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The Big Losers in Google’s “Farmer” Update

March 1, 2011
Category: Search Engine Optimization
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Google announced an algorithm update last Thursday designed to weed out low quality pages from it’s search results.  Google typically rolls out over 400 algorithm changes every year, so why is this one notable?  Because it’s affected many large companies, typically those known as demand media (Yahoo’s recent $90 million acquisition, Associated Content, is suspected to be one of the worst hit).

Demand media companies are ones that look through search data, see what you and I are searching for, then write pages which target those phrases.  That in itself is not a problem (providing people what they want is a good idea), but they typically go about it in the wrong way–by creating low quality content.  Have you performed a search like “how to cook steak” only to find a page that says something like…

“Cooking steak on the stove is a good alternative when one cannot use the grill. There are different methods to preparing the steak as opposed to the traditional grilling preparations. Not only is the preparation a factor in understanding how to cook steak, but also the cuts that are available and how to choose the best cut for the dish.”

Fantastic, I know exactly how to cook that steak now!  This is typical of the low quality content created by demand media.  They write about your query, but never really answer the question.  It’s also overly wordy and spammy as they try to get “cook steak” and synonyms such as “preparing steak” in there as many times as possible.

So who are the big losers?  A company called Sistrix has estimated who has lost the most search rankings as a result of the “Farmer” update.  Here are the top five…

  1. associatedcontent.com – 162,917 of rankings lost
  2. suite101.com – 141,469 rankings lost
  3. ezinearticles.com – 130,231 rankings lost
  4. hubpages.com – 102,820 rankings lost
  5. buzzel.com – 62,049 rankings lost

Here’s a list of the top 100 losers.

What’s the take-away for your business?  It’s simple, just make sure that the content you’re producing is valuable and unique.  Spammy, low value content will continue to be devalued by Google as they make additional tweaks to their algorithm, bringing higher quality content (like yours!) to the fore.

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