Google last week announced a major algorithm change to its search engine, nicknaming it the ‘Farmer’ update. The algorithm will have a particular impact on so-called ‘content farms’ to provide more natural search results displayed on their SERP’s. Amit Singhal, Google Fellow, and Matt Cutts, Principal Engineer said on the Official Google Blog
the reasoning for the updates is “to give people the most relevant answers to their queries as quickly as possible. This requires constant tuning of our algorithms, as new content—both good and bad—comes online all the time
.” It hails the start of a crackdown on websites who try to get the better of the Google ranking system.
Although Google themselves don’t particular say who the ‘Farmer’ update is aimed for, it’s very apparent that the big losers are content farms (hence the algorithm nickname ‘Farmer’) and related spammy-content producers who in the past couple of years have seen themselves appear high in up in Google’s SERP’s.
What constitutes a content farm is a topic of discussion amongst SEO specialists, but it covers two types of sites. Firstly, there are sites that (practically) steal content from other websites, keywords and all. Secondly sites which have their own content – masses of it, in fact, some of which is readable but not all of which is that useful. More often than not, the content is not user friendly that contains repeated keywords.
I’m sure many have seen these sites floating around – You visit their blog only to find a load of absolute nonsense, with a few key phrases chucked in at every opportunity. It’s like the internet equivalent of trying to listen to a drunk at a party make a very important point. This is easily referred to as ‘Black Hat SEO’ and completely defies SEO best practise.
Sites with thousands of “how to” articles might be classed as content farms. It’s arguable that if you were really looking for a certain sort of expertise, you’d go to a trade or specialist website rather than a “how to” website where they advise on anything and everything. Can they really authoritatively tell you how to do everything? What they can do is sell their ad space and expose every visitor to it once they’ve brought them in through natural search.
Content farms have managed to surf Google’s previous algorithms very well and have got themselves very respectable rankings. The new algorithm is set to change all of that because at the same time as pushing down the ‘bad’ sites, Google’s new algorithm will improve the search rankings for high-quality sites. They say on their blog “it is important for high-quality sites to be rewarded, and that’s exactly what this change does
.” It describes these high-quality sites as ones with original content and information. Think research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and perhaps even a good humoured yet very topical blog? (hint hint).
According to Michael Arrington’s article on techcrunch.com
, sites such as Demand Media, Mahalo and Associated Content are likely to be on the pitfall. I’m sure we will be able to see the impact of this algorithm update on these types of websites by simple traffic reports.
The new algorithm will hit around 12% (11.8% to be precise) of Google searches in the U.S. and also addresses nearly 90% of the top 15 domains blocked by the search engine’s Personal Blacklist Chrome extension
. The update will follow to other countries in due course.
Have you guys seen any significant highs and lows in Google’s SERP’s since the launch of Farmer?
About Shivam Patel
— Shivam Patel is a Senior Account Manager at iThinkMedia. Learn more about Shivam Patel
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