How did the Google “Panda/Farmer” Update affect your Site?

At the beginning of last week lots of webmasters and online marketers were shocked to see massive shifts in traffic and ranking on Google’s Organic search results page. These changes are due to what Google is referring to as the “Panda” algorithm update. According to a post on the Official Google Blog(http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/02/finding-more-high-quality-sites-in.html) Google made a change to their natural search algorithm that would noticeably impact 11.8% of queries on their site. The blog post noted that

“the change 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”

Many sources in the search marketing field have called this the “farmer” update as they see it as an update to Google’s algorithm to help remove content farms from search results. While that may be an impact of the change I believe the change had the same purpose as every change Google makes to their algorithm: cleaning up the search results to create a better end user experience for the searcher.

But my site is not a “Content Farm”, why did my rankings suffer?

Because the change was targeted at a type of content, not a type of website. Content farms usually consist of poorly written articles about everything under the sun so that the site will rank and get traffic and sell ad-space. Some of these sites republish articles or parts of articles to add more content. This algorithm change is aimed at this sort of duplicate content across the web. For example if your site contains standard product descriptions that would be shared by other vendors in your market you may have seen a decline. Sourced reviews from sites like yelp that show up all over the web have been problematic as well.

How to Beat it, (Quality) Content Is King

Google has make some changes to tweak their algorithm (http://searchengineland.com/google-weve-made-no-significant-changes-to-the-farmer-update-66591) but they have said that overall it has increased search quality and that they have no plans of “reversing” the change. To fight negative effects from this update I would recommend building out a strategy to increase the amount of unique quality content on your site. Use new product reviews, new product descriptions, or more original articles with in-depth data to support any arguments.

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