• http://www.imarketinghacked.com/ Ryan Critchett

    Awesome post. I think that a lot of this data is pretty spot on Danny. I’ve noticed a significant buzz around a very popular internet marketing forum, the Warrior Forum, about this exact subject.

    People are reporting on large scales, most notably from Ezinearticles.com, dropped positions.

    It’s turning some people upside down, while others, who remained having a long term SEO perspective and thus, engaged in purely organic (with maybe a smidgen of grey hat), are doing just fine.

    Thanks for posting this.


  • http://www.web-savvy-marketing.com Rebecca Gill

    Great summary. I so ❤ Google right now I can’t even stand it. I’ve hated the majority of those sites forever. They were sucking up valuable SERP space with nothing but poorly written spam from someone who barely knew the English language.

    So so happy!

  • http://www.thefeistyempire.com/ Paul Hassing

    Many thanks for your fascinating article, Danny. I think there may be some very unhappy campers out there. I’ve tried my content on several of the sites listed. So much effort for so little gain! I’m glad I didn’t waste even more time than I did. Best regards, P. :)

  • ptmoney

    I hate Google right now. They didn’t just affect these farms with this algorithm. They hurt many other sites. Fine to be happy, but don’t dance on my grave. This thing killed 50% of my personal blog traffic and income. All you Google lovers going to come help me find a second job now?

  • http://bonnieyu.tumblr.com bonnieyu

    This is an excellent article! This list can help understand the metrics Google is using to identify these content farms. Is there a post that discusses the theory on which metrics Google algo change impacts yet? I don’t normally visit pages such as ezinearticles and hubpages but after this I took a gander.

    Many of these pages have common features such as:

    – high ad unit to content [text] ratio
    – large amount of content on highly generic topics

    I assume Google already has these types of variables in their algo. I suspect Google adjusted the weight on these so it penalizes the page more.

    Is there a good thread that has a list of small publishers hit by this? I’m curious to see their pages, because that can help validate which metrics are most important in this change.

    This is what makes super interesting :) All the changes that goes on. I guess now people can’t rely on article submissions for SEO!

  • http://bonnieyu.tumblr.com bonnieyu

    btw is there a button that allows me to follow the comments via e-mail? Sorry, I got lost by the 10,000 different share buttons on the page.

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    There’s not, though that will likely come in the near future. And we’re cutting the buttons down to only 2,000 :)

  • http://bonnieyu.tumblr.com bonnieyu

    Awesome – thanks Danny! Yea.. I had to be honest about that :P

  • Boost


    working out of The Netherlands I’m not familiar with most of the websites mentioned, but was wondering why a vertical search engines ( like indeed.com ) aren’t mentioned / targeted in this context?

    These kind of websites may not be directly low content quality sites, but are somewhat of a mashup of xml/rss feeds / scraped vacancies provided by/ gotten from many jobsites?

    Any insights/comments, thanks,


  • fionn

    Fascinating but not unexpected. There are the heavy traffic content farms what about the small guys there are many more of those. I wonder how they fared is there a post anywhere about this anyone?

  • http://tattooedwriter.wordpress.com nibblett

    As a writer for Demand Studios, I am relieved by this article. And also offended by all of the commentary and sniping indicating that I am a subpar writer. Perhaps I am not producing Pulitzer-quality material, but I am doing honest work that allows me to stay home with my child and keep a roof over our heads. I do quality work, I submit quality articles, and the implications that I churn out cheap and poorly-written content are unfounded and unfair.

  • http://www.fragoulakis.gr fragoulakis

    @Rebecca Gill

    I totaly agree with you :)

    Great Article btw

  • http://www.seoskeptic.com/ Aaron Bradley

    Interesting that About.com is not mentioned one way or the other in the post (nor in Aaron’s Wall post at SEO Book, nor in the Sistrix blog post, nor in the Quora metrics round-up). It’s listed as #20 in Quantcast, #38 in Google Ad Planner’s 1000 Most Visited Sites (Jan. 2011), and generally mentioned in the same breath as other “content farms.”

    Has any data been returned about possible impact of “Farmer” on About?

  • http://www.websong.com Websong

    @Aaron – About.com’s content isn’t “cheap” in the same way that other content farms are. Have you seen what they pay their guides?

  • catatrif

    I think that leaving ehow unharmed is frankly embarrassing. Also, there are some sites on this list that provide good content, like wisegeek. I believe this is just the tip of the iceberg, and many other smaller sites were hit also.
    This is not a “quality” update as it was marketed (to eliminate low quality content). This is a quantity update (eliminate sites with lots of duplicate content).

  • http://www.seoskeptic.com/ Aaron Bradley

    @Websong – I was not making an assessment of about.com’s quality one way or another; I was asking about statistics regarding the impact of “Farmer” on About. As a self-update on that, I now notice that the SEM Rush statistics cited by Aaron Wall on his SEO Book piece so far indicates that About has been largely unaffected (Alexa now shows a slight traffic decline … but that’s, like, Alexa).

    In any case, I don’t know why you think there is any correlation between what a site pays writers and how they fared with “Farmer.”

  • http://www.blindfiveyearold.com ajkohn

    Using the Abbamont data I tabulated the aggregate change for all about.com sites (e.g. *.about.com)

    What i find is that for the 880 SERPs for which they appeared, they lost a total of 7,063 positions for an average loss of 8 positions per SERP.

    The Abbamont data may not be entirely accurate but it’s been directionally so through my analysis. This would indicate that About.com properties were caught up in the Farmer Update.

    That makes sense to me since they are a content aggregator, and while some of the folks who run their topic areas are quite good, others are rather poor.

  • http://daniweb.com Dani of DaniWeb.com

    We made the Sistrix list and I am currently freaking out right now. We literally lost about 70% of our US-based traffic overnight. What’s worse, we are a discussion forum with editorial who employs absolutely no black hat techniques, no duplicate content, we’re really tough on spam, and I don’t know what on earth I can do to get back into Google’s good graces. I’m convinced we somehow got caught up in the mix because I was under the impression Google was targeting “content farms” and “Made-for-AdSense” sites, and not forums. In fact, like most forum owners, I was eagerly awaiting this update with anticipation because I thought it would help us sites that deliver 100% unique, quality content.

  • http://ubergizmo.com hubertnguyen

    I noticed that Ubergizmo was listed, so I thought that I’d comment a bit.

    First, we don’t republish anyone’s content, and our in-depth reviews have been very popular. The iPad Review broke the millionth reader a few months ago for example. It’s kinda weird to be listed among sites like Examiner.com that actually scrapes our RSS!

    Secondly, I’m not sure how Sistrix gathers its data but Google Webmaster Tools itself does indicate quite the contrary: the number of times that our top content has been featured in the search results has doubled on the 24th (see screenshot below).


    I’m not sure what Sistrix is seeing, but I would assume that whatever pages they were looking at went down, while other pages went up.

    Anyhow, this is yet another “service” that marketers may want to take with a ” (big) grain of salt” – just like Compete, it shows completely wrong stats for some sites, and “somewhat OK” stats for others. As long as you don’t pay for it, it’s probably better than nothing I guess.

  • http://www.cyclonemarketing.info Catherine Lockey

    Thanks for this amazing research data Danny. The data is fascinating. The only surprises I see are slideshare and technorati are on the losers list.

  • http://www.destination360.com/ destination360

    about.com uses sub-domains extensively. It seems keyword in domain did well as well as big brands.

  • http://www.destination360.com/ destination360

    and Sistrix stats are incorrect for us. Our little site is certainly no farm maybe a pea patch. D360 “original” content is written by writers with knowledge of the destination. No scraping just hard work…

  • http://www.digitaltrends.com ianbell330

    Commenting re: Digitaltrends.com

    We have seen a hit in our traffic, about 25%, but it seems to already be climbing back up.

    Couple observations:

    – We were ranked #1 on Google for True Grit Review and are now on the 3rd page

    – We syndicate a lot of the content we produce and now our syndication partners are showing up before us in the results. Ex: “Netflix Vs. Amazon Prime” which we wrote and syndicated out to Yahoo News and a number of news stations. Despite having our partners link back to us as the source, they are still showing up first. We followed Googles guidelines with syndication partners, but they seem to have been re-written.

    – We have seen a hit on our reviews too. Ex. Nikon D7000 review used to be first page, now its several pages back. We noticed that Cnet does not show up in the results for a while too.

    – We are climbing back in results for some keywords like “Best Android Apps”

    Hopefully Google is still tweaking things, because they are hurting original content producers and helping others that are using 3rd party content.

    Ian Bell

  • http://softnwords.com saji

    Sistrix demand is still on higher side only. Google has changed its policy in search engine listing.Unique articles and contents will be exchanged more in coming days.

  • J_A_Y

    I have been keeping my close eye on this Google’s farmer update. What I found is that, at first step google had really removed or thrown back some of pages of these websites’s mentioned by Sistrix’s Visibility report above in SERP. I had checked yesterday ranking of one of my article submitted in EzineArticles.com and I could not found it in top ranking positions where it used to rank before this google updated. So I was confirmed till yesterday that google has done what they said. BUT on today’s morning I have again checked that ezine articles ranking and it was on its desired position. So from my point of view it was just warning step from Big G to all spammers and now they have restored most of it, or you can also say that Google might have made some mistakes by decreasing ranking of some pretty good informative websites.

  • leszekmp

    I’ve got a four-year-old site (freegeographytools.com) with 100% original content, no farming, minimal SEO ( basically just what WordPress does by default). Visits dropped 15-20% after the algorithm change. I guess I should feel lucky – I’ve seen some worthwhile sites drop more than 50%. I’m not a big fan of content farms, scrapers, or spammy sites, but I’d like to think my site doesn’t fall into any of those categories. Here’s hoping Google will tweak this fix to correct an overzealous algorithm, and not punish sites that don’t deserve it.

  • http://google-algorithm-ruins-my-business.blogspot.com/ protestgoogle

    Google claim these web site are mostly content farm website without original content. The truth is, the existing of these company are deemed to be threaten to Google. What Google itself really is? Does Google use its own original content all the time? Absolutely not! Google crawl, organize and index other website’s content and present them to the user, and name it “SEARCH”. This is exactly what these content farm website doing. I do believe Google did this so that they can be the only gateway to all the content over the internet. This is unfair competition, and all people impacted by this should united and take action. Join us at http://google-algorithm-ruins-my-business.blogspot.com/ for action.

  • leszekmp

    Well, there may be anecdotal reports of recovery, but not for my site (freegeographytools.com; 4 years old, 100% original content all by me, no farming or scraping). Google referrals are still down 20%, and AdSense earnings are down 40%+, and the trend is downwards. Thanks, Google!

  • shariY

    This was a shameless move by Google to discredit sites on other search engines. I’ve written high quality news articles at places like Associated Content that have actually gotten me noticed and invited to write for highly ranked and reputable publications both in print and online. As others have said, I’ve seen less quality at sites that managed to “keep their rankings.” The only fault I see with Assoc. Content, and some may not consider it a fault, is that they allow their Contributors to write articles just for their peers there, like using AC as a “personal blog” of their daily lives which I don’t think is helping AC’s reputation. But overall, I’ve gleaned some excellent information about many things — travel, how-to’s, news that I don’t research myself, etc. Plus, in the process of their “readjustment,” Google managed to take revenue away from people who, in this economy, are trying to eke out extra cash.

  • http://millionairestudio.com Millionaire Studio

    It’s funny that YouTube’s rankings actually went up and it could arguably be considered just as much a content farm as some of the other sites that got hit. To quote YouTube’s own statistics they receive over 35 hours of video every minute – how could that not be considered a content farm? But then of course, YouTube is owned by Google.

  • Miki

    Our 3 year old company with 100% original content was put out of business. That’s what you get for having a 100% eCommerce company and relying totally on Google because the price per click with facebook and Bing has gone too high. The combination of Google’s new price per click (minimum of $3.50 if you can get your ad to show at all) and the zero visibility now with the Farmer Update, has just added two more people to the job market. It’s very sad for our business which is based on helping dogs, DermaPaw. :(

  • http://musingsandvisuals.blogspot.com stuffme30

    Well eventually it will be just a matter of figuring out ways around the new metrics by Google, but until then those content farms will be hurting.

  • Dan Abbamont

    Glad some people are finding my research useful.

    About the matter of geographical results – When using my data you have to assume there will be a margin of error for this overall. When looking at specific records, you should also be able to infer when a result is skewed based on geography. Some keywords are likely to have country specific results, but most aren’t. If my data seems to show that a site with a .ca domain dropped, you can disregard it and assume that it’s just an artifact of geography.

  • http://www.islandvillawedding.com Adrian Head

    “Google also said that if its YouTube site gained, that was “happenstance.” Oh! was it really or does Google, as many suspect favor sites it owns?

    Having just paid 37.7m for a UK comparison site BeatThatQuote.com one can’t help but wonder how long it will be before this site’s ranking will exceed those of the other websites in the same category. In my opinion a search engine with the dominant control of the search market has no place owning or operating websites where it has the ability to put its sites ahead of competitors. No matter what Google might say there will always be a question of favoritism.

  • http://www.techchee.com ketyung

    Btw what’s presented by Ubergizmo shouldn’t be correct. Google webmaster tools do not reflect immediate changes.

    They should use Google Analytics to look at their US traffic or search traffic. It should clearly reflect a traffic drop of at leat 30-40% in Google Analytics. Apparently, the change only affects searches from US and Google has not yet rolled out to other countries…

  • http://www.adamdalyonline.com Adam Daly

    After scouring the web for an accurate list of sites affected by the “farmer” update, I find it’s hard to narrow down what sites have truly been hit. So far this is the most exhaustive list I’ve found. Thanks for being thorough.

  • http://www.KellySmithMarketing.com Kelly Smith

    I was wondering how long it was going to take to get through all the spammy content out there. I personally think this is just the beginning of this type of change. There are LOTS places whose only value is to show a revised version of the same article posted in a hundred other places. The real trick will be to see how big G pulls it off. Once you have to start evaluating “grammer” from a robotic point of view, its certain that many properly written articles will also be hit. Then what will we do? But the folks at big G will certainly not care too much, as long as they remain the #1 Search Engine.

    On one side, there is just too much control from them. On the other, they need to do this type of thing because everyone tries to game the system.

    Just stick with the basics of proper SEO and you will be fine (I hope).

  • http://blog.marketingtipsforauthors.com/ Tony Eldridge

    Excellent post. I have been looking for data like this to see how things were really shaking out after the change. I bet that we continue to get a better and better picture over time and I bet this is not the end of Google’s tweaks regarding content farms. It will be interesting to see how these sites fare in a month, 6 months and a year. It will also be interesting to see which new sites come on the scene as the result of the algorithm change.

  • http://www.netadventures.biz Carl Townsend

    Great post. Where do the various yellow page directories and DEX stand? Did the paid listings there drop?