Google's Farmer Update Live: 12% Of Google's Results Forever Changed

Feb 25, 2011 • 8:27 am | comments (30) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google PageRank & Algorithm Updates

Google Content Farm AlgorithmSEOs and webmasters have been eagerly anticipating, both in fear and excitement, the release of Google's content farm algorithm. Google announced that is has been rolled out yesterday. This is the second of two released, the first being aimed at scraper sites.

Google's Amit Singhal and Matt Cutts wrote:

In the last day or so we launched a pretty big algorithmic improvement to our ranking - a change that noticeably impacts 11.8% of our queries - and we wanted to let people know what's going on. This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites—sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful.

Google also made a point to say that the overlap between those reporting sites using the new Chrome Blocklist extension and the 12% of the results that were changed, had an 84% overlap. They took that to mean, overall, most of the results Google removed were vouched by searchers.

Danny Sullivan has a lot more details, interviewing Google about this specific update. Danny named it the Farmer Update. I should note this was only released in the U.S. as of now and Google will roll it out elsewhere soon.

I should note that the ehow's of the worlds are not all bad. I am not sure if this algorithm targets specific domains or targets page by page level content - but I do hope it targets page by page. I, personally, do find value in many of the articles that some of you may call "content farms." I have seen a shift in results for how to articles, often articles I send people to for answering quick questions related to iPhone troubleshooting. But honestly, I can still get good answers with the results today, so I guess no harm to the searcher?

In any event, many are saying Mahalo was hit hard by this, whereas was not hit as hard. I do see some results lower than they were previously and heck, I even see some very good ranking results. Some are saying it has to do with the AdSense, either number of ads or placement (but I doubt that). Maybe the rollout isn't complete on my side? I guess we will find out over the course of the week based on the forums.

If you are concerned and want to dig deeper, I strongly recommend you check out the forums. Some of them are talking about specific examples and some are talking more in generalities.

Forum discussion at Sphinn, Google Webmaster Help, Search Engine Watch Forums, DigitalPoint Forums, WebmasterWorld, Cre8asite Forums and HighRanking Forums.

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Gaetan Bertin

02/25/2011 04:04 pm

why the mario mushroom? =)

Michael Martinez

02/25/2011 04:24 pm

Being more among the winners than the losers as far as Website traffic goes, I must say I am still not sure what the heck a "content farm" is supposed to be. Danny Sullivan finally published his working definition on Search Engine Land (thank you, Danny) but I think it's too broad. I believe a lot of innocent Websites are hurting because of this update. I know people who have been slamming Demand Media probably won't be happy with it.

Barry Schwartz

02/25/2011 04:26 pm

Michael, I suspect Google will continue to refine it based on feedback they get. Collateral damage is always part of this game.

Alireza Sefati

02/25/2011 06:32 pm

Wikipedia and ehow have been some of the places where I have been going to find good content.


02/25/2011 09:05 pm

"Collateral damage is always part of this game. " I just went from a page rank 3 to 0 in the last hour. My site has total original content, I have no idea what just happened...

Michael Martinez

02/25/2011 10:40 pm

It's unusual for a TBPR update to roll out with a major algorithmic update. Have other people seen similar jockeying? Maybe your toolbar was unable to connect to the server and the 0 is a placeholder?


02/25/2011 10:45 pm

Seriously, the more that I think about this the angrier I get. How Big G sees CyberSmartWeb as a content farm is beyond me. I held a PR since after the first month that I built the site. It is full of my original articles, podcasts, and videos. Original from end to end, and I look up - I'm at PR 0, nada, zip! Ouch...


02/25/2011 10:48 pm

I checked in three browsers, two of them mine, one a friend in the City... all say ZERO. I had a PR 3 when I got up this morning.


02/25/2011 10:56 pm

I'm reading your article on the topic. Outstanding site, no joke, love the name!

Harendrasingh Rajput

02/26/2011 05:20 am

its really nice update now every user get perfect result not spam results. when it comes in india ? because so many persons are do spamming in India. now really tuff competition for SEO's

Barry Schwartz

02/26/2011 10:34 am

my way of symbolizing a farm in a geeky way.


02/26/2011 11:10 am

Hope this would not be a vast change other wise ranking would get a big disadvantage over online business.

Barry Schwartz

02/26/2011 02:38 pm

This has nothing to do with pagerank


02/27/2011 02:30 am

Very easy, a "content farm" == article site, non specific, covering all kinds of topics. Ezine, articlesbase etc. Sites which simply farm and re-distribute content.


02/27/2011 03:25 am

Welcome this algo change wholeheartedly... now all these spam sites which were ranking in top positions and which were of no use for all of us will vanish and also our adwods costs will go down slightly too :) The revenue model of most of these spam sites is Adsense


02/27/2011 03:26 am

RIP spam sites.. :)


02/28/2011 12:02 am

These content farms are annoying and I find no real content in them. They are just a nightmare and it is definitely heartening to see Google take them down. These article marketing sites are just milking the system to their benefit and provide nothing good in return to the hundreds of thousands of authors. They don't even pay for the content generated. It is definitely high time they disappear from search results.


02/28/2011 12:40 am

I've noticed this too. Site from PR2 to PR0. A client of mine went form PR3 to PR1. Not sure if these are permanent, but I've only noticed a change on some of my sites.

Material Handling Equipment

02/28/2011 12:55 pm

About time Google took some measures to control spam sites. There’s a lot of duplicative content on the Web and it’s such a hassle to separate the chaff from the wheat. Hopefully, we’ll see more anti-spam measures from Google as the year rolls by.

Michael Martinez

03/01/2011 06:49 am

TechCrunch, CNN, just about any University Website....

Bojan Djordjevic

03/01/2011 04:38 pm

What about other web 2.0 locations like ezine articles, hub pages and other?

Blair Geddes

03/02/2011 11:18 am

Very happy with this update, and have noticed positive effects already, we've been writing unique content for over 6 years now on all our sites, and see high volumes of sites copy the content or scrape it, and index above us in the UK G search results... noticing positive ranking increases already, but perhaps too early to draw full blown conclusions from.

Pre Priyadarshane

03/11/2011 03:10 pm

I welcome this change. This helps relevant quality sites rank well as they should.

Plus Size Clothing

03/15/2011 08:42 pm

I think this is great for those of us with original content and especially for e-commerce sites that don't have tons of content so we have to really make the most of the content we do have...

04/01/2011 06:22 pm

My site has enough relevant contents and it is now ranking either 1st or 2nd for the keyword of "digital products". Alternately with


04/02/2011 04:37 am

Excellent post is shared by you, I got pleasure to read this news.


05/01/2011 01:37 pm

Why everybody thinks that google is a conspiration that they want to destroy ehow or something like that ! The algorythm hits all the websites in the world...not only ehow or others.


05/01/2011 01:38 pm

Google tries to please the searcher....that's the most important thing. The searches is a lot more important than the webmaster...sometimes Google fails doing that...if they have personal reasons or not...hard to know...maybe impossible...


05/08/2011 04:26 pm

It is crazy how many website Google has laid it down to. Check out this article and just look at the keyword comparison of the before and after results of some websites. A few dropped all the way to page 100


06/22/2011 01:23 pm

Michael, I suspect Google will continue to refine it based on feedback they get. Collateral damage is always part of this game.:

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