Recently Google made an algorithm change which is being referred to be most as the Google Famer Update.
The name is developed from the fact that Google seems to have targeted content farm sites the hardest, but there is more to this update than just that, which is what I’ll be discussing in this post.
Content farm sites, are sites that collect a large number, of usually low grade articles, sometimes in the 100’s of 1000’s, and because these sites have collected so many backlinks they tend to rank rather well in Google, until recently.
These content farm sites are seen as low grade and offering little value to the search engine user, and clearly something that Google is not interested in. Some sites include ezinearticles, ehow, articlebase and hubpages. I’m not saying that all the content on these domains are low quality, but they have lost a lot of rankings for their pages from this update, but again not all rankings.
I personally don’t use these sites for traffic, but I do use them for backlinks to my money sites, so I’ve not seen a massive change from the effect this update has had on these kinds of sites. However these sites are not the only ones to get hit. I know a few marketers who’s sites seem to have taken a knock in the Google rankings.
Whenever something like this happens, which is not uncommon by the way for Google, all us SEO marketers need to do, is give it some time for the dust to settle, start analysing what has happened to sites as a result and look for trends. I do this by looking at my own sites and all the pages and also by calling up friends in the industry and asking them what they’ve discovered. So that’s exactly what I did, and I’ve discovered a few interesting things I’ll now dive into.
Quality Keeps Big Google Happy
The most important thing to keep in mind when doing SEO, is that Google’s main goal is to keep their users happy and satisfied with the results they show. The last thing Google wants is for people to have poor user experiences and decide to try another seach engine instead. This would mean Google would make less revenue from all their pretty little ads getting clicked, hence why this recent Google Farmer update.
My point is, if you just start with quality, orginal content, on your sites, then you’re on the track from the beginning. Auto-blogging and the like, are bogus ways to build sites and are only going to get you slapped silly by Google sooner or later, so steer away from this sort of stuff.
The next question is, how else do we let Google know that our content is good quality?
It’s a good question, and I’m glad I asked it…the first thing is to make sure the content you use is orginal, and also in the context of the articles have some high quality outbound links to authority sites. When I say orginal I mean for your target pages, when I’m getting backlinks I use my Rapid Rewriter to spin the content and this works well and nothing has changed here, I just spend more time with my money pages adding images and video and take more time over the copy itself.
Until recently I had outbound authority links on the sidebar or footer of my pages, but I think it’s better to put them in the article itself, as that’s what Google will see as the most useful for a user. I know we don’t want people leaving our site, so don’t put these links at the top of the article, but instead place them lower down the page.
I always tell people and have for some time, to try your best to place a Youtube video in your article somewhere, as Google own Youtube, and one can safely assume they would be pleased to see you using them on your website. However on that point, and as a good friend of my Terry Kyle pointed out, it’s not a bad idea to mix it up a little and throw in some Metacafe videos in sometimes instead.
These videos are easy to embed in your webpages, all you have to do is copy the code they give you and paste it in.
Another thing to do is make sure your articles are atleast 500+ words long. In fact I usually go for 700+ words. Also if appropriate I link off to research papers, or quote them in my article also, as I watched a video recently where Matt Cutts, head of Google anti-spam, said Google is looking for quality, and he mentioned research as something that is seen as quality. This won’t work all the time, but for a weight loss article, you could easily link to a government statistics page on obesity and heart disease or something.
I know a lot of you will be like me and produce reviews of products, so you may well be wondering how can I ensure Google sees my reviews as quality. One thing I’m doing is adding a few paragraphs in my reviews now that are about the niche that the particular product is in. For example if I’m reviewing a weight loss product, I’ll write about the product, then I will diverge slightly and discuss weight management in general and link to quality pages from these paragraphs, and then add in a video if I can that fits.
Twitter, Facebook and Digg are some of the more popular social sites on the web, and Google are always monitoring what goes on at these sites. Therefore it’s not a bad idea to encourage people to link to your content from these places.
I don’t do this on all my sites, but for this blog you’ll notice I’ve a retweet button next to each post, the last post I did got 225 tweets, which I’m sure Google noticed. I also have social bookmarking links under the post, but I intend to change this slightly now and add a large Digg icon under my Twitter one to make it easier for me to get Digg votes. Some people say these kind of links won’t help your rankings much, however even if they get you more exposure, you will gains natural links anyway.
Too Many Ads
Another thing to be aware of is the number of ads you have on your sites compared to the ratio. If you have far too many ads then Google will see the page as just one big commercial page with little value for the user, so keep this in mind when including advertising.
So in closing, remember Google is always on the hunt for quality content and they’re pretty darn good at working it out, so best to give it to them!