What The Google Algorithm Change Means To Wine Bloggers

by Tim Elliott on March 2, 2011

Yesterday, Tyler Colman posted an interesting bit of information on his blog that connected the dots in both my business and wine blogging worlds. Since much of what I do in my business is web-related, and search is the main way people find information online, I have been closely following the changes to Google’s search ranking algorithm. For those unaware of this move, Google has changed the way  web pages are ranked in its organic search to make so-called “content farms” rank lower in results. It’s somewhat of an arms race between search engines like Google and search engine optimization (SEO) ninjas who continuously work to optimize their clients’ organic search positions. And Google makes these changes on a regular basis so the search results are as optimized as possible for their users.

Tyler mused that this change might negatively affect the search position of Snooth, the online wine directory site. A quick visit to Compete produced the following chart comparing Snooth with competitors Wine-Searcher and WineZap. Although it’s early, it looks like both Snooth and Wine-Searcher took a hit of 34%-42% of their traffic respectively. WineZap, with significantly less traffic, is down about 14% from last month. It will be interesting to revisit this chart in a month or two and see if this trend continues but obviously it appears these directories have been directly affected from Google’s change.

What this means for wine bloggers is our content will be ranked higher in Google search results, particularly for wine reviews. I think this is great for those of us who produce “hand-crafted”, relevant content instead of just being a directory or aggregator.

via Dr Vino’s Wine blog

Disclosure: I am a WineZap and Snooth affiliate.

Update: As CellarTrackers’ Eric LeVine points out in the comments, seasonality is what is driving the Compete chart above. So we will not know until next month if anything has really happened with Snooth or the other sites from any of the changes to the Google algorithm. Below is the current Quantcast chart for Snooth which is inconclusive, as well. Stay tuned for another update in about a month.

  • http://twitter.com/cellartracker Eric LeVine

    Tim, ALL wine sites show a HUGE seasonal spike in December and settle back down in January. Compete simply does NOT show the resolution to make any decisions about what this Google Content Farm change may be doing.

    Actually in my anecdotal experience I am seeing Wine-Searcher now show up a LOT higher on a lot of Google searches and Snooth lower. The Quantcast data is much more accurate since Snooth is directly instrumented, publicly exposes this, and has daily updates with about 24-36 hours of latency.

    • http://winecast.net Tim Elliott

      Thanks for the details, Eric. We’ll see what happens in the next month or two and I will update this post to reflect any changes. I used Compete since all the sites had some data but your point about seasonality is a good one I should have noted.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=578078884 Eric V. Orange

    I think that all of those external traffic stats systems, including Alexa, need to be taken with a grain of salt. When I few any of them for stats on LocalWineEvents.com I see radically different traffic measures at a fraction of what we log in our internal tracking.

    EVO

  • John Kelly

    Since the algorithm change, searches on purchasing our wines are delivering our content at the top of the search page. Original reviews follow, including Yelp. If aggregators show up on page 1 at all they show no higher than #8. We’ll see how long it takes the “SEO ninjas” to push non-original content back to the top of the page, where it was before the change.

  • Michael G

    I hope that Snooth moves to the borrom of the rankings, most of the time they are at the top but don’t have any information about the wine I am looking for.

  • Mb

    There is always a delcine of traffic Decmeber to January on wine sites. Just the nature of things, so it is a little early to say what the general effect of traffic will be: See two Decemeber/January periods at http://trends.google.com/websites?q=snooth.com,+wine-searcher.com,+cellartracker.com&geo=all&date=all&sort=0.

  • Martinibuster
    1. That first graph shows that traffic is UP year over year. Compare Feb . 10, 2010 at the left side with Feb. 11, 011 on the right side. Year over year the traffic is up.

    2. As someone previously posted, the December to Februrary decline is the post holidays crash.

    3. Furthermore, the latest Panda Update was not in play in January.

    Three reasons why the guy who did the blog post got it wrong.

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