Google are constantly updating their rankings algorithm, sometimes with several small changes daily, but occasionally they do a big update that can really shake up the search results. The most recent has been dubbed the “Farmer” update by the press, although internally at Google it is called Panda. This update has led to some dramatic changes for rankings and traffic for a number of websites.
Presently it appears to have only affected the US but it will be rolled out worldwide soon. Exactly when is anyone’s guess but we expect to see these changes in the UK before long.
How can you safeguard yourself against these changes?
The information provided by Google is sketchy but most commentators are in agreement about what these changes have set out to achieve. With any updates by Google their aim is to provide the most relevant and informative results for any search query. The Farmer update has been targeted at low quality sites, content farms and even some article directories - for example Ezine Articles lost a huge amount of their traffic in the aftermath of the update. This will have many people who use article marketing as their sole link-building tactic going back to the drawing board for new ideas.
As with any of these updates, some quality sites have been penalised unfairly. Google will continue to tweak the algorithm to sort out these issues but if you have seen your traffic drop by 40% overnight, this knowledge will be little compensation.
What You Should Do
Websites that are on the right track include ones that:
- Create original and thoughtful articles. It is all about quality
- Give their own opinion
- Provide detailed original reports
- Have sufficient text on a page
- Regularly update their website with fresh quality content, Google loves this!
- Have incoming, good quailty links with lots of relevance
What You Should Avoid
Websites that Google are attempting to penalise include ones that:
- Regurgitate articles and press releases
- Copy content from other websites
- Have short and poor quality articles
- Use link farms and poor quality back links
- Have high bounce rates. This is when a person lands on your page and leaves again quickly indicating they do not like your page
- Have over-optimised pages stuffed with keywords
If your website falls into any of the ‘what to avoid’ pitfalls then we strongly advise you start to rectify this as soon as possible.
One of the key success factors to online marketing is to be very careful when you cut corners. Whilst it can be frustrating when a site that has bought links from a poor quality link farm, or is automating content and still ranking above you, they should expect to be penalised sooner or later.
Marketing your website can be a time consuming process, but doing it properly pays dividends in the long run. It appears that many who went for the easy option first time around, are regretting their short cuts now that the Farmer has finished his pruning!