Google Farmer Update and its War on Worthless Content 5

We started this blog back in July 2010 with a post that asked the question “Is content still the king of SEO?” and according to Google’s latest update this question seems to be still as relevant, if not even more so, than it was then and than it was 5 years ago. And Google’s latest algorithm named “Farmer/Panda” proves it.


Over the past few years, Google seemed to concentrate mainly on link spammers, but their latest effort is aimed at the many poor quality content sites that exist around the net – sites that spammers use to help them rank

high for long tail keywords and that until now have used many of the available spots in the search results first page.

What are the implications of the latest Google update for our affiliates?

As part of our aim to help our affiliates we provide them with merchandising tools and databases that generate content to use on their sites, but we have always maintained that this content should be used for merchandising purposes and that there is very little SEO value to this contents.

Still, some of our long established affiliates have benefited from a good flow of traffic from the organic search results towards sites that

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merely use our content to create their pages. These are the sites that will be affected by this and future Google updates.

As Google explains in its official blog:

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. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites—sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on….


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means that unless you have done your homework and have created content useful for human beings and not for machines your site may suffer with this update.

If your site has been hit by Google’s Farmer/Panda update here is what you can do:

First of all you will need to know if your site was updated by this change in the Google Algorithm or if the reason for the drop in traffic is a different one. It is easy to find out – if your site’s traffic dropped in February 24th. then you were probably hit by the Farmer update.

If your site suffered from the update you will need to know which areas where affected and which ones weren’t. Use Google Webmaster Tools to determine which queries had a large drop in impressions and number of clicks – bear in mind that if your page only dropped a few places but remains in the same SERP (i.e. from #1 to #8) then the number of impressions has probably remained the same while the clicks have dropped considerably.

If you know which pages of your site were affected and which ones weren’t you will be able to compare the difference in the quality of the content between these two groups, this should give you a rough idea of what Google considers as good content.

If most of your site has been affected then it’s time to compare your information with that provided by the pages that now rank at the top positions.

Remember that Google wants you to have original and compelling content, content that your visitors will love and forward it to their friends.

While succeeding in the competitive travel sector seems to be a difficult task, there are new approaches that make it to the top of the rankings all the time. Always put yourself in the mind of a user of your site and try to think of the things you would like to see when searching for the terms where you have dropped in the search results – this will give you a good idea of the direction you should take to fix the drop in rankings.




About Jose Truchado

SEO Expert Jose Truchado has been working on Search Engine Optimization since 1996, he is a marketing coach, social media advisor, and entreprenuer founder of several successful start-ups within the travel industry. Jose has been providing SEO and SEM support to EAN partners since July 2009. Google+ profile: Jose Truchado on Google +

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5 thoughts on “Google Farmer Update and its War on Worthless Content

  • Michael

    It seems that the new google’s update will affect heavily the affiliate websites that are built around the content from downloadable Ian database as they all have similar content, in particular, the hotel descriptions.

  • Wesley

    Using the content of others always was somewhat problematic as you would be marked as having duplicated content, especially when the source is such a powerfull domain as I guess with this update, also slightly changed content won’t do the trick anymore. Those expedia affiliates who have really been losing traffic will need to find a way to distinquish themselves from Expedia, that’s a daunting task but I guess it’s best for them to start with their top-properties. Good reminder Jose.

  • Antonio Gallo

    I still see a lot of website that are just a directory of “hotel $destination” or “camping $destination” ranking 1st place on 2 keyword search with ZERO content and just because they have so many inbound link.

    It seems that content is not king at all and that inbound link quality is something really important more than on-site optimization.

    • Jose Truchado Post author

      Hi Antonio;

      You are right and there are still too many sites that don’t have useful content at the top of search results, Google is actively tackling this with their latest updates, so it’s a matter of time that these sites will lose their rankings unless they are able to provide truly useful content.

  • John

    I am thinking of moving over to the expedia affiliate scheme I have checked out other Travel affiliate schemes this scheme looks like it is well supported.

    I agree content is king, this rings out on hundreds of forums and blogs through out all the search engines.

    Link building is very time consuming as well as building content it is very heart destroying how long in regards to the length of time it takes the search engines to pick up pages and good seo keywords and content.