Confirmed: Google's Content Farm Algorithm Live! Sites Are Dropping!

Jan 28, 2011 • 9:05 am | comments (38) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google PageRank & Algorithm Updates

Ranking DroppingsA WebmasterWorld thread has a bunch of SEOs and Webmasters complaining about a recent and significant drop in traffic from Google. These reports all come from webmasters who have had stable rankings in Google and stable traffic from Google for years.

UPDATE #2: I was wrong in assuming the "content farm algorithm" was live. It is not live yet. What is live is the algorithm to block low-quality scraper sites from showing up in the Google index.

Update: Matt Cutts of Google confirmed this in a blog post at his personal blog.

There is some speculation that Google's new content spam detection and prevention techniques have kicked in impacting these particular web sites from ranking well in Google.

A senior member at WebmasterWorld said:

Something really BIG changed yesterday about midday. We are still in triage mode here covering our basics. We saw a huge 10-20 drop in almost all positions for our biggest and oldest site.

Another person said everything was doing great and then January 26th came "at exactly 3:30pm CST. It's as if the switch was turned off again, " he said. And another webmaster said the same thing, "We have lost 40-60% traffic in several sites, all same time yesterday. Very frustrating and to see server idle now."

They mostly all claim they have unique and useful content on their site, but as you know, with any Google change, there are always examples of collateral damage.

Did you notice maybe changes in Google in the past couple days? If so, do you think it is the beginning of the content spam prevention Google mentioned earlier?

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

Update: Matt Cutts of Google confirmed this in a blog post at his personal blog.

That change was approved at our weekly quality launch meeting last Thursday and launched earlier this week.

This was a pretty targeted launch: slightly over 2% of queries change in some way, but less than half a percent of search results change enough that someone might really notice. The net effect is that searchers are more likely to see the sites that wrote the original content rather than a site that scraped or copied the original site’s content.

More stories on this will be complied at Techmeme.

Previous story: Google Can Notify You When They Update Their Maps Of Your Home



01/28/2011 02:28 pm

Yes, some of our new competition, who have come out of nowhere are falling down the SERPs! YAY


01/28/2011 02:31 pm

Same thing happened to me. I write all of my content myself, NONE of it is copied, it's ALL ORIGINAL. (Why? For years I was worried about the duplicate content penalty ;-) I'm definitely not a content farm, just a one man show. I don't even use an off-the-shelf theme, 99% of my code is unique and original. My site is 7 years old. You know, this happens every couple of years, sometimes it lasts for a week, sometimes it lasts for a month, sometimes longer. It always gets me updating my resume. Now I need some extra money to pay bills, if you need some WordPress programming I'm looking for extra work! The worst part of this is, you take a 50% drop in traffic then for some reason the ad algorithms drop you into a lower category and you ALSO take a 50% cut in CPM, even though the ads are the same and nothing has changed but your total number of visits! Its a HUGE pay cut. You lose 75% of your income after 3:30pm (or whatever time) and you have no idea if it will ever bounce back. For years and years I avoided depending on search engines because we always knew the algorithms could change, from day 1. But when they start sending you thousands and thousands of visits per day, every day, year after year, you get hooked.


01/28/2011 02:55 pm

This isn't necessarily a bad thing. I think of it like A-B testing. They need to mix up the results now and then to see what sticks and what doesn't. If site X bounces too much in its new position, they know the previous result was better, and vice versa. So after an evaluation period they can decide which assumptions worked and which did not, based on whatever measurements they're looking at, like bounce rate for example.


01/28/2011 03:51 pm

I noticed lots of changes , some keywords we ranked high for are now lower in position or not even within 100 first links, and some that we were ranking bad got higher. I am looking for different alternative of reffering sources now. Depending only on search engines is bit stupid, once you established good readership you should not be afraid of loosing 10-20% of traffic, unless you are selling some sort of product that is.

Jim Gaudet

01/28/2011 04:05 pm

No traffic problems here, been going great at about 2,000 hits a day for the last two months with no slowdown. After installing Joost's WordPress SEO plugin, my site has skyrocketed in Google searches..


01/28/2011 05:16 pm

We've got around 150 client sites on our server, plus a couple of bigger ecommerce sites hosted elsewhere, and I'm not seeing any major drops. The bigger sites are actually doing better.

Diego Massarotte

01/28/2011 05:45 pm

Is this the end of small sites which replicate news? They'll have to start producing differentiated content now ...

Barry Schwartz

01/28/2011 05:47 pm

hey, technically this site is small and replicating news. ;-)

Izdelava spletnih strani

01/28/2011 06:27 pm

I`we seen some major drops in my niche. Some sites that were never even seen on 1st search pages are now ranking excellent and few sites holding stable positions in past are now pushed few or more result pages back.

Barry Schwartz

01/28/2011 08:14 pm

For those that missed it, Matt Cutts of Google confirmed the rollout started this week. See

Ben Pfeiffer

01/28/2011 08:19 pm

Not seeing any major drops on the sites I monitor, most are pretty big sites. In most cases there seems to be slight improvement.

Barry Schwartz

01/28/2011 08:21 pm

I guess you're doing something right.

Guillermo | Social apps

01/28/2011 09:02 pm

We haven't experienced changes during the last weeks. In fact, the amount of traffic is slightly higher.


01/28/2011 09:59 pm

We haven't experienced any major changes during the last week. In fact, the amount of traffic is slightly higher across most of our client websites.


01/29/2011 12:12 am

Barry I think this algo change should be called Taco Bell

Steve Trang

01/29/2011 05:17 am

My traffic has been increasing steadily since the new year. Will definitely have to keep an eye on this.


01/29/2011 08:12 am

now this is gonna get interesting...

Stockton Aloe

01/29/2011 12:15 pm

that explains it... We went from #35 to #199 for our #1 keyword! That lasted about 10 days and was restored on Jan 26.

Jackie Frandsen

01/29/2011 04:00 pm

It's cool and about time. Of course some would be hurt while others would find better pos. A good beginning - now we look forward for the link-spam-team to take their actions!


01/29/2011 08:07 pm

We haw seen a good change in the search results and are now ranking higher. All our content is unique and we are a relatively new site with content being added every month.


01/30/2011 11:29 pm

So, it feels like if a site has re-written content from and orignal source it is likely to to see decreased traffic? Great! Finally, SEO's that merely chuck-out insane ammounts of content as their main stragety are finally being burned. I welcome this change. Power to the brands.


01/30/2011 11:30 pm

So what have you done differently? How old is the site, what niche and how much content do you publish per month?

Matt Hodgson

01/30/2011 11:57 pm

Hmmm... our traffic was on the drop at the end of 2010, since then we've seen a heathy increase in traffic back to the site. We use 90% unique, original content. SO far so good on this end peeps.

Chapman Di

01/30/2011 11:58 pm

Google and Matt have confirmed in the past that they do not penalise for duplicate content. Look at Ezine Articles. The more articles you have on there that are copied onto other sites the more visitors you get - stop me if I am wrong but that is duplicate content - No. I have No 1,2 and one other link on the first page of Google for my main keyword and if you click on the plus next to one of the links it goes up to 11 links. It has really moved the last few months. The site is only 11 years old and I think they took pity on me. It has always been on the first page of Google and mainly at No 1.


01/31/2011 01:48 am

Matt cuts has too much power.

Barry Schwartz

01/31/2011 01:50 am

Yep, that is it. Matt is power crazy. :)

Richard Vaughan

01/31/2011 01:00 pm

I can concur with the 8-9pm on the 26th (UTC) as the time the update was dropped.

amit m

01/31/2011 01:47 pm

yes it is, specially against farm content.


01/31/2011 09:52 pm

matt cutts is oprah!

Trusted Breast Pumps

02/02/2011 08:19 am

still their are many elements of confusing and unclear about new changes in 2011 algorithm...

Barry Schwartz

02/02/2011 12:43 pm

FYI, I have updated the story. This is not the content farm algo. More details at

Cool Gadget Reviews

02/05/2011 05:19 am

I have all original content in my blogs for years. Latest changes bring more traffic and Google PR for me. It is the right way for Google to kill at least most of these apparent autoblogs.

steam showers

02/05/2011 10:54 am

It is about time! I have had many websites that other sites have copied the content and resulted in a drop in position.

Acidhedz Murphy

02/19/2011 11:54 pm

I was running some auto-blogs using only youtube videos and article directory articles. I followed their rules. I made sites that acted to bring specific content to interested viewers. I worked hard on my SEO. On my backlinking. Jan 26th, I went from 1200-1500 hits a day to around 900. The next day to around 900. The next around 600. Since then I have fluctuated around 500-800 a day. I don't care what google says the intention of this change is supposed to be. They are making another calculated move to kill affiliate marketing.

Acidhedz Murphy

02/19/2011 11:55 pm

Wrong. This wont hurt people that use spinners much, if at all. It will only hurt people like myself that relied on content from youtube, and article directories that we are supposed to be able to publish and share without a problem.


02/27/2011 09:46 pm

Right. So content creators are generally ok? I run a couple of travel sites, and I like to report on news in the industry. More often than not that news is sourced from somewhere on the web but always re-written - Is this the type of content G is cracking down on?

Brahm Swaroop

03/09/2011 05:33 am

Hi, this is Brahm Swaroop srivastava, doing SEO for two site ie and , i am getting that sites are coming on rank on keywords but no Page Rank. i am doing SEO from last 8 months. please some tell me where i am laking. although i am following all SEO technique (ie On page and offpage)

Simon Dadia

02/06/2013 10:51 pm

Nice one Barry! But I think this was a long time coming. Dont know why it took so long. If your going to add value to the original article then fine, maybe comment on it intelligently and ad your views and opinions to it, link back to the original and make sure to blockquote the borrowed wording and you could see yourself even outrank the original article in maky cases - but just just plane copy an exact article word for word from and article directory can only lead to penalties in the long run. I mean we can all be parading around with the exact same clothes on and expect to stick out from the crowd! Simon My Blog

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