Google’s “Farmer Update” Algorithm Change – Collected Readings

I know this topic (Google’s recent algorithm change that dropped tons of popular article directories and Web 2.0 sites from the rankings) has been on a lot of your minds lately, so I wanted to share a few interesting articles I’ve read on the subject.

Personally, I haven’t seen any changes in my niche websites, but I’m keeping a close eye on them.  I’ve always stuck to a policy of original, useful content, and I think that’s going to pay off now and in the long run.  But I have relied on articles/Web 2.0 sites for a lot of my traffic and backlinks, so I’m watching to see whether or not these changes indirectly affect my sites.

I’ll keep you posted on whether or not I change my niche site methods, but until then, check out some of these articles.


Google Farmer Update – Quest for Quality – Sistrix

I’ve just recently discovered Sistrix, but their post on the “Farmer Update” is one of the most interesting looks at which sites have actually been affected, and to what degree.  Definitely worth a read if you use article directories or Web 2.0 sites as part of your traffic/backlinking strategies.

Farmer Update Fail?  Why Google Hasn’t Changed – Lis Sowerbutts

Lis shares a really sad sorry about some of the unintended losers of the algo update, and offers some pretty compelling evidence regarding the question of whether or not Google really can tell the difference between useful and scraped content. 

New Rankings Updates come… and goes… –

Leo is someone that I frequently disagree with, but he’s got some really interesting food for thought in this post.  Check out his ideas on the concept of branding, whether allowing Google access to your data via Google Analytics, Webmaster Tools, etc is a good idea, and the ubiquitous duplicate content penalty.

Farmer’s Update Part II – The Winners No One is Talking About –

This follow up to Leo’s first post covers an interesting concept – if content farms are yanked out of their first page rankings, that leaves some holes in the Top 10s for many niches.  Here’s what’s filling these holes and how to get a piece of it.

Interesting side-effect after last Google algo change – WarriorForum 

Leo links to this thread in the WF in his second post, but in case you missed it, the commentary in the thread is worth a look through.  Personally, I don’t agree with all of it – I think the fact that Google is slapping down content farms and some duplicate content means that we’re going to see more of these changes in the future.  So I wouldn’t go putting all my money in autoblogs and scraping sites now, just because they seem to have survived the latest change.  Building real-value websites is the only thing that’s going to win in the long run.

My Sick Head Can’t Grasp Curation + Content Farm Odds – WarriorForum

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the difference between scraping and curation – and whether or not Google can really make that distinction.  Check out this thread for an interesting discussion.

Google’s Best Weapon – Fear By Example – Griz

An interesting perspective on why it’s best to fly below the radar and rank for tons of long tail keywords instead of one major niche keyword.  Plus, a pretty good reason to stay away from Adsense.  I’ve been moving away from this monetization model for awhile, but if you’re still on the fence, this is a pretty compelling read.


Do you have any other articles to share?  Or have you experienced a drop in rankings due to the algorithm change?  Leave me a note in the comments!

7 Responses to Google’s “Farmer Update” Algorithm Change – Collected Readings

  1. Leo Dimilo says:

    Hey Sarah,

    Thanks for the plug. Disagreements and debate is what makes the world go round (or in the very least, more interesting), right? 😉

    • Sarah says:

      Haha – absolutely 🙂 Honestly, I probably learn more from the marketers that I disagree with than the ones who’re on the same page as me, so I can respect that.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Jon says:

    Sarah – none of my properties suffered nor did those of my clients. I’m still working through your articles that you referenced here, thanks for pulling these all together.

    The search engine business will always be broken. It’s just the speed at which things are evolving; I can’t imagine it’s easy to try to keep up (from the search company perspective).



  3. Thanks for the mention! There is a lot to be said for going on an information diet when you start in this business – you can do your own head in following all the “sky is falling” posts out there – after a while you notice the sky (doesn’t) fall every year to 18 months in SEO!

    • Sarah says:

      Lis – Thanks for stopping by!

      It’s funny – I don’t usually follow IM news that closely, and didn’t even know about the update until some people in my weekly chat group started asking about it.

      But then again, none of my sites suffered (nor did those of most of my business partners/students). At the end of the day, if you’re out there putting out good, useful information, I don’t think you need to be super worried about changes like this 🙂

  4. Rose says:

    My own sites were unchanged – but some of my hubpages took a hit, depending on whether they had any backlinks or not (the ones with backlinks are doing fine).

    I think that the lesson is not to put all your eggs in one basket. Those who have diversified have done OK – and I expect Google will have many more updates to shake up the SERPs in years to come. The key is to stay flexible and try to spot potential problems ahead of time. (Oh, and to make sure everything is backlinked!)

    • Sarah says:

      Rose – Glad to hear that your sites are doing fine! You’re right – having all of your sites built the same way (same monetization model, same backlinking strategy, same traffic sources, etc) is a dangerous position to be in.

      I actually talked about this in my chat group last night, but it’s always a good idea to have a backup plan. Have an alternate retailer or affiliate provider or traffic source so that if one dries up, you won’t be in trouble.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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