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Google Farmer Update – How Was I Impacted and What Does the Change in Google’s Search Algorithm Mean For You

I want to spend some  time discussing the most recent change in Google’s search algorithm termed the Google Farmer Update and what it means for your website or blog.

This update was released earlier this year, with no specific date that I have come across. Sites have been impacted over an interval of a few weeks. The results have been nominal for some and devastating for others.

Unless you are a popular celebrity who has a pre existing fan following, you are likely relying on search engine optimization (SEO) to drive free, organic traffic to your website or blog.  But are you employing the “right” strategies that Google is ok with?  Or are you getting yourself in trouble because you are utilizing mechanisms which Google disagrees with and penalizes?

What Does the Recent Google Farmer Update Mean?

In the simplest terms, the recent update Google made to its search algorithm is meant to penalize websites that have been marketed through content farms using duplicate content.

Google has realized that the Internet is full of garbage and regurgitated unoriginal content.  A lot of this has resulted from back link building efforts where webmasters and bloggers would personally or have someone else paraphrase or spin the content on their websites and blogs and submit them to article directories.

Ezinearticles, arguably the largest and most credible online article directory experienced a 50% drop in traffic when the Google Farmer  update was first released.  Because of its high Page Rank (PR) and recognition, many website owners and marketers use Ezinearticles as part of their overall back link building strategy.

That said, a small percentage of duplicate content is permissible.  Although Google has not come out and stated anything publicly about this, in my experience keeping your website or blog’s duplicate content to under 25% has worked just fine for me.

Think about it, there will be times when you quote authority sites, or re-publish (with permission) a guest post or article that you have previously published elsewhere.  There will be times when you will be paraphrasing resources which naturally results in some level of duplicate content.  Keep your intentions genuine and efforts under close control and you should be just fine.

Why is Google Coming Down Hard on Content Farms?

The internet is mainly used to search.  Think about your own reasons to go online. Usually it is when you have a question about where, who, what, how or when.  Google’s main business is to provide you / its users with the top quality and most relevant links in its index every time you search for something.   Google’s credibility takes a hit each time you click on a link to read it and are not satisfied with the information provided in it.

Google does its best to screen websites and rank them in order of most relevant and useful to least.  Because people know that  appearing high on Google’s search listing is the key to their web business’ success, many have found a way to cut corners and “game the system”. One way this is done is by recreating several pre existing content pieces already online and scattering them all over the internet and leaving back links pointing to their main websites and blogs.

Like anything that is built on a weak foundation (such as these quick and easy ways to rank higher in search rankings), the structure will eventually collapse.  Google is becoming more sophisticated by the day in differentiating high value content from garbage, and will continue to do so.

I am not sure what makes the lazy think they can beat a system comprised of of some of the most educated and highly paid engineers? That is like a drug dealer behind bars thinking they can beat the cops once they get out when all the cops are doing in the mean time is getting trained better and acquiring new technology to bust drug dealers.

So what does the Google Farmer Update mean for us?  Quite a bit actually, especially if you employ article marketing as one of your strategies to build page rank and back links to your website or blog.

How Has the Change Impacted the Internet?

Google has penalized content farms severely, with even some of the most reputable directories like Ezine impacted. Some have absolutely been ruined, at least in the short term. is one such example.

The idea is to clean up the web of duplicate, non value added and regurgitated content so that the genuine and high quality sites appear higher in search rankings.  Has the effort been successful?

Mistakes are Made by Even the Best

Although the intent is good, like with most large scale and mass changes, even the recent Google Farmer update has its flaws.

Many legitimate websites have been caught in this war against garbage content, and as a result search engine optimizers, internet marketers and website and blog owners have been outraged.  We have to remember that Google deploys a computer code to determine quality vs. not quality.  The code is NOT human.

Although not as intelligent as humans, the codes are getting more sophisticated by the day and soon will be capable of thinking and evaluating just like humans.  But until then, many innocent will be caught in the cross fire as collateral victims.

I do have to give props to Google because they are committed to the greater good. Google recently released a medium through which legitimate websites who have been hurt can request reconsideration.  You can access the medium here.

There are hundreds of websites that have already submitted reconsideration requests and I highly recommend you do the same if you have noticed significant deterioration in search engine traffic to your website or blog.

Some Free Riders are Still Riding High

Just as some of the innocent have been penalized, similarly, some of the guilty are still enjoying high flying success in search rankings.

The changes in the algorithm caused by the Google Farmer update  are relatively new and it will take some time for Google’s engineers to tweak the code to enhance its search listings.  The best we can do in the mean time is notify Google of these instances through the link above, as well as by commenting on blogs and forums that support such discussions.

Many website and blog owners are out there to get Google’s attention, so that they can help Google further refine their search algorithm to better rank sites in its index.  I personally think it’s just a matter of time before the dust settles.  I do believe the algorithm will start performing better in the near future.

What to do if Your Site or Blog Has Been Impacted by the Google Farmer Update?

Take a close and hard look at your website or blog. Be honest with yourself and determine whether you have an excessive amount of duplicate content.  Do you  mostly paraphrase or write original content?  Does your content deliver value to the reader?

If you outsource your marketing tasks, revisit the content created by the outsourcer and verify that it is not copied off another source online.  Use the Search It! tool to find content thieves online and report them to Google.

Do what you need to do, fix the issues and then submit a reconsideration request to Google.

How Was I Impacted?

I currently own a dozen plus niche websites.  Last weekend, I analyzed traffic patterns on all websites and found out that traffic was up 2% for all but 2 websites.

Article marketing is a critical component of my business model, which is to crank out niche sites and deploy them online to gain search engine traffic that in turn generates advertising revenues, affiliate commissions and sales of digital products.

Whether the decline in traffic to 2 of my websites is a result of the Google Farmer update is hard to say.  It is possible and I have taken steps to investigate.  I have my virtual assistant investigating article marketing content created by my outsourcers to determine whether the content is copied.  I also have her re-running each page of my websites through CopyScape to do the same. In the mean time, I am analyzing the search engine rank or placement of each keyword.

Here are some preliminary results of my most impacted website.

Google Farmer Update Impact to Traffic

The chart above shows an overall traffic decline to my Bamboo Plant Care website.  The site was attracting around 500 unique visitors back in mid February which has now dropped to just over 300. That is nearly a 40% decline.  I will be back to report how this trend changes over the next couple months.

Google Farmer Update Impact on Adsense

The chart above shows a monthly breakdown of Google Adsense revenue generated by the website, along with two other niche sites whose traffic patters were impacted in a similar manner.  As you can see, ad revenue was on a constant uptrend (like it is meant to be) before dropping in February.

January was the highest month of Adsense earnings at $806, followed by a $148 drop in February.  That is close to a 20% hit on the financial bottom line.

What Should You Do Going Forward?

Sadly I have no new advice for yourself and I. Keep on building quality content that delivers high value to your readership.  Keep the reader in mind and attempt to answer the questions on their mind.  There is a reason why they searched.  There is a reason why they clicked on your link.  Deliver the value they expect and satisfy them.

This is not the first time Google changed its search algorithm, nor is it the last.  The famous Google Dance will continue on so as long as Google exists. Yes it takes hard work to succeed online, especially when you do everything right the legitimate way, but doing so will ensure you don’t get caught up in the Google Dance no matter when the music stops.

Were you impacted by the Google Farmer Update? How so? What have you done to regain traction? What have the results been like?

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18 Responses to “Google Farmer Update – How Was I Impacted and What Does the Change in Google’s Search Algorithm Mean For You”

  1. Great article Sunil. But I don’t think duplicate content was the problem for sites like EZA. The lack of quality control is what hurt them. There is way too much garbage (regurgitated is a good word for it) articles that are barely even readable and offer no value at all to the reader. I think we all need to focus even more on creating quality content than ever before.

    • Sunil says:

      Welcome Mike.

      Most definitely. Ezinearticles has been exhausted by internet marketers, and I don’t blame them. I have used them extensively as well. I do agree however that their QA process allowed many sub par articles to slip in. Like you said, quality content is the only long term solution, not only for the content on one’s blog/website, but also material used for marketing such as articles and press releases.

  2. I am happy to hear that you have not been impacted (and of course you should not have been impacted:)). Great article-am retweeting!

    • Sunil says:

      Thanks Amanda,

      The key always comes down to content. Even for PR / marketing purposes, as long as the content provides value to the reader, I feel that one should end up fine even when impacted in the short term. It can be late, but it cannot be never 🙂

  3. Justin says:

    My website traffic has not been affected, but I am a member of WebAnswers and that traffic has gone way down.

    Sunil, I checked out your Bamboo website, are you Filipino?

    • Sunil says:

      Justin – I am not Filipino pero marunong akong mag Tagalog 😉

      Renaldo Mirambil is my Filipino pen name.

      I am curious, tell me more about your work at WebAnswers and what are you experiences lately? Google is really storming down hard on web 2.0 content heavy sites. Wonder how it has been treating its protoge Squidoo?

      • Justin says:

        My wife is Filipino, that’s why I asked. Salamat.

        I first started WebAnswers in December 2010. After I had my Google Adsense account set up I was earning about $3.00 a day from WebAnswers.

        I started my blog in January 2011 so I did not participate as much, but I was still earning everyday on WebAnswers. I was getting hundreds of pageviews a day on WebAnswers.

        After the change in Google, My blog get’s more Pageviews than WebAnswers and my earnings are $0 most days on WebAnswers. I am not that active on WebAnswers now, but I didn’t expect my pageviews and earnings to go down so much.

        WebAnswers has a good referral program and I already have three people signed up. I get a % of Adsense earnings for referrals.

        A lot of people there have been complaining about their drop in Adsense earnings as well.

        • Sunil says:


          Ehow was the same when they first released. Now only qualified authors (pre approved) are allowed to write. Those who were grandfathered still benefit from the adsense share earnings. However, the risk you run with all of these is that the content is not yours, is not on your server and therefore have no control over the several “what ifs” that can happen

  4. Thanks for the info! My site haven’t been impacted at all. I guess my traffic is minor enough that it didn’t make much of a difference. My SE traffic has been on the way up the last few months and I’m pretty happy with the development. 🙂

  5. Brian Loccino says:

    hey Sunil i appreciate the transparancy you have in all of your writing and blog posts, but you mention you have so many niches but never indicate what website of your the pictures you are showing relate to. sometimes i think you are copying pictures and falsely presenting them.

    • Sunil says:

      Brian, welcome to the blog.

      I do admit the usage of imagery can cause confusion. I have made my best attempt to mention what the images are about and which websites they pertain to. Is/are there any specific ones you are referring to?

      The images/reports above pertain to my Bamboo Plant Care website. Similarly I have several others which I have mentioned on this blog. Maybe I need to write a post reconciling all of these to clear up the confusion. Would that help?

      I can assure you 101% that the pictures I use are genuine and are from my account(s). There is one thing I have online and that is my reputation. I cannot compromise that at any cost.

      I hope you are getting some value out of the blog. Hope to see you more often.

  6. Kim says:

    Excellent update Sunil, thank you!

  7. Steve says:

    Although you have shown the screenshot of your Adsense earnings, I doubt that it is from that particular website alone. Since you have a lot of websites, the Adsense earnings shown are rather from all of those websites. I feel so because you would only be having one Adsense account and the screenshot shows the earnings for that account. Please clarify if possible.

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