Google Major Update

By | March 6, 2011

The latest major algo update from Google has even hit the headlines this time; unless you don’t surf around a lot, you may have noticed Google has been shaking up its search results again – in a rather big way. This time, the emphasis seems to be on what Google calls “content farms,” hence the nickname “Farmer Update” given by some for this algo change.

But what would be termed content farms? Seems to me, the content farms are sites that churn out large numbers of pages, mostly duplicate or low quality content, although that isn’t entirely clear to me. Content farms? Think of Web 2.0 article directories that receive mass submissions from the public like Ezine Articles, Hubpages, Suite 101, Associated Content, and similar.

Does that mean these sites are no good anymore? No! They will still be valid for a long time. But if you’ve been focusing too much attention writing article after article for these sites, it is time to seriously reconsider your approach. Those who have written hundreds of pages for these sites could be feeling the pinch now. What you should be doing all along is putting most of your energy on your OWN sites. Here is an interesting theory on why Ezine Articles was among the hardest hit (too much spammy content?)

google farmer update

Were content farms the only ones hit? No, the changes were widespread. During the first week of the algorithm change, many of my sites did take a slight hit, although they are recovering now. There seems to be not much consensus on what were the factors, but it should not be too hard to figure out what Google (ultimately) wants.

Since Google’s stated intention is to give people what they want, it is in your best interest to strive to do so as well. It is a waste of time to pore or argue over small details like ad-content ratio above the fold or below the fold, or blackhat vs whitehat. To KISS is to give people what they want and in time, things should fall into place. At least, you will have less things to worry about!

Just some of the considerations that Google has hinted on in the past (actual checklist is certainly much longer):

  • Content – Is it unique?
  • Backlinks
  • Age of site
  • Time visitors spend on site
  • Ads to content ratio. Is it overboard?
  • Site loading time/uptime
  • Social media presence

I’ve also heard of many human reviewers that are being employed by Google as well, to look at the results and rate the sites that show up. If this is being done on a large scale, I guess even the blackest of blackhats will not get away for long!

Put it another way, it’s about quality and maintaining your focus to align with that ideal as close as possible. Shortcuts may work in the short term, but in the long run, will eventually fall away. If you’ve been pumping out lots of spun articles, now is a good time to evaluate if this approach is what you really want to do. If you’ve been using spam tools to gather tons of links overnight, it’s time to pause and think whether this will work tomorrow. It might still be working today, but will it pass the test tomorrow? If you have been scraping the content from other sites and dishing them out on autoblogs, maybe it’s time to scrap those things for good……

Of course, these developments set the bar higher and higher and make it harder (and continuously harder) for people to game Google, and unfortunately for the little guy on the street, it hurts them too. There was plenty of collateral damage from this update, and we can expect more to come in the near future. So if you are a website owner, how are you coping and how will you keep up?

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