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.
Who Was Targeted by the Farmer Algorithm?
This algorithm change which took effect since late February 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 been targeted by Google.
Who Has Benefited from the Farmer Algorithm?
Generally speaking, those sites that have or 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.
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 when 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.
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 100% unique.
Be choosy 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 is 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, the Farmer algorithm has only been out for a couple of weeks, so SEO/SEM professionals are still researching its broad effects. As always, we'll keep you updated as well if we find important information.