Google’s Farmer update: web content under the spotlight (at last)

Writing web contentWell, it’s been an exciting few days here at Write My Site, writing digital content in the midst of one of the biggest-ever changes in Google’s search algorithm that’s been specifically targeted at low quality content.

Every tech/SEO blog in the world is buzzing about the so-called ‘Farmer’ update, named as such because it aims to crush link and content farms by banishing badly-written articles to the very bottom of the search engine results pages (SERPs).

So far, the update has only been applied to search results in the US, but it surely won’t be long until the change makes its way over the Atlantic.

We’ve been sounding the horn for better standards of web content for a long time so for the most part this update is very good news. However, we do have a concern that the baby might have been thrown out with the bathwater.

Getting rid of spam article marketing sites that invite people to submit all manner of dross without fear of editorial control is of course a welcome and long-overdue measure. The problem is that reputable article marketing sites have found themselves in the line of fire, at least temporarily. The CEO of Ezinearticles.com, Chris Knight, recently published a blog piece about the effects of the Farmer update on his company’s website: a 35% drop in traffic literally overnight. This seems like an unduly harsh strike against a site that already rejects 40% of the content that is submitted to it on the basis of poor quality.

If an article offers no value to its reader, and exists only to optimise keywords and generate backlinks then it has no place at, or near, the top of the SERPs. However, plenty of SEO and content agencies publish genuinely valuable and informative content on behalf of their clients and there is no reason for this content to be banished from the SERPs along with the spam.

We’ve issued a press release to make our position clear: acting against bad content = good. Punishing sites that already exercise strict editorial controls = bad. Knight says Google “has a lot of smart PhD types working on this problem”. Let’s hope so.

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