Google Algorithm Update Casualties Speak

No Site Considers Itself a Content Farm, But Some of the Victims Really Aren

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Last week, Google launched a major update to its algorithm, which was positioned as one that would go after content farms. While some sites that are often attached to that label were in fact hurt by the update, some other sites that aren’t generally considered content farms became casualties as well. 

Was your site impacted by Google’s algorithm update? For better or worse? Let us know

Now, it’s important to note that Google did not come out and use the phrase “content farm” when it announced the update, but the company used language similar to what it has used in the past when talking about content farms. In a nutshell, the algorithm was supposed to be aimed at reducing rankings for lower quality content. Those who found their rankings impacted negatively are not thrilled with having their content deemed as such, and some of the sites that were apparently devalued, do raise some eyebrows. 

Take, for example, Cult of Mac. This is a tech blog that covers Apple news. It is often linked to by other sources, and frequently appears on Techmeme as a source. A lot of Apple enthusiasts visit the site on a regular basis for updates. Leander Kahney, the site’s editor and publisher, wrote a scathing post about Google’s update, proclaiming, “We’ve become a civilian casualty in the war against content farms…Why us? We have no idea. The changes Google has made to its system are secret. What makes it worse is that Google’s tinkering seems to have actually improved Demand Media’s page rank, while killing ours…We’re a blog, so we aggregate news stories like everyone else. But our posts are 100% original and we do a ton of original reporting…”

“We can go toe-to-toe with any other tech news site out there,” he wrote. “We break a ton of stuff. Go take a look at MacRumors, which is very good at giving credit, and see how often we’re cited as the source of stories…Yes, we report other’s stories, just like Engadget, MacRumors, AppleInsider, Wired, Daring Fireball and everyone else. That’s the news business on the Web. It’s a flow, a conversation…The question is whether we add value — figure out what it means, if a rumor is credible, what the historical context is. We do that and we do it well. Plus we give clear credit where credit is due (unlike the original content stealers like Engadget and Mashable. Try to figure out what stories they ripped off from us).”  Note: those accusations appear to have been removed from the post. 

Even PRNewswire, the press release distribution service was devalued by Google’s update. Kahney also defended that site, after a commenter on his post mentioned it. He said, “…and for your information, PR newswire isn’t a content farm either. It published press releases for thousands of companies. Crappy spam websites pull releases from its RSS feeds and republish it as pretend content — which may be why it was down ranked by Google.”

Technorati got hit too. This site was once considered a darling among bloggers, and now apparently it’s been reduced to a low quality site clogging up the search results, based on Google’s doings. CEO Richard Jalichandra doesn’t appear to have acknowledged this:

So Google changed its algo’s last week to redirect traffic away from content farms…….where did all the diverted traffic go?!less than a minute ago via Twitter for iPhone

Other sites more often associated with the content farm label, though they’ll pretty much all do everything they can to distance themselves from it, were also hit by the update – sites like Associated Content (run by Yahoo), Suite101, HubPages, Mahalo, EzineArticles, and others. Reports have indicated that Demand Media’s eHow – the site most often associated with the label, was actually helped by the update.

The notion that eHow was helped has been questioned. Erik Sherman at CBS looks at Compete data, and writes, “What seems to be a jump may be a normal increase, which raises the question of whether it would have been larger without the algorithm changes.” 

However, if you do some searching in Google, you’ll probably notice that there is still a great deal of eHow content ranking well – and still under questionable circumstances (see “level 4 brain cancer” example discussed previously). 

Still, Demand Media as a whole was not immune from the update. At least three of their sites were negatively impacted: Trails.com, Livestrong.com, and AnswerBag.com. After the update was announced,  Larry Fitzgibbon, Demand Media’s EVP of Media and Operations, said: “As might be expected, a content library as diverse as ours saw some content go up and some go down in Google search results. This is consistent with what Google discussed on their blog post. It’s impossible to speculate how these or any changes made by Google impact any online business in the long term – but at this point in time, we haven’t seen a material net impact on our Content & Media business.”

Pia Chatterjee of HubPages tells us, “On our end we think that its really too soon to tell, as after any large update, all the traffic undergoes pretty serious upheaval. All these numbers will be very different in about 7/10 days. What is worrying is that the update did not seem to do what it was supposed to, which was penalize poor content. The fact that e-how has remained untouched is proof of that!”

“Our CEO, Paul Edmondson says:  We are confident that over time the proven quality of our writers’ content will be attractive to users. We have faith in Google’s ability to tune results post major updates and are optimistic that the cream will rise back to the top in the coming weeks, which has been our experience with past updates.”

EzineArticles CEO Chris Knight wrote a blog post about how his site was affected, and what he is doing to try and get back up in the rankings.  "While we adamantly disagree with anyone who places the ‘Content Farm’ label on EzineArticles.com, we were not immune to this algorithm change," he wrote. "Traffic was down 11.5% on Thursday and over 35% on Friday. In our life-to-date, this is the single most significant reduction in market trust we’ve experienced from Google." 

To try and get back into Google’s good graces, EzineArticles is doing things like reducing the number of article submissions accepted by over 10% – rejecting articles that "are not unique enough". It will no longer accept article submissions through a WordPress Plugin. They’re reducing the number of ads per page. They’re raising the minimum article word count to 400. They’re "raising the bar" on keyword density limits. They’re removing articles considered "thin and spammy", and will put greater focus on rejection of advertorial articles. Submitted articles are required to be exclusive to the submitter (but won’t be required to be unique to EzineArticles).  

Knight also considered adding a Nofollow attribute to links in the article, as “icing in the cake to further prove to Matt Cutts and Google” that they’re not trying to “game Google” or let their authors do so. Interestingly enough, Knight decided to hold off on adding Nofollow after complaints from authors. 

The first author to complain, in fact, even said, “Not sure what Pollyanna planet you’re from but let me assure you, EzineArticles does not exist ‘to provide information that is beneficial to the readers.’ EzineArticles is a business, not a government organization or charity. EzineArticles was created to make its owner(s) money. There’s nothing wrong with that, but don’t fool yourself into thinking they’re a bunch of do-gooders. By the same token, the majority of us who publish on EzineArticles don’t do so to benefit readers. We too are running businesses, and EzineArticles helps our own websites get traffic and ultimately sales." 

Yeah, I think Google frowns upon that whole “we’re not writing to benefit readers” thing. 

Another element of this whole algorithm update is that so far, it is only active in the U.S. Once Google expands it into other countries, the sites that have seen their traffic drop off so far may be in for an even bigger shock. 

By the way, there are a lot more sites impacted than those discussed in this article.

In an interview with On the Media, Google’s Matt Cutts was asked: “You have so much market share; you are so much the only game in town at this point that you can enforce these things unilaterally, without hearing or due process, putting the whole online world more or less at your mercy. Is there any process by which the people who are affected by algorithm changes and updates can make a case for themselves?”

Cutts responded: 

We have a webmaster forum where you can show up and ask questions, and Google employees keep an eye on that forum. And, in fact, if you’ve been hit with a, what we call a “manual action,” there’s something called a “reconsideration request,” which essentially is an appeal that says, ah, I’m sorry that I was hiding text or doing keyword stuffing and I’ve corrected the problem, could you review this?

And over time, we’ve, I think, done more communication than any other search engine in terms of sending messages to people whose site has been hacked or who have issues and then trying to be open so that if people want to give us feedback, we listen to that.”

Cutts later said, “Any change will have some losses, but hopefully a lot more wins than losses.”

It does seem that Google may be willing to ackwowledge some errors in judgement on the matter, if this exchange between Cutts and Kahney is any indication:

@lkahney the appropriate people at the Googleplex have heard that report, I’m sure. Feel free to snag me at SXSW if you see me though.less than a minute ago via web

@mattcutts awesome. let’s hope someone saw it and fixes it. i’m counting on you guys. tx for message. made my dayless than a minute ago via TweetDeck

I wonder how many more people will be trying to snag Cutts at SXSW. 

Update: Since this article was written, Cult of Mac has seen its Google rankings return to normal. More on this here.

Were there more wins than losses with this update? How’s the search quality looking to you? Tell us what you think

Read more of our ongoing Panda coverage:

Google Algorithm Update Fallout, eHow Response
Google Panda Update Winners, Losers, and Future Considerations
EzineArticles Hit By Google Panda Update Again
Google Panda Update Hits Demand Media’s eHow This Time
Google Panda Update Benefits Google Properties
Ranking in Google Now That Panda Has Gone Global
Google Panda Update Winners: Video, News, Blogs, and Porn
Google Panda Update Victim Xomba Loses AdSense Ads Too
Google Panda Update Officially Goes Global (In English)
Google Panda Update Launched in More Countries
Google Panda Update – Made for Big Brands?
Google Does Guest Post for Panda Victim HubPages
Examiner’s Approach to Content Quality Post Panda Update
MerchantCircle Goes From Panda Victim to Blekko Curator
More here.

Google Algorithm Update Casualties Speak
Top Rated White Papers and Resources
  • False Positive


    I am one of those who feel badly about this algo update as well. I strongly feel that I am a “false positive”. My profile is very similar to many others:

    I have an authority site in my niche. I run a PR 4 / PR 5 site, been around 4 and a half years now. I have thousands of pages. I’ve been mentioned in many outstanding, top media sites, which link to my articles. I also run my site very cleanly in terms of links as I am fully aware of what one bad move can do to harm my reputation, which to me, is even much more important than revenue.

    I run my site by myself. I am the main publisher, one who runs my business at home.

    The similarity I have with other sites like Cult of Mac is that my work has been ripped off often. Many small sites have run my articles word for word with or without citation, and all violating my copyright.

    I have a small section in my site that takes on a data feed, but with supporting original content as well. While a data feed is something widely available and can be republished by any site as well, I find it helpful to visitors of my site as it pertains to things they are looking for. This area is very small compared to the bulk of my site, which were all hand written over 4 years.

    To add insult to injury I am seeing some of those sites that stole my content percolating to the top, above my own content. And in more egregious cases, their content is featured on the first page of a term while my original article is nowhere in sight!

    I still scratch my head over this one as this is the first time over this length of time that I’ve been hit this badly! I’ve lost the equivalent of traffic growth I’ve made over 2 years’ time.

    I just want to reiterate that this is not just revenue loss we are talking about here, but also the loss of one’s online reputation, which is the bigger blow.

    Thanks so much for giving us an opportunity to speak out.

    • http://www.myopinions-carl.com/2011/05/testing-googles-new-farmer-panda.html Carl Strohmeyer

      The theft of content is an issue Google continues to hide from, we have cited the DMCA many times to Google (in FAXs as Google requires), only to have them blow it off.

      I am sorry you too have this problem and this new update solved little and I see websites with poor or totally irrelevant content and little authority links rising above accurate, authoritative websites.
      Thankfully for us, Google is only a part of our traffic, as we have traffic from Yahoo/Bing, forums, blogs and simply persons who manually have saved us or typed us in knowing our reputation of the facts & deep content

  • http://setroll.info S.E. Troll

    This looks like a 900 pound fluorescent glowing pink gorilla to me, but here goes.

    Google updates their algorithms. They always have. They always will. The small updates occur hundreds of times per year. Big updates happen too.

    John Mu has said that Google does not want the sites who hire the best SEOs to get the best rankings.

    Personalized search scrambles up whatever rankings are left over.

    New competition is only a few button presses away for your current and future competitors. Then they, too, will be mixed in with the organic results. Our niches are now beyond over-crowded in the search engines.

    It is only a matter of time before the next update flushes our sites in Google’s ranking. It may be hours, weeks or years. How is depending on Google for our traffic NOT a suicide run?

  • http://www.historycentral.com Marc Schulman

    We have a very large history site. We have been on the net since 1995 and have all original content with over 25,000 pages. Since the change we have seen a 20% drop in traffic. Its hard to truly understand what took place. In some area like a search for Presidential Elections we dropped from first to third- some other areas are unchanged, but if you search for Civil War we do not show up in the first pages even though we have over 200 pages of original content. We are still getting plenty of traffic and over the years we have done almost no SEO work relying on our content, but its frustrating – the effect is that all the work we have done in the past two years to grow the site when down the drain in one Google change

  • Michael

    Up until now, I’ve always respected what Google has done for search and I always appreciated what they have done for my online business, but now I am so mad that I am spending all my resources developing content on Facebook. Screw u Google.

    I run a PR6 web site that has been around since 1998. We get > 6,000,000 visitors a year and have 15,000 pages. We are not a content farm.

    I’m a one man show, except for a few great freelancers I use.

    But since late Nov 2010 Google has been knocking me out of my top rankings for my main key words. For much of December, Jan 2011, Feb 2011 I have disappeared for the keywords that I depend on to generate my sales. My sales of my own products are way way down. Maybe over 50%.

    We used to rank #2 for my main key word for most of the last 10 years, because it’s an area we have built our business around. Last week we were not even in the top 40, yet its a field we are experts in and our entire web site is built around it.

    So what does this say about Google’s latest algorithm? I’m guessing their smartest people have already left for Facebook.

    As of Thursday my traffic dropped 30%. I actually considered having to go look for a job.

    But then I decided I’ll focus on Facebook instead.

    Better sell your Google stock. They were great once but now they are in freefall.

    Wow, guess I am really mad at these guys…

  • http://www.becanada.com/ David

    Last year we added; in addition to our large database of internet marketing articles; 3 newsletters which we publish and so on… a huge self updating database of articles
    specifically targeted to our audience.

    This includes 4 updates per day ; with specific keyword filtering… adding 75 “channels” to our website; in addition to all our current content.

    We achieved a #2 ranking under “internet marketing” … something we had been working on now for over 16 YEARS! We are called the “Becanada Internet Marketing Center” for a reason.

    Now Google’s “change” wipes this out.

    This is CLEARLY a case of damage to not only my visitors interests; but to my business’ interest as well. Yes; I am using “lawyer’s speak” for a reason.

    Google now controls enough of a the market share of search to be considered an “essential” service ; and should be held to the level of accountability that comes with this responsibility.

    These reckless “changes” in the “public interest” have to stop – THEY ARE KILLING US.
    GOOGLE wake up and listen – PLEASE!


    • http://speedoflightenterprises.com Max E. Keele

      Sorry you’re taking a hit. Sorry to all those taking a hit. It sucks to discover a benefit you’ve come to rely on has been abruptly taken away.

      Still, I just cannot fathom all the talk of “Google Accountability” that arises every time they modify their PROPRIETARY algorithm. Google is a business. Regardless of how useful, necessary, or dominant, Google is not a public service. They owe you nothing.

      Google’s customers are not you and the other billion or so websites that have indexed by them. Google’s customers are the people who are searching for content. Google does–and SHOULD–care about their customers’ experiences. IF their customers cannot find what they’re looking for, they will go elsewhere and Google will fail as a business.

      If you were fortunate enough–or clever enough–to enjoy the bounties of Google traffic, you should appreciate that for what it is/was. A boon. Not a “right.”

      If you find yourself out of Google’s beneficent favor, it is completely up to you how you respond. Will you try to learn what the new algorithm is all about and adjust your website to suit? Or will you join the ranks of those who complain that Google’s pursuit of their own business model has unjustly deprived you of the traffic you are so deservedly owed?

      • Guest

        There are antitrust laws for a reason Max. The business world doesn’t work the way you think it or view it. It’s hard for you guys to understand but Google is not just another business.

        • http://www.speedoflightenterprises.com Max E Keele

          Really? Do you really believe Google OWES you free traffic? Why? How do you see it working? Should we appoint a Search Results Czar to decide which lobbyist’s company gets number 1 rank? Or would you rather we all just vote on it?

          Wait a minute–that’s just exactly what we do.

          Look, Google is not a monopoly. It IS a giant. But it does NOT own the internet, it cannot tell you what to search for, or where to search for it, or what keywords to use, or which links to click on. All Google can do is serve up search results in the way they feel is best for their business. If that means all the poor indignant website owners have to adjust, adapt, and evolve, why is that Google’s problem?

          I actually I do understand the way the business world works. It is competitive. And it is INHERENTLY UNFAIR. I don’t necessarily like that, but it’s what it is. Y’all want to be capitalists, you have to play by that set of rules. When somebody new comes along to dethrone Google (and someone will, someone will) I sure hope all of the “victims” keep getting all the free traffic they’ve come to expect.

          • http://setroll.info S.E. Troll

            The problem, Max, is that you are telling the truth.

            To this day, people are still being sold on the idea that having a site and following arcane commandments from some “expert seo guru” will get them high rankings and make them overnight millionaires.

            The problem is, they got duped. Worse, they duped themselves ten times as hard. If the expert seo guru was that smart then wouldn’t he be driving a gold Rolls Royce?

            If it was that easy then wouldn’t we all be driving one?

            They were told “this is how you market” as if there was no other way. They were told “this is moral” to effectively live as parasites off of Google. They fooled themselves into believing these lies.

            I have lived through more of these updates than I want to count. They always end the same – with people surprised that someone else’s business would change their free organic results.

            I’m tired of the ignorance, the whining, the crying, the calls for regulation. I’m honestly tired of SEO as a whole due to people who can’t market without being parasites. I’m tired of the willful ignorance regarding how, when, and why the algorithms change. I’m tired of the sheer blindness to the fact that hundreds or even thousands of other businesses have gone bust in algorithm changes, and I’m tired of Google being blamed because people depend SOLELY on gaming and corrupting the search results instead of hedging their bets and marketing smartly.

            I don’t want to see any business fail. Not like this. Yet, it’s the fault of the supposed marketers who depend on Google to this extent. It’s not Google’s fault. It’s not the government’s fault. It’s the fault of the site owner and/or marketer alone.

    • http://setroll.info S.E. Troll

      Okay, assume the government regulates Google’s search engine. Then who gets the #1 organic result? Who regulates the regulators? What if The Man decides that your competitor has a better site? You’re screwed.

      What if Google isn’t regulated? They will change their algorithms again. They WILL change their algorithms again. You’re screwed there, too.

      What if you decide that some other business should spend millions upon millions of dollars to send free traffic to you? What if you decide to open a few books and learn to start marketing your business like a grown-up instead of being a digital welfare case? What if you actually take control of your own destiny?

      What will happen when the next big algorithm change comes? The next big algorithm change will come some day. What will happen then if Google drives supplemental traffic instead of providing your main source of traffic?

      I’m willing to bet you would be working instead of using your idle time to cry and whimper about the big bully Google taking your free lunch away.

  • Vic

    Amazing, Google in its qwest to kill an insignificant minority is destroying the web. Blackhat marketers have won this fight. Yes, I said “insignificant minority”.

  • http://www.becanada.com/ David

    To add to the pain…

    Google is doing this so people are FORCED to bid on keywords/phrases that USED TO provide a person / business’s site with free traffic previously.

    Can you say “conflict of interest” ?

    I think what you are thinking now says it all.

    • http://www.myersgaragedoors.co.uk Garage Door Repairs

      I was getting regular organic sales from my website but since Google has changed their Algorithm I am having to spend over

    • STR82U

      I don’t buy adwords much, but I’m not making more money over adsense because of this, for sure.

  • Guest

    Can you imagine saying to your boss something similar to what Matt Cutts is reported in the article as having said about the update?

    “Well boss, we’ve done this major update to our core product, took about a year to plan it, and hopefully there’ll be a lot more winners than losers.”

    For Google, apparently, this kind of attitude passes for quality control.

    And the SERPs clearly show it, in the lack of quality of many ranking sites, and in the wholesale decimation of many good sites.

    Check out Blekko, people.

  • Guest

    G’s algo. needs to be heavily regulated by the government. I have no doubt that will happen at some point in the future. This company has the power to bring the world down to its knees with one algo. change if they wanted to. I’m just wondering when the lawsuits from these giants affected will start to rain? Are they afraid of G.?

    • Guest

      Google is in court Monday through Friday due to myriads of lawsuits. And If I’m not mistaken, I think G has been sued before or are currently being sued for manipulating the search results.

  • STR82U

    I thought we we’re getting ahead for original content bound found one site had ehow right behind it and lost about 43% of it’s overall traffic.
    Another site gets about 65% of it’s original Google traffic after a brief 13% increase in total traffic due to Bing and Yahoo the week before. (Bing and Yahoo still appear strong, have you noticed their differences yet?)

    Still looking through numbers but allot of our traffic is from long-tail/obscure keyphrases which makes it tough to look at without actually comparing all those.

    Among the big keyphrases it seems page rank went out the window for domain age. In some ways that is smart but it does smart.

    • Guest


      • http://www.michaelghurston.com Michael G. Hurston

        What does he have to do with it? The vast majority of internet users are using Google, until the vast majority use something else, everyone involved in SEO has to keep this in mind…

  • http://kkltd.co.uk/ vybixa

    I run several sites and just like the historical May Update of 2010, the feb 2011 update DID affect my rankings (and more importantly, my traffic).

    What I realised is that after the May 2010 update, my traffic literally disappeared for the sites on which I had some semblance of SEO effort, only to trickle back later, and several weeks before the feb 2011 update, I experienced a surge in traffic! On the other hand, the sites where I had little to no SEO effort, the May 2010 update did not affect the traffic at all either way, and the same for the Feb 2011 update (trickle SE traffic!), which, I suppose, is NOT unexpected.

    The explanation for the surge in traffic prior to the Feb 2011 update I put down to the ranking update that was posted prior to the algorithm update. Most of my pages’ ranks were increased in the update, and naturally, I yielded some good traffic from my months of hard work of SEO.

    Now I do not run content farms and my sites are rather small. Admittedly, neither do I do any PPC programs for any of my sites, just good old organic SEM. That google can acknowledge in one month that I have good content and in the next classify my site(s) as content farms is beyond me, infuriating in the very least. I have in the last few weeks lost literally all the organic search traffic that I had gained during the “surge” and more. (I do lie, I do have the off day when search traffic suddenly exceeds all traffic to my site, but those days seem too far apart and are indeed very few, at least as I write).

    GOOGLE! Some of us depend on you to make a living! GET YOUR ACT RIGHT!!

    • Guest


  • http://www.seovisions.com/ Todd

    Unfortunately after very careful review of the SERPs and websites that have lost / won traffic, I would say this was not a strong update.

    I am seeing older websites that have lots of great content that I visit on a regular basis getting really hard hit.

    I believe Google needs to be more responsible when releasing updates like this into the wild. Of course there will always be websites that drop, and websites that benefit, but in this case, there was way too many quality websites thrown out with the bathwater.

  • http://www.seovisions.com Todd

    Whats of real interest here is that Walmart, Target and Amazon online all benefited from increased traffic in this update.

    I am sure that this is because long tail terms previously occupied by content farms is now gone, leaving those mega brands to suck up the free space.

  • Guest

    Google claims to not be EVIL, but they sure do act EVIL. Over the years I’ve had my site delisted from Google Search for no know reason. I’ve had traffic to my site drop substantially for weeks/months for no reason only to then recover. I’ve had my PR go from 1 to 3 to 4 to 2 to 0 to 4 over the years. I’ve been threatened by Google to having my Adwords account disabled when I didn’t violate their policy. I’ve had my Adsense account disabled when I broke no rules that I know of. I’ve had my ads after running for months suddenly dropped to a poor quality score which kills my ads from showing ever. It’s as if they don’t want my money. If I’m paying Google to advertise my product/service for months, that means I’m making money, which means I’m providing useful product/service to the public. But Google decides this is not the case and kills my ads.

    Google has too much power! As a result, any future business I launch will not rely on Google for any traffic. I

  • http://www.sanjose.org TSJM

    Our site is a city backed site that focuses on Arts & Cultural facilities in our city (think Convention and Visitors Bureau) and ever since we began including aggregated content from a third party event calendar as well as some rss feeds in our community page we’ve seen a 30% drop in traffic from Google, which is by far the bulk of our traffic.

    That aside, we have a lot of original content on our site, though some of our other city partner sites do provide the same information, primarily around parking and maps of the city. But our Things to do and About San Jose sections on SanJose.org are 100% ours and always being added to each month.

    A shame we don’t have the rankings we once did and it seems like there isn’t a way to change this unless we drop our community and event pages, which then means we aren’t helping visitors find events…

    Guess it’s time to forget about SEO and just focus on direct traffic via online advertising now…

  • http://www.findmeaniche.com Gueschazz

    Don’t gripe about the big G, do something about it, I’m no techie but if everyone started clicking on adsense ads I’m sure the advertisers would pull away and go to yahoo, msn, or some other place. don’t use adwords. without money coming in, it might make them take notice, BUT alas with the greed on the net I can’t see anything being done,

    It’s a shame that many people spend years building a website and getting nowhere, then the one page wonders advertise and they get all the traffic.

  • http://www.fastpassdrivinglessonsglasgow.co.uk Guest

    site dissappeared since google algorithm change. totally disappeared from the rankings as far as i can see. google maps still there. strange seeing as i was at no.1 for driving school glasgow

    very disappointed

  • http://www.strathwoodoutdoorcollections.com Strathwood Outdoor Furniture

    My site is approx. a year old. It is e-commerce mostly Amazon links. Have worked very hard to SEO it and build proper backlinks and such, was finally ranking well and getting traffic and sales and then last week-BAM google drops the hammer on me! Really pisses me off! the thing that really gets me is most of my organic traffic came from them, the gods of search. Pretty upset right now.

  • http://www.allstatebackgrounds.com/ Background Screening Professional

    Google certainly has to do something to cut down the faux content but I worry a lot of legitimate small businesses and content publishers are going to get further marginalized by this. Of course, we were already getting marginalized by the link farms! And one thing to know before demonizing Google is that in addition to managing their algorithm, they also employ human beings to test and scrutinize listings.

  • http://AmericasCorp.com Kent Holden

    This article is very interesting…GOOGLE is viewed as all powerful…yet I read a statistic that FaceBook now gets more visitors a day than GOOGLE…the great thing about capitalism is that the “worm turns” and alternatives to GOOGLE will be developed…Remember when NETSCAPE was IT? So it behooves GOOGLE to listen carefully or the market will ultimately bring them down….

    Kent Holden

  • Guest123

    This is what I’m seeing from this update. I’m glad sites such as Ezines are getting hammered.

    From a programming perspective, is a site with over 1mil pages going to have a ton of compelling content? Probably not. I mean, check out sites such as Ezine, Hub Pages, etc. You can probably find 10,000 articles on dating alone that are all closely related. 95% of the people there submit on the basis of SEO, not quality for their sites.

    The sites that are getting hammered are those that rely on users to submit the content. Most of it is junk, or it’s 40 word articles that don’t deserve to be rated such as forums.

    I’ve been online for a few years now, and my formula is simple. Create content, make it unique, 500 words, build QUALITY links (no comments, directory junk, etc) and you’ll thrive year after year. There’s no reason to create a site with 200,000 pages. Instead, narrow your niche down to 20 other sites.

    The thing I don’t get about Ezine is why they take action AFTER. The damage is done, and Google is trying to spread the wealth.

  • http://www.GrantsDepartment.com DennisG

    I know there are many hard working people out there who spend hours on hours maintaining their site or blog on a daily basis. The other side of this is the guy who can put up a minisite with articles, load it with amazon and adsense ads and he thinks he has a turnkey business. Those are the sites I believe Google has targeted, but obviously many legitimate sites as mentioned here in this forum have felt the blunt. I must admit I have a site like I just mentioned , which I put together in about 30 min. I did it for a fast indexing and if it makes a few cents….ok, but there are millions of these indexed everyday, and I would guess Google has felt the clutter with worthless content just loaded for keywords. I am not a major Google fan, but I do see their point…well a little anyway, but I also see the points of the people here who have been unjustly punished for their HARD work.

  • http://www.onthegreenfarms.com Guest

    We put out a very content rich site…each post requires about 20 hours of research and writing. Sites like e-How spend no time putting out drivel that’s generally pretty useless in my experience, yet it clutters up Google’s front pages and crowds out great sites like ours with free and very valuable content.

    But I’m not complaining because we’ve been gaining on e-How and other trashpit sites either way. The algorithm change has had no effect on our site…we’re still moving up in the rankings like we deserve to.

    Google is trying to stay at the fore of search engines, so they need to weed out all the crap sites that waste people’s time when they search or searchers will leave Google. They’re not stupid and they’re not evil. They are big, and successful though.

    With the current “tax the rich” socialist mentality pervading this country, it’s no surprise so many of you are whining though…everyone in the world wants to bring down the US because we’re “the rich.” And many here want to bring down Google for the same lame reason.

    The facts are they’re still the best search engine and they want to remain that way, so it requires downgrading content farms (which lack content).

  • http://www.betten-direct.de Vangelis

    Google does not like good text, but money is better for him.

  • http://www.jivaldi.com Jivaldi

    I’ve personally watched many Google updates. Over the years I’ve seen some significant changes for both our site and our clients. Our agency site did fine and saw a considerable increase in performance. And a few of our clients also saw a notable increase. One client (Law Firm) however, nearly completely dropped off of Google. Not only did we lose nearly all of our organic rankings, the ‘Places’ account also dropped off the face of the earth. This is BS – especially when we’ve done nothing but white hat SEO. Yes, we’ve done a couple articles and even did an online press release in 2010, but there is no reason for this and it is seriously impacting the revenue stream for my client. All of the rankings were local based (Sacramento) and we’ve seen considerable success with just basic SEO (Google Webmaster Tools suggestions..etc). I love you Google for what you’ve brought to my business, but this one hurts a little and there probably isn’t much we can do about it.

  • http://edwardcolver.com mo martin

    I love Google. Its a progressive creative company. People love to hate the top dawg, people love to criticize #1. If our government was run more like Google, we’d have the respect of the world instead of the hatred of the world. Bing? are you KIDDING? I don’t know anyone that uses Bing. Maybe in a few years BING will be a serious competitor, but Google is so far ahead of the other search engines it will take some VERY inspired creative thinking to catch up with Google, and it will take time. I hope the government does NOT regulate Google, but they probably already are. Whatever your positions are in the serps, we have never in recorded history had access to so much information and as for me, I’m LOVING it. Get rid of the lazy schemers.

    Hail Google!

    Its simple. Write original content. Produce quality original content. What is wrong with the world today? Quality and Originality are so rare nowadays, I miss my old levis, what happened to LEVIS?

    Quality is dropping across the board, and whatever happened to originality and being CREATIVE? It seems the standards of the world have dropped and keep dropping. I hope Google continues to encourage and reward creativity and originality and quality. This ‘rehash’ culture is a lazy scheming pathetic trend. From movies to music to content on the web, quality is dropping across the board and original creative thinking is what strange ‘weirdos’ do. Its seems we are becoming a planet of copy cats, and original creative quality product is now on the endangered species list. I blame spoiled rich kids who never had to do anything for themselves or create anything original to survive, just rehash what those hard workin OTHER people already did and take credit.

    • http://ilookchina.net Lloyd Lofthouse

      That one got me laughing. I admit I prefer Google too but Google isn’t Ceaser as in “Hail Ceaser.”

  • http://highperformancehvac.com/ HVAC Man

    This is the second time in as many years that my site has been hit by Google and one can hardly say my site is a content mill. I agree it is not perfect as far as code is concerned but ALL THE ARTICLES aside from a few are all original and written by myself. I do not stuff my articles with keywords and I write for my audience offering diagrams and photos to demonstrate what I am writing about. Of course my grammar is not perfect but I do spell check and fix any outstanding issues with grammar as soon as I find them. I do not have millions of dollars in capital to throw at a website like others but I do present a good website that is easy to navigate and offers QUALITY information to my readers. E-How and About.com have similar articles but if a professional were to read these articles they would laugh out loud and easily say the articles were not written by a professional but rather a professional writer who probably used my website as a reference and the information offered is vague and scrambled.

    I had several number one positions on Google and have been demoted to lower ranking somehow while the lesser quality sites have been upgraded and are now enjoying some of the number one statuses I used to enjoy. My traffic is down more than 70% from a year ago and so is my revenue which ironically the bulk comes from Google. Of course this is my opinion but I have heard from a few colleagues who agree with me and have read a few blogs that also agree with me. This recent change is bad and increases the low quality results churned out by the Google algorithm. We all make mistakes and no one certainly is not perfect but will Google fix this? Only Google knows that but I will adapt. I am saving my databases and site maps in case Google does change the algorithm all I have to do is revert back to the old database and old site map and I have instantly adapted. Too bad I will have to spend hours working on adapting rather than advancing the progress of my site and updating it with new features.

    Adapting to the Changes! There is no other choice lest we go the way of the buggy whip.


  • http://www.NorthAmericanKnives.com Guest

    We operate several websites that sell knives on the Internet. One of the things I have noticed after the algorithm update is more of the actual knife manufacturers seem to be showing up in the top rankings instead of websites that are actually selling knives. I don’t know if this is happening in other product markets.

    From what I have read the new algorithm places greater weight on who ever was the original creator of the content. I think this is how it should be. A side effect of this however, is when websites like ours sells products from a manufacturer, you get the information for the product from the manufacturer, so a lot of the information on your site is not really original.

  • http://cakeblast.com cakeblast

    I’m just a Dadblogger who ran a PR3 blog with all original content. I post giveaways for various companies, but make it a general rule to not even paste copy that they give me when offering a fully disclosed, sponsored giveaway for somebody. I only endorse products that I have used and enjoyed, and often turn down offers from companies that I cannot vouch for. My inbound links have been growing steadily and my subscribers have more than doubled since the last last algorithm update which pushed me from a PR2 to a PR3. I was hoping to be a PR4 blog which often offers better review opportunities, but instead I was dropped to a PR2.

    My blog is just of a labor of love and the PR drop won’t hurt me financially, but it is disheartening to watch something that I have worked hard at lose rank for reasons unknown. I plan to keep growing my following with good content and hope to get my rank back at some point.

  • http://ilookchina.net Lloyd Lofthouse

    After I heard what Google did, I checked my Alexa ranking and discovered that it had dropped about 15/20%. However, views to the Blog did not slowand continued to grow regardless of the drop in rank.

    It’s possible that I have so many unique posts of China, that there is nothing else out there to compete with searches for specific topics. While building my Blog, I visited many popular Blogs that focus on China and my content appears unique.

  • http://gaycontentwriter.com GayContentWriter

    For all the argument and insult toward Google, this is what they have always said their intentions were. Every time they are asked about SEO they state that “original content” is the key and always will be.

    People didn’t listen, and people are loosing sites they’ve spent years copy/pasting content into. Relying on linkage and SEO was NEVER sustainable, and Google issued plenty of warnings about it.

    I feel bad for those genuinely caught up in the fire. But the solution is to contact them and say why you are different.
    The only solution is to rewrite your content, pay another to do it for you, or start again.

    • Who needs content?

      I don’t want a corporation telling me what I should be looking at on the Internet. Based on the name you used here [“GayContentWriter”], one could assume that would be a reference to your sexual preference. If that is the case, how would you feel if Google’s algorithm was such that it bumped all gay related websites from search results… are you going to cry discrimination? Content, original or otherwise, is not what should drive the results.

  • http://gilmorehorsemanship.com Dan Gilmore

    Google really screwed the pooch on this one. My website for horse training used to be in the top three for my area in Google search – now you have to dig for it. The only sites that seem to show up are the ones that are paying for top billing. Now, 99% of my traffic from search engines come from Yahoo (and the number of searches originating from Yahoo doubled today). Even direct searches by business name seem to come up blank now, unless you have a paid ad with Google. Google inhales vigorously, IMHO.

    • That Sounds About Right

      If Google was playing favorites with its best customers. Another reason for a Google boycott.

      • Guest

        You took the words right out of my mouth. If there ever is a boycott, count me in. The way I see it, the whole world saw what happened when the people of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya rose up in protest. Dictators were kicked to the curb. The same freaking thing can happen to Dictator Google. Remember AOL (who?).

        Google=Spawn of Satan/Circle of Evil.

  • http://geek-news.net/ RichardM

    Speaking in terms of my own personal search results I have to say they’ve actually made things worse. I was searching for results for a specific article about Windows 8 and ironically my search returned 3 sites that were complete content scraps from the original article above the actual article. How the heck can that be good for anyone? The original post was from a site that does nothing but original content, yet these ‘farms’ that stole the content without attribution in any way were listed above them??

  • Collateral Damage

    I wrote earlier about being an authority in my space. Let me provide additional strange information on why this is such a crazy update.

    I run 2 sites. One is an authority site, old (around 5 yo), 2000 pages. I then started a newer site (2 yo), with 500 pages. I put my best content on the old site. The very best. I spend 90% of my time working on that site. I also address my smaller site once in a while and add content that is “lighter” and hardly gets edits. Both sites have a similar layout and structure. Except one is exceptional with lots of thoughtful commentary and a thriving community and the other, quite mediocre (with hardly any comments or activity except the stuff I occasionally post).

    Guess what? The first site gets whacked by 50% (traffic). The second site is up 25%. Where is the justice?

    I run both sites very cleanly, but my pride and joy is decimated while the second “test” site is enjoying the spoils. It makes no sense.

    The only difference I see is that my first site has a ton of pages gone from ranks. GONE. Replaced by scrapers and copycats whom I never authorized to use my content.

    This just does not compute. I hope these changes get to improve soon as it’s done a number to this small business.

  • You Do It To Yourselves

    Everyone else has.

    The responses to articles about Google never cease to amaze me. Most people are like crack fiends where Google is concerned – You CAN’T seem to get enough of their bullshit. Google dictates what they believe should be relevant, and everyone follows – even if it means they end up walking off a cliff.

    What would happen if nobody used Google for a week?

    • http://setroll.info S.E. Troll

      If Google went dark or otherwise unused for a week?

      Those sites with a good level of brand awareness and recall would see increased attention from consumers.

      The sites depending on Google for each lead instead of building awareness or relationships would lose a ton of business. Then they would cry about Google needing to be federally regulated so that it would never, ever happen again. That wouldn’t really work to make the search results static, of course, but it’s a nice revenge fantasy for the businesses owners to have. The ones who didn’t go broke from their own ineptitude would, I mean.

      • You Do It To Yourselves

        The thing that most seem to forget is that Google needs us more than we need it. A little boycotting does wonders for both the consumer and the business.

  • Guest

    Google has an agenda and not a nice one

    • http://gilmorehorsemanship.com Dan Gilmore

      The way to get a good ranking in google is to simply pay them for it. It’s not really about the money, it’s about greed. And that is where Google will put the lid on themselves.

  • http://www.uspaydayloanok.com/ Guest

    We must adjust our seo do it again. To accommodate changes in google.
    Change but do not change frequently. I’m tired.

  • http://www.khotsana.com Guest

    It’s easy to figure out. If Google bragged about going after content farms with their new update and that the “King” of content farming (Demmand Media) isn’t affected and worth of all get benefit from it it’s probably for a really sad truth behide it.

    You guys are journalists and can digg more than we can even think about it when you really want to. So why not try to figure out who bought the shares when Demand Media came on the market? I bet you that staffs from Google bought a lot of them, even maybe Google itself from satellites companies that they own.

    You don’t think I’m right? Just read adsense guideline for example to see how many rules they put just to be sure that if you work with them, you don’t work with somebody else. They say it’s because they don’t want people to be confused and think some ads are theirs while they aren’t, which should be translated with, “works only with us”.

    Everything is about business. With Demand Media, they do millions of incomes while with others they don’t make as much, So, for sure, Google bought shares from Demand Media to make more profit, but, they can’t buy it straight from their main account company, otherwise, it’s a huge blow in the trust of consumers, so, list up all the satellite companies own by Google and check if they bought shares. This piece of information must probably be available somewhere even if I’m not sure if you can know for sure who from Google bought shares for their own.

    I’m sure we could be surprised by the answers gathered.

    • Guest

      I think that Google may have purchased Demand Media shares. This is worth investigating. On another note, online businesses should not put all of their eggs in one basket. Google probably does bring most of your traffic, but it shouldn’t be the only source. Google hit a lot of honest business very hard and they should be held accountable – broken up into smaller companies, lawsuits filed against them for possible cronyism, etc. but it’s a terrible business mistake to exclusively rely on Google or any search engine for traffic.

  • http://curiouslittleperson.com Sandeep

    Well, i know many authorities who publish a lot of content have been affected…. don’t know why but google’s alogrithm update seems to hit a lot of reputed websites. May be it’s only a temporary issue and they will fix it when they realize how they can change people’s lives overnight.. hopefully

  • http://www.hometips.com Don Vandervort

    We would have welcomed the intended results of Google’s new algorithm with open arms. My site, HomeTips.com, is a top home improvement site, filled with expert, original content that I and my small, qualified staff have produced over the past decade. And, until this change, we always ranked well. Sadly, our traffic was hammered which, of course, is devastating to a small business.

    We truly are experts, and we know how to write. My credentials include authoring more than 20 major home improvement books. Our freelance writers are the best in the business–including former editors and writers of major magazines. Many content farm sites have been copying and re-purposing our content for a long time, as well as quoting and citing us as the authority when re-stating our information.

    We are a site that produces real, expert answers to people’s questions and needs. We just wish we knew where we’ve missed the mark in this update. Any guidance from Google would be extremely helpful.
    Thanks very much.
    Best wishes,
    Don Vandervort, Founder

    • Guest

      I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for any guidance from Google. You see, they don’t care. Really too bad that relevance means absolutely nothing any more.

      The big G is an internet dictator and manipulator of search results. Like a lot of people, I’m gravitating to other engines and changing my default search. Show G who the real boss is and start using other engines that give better search results. Google is junk as far as I’m concerned. Didn’t used to be that way

      I want an engine that is based purely on relevance, not on some recklessly contrived idea based on what somebody else thinks is important. If people want content farms then they should be able to access them. Everybody has their own likes and dislikes. I will NOT let G dictate to me what is important and what is not. G can kiss my whole entire ass, and don’t forget the wrinkly part!

  • Collateral Damage

    Wait a sec — heard that Cult of Mac was reinstated…. what about the rest of us who are still in the same leaking boat! Did they tweak a specific site factor to make it work? Was there a penalty imposed that they took out for them? Did they add/remove a filter for some people and not others?

    My profile fits CoM’s profile — a big blog, full of original content I mostly wrote on my own and others contributed by my peers/community. Heavily scraped material because my articles were quite popular. Authority site in its niche.

    How about tweaking our filters, big G??

  • http://www.classifiedshubindia.com free classified ads

    Recently Google change algorithm for content farming and many branded and reputed websites are going down in ranking like that hubpages and ezinearticles. what should we do for stop content farming or content spamming…please suggest me…


  • http://www.nseoindia.com SEO India

    Please tell me it worked right? I dont want to sumit it again if i do not have to! Either the blog glitced out or i am an idiot, the second option doesnt surprise me lol. thanks for a great blog!

  • http://www.all-things-photography.com Guest

    Is it fair to assume that for a lot of people, a majority of the drop in traffic comes from people linking to you being dropped for duplicate content?

    Let’s say someone likes my site, writes an article that is closely related to mine or even scrapes the first few paragraphs, they get ranked well and drive traffic to my site over time. Then, after this new change, THEY get slapped, not me, which results in me losing traffic from THEM and not my own rankings in the SE’s.

    Is this about right?

  • http://www.sleeplikethedead.com Nick

    Another casualty here. sleeplikethedead.com The algorithm took place close enough to Valentine’s Day for it to be called the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. Traffic is down 30% and FALLING. My content is all original and highly popular and was ranking well but now ranks below GARBAGE. For example, one article that took me THREE MONTHS to write about chronic insomnia now ranks below a web page that has nothing but literal gibberish, really I mean it. This is a huge screw up and could be the beginning of the end for google.

  • http://adangertosociety.com Michael Allen

    I’m really not sure why Google would want to penalize content farms in the first place. Most sites considered content farms allow users to produce fresh content and to syndicate it. That means that those sites are actually providing a service to two end users, their members and their readers. Plus, sites are allowed to use those syndicated materials for content. Sharing information. That seems to me what the internet is all about.

    Of course, I do understand that much of the content being produced is of very low grade and that it’s motivated by sales. But as a writer, reader and consumer, I know within the first two sentences or paragraph if an article is crap. Low grade articles don’t produce the desired outcome and they don’t get syndicated. No one wants to share them. So, the effectiveness is built in by design.

    The cream rises to the top. Well-written and informative articles get read and shared. Plus, much of this happens without Google in fact. The search engine does play a major role in how people find their information. But, it doesn’t play the entire role. People actually use such sites as Technorati, EzineArticles, AssociatedContent and others just like them to find their information.

    Another point goes back to how major of a role Google plays in all this and how the search engine is actually penalizing sites that get valuable information using its own tools. Such like EzineArticles and ehow seem to rise to the top of every search query. They seem to always be there every time I search. But also, Google reader allows us to stay on top of the information we want. Any alert can be made into an rss feed that site owners can publish on their sites for fresh content. It’s actually a system of sharing information that it created. Now, it’s penalizing people for doing so?

  • http://realonlinejobs4u.com J.D.

    Content Farms Suck People! One guy wants to write all the content that thousands of real marketers use to write? One wolf wants to destroy Article Marketing or anything article. You want page one, then write excellent content or pay someone to write research and write excellent content, then turn around and work your tail off to get a butt load of links in all diretions to and from your site! That’s what equals page one.

    As it is, several thousand marketers are writing 10 articles a day, everyday and poor little googlebot has to read them all for relevance. If 2400 marketers write 10 articles then that’s 24,000 new articles a day. Over a qaurter of a million in two weeks! Now your are defending a handful of guys who want to corner the market and pump out a quarter of a million articles per day???

    My traffic doubled because of the update. It’s about time my content got some recognition.

    • Guest

      Were you born or raised in a communist or socialist country? Just a question.

      Content farms don’t suck, Google does. Your content is getting some recognition today. Tomorrow it will disappear and you’ll come here to whine about not being a content farm.

  • Guest

    This is hilarious. An article that ripped off my article WORD for WORD ranked higher than mine in Google search. Perhaps Google has become plagiarism heaven? What a joke.

    • Rebecca

      Yikes! Thats crazy!!

  • http://worldnewsvine.com Guest

    The sad part is, the Google News Team refuses to release any specific reasons as to why one is delisted. They send out these spam generated emails stating to checkout their Quality of Sites guidelines.

    Our site does not pull one single news aggregate, and have all original writers, that cover everything under the sun.

    The real scary “news” site that has actually received a “boost” in ratings is the examiner.com… I mean good lord, even the owner of the site openly admits they are not a traditional news site, if I understand correctly they don’t even issue press credentials. The site is cluttered with pop-ups, pop-unders, and generally annoying questionnaires that either trip ever firewall alarm one has, or lingers around in the background until you finally close your browser… yet, that is a “quality news” site

    As far as rankings falling, try running a news site that somehow gets mysteriously delisted… The competition in the industry is fierce and for a start-up you can expect to be buried deep in the abyss of even Google organic… Anyway, we had an Alexa ranking at one point of around 7k… today, we back to around 200k… thanks Google News team for such a biased unfavorable algorithm written by a team that obviously knows little to nothing about covering the news… For instance, there is such a term when it comes to covering the governments ‘actions’, it is called “Pool Reporting” and is designed so that there isn’t a gaggle of people around getting in the way. To participate, the Pool Reporter MUST share their reports, I don’t care if it is AP, CBS, or even FOX (if you want to call that biased BS news) they DO NOT have 100% rights over their reports. You must give credit where credit is due, and that’s that….

    It is time one of you techie geniuses out there develop and deploy a new, truly net neutral search engine that in fact gives small businesses a fair shake in the fields such as, the news…

  • http://www.hedgehogdigital.co.uk/ SEO Bedford

    So far I haven’t noticed anything on my client’s websites. We maintain a series of business websites all with blogs where we post on a regular basis unique and exclusive content. We do source it from authority sites and newspapers we tend to give our own view to the subject.

    I’d like to speak in defense of EZA, how can Google consider it a content farm, approval guidelines are the toughest among article directories. At least all the articles I have published there are unique, well they are written with the end purpose of helping my sites rank well, but hey the content of these articles are original. To make things worst They’re “raising the bar” on keyword density limits which was already a pain in the backside!

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