• 28 February 2011
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The latest Google algorithm update

Kicking out the farmers

Google have stepped up the war on poor search results by deploying an algorithm update. It's already been implemented in the US and will affect about 12% of all queries.

According to SISTRIX the change has already had a huge impact on some high profile content farms including ezinearticles.com, hubpages.com and freedownloadscenter.com. These sites are notorious throughout the SEO industry in that they provide very large amounts of mostly useless, keyword-rich content in an attempt to hijack high search positions for some popular keywords.

This means that from the user's perspective, Google's top results for many queries are plagued by poor content and give the user a rubbish experience. As Google's quest is to simply get people to where they want to be as quickly as possible, these kinds of sites aren't helping.

Google, therefore, have tweaked their algorithm, which will have the effect of:

  • plucking out sites that copy other people's content
  • giving a lower priority toward sites with shallow, low-quality content
  • reducing 'scraper' site positions in search results (sites that 'scrape' other people's content, for use on their own sites)

among other things. Of course, they haven't said that it's directly targeted at link farms - but we're fairly certain that it is. In fact, of the top 50 sites that people marked as 'spam' on the Google toolbar, 84% have been impacted by these changes. It's only a matter of time before Google implement a 'mark as spam' button directly on their search results, like Blekko have done recently.

So what do I need to do?

On the whole if you're doing SEO right, you don't need to change anything. Producing good quality, unique, interesting and engaging content will still continue to be effective, and sites copying your content are more likely to be behind you in Google's rankings.

If you're worried though, here are a couple of top tips to make sure you're not affected.

  • Build a solid content strategy - work out what you're going to be writing about, how you're going to promote it, and the process for getting it published online. It's nice to have the idea and say you're going to write a blog, but how long will you really keep it up?
  • Don't copy content - if your content is scraped, pinched, stolen or shared around a number of websites you will all be competing for the same traffic. Don't do it! Make your content different. Write your own articles, and if you have product descriptions from a supplier, rewrite them in your own words.
  • Don't buy/acquire links on content farms - if you run your linkbuilding yourself then make sure the sites you acquire links from aren't content (or link) farms. The algorithm update proves that Google doesn't think highly of these types of site, and your content isn't likely to see a boost from getting incoming links from them.

Above all, make your site interesting and informative. I know it's now an SEO cliche but it still rings true... content is king!

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