• HealthCastleGlo

    Thanks for looking into our site, Venessa :-) I’ll look into implementing some of your suggestions.

    Gloria with HealthCastle

  • http://softnwords.com saji

    One of article site gain benefits from recent algorithmic changed infused by Google. I was using unique content on my articles and mu back links got uplifted

  • http://www.sarahdoffman.com Sarah Doffman

    Great article, thanks!

  • http://superivo.wordpress.com Ivo Flipse

    “The problem had shifted from random gibberish, which the spam team had nicely taken care of, into somewhat more like written prose. But the content was shallow. It was like, “What’s the bare minimum that I can do that’s not spam?””

    That quote actually has me worried, it will probably ‘force’ content farms to change update their content, making them look of better quality while having shallow content.

    As long as the text sounds complex and is filled with jargon, readers could be fooled into thinking they learned something, despite there being no substance in the text. Scott Berkun had a nice blog post about this phenomenon: http://www.scottberkun.com/blog/2011/amazing-dr-fox-video/

    I certainly don’t envy the task of having to create a BS-detector…

  • http://www.webguide4u.com Vivek Parmar

    This new algo affected me a lot, severe drop in traffic results wish i could beck this traffic again

  • http://www.facebook.com/gadgetsdna Jeffry McDowell

    Many of our exclusive content written by us on gadgetsdna.com were copied word-by-word by sploggers and when I search in google (US) with same title, Sploggers comes first and I am nowhere.. When I search in google.co.uk, our article comes first or say in google.co.in or any other. This means that Googles Caffeine is not working as it should be.

    For Example; When I query “ASLR in iOS 4.3 Breaks Mobile Substrate, Jailbreakers Stay Away!” Google US gives results of copied content http://bit.ly/fSZzpz while the original content lies here. http://bit.ly/hmZIOt

    If you will try in google.co.uk you will get correct results:

    google.co.uk -> http://bit.ly/hxC9tN (Placed at number two position)

    google.co.in -> http://bit.ly/i02lAN (Placed at number three position)

    I can cite such endless examples…

    Hope Matt Cutts or Vanessa Fox will look into this and advice me for FREE

  • truinteractive

    Vanessa – Thank you for taking time out of your day to post this as well as all other informative posts you have made over the years. Very kind of you to share your expertise.

  • yahrebetak

    Is it just me, or does this article seem to take two contradictory positions?

    Farmer Update does NOT target whole site:

    “Since this algorithm is site-agnostic and looks at specific quality signals on a page-level basis, you may think of this change as hitting your site, but in reality, it’s hit particular pages of your site.”

    You need to remove poor performing pages (because, presumably, the Farmer Update actually looks at your site as a whole)

    “When looking at the data for your site as described earlier in this article, are there certain pages or sections of the site that have been impacted significantly more than others? ….consider removing those pages or blocking them with robots.txt until you’re about to devote resources in improving their quality”

  • yahrebetak

    The idea that ‘great content is the answer’ is, frankly, laughable, in our experience. Our site is 100% original, with very deeply researched content, recognized within our industry as a leader, and is frequently updated. Central Banks, Multilateral Institutions, and academic researchers write to us asking for data (yesterday I had the Chief Economist of the Czech Central Bank write). Our site looks clean and modern. Yet our US traffic is 50% down, across all keywords, new articles and old, more or less entirely undifferentiated.

    Quote from an SEO I know here:
    tim buenasuerte (name changed): some websites I handle dont have original content
    tim buenasuerte: in fact, we copied most of them.
    tim buenasuerte: and we weren’t affected

    So, I am sorry, but your article seems like complete nonsense to me.

    My take on the Farmer Update:

    Previously, there was a rule:
    “Google does not rank web sites, they rank pages”
    Not true any more – Matt Cutts has now said, somewhere – you want to remove low-quality pages, because they impact the whole site.

    So Google is saying: “If you LOOK like a content farm, we WILL TREAT YOU as a content farm”.
    We will rate the site as a whole.

    Sites with diverse old content = content farm = BAD
    Sites with diverse new content = news site = GOOD

    Sites with Above Fold small ads = content farm = BAD

    Sites with targeted keyword SEO = commercial site = OK
    Sites with messy untargeted keyword SEO + old content = potential content farm = BAD

    Why we got hit
    1. Our classical SEO isn’t the greatest, so Google sees an enormous diversity of keywords when it looks at our site. Previously, we thought this was quite a good thing. We relied on the increasingly strong consensus – just write good content, don’t link exchange, don’t cheat, have good internal links, and make your site content visible to the bots.
    2. We have a strong diversity of content within the one research category, because our research covers our subject from many angles.
    3. We update frequently, but not enough to be considered a news site.

    These factors, we believe, caused us to be hit by the Farmer Update – diversity of content, yet updates not frequent enough to be considered a news site. Plus we have some above the fold Ad Sense type advertising, which we are removing.

    That’s why we were hit. Not because of content or design.
    What to do about it, is less clear.

  • http://www.linkjuice.co.uk linkjuice

    With some previous updates Google rolls out the algorithm with parameters set high. Then they roll it out again with the parameters set low. Then they’ll find a happy equilibrium and roll it out with the parameters set somewhere in the middle.

    I’m not saying be complacent, but it may be worth waiting a while to see if the changes are still there before cutting out tonnes of content. A few weeks are a drop in the ocean in search engine land…

  • yahrebetak

    To reassure Mrs Fox’s loyal readers that she is not talking total nonsense, perhaps she would care to reconcile Google’s comments to Search Engine Land (as quoted by her):

    \Sites that believe they have been adversely impacted by the change should be sure to extensively evaluate their site quality. In particular, it’s important to note that low quality pages on one part of a site can impact the overall ranking of that site.\

    With what she says:

    \Since this algorithm is site-agnostic and looks at specific quality signals on a page-level basis, you may think of this change as hitting your site, but in reality, it’s hit particular pages of your site.\

    This second statement is, surely, nonsense. The change looks at particular pages, and (it seems) at the diversity of pages within a site, and uses its view of those pages to make a judgment about the site as a whole.

  • mwpclark

    I have a large number of sites that were hit hard today, March 10, 2011. They have been written individually over several years, and most of them are directory sites with a strong focus on health care.

    No black hat techniques have been used. These are not content farms. They are directories with contact information for millions of health care providers, businesses and professionals. My visitors tend to be health care professionals who are using these sites in their jobs. I spend all day, every day developing content that I hope is valuable. This represents years of work.

    I have taken one step: I have removed a list of links to all of my directories that appeared on the front page of all my sites. This may have had the appearance of a “link farm”, although I felt it was reasonable, it was on only one page of each site, and all the linked sites are quality content. Nonetheless I have removed this list.

    In reading many, many comments on the “Panda” update today, the only other issue I can find that might be affecting my sites is that AdSense ads are at the top of the page, “above the fold”. This has been done at the specific suggestion of the Google AdSense Optimization Team. I have been an AdSense publisher for 6 years. I was invited to an AdSense in Your City meeting a couple weeks ago, and they repeated the following advice that has been part of the AdSense optimization recommendations for some time:

    [Use 3 ad units, 3 link units and 2 search boxes per page. Place your ads above the fold as much as possible.]

    I have about 120 active sites with about 30 million pages. There were about 5-6 million pages indexed by Google. Many of these sites were high in the search results for searches for doctors, hospitals, and other health care queries.

    Here is a partial list of sites that were doing very well up through yesterday, and today they fell off the map:


    I have posted the bulk of this comment on the forum at


    I have also made requests for reconsideration for about half these sites.

    Mike Clark
    Coconut Island Software
    mike at coconut island dot com

  • authority site was hit

    I did a traffic analysis on my site and what I found really disturbed me. As suggested by Vanessa, I checked my high traffic keywords that fell — these are my most important pages. Many of them were in depth reviews of services/products in my niche. These fell heavily while those articles that were non-competitive and were about trivial things unrelated to my true niche expertise rose tremendously.

    Vanessa suggests to look at traffic. The articles with the silly keywords were to me, thin and useless. Yet they skyrocketed in ranking.

    The important articles I wrote were niche specific and very well written. They plummeted. I saw nothing wrong with my reviews. What I saw, however, was that by virtue of this page being so successful, that duplicators and scrapers stole the content to use as copy for their business sites. There were a tremendous number of them.

    I have many of these examples. It makes no sense for me to rewrite these pages as they were based on my experience and own careful review of products. I feel almost hopeless to think I have to rewrite my entire website in order to gain back 2 years of work. It’s almost like I have to start from scratch.

    I find this grossly unfair. Especially if by rewriting, it may mean the cycle repeats — more scrapers, more duplicators and down you go again.

    I am doing what I can to fix everything else on my site. But it’s just such a difficult battle to fight if they are heavily scoring the “duplicate content” factor.

    I have also checked what’s happened to my competitors. I have one competitor that I respect quite a bit. It’s the same story with him. He was flying high on some really fantastic reviews on these products. These were completely unique pieces that were well thought out, interesting, etc. His work has been heavily circulated because it was so comprehensive.

    Well, he was knocked out pretty badly too. And I ran a check — same exact story! Scrapers copied and pasted his review INCLUDING comments he had onto their sites. These scrapers were trying to sell a service, created a blog and simply stole our content. They interlinked their own pages for keywords they cared about.

    What I’ve seen is that less popular players in our niche are now the ones in the “winner’s circle”. But perhaps, once they’ve taken our place and grown big enough, they’ll be the target of scrapers and will go down in time. Who knows?

    My question here is this: Is it possible to have triggered a scraper or spammy profile purely because you’ve been a victim of rampant plagiarism and duplication? I want to know if this is the kind of profile that could trip this algorithm. If I run a site that is well optimized, reasonably clean in every way EXCEPT that I have been duplicated in so many respects over the years, could I become a victim of Panda?

    I am currently building a report to prove the extent of duplication of my original content. If this is what’s tipping me over the edge, don’t I deserve to be reevaluated? My profile is very similar to CultofMac’s.

    Thank you, Vanessa, for your helpful article. I took your lead and found this situation affecting me.

  • http://www.monicowebdesign.co.uk monicowebdesign

    Traffic dropped on my main site but recovered after a few days and is now showing more visitors which is interesting. Virtually all of my other clients sites have shown no real change at all

  • http://heavytargets.com Shaun Spalding

    Talk about adding valuable and authoritative content! This was a great primer for someone who had no idea where to begin after being hit by the algorithm change. It’s nice to see that as the years go by, it gets harder and harder to game the system with irrelevant, spammy content.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ozgur.zeren Ozgur Zeren

    I always thought that it was foolish to rely on traffic from a single company. Even if it is google. One change, and your traffic goes away. Ill be disregarding google for traffic from this point on, and concentrating on social traffic instead. 

  • Manisha K


    The article and the analysis is very good. But Google keeps mystifying us. My site tipsonhairremoval.com disappeared from the net, reappeared with more than average traffic and again plummeted! I am now exhausted reading how to take care of my site. I did implement a few changes, but now it is beyond me!