On 24 February 2011, Google.com rolled out a new update targeting spammy sites that generate SEO-heavy content that is not necessarily rich for users. These sites are generally known as content farms. Common characteristics of content farms include:
- SEO optimized content (that may or may not make sense) for relatively competitive keyword phrases
- Free content or low-paid writers who have to crank out dozens of articles to make a pittance
- High advertising ratios – often with ads that bisect articles, and other tactics to encourage pay-per-click click revenue
- And little to know relevance among the topics covered across the site, little depth of coverage and a “scraping of the surface” of the topic at hand
Because content farms were the target of this update, SEOMoz dubbed it the “Farmer” update, which, frankly, makes a heck of a lot more sense than the internal codeword used at Google: the Panda update. So you’ll hear about Panda, Farmer and Panda who farm, but it’s all talking about the same algo change.
Yesterday, the Panda update went live in English-speaking international markets – google.co.uk, google.co.au and others saw the shifts in their SERPs. It’s pretty soon to tell how this is going to impact search referrals for the site I shepherd, but as far as I can tell it looks like the same URLs that were targeted on the google.com update also took a hit in the UK rankings.
Please share your observations and thoughts here about where this is rolling out on global Google platforms. Are you seeing the same results? We’ve had a month to get ready for it, were you surprised by the result?