Was Your Site Affected by the Farmer Update?

First, Google would like us to refer to the Farmer Update as the Panda Update from now on. What, you might ask, does a panda have to do with Google’s latest algorithm change? Nothing much; maybe to give Google the image of a big, friendly, cuddly bear instead of a farm-attacking machine. In any case, Google estimated that about 12 percent of search queries would be affected by the update, which was aimed at giving sites with high quality content weight in the ranking. The Farmer Update targeted sites that depended heavily on low quality content, often produced by content farms. Has your site been affected by the change?

Many sites, including Associated Content and Helium, saw their rankings drop by as much as 90 percent after the update took place. Your own website may have been caught in the sweep for one of the following reasons:

·         There was not enough content on the page.

·         There was a very high ad to content ratio.

·         The content was poorly written or regarded as not “useful.”

·         The content was copied from another site.

Aside from copy being lifted directly from another site, other questions of content are very much subjective. According to ReelSEO’s Jeremy Scott, “They want to take a problem that is highly subjective and solve it with ones and zeroes…Is Google really saying that people with bad grammar or a lack of creative writing ability don’t have anything useful to say?”

Scott points to an inconsistency with the update, though. The Huffington Post published a post on the top 9 videos of the week. This was lifted directly from YouTube, which was stated in the post. There was little original content, there was a lot of “fluff” on the page, and it was presented in a slide show fashion, which is designed to irritate viewers and boost page views.  So how is it that this post broke all of Google’s “poor” content rules and still ranked incredibly well?  It ranked even higher than YouTube, which had the original content.

At issue is not the update itself, but rather that Google has refused to acknowledge that good sites got caught up with poor sites. “For some reason, they’re incapable of saying any such thing. And ultimately, it’s the lack of answers and feedback that will turn penalised site-owners’ frustration into a seething rage.”

Seething rage won’t get your site noticed on the SERPs, however, so take a look at content. If you can remedy things like a high ad to content ratio or poor quality writing, then it is worth your time to rework it.

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