Google Finally Cracks Down on Content Farms

Google announces major quality change to its algorithm

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Google used their Official Google Blog to announce a change to their search algorithm that impacts 11.8% of their queries. Google explains:

"This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites—sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites—sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on."

Google’s announcement is a followup to what Matt Cutts stated in his blog just over a month ago:

"And we’re evaluating multiple changes that should help drive spam levels even lower, including one change that primarily affects sites that copy others’ content and sites with low levels of original content. We’ll continue to explore ways to reduce spam, including new ways for users to give more explicit feedback about spammy and low-quality sites. 

As “pure webspam” has decreased over time, attention has shifted instead to “content farms,” which are sites with shallow or low-quality content. In 2010, we launched two major algorithmic changes focused on low-quality sites. Nonetheless, we hear the feedback from the web loud and clear: people are asking for even stronger action on content farms and sites that consist primarily of spammy or low-quality content."

Google notes that this update does not utilize the new data they are receiving from the "Personal Data Chrome extension" that they launched just last week. However, they are "very pleased" to report that 84% of the top several dozen domains reported to be blocked by the extension are also impacted by the algorithm change. This could be very bad news for the high profile eHow.com because it is routinely referred to in the media as a site with lots of low quality content. If people are voting via Chrome it’s likely they are one of the top domains Google is referring to.

However, our own small batch of test searches at WebProNews does not show any negative changes for eHow. For instance, eHow still ranks number one in Google results for "level four brain cancer", the same as we earlier reported. WebProNews will be further reviewing the impact of this change on eHow and other mass content producers over the next few days. Additionally, Google states in their posting that, "We’re working on many more updates that we believe will substantially improve the quality of the pages in our results". 

The message to content producers is clear, publish shallow content that is obviously SEO’d and disliked by users and eventually you won’t be rewarded by Google’s search engine. 

Google Finally Cracks Down on Content Farms
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  • http://www.gabusinessdirectory.com Guest

    So how does webmaster get an online directory and get noticed by Google and the other search engines? So far it is very tough to know what Google and the others will frown upon next.

    • http://www.arcanasphere.com MrAndrewJ

      Marketing and advertising were around for a very, very long time before organic search results. You’re right: you don’t know what Google will like from minute to minute.

      I’m a big fan of letting Google be Google while I market myself.

  • http://amarpkl.wordpress.com/ Amardeep28

    Google is going more and more harden for webspam…..Great efforts!!

  • http://www.feelfree.co Guest

    I think the Chrome extension has to do with all the changes, but we will see how far they have damaged the land of farmers

  • http://www.justoutsourcing.com JO

    The implication that Google is focusing on content farms is still suggestive (and subjective at that). If Google censors *one type* of content, what’s to stop them from censoring another? Why not go after software directories after all… link directories, encyclopedias, dictionaries, news sites, job sites, Facebook feed pages (Oh No — Not Facebook!!), and more — including the thousands of social sites that feed off Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social bubbles just like them (you know, the ones that are thinking about going *public*).

    I even read somewhere that Google will prefer documents that express a degree of research behind them. If that’s true, the algorithm is biased against humor sites, affiliate websites art sites, opinion sites, music sites, stores, personal wedding – family – kid sites, etc. etc.

    It’s all hogwash hyped up by a load of unfounded and unverified fear. And I really wish it would stop.

  • http://www.sniperaim.com Nathania Gale

    It always inevitable to get crack on the efforts and once again go for advancement. Great effort by Google on behalf of all techies.

  • Outsource This!

    I need 10,000 Chrome dislikes on my competitors from different ips please. Where can I buy this so Google takes it into account for the next Google algo. update and my site gets to the top? 1 cent per “dislike” or whatever is called. If you are from India or the Philippines the better. :)

    It’s hard for them to admit it (in part to keep blackhat marketers at bay) but it is obvious they used and will keep using in the future the extension’s data. It was developed for that reason. Google has turned into a joke, a Craigslist’s silly “flagging” type of joke. They are losing the fight against blackhat marketers and spammers. Silly, out of this world ideas only come out of Google’s anti-spam dept. now. They have lost all my respect. It’s time for another search engine to replace it.

  • http://www.121Spanish.com Craig J

    This should be a boost for genuine sites and make the searches more detailed.
    Great stuff from Google once again.
    Leaves Bing choking in the dust!!!

  • http://www.aircompressorbuyerguideinfo.com/ air compressor buyer guide

    dont know when will thye give a clean declaration of what they are doing

  • Art

    This was supposed to be an attack on content farms but only good mom and pop sites got hit. Content farms owned like Demand Media are still gaining SERPS.

    Terrible job google – It be nice if you got rid of all the ehows and about dot coms first

  • http://www.paletki-dyskowce.com/ Kuba

    However, the quality of Google search results gigantic improved during the past 10 years. Spam gets systematically knock out – this is fair.

  • http://www.totalvac.com TotalVac

    To answer how does a directory get noticed by Google. I suggest good back links and original quality content. Do something to differentiate yourself from the other 100,000 plus directories.

  • http://www.everydaystravel.co.uk/ Everydays Travel-Minibus Hire

    I own and operate luxury minibus in London, I am a small operator still I spend lot of money with SEO company out there, who say they can do lot, but don’t. I start to do my self with my previous experiance. Now my website in first page on Google, Yahoo and Bing for keyword: Luxury Minibus hire, Luxury minibus, Luxury minibus hire London, Minibus Tours, Minibus Transfers and many more.
    I have not noticed any changes to my website ranking due to the changes the google made recently. But I believe big companies with money will be on the google first page, or we have to choose google adword to be in the first page where google make money from. My average google adword cost is

  • http://www.pellonautocentre.com eric roberts

    does this affect all type of web sites, are low quality sites the ones created by small poor companies,while the big guys carry on pouring money at it eric roberts

  • http://www.selectioncriteriawriter.com Glenn

    Thanks for the interesting post. There’s some lessons here for ensuring good quality content.

  • http://www.esc-creation.com Johar

    I like to hear it, No more content farm is good, good for increase thrust to google, and saving time for google user :)

  • http://www.instantservices.co.uk SIA Training

    Who cares if they are making changes ? I am not bothered as our content is original, updated regularly and has helpful information, but the fact the mark as spam option could be misused is really worrying.

  • http://www.zingseo.com David Nguyen

    Well really we all need to remember that the idea of Google making any changes is that their results will be as relevant as possible.
    The core is and always has been, that a site should do what it is intended to do. That is, tell potential customers or readers what it is that they want to know. Google rewards this.

    As for content farms etc, we all need them to some extent. Unfortunately Google et al does not always know that my site is going to tell people what they want to know. So I need to tell Google in as many different ways as possible that my site is here and is relevant. Content farms, directories etc are an important part of the equation, they are needed. Incredibly spammy ones though should be done away with.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Whilst nobody wants to see pointless or spammy content, isn’t there a danger in focussing too much on “information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis”?

    Obviously that kind of content is very useful and informative and nobody would want to be without it, but what about people who don’t want such technical information? Do people who regard Twitter as an effective or interesting way of communicating actually want “research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis” or a more, er, “executive summary” kind of approach?

    Surely there is a distinction to be made between webspam and a lighter – or more superficial – approach to many subjects?

    Based on its approach to banning Adwords accounts permanently for no reason, with no explanation and no possibility of appeal – basically being judge, jury and executioner – Google really isn’t known for an intelligent or even thoughtful posture.

    We seem to be required to an increasing degree to simply trust Google, its sacred algorithms and its increasingly hollow sounding “do no evil” motto but, just like earlier internet darlings such as AOL and Yahoo!, it appears to be jumping the shark to many previously enthusiastic supporters of the company…

  • http://www.simplyclicks.com Simply Clicks

    This is a function of the widespread use of articles and other poor quality content that is flooding the internet. Write good original material, with your own take and you will be ok.

  • http://www.Lisbei.net Lisbei

    JO points out a lot of sites that rank a lot higher than they probably should on any given subject. The point of Google judging different kinds of content does put a lot of subjectivity in the rankings. As searchers get more sophisticated, it makes sense to have search engines that focus on different kinds of content. If you’re researching chemical compounds, why not use a search engine that specializes in content related to scientific research? If you’re shopping for something, why not use search software that specializes in indexing products for sale? Search engines will evolve as real searchers do.

  • http://www.motorcycleleathergear.com Mike

    i dropped 10 spots overnight for my keywords. I have original content on my site and i think it is very useful content. I do not have a million dollar website but i think it is nice and i do quit well optimizing myself for global search.

  • https://www.canadaseopro.ca/ Todd Herman

    Ok, seriously now this is the single most best algorithm Google could has done to date for true blue SEO Professionals. There WAS a way to many wannabe SEO companies proclaiming to be the best with dropping a few 1000 duplicated articles out and achieving ranking.

    Plainly, some of SEO companies back linking procedures got Google slapped, an awful lot of sites got knocked down. #1 is Article sites have taken a HUGE hit. Content farms have also taken a hit and generated content has taken a hit. Non-unique content has been all but wiped out. Google has sent out a message.

  • http://www.cheapthermalpaper.com Guest

    I hate spam

  • http://www.nicassociati.it/ Marco Nicosia

    very interesting article ………. hello

  • http://askthetrainer.com Mike Behnken

    I have lost 35-50% of my traffic and income over night. My site is far from a content farm since it was 99% written by me, someone w/ a BS & MS degree in the site’s content. Why was my site hit? I have no idea but now instead of worrying about creating fresh quality content I have to focus on pleasing the search engine w/ a monopoly while useless 4sites like answers.com, wikianswers. yahoo answers are still appearing on top of the search results.

  • http://www.top-gamos.com gamos

    Yes, we need stronger action on content farms and sites with low-quality content

  • http://www.onedumbaussie.com OneDumbAussie

    I still don’t get how a piece of software (googlebot) can tell how much research I did and how well written my article is.

    The only way to ensure 100% Integrity is to have a human review of every site, something that will never happen.

    All we can do is what we believe to be best and see what happens. Its a shame there is no real competition out there so we could just move our business.

    Good luck all.


  • http://www.nifikomou.gr nifiko

    The only way to ensure 100% Integrity is to have a human review of every site, something that will never happen and Yes, we need stronger action on content farms and sites with low-quality content.

  • http://www.prosforesthessaloniki.gr prosfores

    very intersting posts

  • http://www.allbet.webnode.com podosfairo

    Facebook now turns spam and unrelated comments on Page posts gray to denote them as low quality to admins, while leaving the blue background on other comments. This passive spam filter is applied to new comments on old posts, but hasn’t been retroactively applied to old comments. The filter will make it easy for admins to quickly sift through thousands of comments and delete spam.

  • http://evacuumstore.com eVacuumStore

    The bottom line is that directories, as great as they are, shouldn’t be rewarded at all. There’s no way they’ll do something like that though. In an ideal world, the search results would only be based on sites that have a high page rank and original content. But search engines want to include every bit of content.

  • http://www.gamos-guide.gr gamos

    yes we need something to counter content farms

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