Associated Content (AC) has gone through some major changes and problems lately. I’m not getting a good vibe from it either. As ya’ll know, I’ve been publishing with AC for about three years. I’ve stuck with them through the bad and the good. I’ve always been honest when I express my feelings about Associated Content. I praise them for what they do right and call their mistakes what they are.
Lately, AC has created several glitches. Some they have corrected. Some have been corrected, but subsequently reappeared. Some they refuse to acknowledge. As always the communications, both internally and externally, appear lacking. The most serious problem right now,one AC refuses to admit is a problem, is the de-indexing of AC articles.
The problem started in late 2008. AC writers (note, I refuse to buy into AC’s new, dehumanizing terminology and call their members “sources”) began noticing that Google would index articles as it always did, but then de-index them. The articles would show up about a week later with a much lower placement. To add insult to injury, the newly index article would have its abstract jumble with HTML code. Many articles did not get indexed by Google at all. I noticed this when the weekly Google alerts I had set up, stopped coming. When they did trickle in, the links were only to blogs and other sites that mentioned my articles, never the AC article.
The forum was awash in complaints about the problem, but they Associated Content staff seldom reads their own forum. The one guy who did participate in the forum, the one guy who kept members informed of problems and the status of the solutions, was let go from AC today along with the AC staffer who ran AC’s blog.
I’m not a conspiracy nut. I like to think there are simple, logical reasons for happenings in this universe, but the time line of events all point to one conclusion…AC has lost its mojo. The two things AC had going were its built-in audience and a special relationship with Google. That relationship has been debated and speculated numerous times, but the debate is moot. The love affair between AC and Google is over.
Here’s a brief time line that led me to this conclusion.
- Late 2008, the de-indexing of AC articles starts.
- December 2008, some AC members think the problem is a change to the article’s link because AC adds a “?cat=#” to all articles.
- January-ish 2009, AC members start comparing notes and posting examples.
- February-ish 2009, AC ignores the forum chatter completely.
- Late February 2009 AC begins deleting articles due to “questionable content and poor grammar/spelling.” This unannounced rule change, though probably for the best, was an attempt to get back in the good graces of Google.
- March-ish 2009, AC says they’re looking into it.
- April-ish 2009, AC says there is no problem with articles being indexed. AC says it’s working like always and they don’t control what Google does anyway.
- May 2009, despite dozens of forum posts and hundreds of emails with examples of the problem, AC continues to say, “There is no problem.”
- May 2009, after getting a new CEO and $6M in investment funds, AC fires some of the people who have been the best communication link for their writing members.
- AC lost it’s Google mojo.
- AC doesn’t want to admit they no longer have a special relationship with Google
- AC has new management and is trying to clear out the old guard
- Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia.
Given the facts, I don’t think any of this is a random collection of events. AC is changing. AC is hiding something. AC isn’t looking so well these days. Google has devalued the AC domain so severely, it now just ignores articles posted there. If the average surfer can’t located an AC article with a search, traffic will be reduced significantly. No traffic? No per-click payments. AC’s biggest draw disappears. It’s really no wonder AC doesn’t want to admit this is a problem. If Google is going to ignore the AC domain, there is really no incentive to put up with the other glitches and formatting limitations. I can have more formatting options and complete control over my writing here on my blog and still get ignored by Google. If the pay is the same, why bother jumping through AC’s hoops?
That’s my take on the situation. It’s not one I jumped to without some serious thought. It’s one that fits the facts.
P.S. Sam we’re going to miss you, but I think you may have gotten off the AC ship at just the right time. I’m sure there are many AC members who will be following you. AC is becoming more trouble than it’s worth.