3 Major Learning Points from Google’s Farm Update

Fahrenheit Marketing
Fahrenheit Marketing in Design

Since Google first announced and then implemented an algorithm change aimed at sites deemed to have low quality content, it’s become apparent that this is the most visible algorithm update in years. The goal of the update was to promote quality content by devaluing what Google perceived to be low quality derivative works and so far the change has generated mixed results.

Demand media, the catalyst for this change, emerged relatively unscathed

When Google first announced they would be changing their search algorithm to target low quality sites, everyone assumed that it was an indirect assault on Demand Media. The company operates a number of web properties which had been the subject of complaints regarding low quality content and the algorithm update was perceived to be a referendum on their properties. Instead, according to Sistrix which monitors web visibility, the company survived the farm update with little more than a scratch while other UGC sites took huge hits.

Some of the top article sites were the biggest losers

According to Sistrix, the site that lost the most search visibility was WiseGeek.com which lost 77 percent of its visibility and 93.36 visibility points. Ezinearticles was number two losing 90 percent of its visibility and 58.43 visibility points. Rounding out the top 5 were suite101.com, buzzle.com and hubpages.com. To get an idea of how the losses translate into traffic decreases, Ezinearticles reported on their corporate blog that they lost 35 percent of their traffic just two days after the change went into effect.

Google is admitting that some quality sites were caught in the update

Wired. com wrote an article about seemingly innocuous sites being caught by the update including CultofMac.com which publishes Apple related news. The site noticed a huge loss in traffic and speculated that since a number of other sites scrape and re-purpose their content, their site was seen as rewriting content instead of creating it. The company lost more than 95 percent of their search visibility according to Sistrix.

However their site was restored after they used social media and web publications to get in touch with Google. Other curious casualties included a pair of job sites where one site lost most of its traffic and the other remained unchanged. Google admitted that no change was perfect and advised webmasters who have seen large traffic losses to file a re-inclusion request.

Sites that often report or summarize news within a particular industry should look at how they can adapt their content strategy to fit into the new guidelines.

Fahrenheit Marketing is an Austin web design firm.


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