The big content directories such as ezinearticles, hubpages, articlesbase etc. All took a big hit with the Google panda update. It seems Google targeted low quality article databases with heavy blocks of adverts.
These article directories have been abused by black and white hat link builders for the past decade. They allow people to post useless content with a link which they will then profit from and the link will add link juice to the contributors site.
So from an SEO perspective Google was probably trying to reduce the influence of these sites but they could have done that without the massive drop in rankings among these sites. Traffic to most big content directories was down by half according to many stats.
So what does this all mean for the humble made for adsense website?
The classic MFA site has one 336x280px text link box and one 336x280px image ad just after the heading on the page. Then at the end of the content a “Read more” heading and another text link advert. This is the classic MFA setup which is proven to be a high yielding layout. It is especially powerful if you have a large header image which pushes the actual content to just below the fold.
If you are promoting with Adsense or any other popular ad network and you rely on organic traffic from Google you need to be very careful as to where you place your ads in future. One of the things that Google looked at with the Panda update was advert placement. If you have zero content above the fold and just adverts it is likely your site isn’t going to receive a high quality score.
Most MFA sites are small single page sites targeting a niche or just a few pages built around popular keywords. This means they are not the intended target for the Panda update but this doesn’t mean they will not be affected in the long run. Google engineers have clearly stated that they are looking to improve the quality of the content in the top ranking positions. One of the things they are going to be taking a close look at is ad placement and the biggest and easiest ad network for them to focus on is also the most abused – Adsense.
We’ll be doing a follow up post to this discussing semantics and how associated keywords seems to be playing a big part in what Google sees as quality.