Last week Google announced an algorithm update – to clean up their SERPs by demoting sites containing low quality content. We have a look at the some of the affected sites and what this means for content marketers.
Who’s been affected?
The move from Google was inevitable as they were facing increasing pressure to act against high ranking sites that were low on quality – namely scraper sites and content farms [See: New Algorithm Update for Google: Are they finally targeting Content Farms?]. Dubbed the ‘Farmer’ update, the latest figures revealed by SISTIRX indicate that the biggest losers so far are as we expected.
Of the top 25, the recognisable sites such as mahalo.com, ezinearticles.com, articlesbase, findarticles.com and Demand Media’s answerbag.com were all affected. SISTRIX’s data was calculated by analysing and comparing one million keywords before and after the update. The most affected sites are those that have seen a drop in traffic from these keywords, as well as their ranking and Click through Rate.
So, the ‘Farmer’ update has acted immediately. Whilst most sites affected were inevitable, the one site we all thought that was going to see the biggest impact, well, didn’t. Demand Media’s eHow.com actually gained a number of keywords ranking the site. However it should be noted these figures indicate the immediate changes caused by the update, and we will get a clearer picture in the weeks ahead.
What’s the reason?
What is clear at the moment though is that low quality content is being punished. The aforementioned sites are finding themselves in a position where change is needed – a change that that will see them ‘clean up’ the content being submitted or fade into obscurity.
Let’s take ezinearticles for example. Whilst they vehemently deny being a content farm per se as all articles are submitted independently, they have been dealt a huge blow to their market trust as a result of this update. In a blog post by CEO Chris Knight, he explains that ezine saw an 11.5% reduction in traffic last Thursday and an even larger traffic reduction of 35% on Friday. So what’s their plan to get back into Google’s good books?
Well amongst other actions taken, they are concentrating on improving the standard of articles they receive and publish. In terms of content, a snap shot from the blog post reveals they are going to:
• Reduce the number of articles that are not unique enough
• Raise the minimum article word count to 400 words
• Reduce keyword density limits
• Remove ‘thin and spammy’ articles
• Place greater focus on rejecting advertorial articles
Other actions have yet to be decided upon. Amongst them was the idea of adding NoFollow to all links; a suggestion which was met with strong opposition by many regular users. Since then Knight has decided to put the NoFollow plan on hiatus, possibly fearing it could be the nail in the coffin for them with publishers looking to go elsewhere. Writers submitting to the site find this as one of their USPs.
What does it mean?
Well the main consequence of Google’s actions is going to see more emphasis placed on quality content. This part remains within our control and it can only be a good thing; especially for journalists and more specifically content marketers. As the message of quality content from Google gets filtered down through websites such as ezine, writers must take heed and do their bit to help.
For most content marketers not much will need to be changed, especially if you already write compelling, unique and relevant content. In this sense it’s a case of more of the same – there’s always alternative websites to submit content should others not rank. Provided there’s a need, quality content will always prevail!