The internet giant Google recently announced an update to its search engine algorithm, that dictates the order in which sites are displayed in search results. This was in response to criticism over the quality of Google’s search results and the fact that many ‘content farms’ could be found at the top of the results pages. Here’s how to put this change to your advantage.
‘Content farm’ is a term used to describe sites that contain a large number of written content that is typically low quality, shallow and contains a significant amount of overlap with other sites. Many of these content farms are article directories that have been created purely to get to the top of the search engine ranking pages, to increase ad revenue as a result of increased readership. These sites are typically of limited use to internet users due to the shallow, repeated content so Google’s update occurs to try and improve the results that users see. It is for this reason that Google’s recent change has been colloquially known as the ‘Farmer’s Update‘, although it is known internally at Google as the ‘Panda Update’.
The change to the search algorithm has caused unease amongst SEO professionals and internet business owners, as there was uncertainty about the number of legitimate sites that may be affected. Indeed, some large websites such as ezinearticles.com and squidoo.com have seen a significant reduction in their rankings, as a result of Google devaluing their sites. However, other sites that contain plenty of constantly updated, unique content have seen their positions rise in the rankings. These sites include ebay and Amazon and plenty of smaller sites too.
However, there are ways to help ensure that your website is not negatively affected by the Farmer’s Update. The biggest thing that you can do is to ensure that your website has plenty of quality, original content that is not replicated elsewhere, such as articles, forums and blogs. If you have copied manufacturer’s descriptions of products or industry articles onto your website, you may find your site is devalued due to the update. If you rewrite the duplicated content, this should aid your search engine rankings greatly.
The other area that you need to look at is your links. Google’s Farmer’s Update also targets low quality links, to penalise those sites that are trying to ‘cheat’ the algorithm and get to the top of the rankings. It is a good time to review your site links and improve their quality.
This means that theme-based linking has never been more important. Theme-based linking refers to links that come into your website from sites with similar content, usually those within the same industry. When you have a number of theme-based links, Google interprets this as a sign of approval of your site’s content. When you increase your theme-based linking, you will see your search engine ranking improve.
Addressing these issues within your website will not only ensure that you will avoid becoming a victim of Google’s update, it will also mean that you have plenty of high quality content that will encourage visitors to return to your site again and again. Additionally, with the focus moving away from content farms, you can become one of the sites to really benefit from this change and see your site move steadily up the search engine ranking pages.
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