"The results offered by search engines like Google are hardly set in stone, and in fact, the search engines are changing their algorithms constantly," opines Gorman in his new statement to the press. "In fact, Google's own algorithms change hundreds of times throughout the year, as the company is constantly tweaking its results and trying to provide increased value to users. What this means, most simply, is that business models that are entirely based on Google search rankings are in a constant state of fear and anxiety—because who knows what tomorrow's algorithmic update will bring? A single Google update could cause the entire business model to collapse."
Gorman says that his prediction about HomeFacts.com and other content aggregation sites is hardly far-fetched, because similar things have happened before. "My prediction is that content aggregation sites like HomeFacts.com are next in line to go up in smoke as a result of Google change-ups, but these sites will hardly be the first or sole victims of Google's algorithmic shifts," he offers.
In particular, Gorman says, Google's "Penguin" update, which was rolled out in April, took down a lot of article database sites, including ArticleBase.com and EZarticles.com. "Google rolled out its Penguin algorithmic update as an attempt to cut down on sites that were 'spammy,' or that were being manipulated by SEO marketers to produce 'unnatural' links, without providing anything substantive or valuable to consumers," Gorman offers. "Article marketing sites were big targets, and as such, those sites have all but crumbled; some of them are only bringing in a small fraction of the traffic they used to get, and because their entire business model was based on Google traffic, they're barely afloat."
Next in Google's crosshairs, Gorman continues, are content aggregation sites. "Google is going after sites like HomeFacts.com because they really offer very little value to searchers," he remarks. "What these sites do is effectively compile information taken from elsewhere on the Web, making it available in one centralized location. A lot of these sites are already suffering as a result of Google's algorithmic updates, because these are sites that do not offer any original, valuable content; they duplicate content from elsewhere on the Web, which is a huge Google faux pas, and a sure way to incur Penguin penalties."
Gorman goes on to say that the challenges facing sites like HomeFacts.com are manifold. The first challenge facing sites like HomeFacts.com is that they are easy to replicate. "Again, there is no original content being created here, so putting together a content aggregation site is extremely easy to do," he notes. "That is why there are so many similar sites out there. This leads to a pretty dramatic loss in market share, because what these sites are doing is so easily commoditized."
Another problem inherent to the HomeFacts.com business model is the fact that search engines including Google, Yahoo, and Bing offer their own services in content aggregation. "This is almost a common sense matter," Gorman offers. "Search engines take pride in being able to corral the right kinds of information and package it for the consumer; sites like HomeFacts.com are really at odds with this, in a way."
Gorman concludes that sites like HomeFacts.com are "completely Google-dependent"—which is why a single seismic shift within the search engine's algorithms could throw the entire business model into ruin. "Without organic search traffic, these content compilers are out of business," Gorman says. "They exist on ad revenue, which they command solely on the basis of Google rankings; without this organic traffic, though, they offer no unique value of any kind."
Gorman's prediction is that these sites will soon find themselves crumbling in the face of further refreshes to Google's algorithms—even more than they already have. "Google's aggression against content duplication has already taken a bite out of some of these sites, but that is nothing compared to what will come as further Penguin updates come down the pipeline," he says. And to be sure, further Penguin updates and data refreshes are coming. "There have been numerous updates to Penguin since it was unveiled in April, including a data refresh earlier this month," explains Gorman. "A full-fledged Penguin update is expected in a matter of days—and with each new update, Google is continuing to whittle away at those sites that it deems to be lacking in value. Content aggregators like HomeFacts.com are on the chopping block, for sure."
According to Gorman, the lesson for online professionals is clear. "If your success rises and falls solely on the basis of what Google can do for you, then you are going to find yourself on the wrong end of an algorithmic update sooner or later," Gorman says. "To succeed in the long haul, you have to bring unique, compelling content to searchers. In short, you have to bring something valuable to the table if you want Google to continue rewarding you."
Rich Gorman is a direct response marketing pioneer, and he is active on Twitter at the handle @RichGorman101.
Rich Gorman is an online innovator, a serial entrepreneur, and a trailblazer in the direct response marketing industry; additionally, he is a technology addict with a steady track record of predicting online trends. His brand, Direct Response, is one of the top names in the affiliate marketing arena, and, through his Direct Response blog, he writes prolifically about the trends shaping the field. Through Direct Response, Gorman gives away millions of dollars in trade secrets and insider information, all as a part of his passion for contributing value to other companies and industry professionals.