Google Bitch Slaps The Content Farms

On 24 February 2011, Google announced a major algorithmic change to its search engine. Although subtle in nature and perhaps even unnoticeable to most users, it is believed to be able to dramatically improve the quality of Google’s search results. Not that it is entirely able to get rid of stuff like web spam but at least, we can see progressive updates and changes from Google in tackling web spam.

Even though Google was not upfront in its official announcement on its blog, I believe that this move by Google actually targets to penalize websites which are operating as content farms. Content farms are low quality websites which attempt to game or manipulate search engine results and attract search traffic by piling up (mostly) useless content, usually by producing large amounts of low-quality text or by scraping and copying them from websites with original content.

What Google did say is that the algorithm update on its search “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.” In fact, this change noticeably impacts 11.8% of Google’s queries.

It is also worth noting that this update does not rely on the feedback that Google has been receiving from the Personal Blocklist Chrome extension which Google has launched a week ago. However, there is strong positive correlation between the sites that are blocked by the Chrome plugin and sites that are penalized under the new search algorithm update. This goes to prove that the update has been pretty much successful in its task to tackle web spam in particular.

To further put this algorithm update to the test, I did a study on Demand Media, a website which has long been tagged with a notorious “Content Farm” over its website. Demand Media has been at the heart of lotsa discussions on whether it is a content marketer or a content farm. You can take a look at the discussion on my previous guest post. I have passed my judgment on this website so do not try to convince me further. Anyway for this study, I checked the search engine rankings for those keyword phrases that Demand Media has been ranking consistently high previously.

My findings.

Some content did go up and some content went down the Google search results.

My verdict.

I think it is way too early to tell. The update was just implemented a few days ago. A fairer assessment can only be made after observing their rankings and traffic a month or two from now. Or even a year later. Give time for the system to settle. Possibly, Google might just roll out more updates to further improve on its search system.

No doubt, the popularity of Google search is still unparalleled to none but Google has been plagued by black hat SEO practices and content farms for a while now, with all the complaints from users gradually accumulating over time. If Google manages to put an end to content farms or at least significantly reduce their influence in search results, it will be an important step in regaining the trust of its users.

Are you satisfied with Google’s Update? Tell us what you think.

As CEO of Affiliate Home Business, Jack Harold is an experienced Internet marketer and has helped thousands of his students to apply Internet marketing strategies to succeed online. If you will like to know how to make money online, you can grab a free copy of his exclusive “The Rags To Riches Blueprint” at his website, Affiliate Home Business.


114 thoughts on “Google Bitch Slaps The Content Farms”

  1. Google is really into banning Content fakers and Autoblogs! Hope so it doesnt affect legit blogs.

    1. Abhik says:

      Yes!!! They are actually cleaning their database. But, the news is actually two weeks old.
      I made two posts on this.. Check them if you wish
      http://www.itsabhik.com/seo/google-fight-against-spam-has-started.html
      http://www.itsabhik.com/news/googles-fight-against-webspam-continues.html

      (Sorry for the linsk, but I couldn’t resists myself to share those. John, please delete them if they looks promotional)

      1. PPC Ian says:

        I think it’s a really good move on Google’s part. Most people I talk to, who are in the business of building quality sites, are benefiting from the change. The only casualty that’s unfortunate to see is WiseGeek. I always liked that site and their business model, so I hope they can snap back, but it will certainly not be easy.

        1. Well may be they are simply victim of ups and down.

          Let the thing stable than we will be able to see the real picture.

          By the way ,,, like your Gravataar though its not that close …

          1. Why such a title? Calling Google Bitch is taking it too far. They are doing the best they can to produce relevant and good results.

            Too many people get excited about nothing. Instead of trying to figure out exactly what Google is doing I think it’s better to produce good content and leave the job that belongs to Google to them.

          2. Ya, I will observe the situation over at least two months to a year. You like my gravataar?

          3. I will admit to being amazed. I have a few competitors (well, former competitors now) who had top 10 rankings for a few phrases by blatantly spamming the hell out of the system. The one on my radar are completely gone from SERPS now.

            Now if some real people can get mentions for hyper-local searches instead of being displaced by stupid directories, that would be nice.

        2. PPC Ian says:

          Email List Building,
          I don’t think anyone is arguing with you. It’s very clear that Google is doing the right thing, and that’s exactly what I have been saying this entire time. In terms of the post’s title, I think it’s simply laughable and the author is clearly just writing something that will catch attention.

          In fact, the author is not calling Google a “b-“. Rather, the author is saying that Google “b- slaps” the content farms. The “b-” is not attached to Google, it’s attached to the verb “slaps”. And, it’s true. That’s just what Google did – they “b- slapped” the crappy content farms. Good for them!
          Best,
          Ian

          1. Hey PPC Ian,

            You may be right that the post author just meant that.

            Having said that, I’m not familiar with verbs that need to have bitch in front of them. Slap is a slap to me.

            Maybe people in puberty need to add these words including those with F and S in front of and in between everything to sound cool.

          2. Actually, I didn’t call Google a bitch as I have proposed another title for my post. I think John changed the title entirely so that it attracts more attention which he had successfully done so.

        3. @Ian, many websites like EzineArticles are already rethinking their business strategy.

    2. I’ve noticed an increase in traffic to our healthy diet site with lots of recipes. I’m getting about 200 to 300 people more a day since Feb 24th now.

      1. PPC Ian says:

        Sweetness! 🙂 That’s awesome to hear. I’ve got my ear to the street and most people out there adding legit value seem to be making more money post-changes. Go Google!

        1. Go Google Go! Who’s cheering Google on with me?

      2. That surely is great news pal. COngrats!

    3. It shouldn’t affect legit blogs. If you are producing quality content you should be fine.

      1. Quality contents and regular update is the base of every successful blog.

        This is the basic rule and google is following it always.

        1. Abhik says:

          Me too agree you on this..
          Google likes websites which updated regularly with quality contents.

          1. Agreed but just blog it. Don’t worry about anything else. Just blog it.

        2. I have conducted an experiment before and to my surprise, updating regularly does not mean that you need to post everyday; you just need to post consistently on a regular basis.

      2. Legit blogs or sites are totally fine. There’s nothing to worry about.

        1. d3so says:

          I’ve heard there’s potential to get penalized by google if others steal your content.

          1. If that’s the case, I can just scrap my competitors content and get them off their first page rankings? Does that make any sense?

    4. @Anoop, there is nothing to worry if you are a legit blog … as long as you contribute decent content.

    5. d3so says:

      Glad to see google being proactive. I too hope that legit sites don’t get caught in the crossfire.

      1. There is nothing that legit sites need to worry about. You are safe my friend!

  2. I hadn’t noticed any changes. For most of my sites, I just ignore google results anyways.
    I did notice purposeinc.com which one ranked #2 for facebook advertising, then it dropped to obscurity, now ranks about number 15 again. As a user I hate spammy sites. I love JohnChow.com though!

    1. Don’t we all hate spammy sites.

      1. Yes we all …

        But however many people also build these kind of websites to get the backlinks.

        1. The spammy sites for backlinks isn’t going to work any longer.

          1. Google sees where the links are coming from and have done so for ages.

            Spammy sites serve no purpose except that they are cluttering the cyber space with garbage.

          2. Ya, i did some experiments again and have proved that spammy backlinking techniques do not work as well as before.

        2. What types of sites? auto-blogs?

      2. Yes, I do and I can shout it out loud! To hell you go, web spam!

    2. What website is that you have mentioned? Is that a spammy website?

  3. James Oscar says:

    I guess, as long as you provided an original content, write it manually and at least “help user find what they want” is fine.

    That’s way we see a lot of downside at ezine because altough their article is unique but it really not helping people or solve people problem, and a lot of upside of ehow. But I think the main purpose of 2011 algorithm update is to target people with Auto Generated Content, Auto blogs and People’s blog with entirely build from copy paste content from other website as it.

    I think it still need a lot of update to determine if “great content” will rank better than “good content”, it’s not the time yet. What Google focus now is how to make “good content” rank better than “trash/spam content”

    1. Quite agree with you.

      Ezine though always got the original one but this seems to me that ezine become the “Mecca” of link building only.

      1. Abhik says:

        Correct.. Gone are the days when people used ezines to get sales and leads. Now, that’s only way to build link.

        1. Do you really use ezines to build links? If you are, then you are yourself creating a content farm Abhik. You gonna change the way you do things.

    2. well, the content is no longer unique as EzineArticles allows other websites to use their articles.

  4. I saw some people on different sites talking about how their autoblogs went down in rankings. In my opinion, they wouldn’t have had this problem if they created original content. Even if it’s not the best, at least they can say they created it from scratch. What Google is doing now is a price they’ll have to pay for trying to take the quick way in. Had they actually worked hard on creating original content, they may have seen different & better results.

    1. Abhik says:

      Well, I also noticed some aggregated content websites are being taken down.

      1. Give up some names of sites that you think have gotten hit.

        1. This was bound to happen, because such kind of websites are simply burden on internet.

          1. Not only a burden to the Internet community .. they are simply junk that we need to clear of.

        2. Abhik says:

          Hang on.. I’ll be getting the list.

          1. When Abhik when will you be getting the list? People may be hanging on for too long.

          2. Yes friend. Where is your list?

      2. As long as the bulk of the website content is original, it is really okay to leave the aggregated content there as it is.

    2. Auto blogs were never a good idea. When they got slapped, that’s what happens to a poor business model.

      1. Yes these are not at all nice business model … but however people are getting their investment back and above all they do not have to do anything at all.

        So even if one website is making $10 from one than imagine if they have 100 or 1000 blogs network.

        1. It’s not long term though. A long term outklook is the most stable business model instead of having to redo your business in 2 years from now.

          1. Penny Bid Auction Sites is spot on in this instance.

            It is the long term approach that wins in the end.

          2. Agreed. I started my sites from scratch. I would never start an automated blog like that.

    3. Well, they deserve to be in the plight they are in now. No doubt about that. I won’t give them even the slightest of sympathy and pity.

  5. I have seen a change in the number of links found by site explorer, but I don’t know if that’s Yahoo’s unreliability or google delisting links?

    1. Allen Walker says:

      Yahoo’s Site Explorer is quite unreliable for gauging backlinks. It’s better if you use Majestic SEO if you want a closer measure of the number of backlinks you have.

      1. Majestic SEO is paid one and many webmasters do not like to paid for it.

    2. Abhik says:

      Yahoo shows followed plus nofollow links on site explorere, whereas, GWT shows only followed links.
      As far as I know.

      1. Any other resources which are free and good?

  6. Marco Lee says:

    I don’t really know if my site is getting affected by this algorithm change all I know is that what I’m having is the yoyo effect. I have some months with low traffic and some that have high.

    Now, I’m guessing that I’d be having high traffic as I am building more ways to get back links to my site. Blog Commenting, Links on authority, sites etc…

    1. Just concentrate on the normal white hat stuff and avoid being a black hatter.

  7. It will be interesting to see how this affects Blogs overall. The scary thing is that every time Google makes a change like this, the fake content generators out there create increasingly more “realistic” fake content.

    Pretty soon it may become increasing difficult for Google to differentiate between legit bloggers and content farms. Guess we’ll have to watch and see how things unfold.

    -DJ

    1. One day, the spammers artificial intelligence will be just as smart as Google’s AI.

      1. I don’t believe that.

        Google will always be a few steps ahead.

    2. Well, only time will tell who will prevail in the end. No doubt that both sides will be countering each other.

  8. PPC Ian says:

    Well, I certainly laughed out loud when I saw this post’s title! I’m actually quite pleased with Google’s changes. As a result of the changes, my revenue has been trending up! 🙂 It’s all about building long-lasting quality. In the end, quality gets rewarded and that’s exactly what Google’s doing!

    1. Abhik says:

      I agree..
      I also noticed some hike in traffic graph for two of my niche blogs after they announced that algorithm.

      1. As I mentioned above Ian, the title is uncalled for. Whether it is an attention getter or not I don’t know but I hope that it’s not meant seriously. It is a fact that some people hate Google or anything big and successful.

        To me, as long as Google is trying to provide the best results they can which I think is what they are doing, they do the right thing.

        They still produce the best results by far, in my opinion, compared to all the other search engines.

        1. PPC Ian says:

          I’m the biggest fan of Google around. Really, Google has made my career in search engine marketing and has made me one of the top corporate online marketers around. Google has consistently proven that the do the right thing over and over. That’s exactly why my websites are earning more post this release (I’m building great content and in it for the long run). That said, I still think the title of the post is laughable. I think the author clearly meant it as an attention grabbing joke. I really don’t think he meant it seriously.

          1. PPC Ian says:

            Email list building,
            Please see my comment earlier… The author did not call Google a “b-“. The author said that Google “b- slaps” the content farms. The “b-” is attached to the verb “slaps” and not “Google”. To make things clear it probably would have been better grammar for the author to put a hyphen between “b-” and “slaps”. Then, there would be no confusion.

            As I have been saying all along, I’m the biggest fan of Google ever and couldn’t be more excited about their changes. They are doing everything right, over and over. Go Google!
            Best,
            Ian

          2. d3so says:

            I’m all for google as well. Weed out those that try to take the easy way out and reward the hard workers.

  9. fas says:

    Well content farms are similar to MFA sites, right?

    1. Similar like MFA, but it can be used to build your link or to get tons of index sites

    2. Not really, MFA sites are strictly made to collect Adsense dollars, content farms sometimes copy content from your RSS feed.

  10. Jordy says:

    It’s sad that Demand Media actually got a raise out of the algorithm change.

    It is also sad that whoever wrote this article has little respect for Google by calling them such a degrading name.

  11. Yep content farms take a hit. Soon after the shit hit the fan on this one I got an email from EZA (ezinearticles.com) about their new standards for articles – they’re going up! A number of people I know that used article marketing as their main traffic source are the most freaked out about these changes, and the not-so trickle down effect to the larger articles sites they’ve been using.

    So that, combined with the Internet tax (affiliates getting shafted) politics going on out there has people truly freaked.

    Not too much to worry about though if your income streams, and traffic streams, are diversified. Or you’re a high rolla like Mr. John Chow here 🙂

  12. Health Blog says:

    What about directories? Will Google call directories “content farms”? as most of directories do not give any value to the web searchers.

    1. In this term ezine will be at top.

      People use them to get backlinks. Though they are saying that they approve the articles but you will be able to see many many articles which do not provide any kind of value.

      But we should not forget that Ezine is premium publisher of google adsense and they earn quite good amount of money from them.

      But sooner or later they will also come under radar.

      1. From what I’ve read recently they have come under the radar and are quite upset about it.

  13. How is About.com not a content farm. I mean look at their site. Sometimes they have 200 to 250 word articles with like 7 or 8 adblocks on the page.

    1. For this topic, I would like to include –

      ehow.com
      hubpages.com
      squidoo.com
      typepad.com

      These all are used to get backlinks and in return they add google adsense.

      So through this as well, google is also earning quite good and handsome amount of money.

  14. Togrul says:

    This is something autobloggers should worry about. Nothing special for the original content makers though.

  15. Pat says:

    Hand written content is always the best hands down. I hate reading through stuff that makes absolutely no sense but keyword rich. I guess the domain name also helps in a way. I am a little guilty of this at times. 😛

    1. Paul B says:

      How do you read hand written content online? Is there some sort of tech I’m not aware off? 😉

  16. Justin says:

    I’m cool with the new change. This will cause content farms to change the way they conduct business.

    1. Or they will go out of business, that would be nice.

  17. This was much needed in the web world, and it finally happened!

  18. Nice to see that finally they have taken this step.

    Though this one was delayed by one year.

    1. ZK,

      Do you have some inside information or how would you know that they delayed it by one year? And what would be the reason for the delay?

  19. Paul B says:

    I wonder if they’ll be punishing blogs who allow waffling guest posts that while original actually bring nothing to the party in terms of valuable content?

    1. Well, if they are not of any value to the blog audience, I doubt the blog owner will allow them to be posted in the first place. See John’s blog as an example. Full of great posts!

  20. Hi,
    Totally agree by the move of google to change algorithm. If Google keep updating its algorithm in order to deliver more and more quality search results, that means more quality services from SEO experts in order to distinguished the spammers and the farmers

  21. I think all decent marketers will be happy with Google’s plans even if they don’t rely on Google for their traffic – getting a bump in the search rankings because you have good content and things like that never hurt a business 🙂 It’s about time Google got a bit more discerning.

    My two cents
    Peter

    1. It is improving the entire search experience.

  22. Proxyland says:

    The Fact, Google not only ban sites with content farms. Because many original content sites and unique sites is banned by Google. I’m so confused How to Google do it?
    Moreover, Many original content sites and unique sites get the traffic have down because of Google update the new algorithm

    1. You won’t be able to know what is in this algorithm update. One thing for sure though is that content farms are being tackled.

  23. design flyer says:

    Well I think we must appreciate positive steps taken by google to stop content farming. Users must get quality results.

    1. Google is all about improving the user experience.

  24. kumo says:

    I just wrote about the same topic recently and I think it’s good that Google starts to clean up things. As a start, perhaps it will be wise for Google to just focus on the first and second page of search results. This way at least users are able to find the information they need rather than just keywords concentrated pages that do not help. It will buy more time for Google to filter out content farming sites and make their search engine a better place for users. Honestly I think Google should work fast to deliver their solution or risk losing users to other search engine like Bing and Yahoo.

    1. Of course, we should not leave it to Google to decide. The Chrome extension is there for us to help Google to weed the crap out!

  25. anitha says:

    Usually content is the king but if its duplicate its hurt a lot to the website

    1. Very true. Why duplicate content when you can write? If you are lazy, then I’m sorry .. this is not your game.

  26. But i saw in some where they have been talking about article converting plugins, by using plugins they are converting the original article in to duplicate one, but thats not showing any duplication, but you have mentioned about content farms, so would it be acceptable for this?

    1. Of course the articles that are converted will no longer be duplicate but will they be readable? That is a question that you need to answer.

  27. This is great news, get these guys off our lawn!

    1. Precisely my friend…they are such a pest!

  28. NoDaddy says:

    Changes like these only affect average marketers.

  29. Autoblogs should be banner. We take the time to write the content but others steal it but it does create free backlinks for us 🙂 But for ethics purposes, Google should just ban autoblogs. 🙂

  30. I hope it will be done the right way. I hope that autoblogs will fall and the useful content will prevail 🙂 I totaly support Google in this. And I really hope they’ll banned as much content farms as possible!

  31. Lakhyajyoti says:

    For last few days my search engine traffic increased by 40%.I don’t the reason.

  32. christina says:

    Content Farms are a strange phenomenon in the Online marketing world

    1. yes anitha but we have to avoid it

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