NEW GOOGLE CONTENT FARMS UPDATE

I’m not sure if you caught this BIG announcement on February 24th from the Official Google Blog: Finding more high-quality sites in search

In Google’s own words… “in the last day or so we launched a pretty big algorithmic improvement to our ranking — a change that noticeably impacts 11.8% of our queries”

Here’s a few more comments from big G: “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”

“It’s worth noting that this update does not rely on the feedback we’ve received from the Personal Blocklist Chrome extension, which we launched last week. However, we did compare the Blocklist data we gathered with the sites identified by our algorithm, and we were very pleased that the preferences our users expressed by using the extension are well represented. If you take the top several dozen or so most-blocked domains from the Chrome extension, then this algorithmic change addresses 84% of them, which is strong independent confirmation of the user benefits.”

This is an USA-only update for now. There is no clear time line yet as when it will be implemented in other regions. In conclusion, this is BAD news for anyone creating “push-button” websites and blogs that merely swipe articles and/or videos from directories. So any content farms will be negatively affected by this update.

To determine if recent Google algorithm has affected your website SE traffic, check it easily by analyzing your site’s organic traffic in past few days using your analytics: choose ‘Google’ (organic) as the traffic source. Now examine your site’s organic traffic by seeing its growth or fall after Feb 24. Hopefully, this update hasn’t impacted your organic traffic.

A company called Sistrix did a great job trying to quantify the results of this latest Google’s update via its ‘visibility index’ (an index value calculated from traffic on keywords, ranking and click-through rate on specific positions). After crunching over a million keywords, the top losers (Top 25 of 300+) based on their research turned out to be the following sites:

# Domain Change in Visibility Index
1 wisegeek.com -77%
2 ezinearticles.com -90%
3 suite101.com -94%
4 hubpages.com -87%
5 buzzle.com -85%
6 associatedcontent.com -93%
7 freedownloadscenter.com -90%
8 essortment.com -91%
9 fixya.com -80%
10 americantowns.com -91%
11 lovetoknow.com -83%
12 articlesbase.com -94%
13 howtodothings.com -84%
14 mahalo.com -84%
15 business.com -93%
16 doityourself.com -77%
17 merchantcircle.com -85%
18 thefind.com -83%
19 findarticles.com -90%
20 faqs.org -91%
21 tradekey.com -89%
22 answerbag.com -91%
23 trails.com -87%
24 examiner.com -79%
25 allbusiness.com -88%

Most of the usual suspects got hit:  Associated Content, Ezine Articles, Suite101.com, Hubpages, Mahalo, and FindArticles among others. On the surface, the algorithm update looks successful, but what has not been taken into account are the vast number of smaller but quality sites that got nuked. Collateral damage, you might argue, is bound to happen. But we are talking about 11.8% of all searches – a big number and subsequently a big damage on innocent bystanders.

Pending issue: eHow and Huffingtonpost escaped. In fact, eHow’s ranking actually went up, along with YouTube, Facebook and eBay. How did that happen? The possibility is that sites that were ranked above eHow got devalued resulting in automatic boosting of the site’s ranking. We do hope that Google will eventually do something about this…

If you want to contact me about the latest Google Updates and their SEO impact, or have any questions, call  1.510.473.6949 or email me at jose@greatseoconsultant.com and I will reply asap.

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