Google: Remove Low Quality Content If You Were Impacted By Farmer/Panda

Mar 9, 2011 • 8:54 am | comments (15) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Google Content Farm AlgorithmAll the SEO and Webmaster community has been interested in in the past couple weeks is the Content Farm Update, also known as the Farmer or Panda update.

For the first time, Google has responded to webmasters with advice. Well, it actually wasn't the first time, but I'll get to that later.

In the ongoing Google Webmaster Help thread, the one posted by Google for Webmasters to appeal to Google, Google's Wysz posted some advice.

He said in short, if you were hit, review your content and any content you think Google would classify as "low quality" get rid of by deleting it or moving it to a new domain.

Here is the full quote with my bold highlights:

Hi All,

I wanted to update this thread with some additional guidance for those who have sites that may be affected by this update.

Our recent update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites, so the key thing for webmasters to do is make sure their sites are the highest quality possible. We looked at a variety of signals to detect low quality sites. Bear in mind that people searching on Google typically don't want to see shallow or poorly written content, content that’s copied from other websites, or information that are just not that useful. In addition, it's important for webmasters to know that low quality content on part of a site can impact a site's ranking as a whole. For this reason, if you believe you've been impacted by this change you should evaluate all the content on your site and do your best to improve the overall quality of the pages on your domain. Removing low quality pages or moving them to a different domain could help your rankings for the higher quality content.

We've been reading this thread within the Googleplex and appreciate both the concrete feedback as well as the more general suggestions. This is an algorithmic change and it doesn't have any manual exceptions applied to it, but this feedback will be useful as we work on future iterations of the algorithm.


Now, as I said before, this is not really new advice. As we mentioned in the How to Regain Your Rankings After the Farmer Update article. Google's JohnMu gave very similar advice for when it came to how to fix your scraper site, he said then:

One thing that is very important to our users (and algorithms) is high-quality, unique and compelling content. Looking through that site, I have a hard time finding content that is only available on the site itself. If you do have such high-quality, unique and compelling content, I'd recommend separating it from the auto-generated rest of the site, and making sure that the auto-generated part is blocked from crawling and indexing, so that search engines can focus on what makes your site unique and valuable to users world-wide.

Read that second part closely, pretty much the same advice.

So if you were hit, either delete the low quality content, which I know many many webmasters are doing - or move them to a new domain or maybe subdomain.

Vanessa Fox covered this thread last night at Search Engine Land and also summarized the content farm session from SMX.

Our ongoing coverage and stories on the Content Farmer/Panda update:

Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help.

Previous story: Searchers Looking Forward To Bing's HTML5 Interface



03/09/2011 02:19 pm

The advice is all well and good in general. My question is, how does one go about figuring out which is good and which is bad. Obviously there is a clear separation between contents such as auto generated and content that is freshly written, how about content that sits in the grey area? Contents such as news published by more than one publisher? Would this new change consider this content duplication?

Barry Schwartz

03/09/2011 02:21 pm

That is the million dollar question.


03/09/2011 02:21 pm

And for those whose unique, quality, original content has been so heavily stolen or plagiarized that Google can't tell it from "content that's copied from other websites"? Throw it away and start over? Wonderful.


03/09/2011 07:19 pm

Barry Question #2 Once you remove that low quality content, how long until google re-evaluates your site? A. We we're chewed on by the Panda! Down 50% in G referrals since. B. We found a whole bunch user generated "junk" on our site when one of our developers launched a tool and never let anyone else know. Users were playing with it for 3 years and they made 20,000 pages. Our site consists of 20,000 quality unique content pages. So We were a content farm, of sorts. Luckily we were able to block that from indexing. We also submitted a re-evaul request. We did that 3 days ago. C. When will we be re-evaluated? Most SEOs I talked to set it at 3 weeks. Anybody hear any chatter on that?

Barry Schwartz

03/09/2011 07:21 pm

I assume on next crawl, see


03/10/2011 09:03 am

Barry, please ask Google is NOINDEX is the same as "removing" . Thanks


03/10/2011 10:31 am

I'm pretty sure you're right with that.


03/10/2011 10:34 am

If you identify the bad content. 1. Robot text disallow it. 2. Apply for removal from the index from within Webmaster Tools. 3. Place nofollow/no index Robot meta tags to pages. I confirmed this in Google webmaster forums as to making bad content not count towards overall site score. Knowing Google they might count it a little bit, so after you do that, I would work on removing or re-writeten the low quality content.


03/11/2011 05:39 pm

Is blocking 'thin content' via robots.txt and noindex sufficient to satisfy Google, or should content be removed completely. I have a section on my website that is low on text, so I could see Google identifying it as 'thin' but at the same time I think the content is valuable for my visitors

Barry Schwartz

03/11/2011 05:39 pm

Blocking it via robots.txt is sufficient.

Raymond Denis

03/11/2011 06:27 pm

Do we now have more info on how it works exactly ?

Barry Schwartz

03/11/2011 06:27 pm

Only what I posted in my dozen or so posts on this topic.


03/20/2011 11:30 pm

Paul, if you block the page via robots.txt for crawling, I'm not sure that Google will be able to see the NOINDEX meta tag. Removal requests expire after 90 days. If there are still links coming into the page, seems to me that the URL could be reindexed after some time.


08/01/2011 07:52 pm

Hi - great article, but what exactly is "low quality content"? Can you please give some examples? Cheers Dan

jeus empleo df

08/24/2011 07:15 pm

 It's very simple what you google. We simply create high-quality pages

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