Sep 22, 2011
Google has the reputation of being a leading search engine with unmatched characteristics of finding highly specific information at a quick pace. In order to improve the quality of search engine results, Google continues to make small changes to the algorithm every now and then. But there are times when they launch an update to their algorithm that can be termed as a really big change.
The major overhaul came as a Google’s recent update to its search algorithm. This algorithm change has been dubbed the “Farmer” algorithm change due to Google’s attempt to crack down on content farms. These are sites that are specifically designed to offer a huge amount of content but very little relative information. Thereby it aims 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” and it’s supposed to improve already high ranking of the good quality websites —sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on”.
According to Pam Horan, president of the Online Publishers Association (OPA), “This change was connected with who is driving the best experiences for the end user,” he said. “This is good for the consumer, good for the Internet, and good for publishers of higher-quality content.”
Google’s change appears to have most harmed so-called “content farms” like Mahalo, which critics say amass content for the sole purpose of luring in search-engine traffic. Sites like Mahalo.com, Wisegeek.com,Ezinearticles.com and Yahoo’s (YHOO, Fortune 500) Associated Content were among the biggest losers in the algorithm tweak. Google-generated traffic to each dropped more than 75%, according to software firm Sistrix.
The comprehensive evaluations at Sistrix included an advanced “visibility index” which calculates the value of search terms based on their traffic, the click through rate on specific positions on the SERP, and more. According to that index, top losers include eZine Articles, Suite101, Associated Content, Free Downloads Center, Essortment, American Towns, Article Base, Find Articles, Business.com, and FAQs.org. All of those sites received more than a 90% visibility loss, according to the Sistrix index. Other analysts agree with at least several of these top items, but add Buzzle.com, BizRate, Shopping.com, Squidoo, and Hub Pages to the list.
Interestingly, Demand Media (DMD) — one of the most oft-criticized content farms –appears to have gotten off relatively scot-free. Its most prominent site, eHow.com, even grew its traffic after the algorithm change, though some others like AnswerBag.com and Trails.com dropped off. However, as it usually happens in real life some bystanders might get hurt during cleanup activities. For instance, “Apple products blog Cult of Mac wrote a post saying their traffic has been significantly damaged by the changes” and on the other hand, eHow.com site actually gained in visibility.
The biggest beneficiaries seem to be originators of what Google calls “high-quality” content, which the company defines as “information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.” In accordance, more search visibility is being given to sites like eBay, Facebook, Amazon, NexTag, Instructables, Wikipedia, Yahoo Answers, Walmart, YouTube, and (surprisingly enough) eHow. This list is fairly controversial because it seems to support giant sites at the expense of user-generated content elsewhere. The need for higher visibility on some of these massive page collections was clear (for example, Facebook and eBay both essentially swallowed their user-generated items completely), but it’s quite evident that the groups benefiting is comprised of those that are already large and well-established.
“GOOD” Reasons To Be Happy With
- It’s an opportunity to clean up the internet and have site developers and bloggers starting to focus on real value driven sites with original content rather than re-hashed “I’m just trying to get traffic” content.
- It’s survival of the fittest. The weak and half hearted will drown on page 3 and beyond.
- It will allow to concentrate more on building a loyal readership for WordPress sites and thus creating a solid brand through our own blogs and websites.
- It will run the spammers off of the social net sites we love so much like Twitter and Facebook.
How To Get Ranked #1 On Google Now
- Continue to produce your own content even though it can be de-motivating knowing you are not as high in Google’s SERP’s and consider trying to make your site as SEO friendly to Google as you possibly can without sacrificing the usability of your site. Never re-post or copy an Article for link-building purposes. Only ever use original Content.
- Start building a big beautiful blog with only your best of the best original content including original articles, videos and pictures. Post daily content if you can. Weekly at the very least.
- Try not to use flash or large images, try and convert images to smaller file sizes whilst retaining the quality.
- Convert complicated URL’s into SEO friendly URL’s with keywords featuring in the slugs and get rid of any query strings that might be showing up.
- Continue to try and get links coming in to your site from all forms of sites such social media, blogs etc. with varied link text and aim for relevant blogs that might want to link to you because you have written an interesting article or you have developed a helpful webtool/tutorial.
- Make sure you have all the correct tags and Google is aware that what your site is about.
- Re-direct your efforts from just spraying your web address everywhere like graffiti tags to creating real relationships with other bloggers with high PR ranking blogs related to your keywords (2 or higher) by reaching out to them via phone, email and posting real comments on their postings then making it okay with them if you want to submit a link to re-direct them back to your site.
- Try and include the address on the homepage as well as this helps Google to confirm where you are based especially if for example you own a ‘.com’ site but are based in the UK.
As Google continues this fight against low quality “content farms” it is becoming increasingly important to ensure you pump out high quality unique content. It is always good to remember when doing SEO work to try to “work with” the search engines rather than trying to “game” or trick them. Because at the end of the day that’s what this is all about, QUALITY. Not quantity. When it comes to you marketing or branding yourself you need to focus on giving tremendous value to a few clients rather than little or no value to a ton of clients.
This is also about longevity and sustaining the dips in our roads to success. Look at this as the wonderful opportunity that it is.