Yesterday, Google released what is being touted as the Farmer Update, which is essentially their response to cracking down low quality search results and spam, by effectively removing sites that generate and promote content which is either duplicated, syndicated, minutely re-purposed, or which isn’t substantive.
In an effort to improve the quality of their index, Google’s battle against spammers isn’t new by any means, but it has been heating up over the last year. In part, this is due to major content farms such as Demand Media, Mahalo, and even the Huffington Post creating content en masse which barely passes Google’s duplicate content filters.
12% of US Search Results Will Be Affected
Although Google makes over 500+ changes to its algorithm or ‘secret recipe’ for ranking search results, this change will be its biggest yet, with other such changes having occurred in 2003’s Florida Update, and 2009’s Vince Update . To put this into perspective, several billion search results will be impacted and sites which do not offer up content that passes Google’s algorithmic filters stand a lot to lose.
Although the Farmer Update isn’t categorically targeted towards Content Farms, they do stand the most to lose in the search rankings. As per Google’s blog post the update “is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites—sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful.” By this definition, the following types of sites will be affected:
- Content Farms – Examples include Demand Media, eHow, Huffington Post, Mahalo, and Article Marketing sites.
- E-Commerce Sites which do not have substantive or unique content on product descriptions. This is typical of data-feed driven e-commerce sites.
- Scraper Websites – Websites which syndicate or scrape content and repost it.
- Coupon Driven Websites - Like E-Commerce sites, these do not generally provide substantially unique or useful content.
Are Canadian Businesses Going to Be Affected?
Canadian businesses which sell within Canada are not affected at this point in time as the algorithmic test are only taking place on US Google.com results. However, Canadian businesses who sell through to customers in the United States may be affected if their websites are deemed to have low-quality content, as per Google’s algorithm.
Typically, there aren’t the same type of large content farms found in Canada like there are in the United States. However, businesses small and large should be aware that prior and existing search engine optimization campaigns which may have involved content marketing strategies which are not likely to pass Google’s new algorithmic filter, will be de-valued.
How to Survive Google’s Algorithmic Slap
As per Google’s blog post, high quality sites with “original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on”, will tend to rank higher in the search results, and effectively be rewarded for their editorial contributions.
For almost anyone who depends on organic search traffic, this change necessitates the need for higher quality content creation with the key focus involving the creation of unique, substantive, and useful content. Interestingly, Google’s blog post confirms that it’s algorithmic change ‘smart’ and thinks like its user do. In an extract from Google engineer, Amit Singhal’s blog post, he mentions:
“It’s worth noting that this update does not rely on the feedback we’ve received from the Personal Blocklist Chrome extension, which we launched last week. However, we did compare the Blocklist data we gathered with the sites identified by our algorithm, and we were very pleased that the preferences our users expressed by using the extension are well represented. If you take the top several dozen or so most-blocked domains from the Chrome extension, then this algorithmic change addresses 84% of them, which is strong independent confirmation of the user benefits.”