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?
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.
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.
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. Suite101.com 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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?Previous: Do you Have a Back-Up Plan if you Slip from the Corporate Ladder?