Thanks to a recent update earlier this year to search giant Google’s ranking factors, the web will hopefully soon be devoid of the giant content farms and scrapers that have plagued search results in recent years. Part 2.2 of the Panda update went live in mid-June as Google confirmed last week, so users should continue to see improved search results.
One of the most important aspects of this particular update is improved scraper detection. Up until now, there were a lot of sites out there that just scrape and re-publish content, and due to better (read: questionable) SEO practices, they ranked better in search results than the original content. Obviously this is a problem, and Google is working to address it.
It’s important to note, as Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land does in a recent post, that Panda is not an actual update to Google’s algorithm, but rather, an additional ranking factor that is a part of the overall algorithm. This is very important to understand for businesses that have been impacted by Panda.
It appears that one of the largest companies to be affected by the Panda update, Demand Media, is already taking a hit from the changes. There is a lot of debate right now among SEOs as to whether or not some of Demand Media’s properties are content farms or legitimate content producers; I can definitely understand both sides, especially considering how much I enjoy Demand Media’s Cracked.com. As you can see from the chart below, one of Demand Media’s biggest properties, eHow.com, is already starting to suffer. You can see the dip in unique visitors in February when Panda was first released, and the steady decline happening starting after March that will most likely be even more drastic in months to come.
How do you feel about content farming sites? Have you ever received any meaningful information from one? Google is constantly improving search results by updating ranking factors in its algorithm, so I’m sure this will be a story to follow this year.
Jared is currently the Associate Digital Marketing Manager at Compete (Millward Brown Digital). He is a graduate of Northeastern University, having achieved his B.A. in Communication Studies. If you like what you read, you can connect with him on Google+, Twitter, or on LinkedIn.