post it here verbatim (gee, I’m syndicating my own content… how novel!) Enjoy!
I’d like to add a comparison – television.
Does anyone actually think that television programming is aired with the intent being to provide information/entertainment? No, it’s done to make MONEY, period. Television shows are the “junk” and often SYNDICATED content stuck in between advertisements, to make the viewer (visitor) THINK they are being offered something of value, that just happens to have some commercial messages interspersed. Reality is exactly the opposite. They are being shown commercial messages that just happen to have a little content wrapped around them. The shows are completely irrelevant, except in that if they can be hyped up enough and shown enough places, people will go check them out because people are sheep. Advertisers fight for the best placement of their ads, just like we fight for the best placement of our SE listings. But if the show stops pulling in the advertisers, it is canceled.
I see little if any difference, except that our placement in the SEs is completely at the mercy of the SE and we have no say in it at all ultimately. In my opinion, a site adds value if you click on something on the site, or read anything on the site. It’s that simple.
I would disagree with the notion that Google only wants sites that aren’t created strictly for making money. Look at Amazon.com… does anyone think they aren’t creating pages strictly for making money?? OK, they have added user reviews & whatnot now, but even that is just to give the ILLUSION of added value, and content for the SE spirders. They have one goal in mind. MAKE MONEY. If they stop doing that, they will shift gears, change tactics, do whatever they have to do to make money again. Just like Google would/does. Also with regards to links, how many outbound links do some eBay auctions have? Or Amazon pages? Or howstuffowrks.com pages? Or craigslist postings? Or… ? You get the idea. I can’t see how pure # of outbound links comes too much into play with deciding a pages legitimacy.
I can’t tell you how many times I have found information I was glad I had found, totally by accident while surfing around because I followed a few links and went down the rabbit hole. I think we often assume that “value” is determined solely by a person being able to search for a specific thing, find a link to our site, and find that specific thing right away. I disagree with this thinking. We have NO WAY to know what a visitor will or won’t consider “valuable”. They might be looking for information on dog food, but end up at a page on my site that has a rotating link to another site, labeled “Own A Classic Arcade Machine” and they say to themselves “oh wow, I love those old arcade games… I wonder what this is about??” and off they go following the link. They are now on a tangent they never expected and were not seeking, but are happy to have found. They are not going to care who got paid or didn’t get paid for them following that link, and in my opinion they found it of value the moment they chose to click on it and didn’t immediately hit the back button or close their browser.
But to answer the original actual question, I don’t think Google cares per se. if sites are hand built or machine generated. They care about what THEY perceive as “valuable”. But since they are not our visitors, it does not make sense for them to be the ones passing that judgement.
As pointed out earlier, look at About.com, Amazon, eBay, gada.be (most blatant example), and countless others. They’re all either at least partially machine generated, are scraping/re-publishing syndicated content, or are some combination of the two.