It all started recently with the beans being spilled about JCPenny’s sneaky (or not-so-sneaky) use of link farms in its SEO campaign. Following close behind that last month was Google’s official release of a major update to the algorithm it uses, affectionately and officially named the “Farmer Update”, the focus of which is devaluing content farms. It is also known as the “Panda Update”.
So everyone that has anything to do with search engine optimization is buzzing about what this update means for them: business owners wonder how much their sites have been impacted and SEO moguls are busy devising and revising strategies to stay on the good side of Google. If you belong to either category, listen up! Here’s what you need to know to escape the Farmer’s sharp SEO sickle:
- If your website rankings aren’t screaming to you “Something’s happened!” you probably don’t have too much to sweat over. If you are curious to see if your site was affected by the Farmer, you can use Google Analytics to pinpoint any effects the update has had on your site.
- If your site is a large one and you’ve noticed some unfortunate fallings, your lower rankings are most likely the intended result of the Farmer Update. You most likely were hit with the update if your site plays the copycat game or your people scrape content off of other sites and smack it up on yours. The main target of the update is to knock down the rankings of sites that have copied, unoriginal content. If you are a small site not intentionally copying content or playing games but you’ve seen a downturn in rankings anyway, you may be in the small “collateral damage” group of websites.
- If you’ve been harvested by the Farmer, there is a slight chance that you can work one-on-one with Google to fix the damage, but the major consensus from pros in the field is that you are out of luck. You are actually going to have to go through your website and remove scraped and copied content and replace it with relevant, COMPLETELY ORIGINAL content. Drop any questionable link partners. You probably shouldn’t even waste your time pleading with Google to present to you a manual exception.
- Always keep in mind the goals of your company regarding its website, which should still be to present to the world a user-friendly, valuable, high quality site that is worth linking to. If you are a part of the very small group of sites that were intentionally targeted by the Farmer’s Update, it’s time to reconstruct your website, and an overhaul of your business plan might do you some good too.
For what it’s worth, in a nutshell those websites that were not spammy, not full of garbage content, and sites that contain content not seen anywhere else on the Internet were not affected by Google’s changes. Sites that have seen their rankings take a dive or completely disappear altogether need to jump off the SPAM bandwagon and plant a new crop o’ content.