The New Google Algorithm Farmer - What SEO/SEM Professionals Need to Know
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by Roger Janik
March 10, 2011
It's official! While there has been talk of an upcoming algorithm change from Google for at least a couple of months, these past couple of weeks saw a definite change in the way that Google ranks those sites on the web vying for top placement in its listings. So what is the big news? This algorithm specifically went after content farms and, in addition, to a broad extent, low quality sites that have been gaming the system for higher rankings. Since the algorithm targeted content farmers, this algorithm has been nicknamed The Farmer.
If you read our recent article titled "Google Moving Against Content Farms - What Does This Mean for SEO?" you probably were already on the look-out for the coming algorithm change. Now that the algorithm has taken effect, the SEO/SEM community definitely knows a little bit more about it. However, there are still a few things that require more research and information.
Who Is Targeted by the Farmer Algorithm?
This algorithm change which took effect since late February 2011 is said to have affected between 11% and 12% of the search queries in the United States. As of the moment, it is not sure when the algorithm will affect other regions in the world.
Some of the major website properties that were affected included article distribution sites, aggregated content sites (those sites that republish original content from others), sites that mostly sell products with little or no content associated with them, and in general, sites that don't have unique or high quality content. Generally speaking, if a website's goal is to monetize content that is not original or high quality, then it is likely that the site has now been targeted by Google.
Who Has Benefited from the Farmer Algorithm?
Generally speaking, sites that will benefit from this algorithm will be sites that create unique, high quality content. Obviously, white hat SEO always included creating high quality, unique content as a prerequisite for obtaining long term quality results. This fact hasn't changed.
Tips for SEO/SEM to Avoid the Raft of The Farmer
If you noticed a sudden drop in the Search engine result pages or if you want to avoid a sudden drop in the future, here are some tips that should help you avoid the raft of the Farmer algorithm.
Make sure that the vast majority of content that you post on your website is unique and original. Obviously, you may have to post product descriptions or technical specs that come from a manufacturer, however, whenever possible, create original and unique content in addition to this republished content.
Consider using the Original Source meta tag from Google: meta name=”original-source” content=http://www.somedomain.com/article1.html More information at: http://www.google.com/support/news_pub/bin/answer.py?answer=191283
This meta tag directly tells Google that the content you have on your site is original; This way, if someone plagiarizes your content or duplicates it in anyway, Google will know the original source and you should get all the credit from Google. We recently published a more detailed article on this subject: http://www.serversidedesign.com/seo-news/google-original-source-meta-tag.php
Another good tool to checkout is at www.copyscape.com This tool will scan the net looking for duplicate content so that you can identify specific pages on your website that need to be re-written so they are seen as 100% unique.
Be choosey with the type of articles that you distribute. It should be noted that while Google has targeted many article distribution sites, you will not be penalized for having your content on these sites. The more likely possibility will be these back-links will have less power and thus be less effective, so there will be no need to remove any of your content from these sites.
Be careful how you monetize your content. Obviously, those that heavily advertise on their site will receive extra scrutiny from Google. If you use content to lure traffic for monetization, definitely use unique content and do not rely solely on aggregated/republished content.
Obviously, as the Farmer algorithm has only been out for a couple of weeks, SEO/SEM professionals are still researching its broad effects. And, of course, we'll be sure to keep you updated when we find additional relevant, important information.