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Google Rolls Out The "content Farms" Update


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#1 Michael_Martinez

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Posted 24 February 2011 - 11:19 PM

Actually, AJ Kohn called the "Farmer Update" on Twitter and I sort of like that.

So, anyway, read the official announcement here.

Looks like they timed the release of the Chrome Blocker Extension to give them some valuable data to compare the results of their algorithmic tinkering with -- quite clever, actually.

#2 EGOL

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Posted 25 February 2011 - 07:20 AM

I have two levels of content on my site. Long articles with substantive content, lots of images, data, video, etc. Those have held up through this. However, those long articles often link to quick definition pages or pages with a graphic and a paragraph. Some of those pages have slipped in ranking. So, I don't think that this has been administered by domain - instead by page.

Even if you hold #1 position... this update should put you on notice... because, now a good page with good substantive content below you is not hidden in the SERPs amongst a camouflage of crap pages. Those good pages that are low-ranking now will get their due notice and climb the SERPs.

#3 jonbey

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Posted 25 February 2011 - 07:59 AM

I have not seen much of a change, which I guess means that at the moment most of my pages are neither considered excellent or rubbish, but somewhere in between? More work needed?

Think some keywords have risen a bit, especially some in the really spammy areas. Need to workout how to look at keyword activity just for USA in GOAN though.....

#4 Michael_Martinez

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Posted 25 February 2011 - 11:32 AM

I'm scratching my head on this one. I have seen some substantive content drop (sorry, Google, I'm not allowed to share details) and I have some personal sites that are doing just fine.

And then eHow continues to dominate all sorts of SERPs.

#5 earlpearl

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Posted 25 February 2011 - 12:53 PM

Just looked at this today through a limited volume of local sites. Haven't seen a change in that regard; which in it own right is interesting how google can effect an algo change that is targeted in one way and doesn't impact things in other ways.

Interesting computer engineering!!!

Went back and checked on something. I had written a version of an article years ago in a site that would be a predecessor of the content farms. It reflected a nice phrase for one of the industries we serve....wherein the content farms have recently flooded the market with so called ar-tee-cles.

Noticed EHow ranking at #1 for the phrase; Mahalo ranking at #20 for the phrase.

My original article is currently at #18. It was running #1, then #2, then #3 for several years, years ago.

We later incorporated the language and some backup into one of the businesses. The business page is currently ranked #6. but alas I stopped following the phrase years ago....and couldn't give tracking or history.

but...from a cursory glance EHOw = winner; Mahalo = loser, at least on that phrase :D

#6 Michael_Martinez

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Posted 25 February 2011 - 01:25 PM

I, too, have noticed a drop in Mahalo content in queries I monitor. Of course, none of us can monitor that many queries effectively. Mahalo may be winning in other queries.

Dave Harry wrote an interesting and thoughtful piece on the update paying particular attention to Google's language.

Danny Sullivan has put forth his idea of what makes a site a content farm but I still think it's too broad.
  • Looks to see what are popular searches in a particular category (news, help topics)
  • Generates content specifically tailored to those searches
  • Usually spends very little time and or money, even perhaps as little as possible, to generate that content
By that definition, I could easily point to YouTube, CNN's iReporters, the Huffington Post, and a slew of other popular sites that dominate search results.

#7 earlpearl

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Posted 25 February 2011 - 02:51 PM

Per this article: Mahalo hurt badly, EHow less so: http://directmatchme...ity-problem.php

#8 earlpearl

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Posted 25 February 2011 - 06:21 PM

I have to plead entire ignorance on the "content farm" issue over the long haul in which it has gathered controversy and been addressed. From a personal perspective I've noticed how certain search phrases wherein I was searching for substitive questions Google serps were polluted with high rankings from unsubstantial sites.

I had also noticed that sites like EHow, Mahalo, Essortment and others were repeatedly showing up for these phrases. My focus is primarily local search and its been largely irrelevant in that vein.

On the other hand, as referenced above, I had found one long tail search phrase that I turned into a traffic generator for one of our businesses. It was primarily by accident, and I first placed an article in an earlier version of the prominent content farms.

In fact it did well in basic google rankings for several years. More recently its ranking dropped for that phrase and the highest serps represented a smattering of content farm sites and sources from magazine type sites. In fact I stopped focusing on where my article ranked and where I had planted the same long tail phrase within one of the business sites.

My efforts, not backed up by much seo had taken a beating from other sites and the long tail question didn't do much for us in real local business conversions.

Regardless I've checked this more closely recently, and that was backed up by some awareness that over the last few months EHow had been a source of some minimal traffic to one of our business sites.

Here is what I noticed today while reviewing some variations on long tail phrases relevant to this business/industry and where some of the content farm sites are and some differentiation.

I'm not sure if this has been written about and/or dissected before as I haven't followed the issue.

EHow has created a plethora of long tail pages that include references to variations on an industry in which we have businesses/websites and an "authority site" (I really qualify that....it's not a topic that merits "authority" IMHO) :D Other content farm sites have done the same. In fact I was just stunned at the volume of pages that represent long tail phrases for this industry as generated by the content farm sites.

The EHow sites seem to be structured a bit differently than are the other content farm sites in the following manner:

EHow writes an article and within it references other topics/pages within EHow that are somehow related. All the content farm sites did the same thing.

At the bottom of the site EHow references a couple of "authority sites" as general references. IMHO as I looked at the references EHow used, I'd acknowledge they were all reasonable "authority references".

The other content sites do something similar with a different twist, though. Mahalo does it with a very "twisted reference" to authority sites in this manner:

Mahalo writes an article and links to other internal Mahalo pages. Mahalo also creates "numbered citations" that one would see in an academic piece. That looks pretty professional and serious.

The numbered citations at the bottom of the article then link to further Mahalo references further down the page. Then those references link to "authority sites". Its a dubious trick IMHO wherein Mahalo creates the image of a serious citation, not unlike one would find in an academic journal, but distorts it via rereferencing further Mahalo pages before referencing serious outside "authority pages". In the limited Mahalo pages I visited the ultimate references went to a couple of outside "authority sites" with a huge multitude of links to those authority sites.

That structure looks terribly bogus and manufactured, again IMHO.

I wonder if Google looked at these kinds of structures in establishing filters and adjustments within its algo.

Admittedly this was an extremely cursory look at the phenomena and frankly one in which the basic topics aren't "authoritative" in the first place, IMHO.

In any case there was a clear difference in what appears to me the "deviousness" level Mahalo and some other content farm sites utilized to mask seriousness.

Michael, EGOl: have you noticed anything like this and/or have there been comments on the different structures of the content farms that you have noticed?

#9 jonbey

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Posted 25 February 2011 - 08:54 PM

Has Wikipedia seen any down turn?

OK, not usually labelled as a content farm as it is well moderated and has no adverts. But, does this really make it so superior?

#10 Michael_Martinez

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Posted 26 February 2011 - 01:30 AM

For every hypothesis I have formed or seen put forward, there have been exceptions.

I don't think there is any one factor that is predominant. I think they looked at a large class of factors and possibly defined a few groups but mostly just set up a filter or "document classifier" that scored everything for "bad behavior".

Wikipedia, of course, continues to demonstrate that low quality content can rank well in Google.

#11 iamlost

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Posted 26 February 2011 - 05:42 PM

I have not commented until now for three reasons:
* I like to actually have something to add to the conversation.
* I track query referral traffic (and conversions) not SERP.
* I don't pay much attention to query competitors (unless encounter traffic threshold change).
Yes, iamlost :D

That said, I do have some points to make:
First, never forget the truths in the opening sentence of the Google blog announcement:

Our goal is simple: to give people the most relevant answers to their queries as quickly as possible. This requires constant tuning of our algorithms, as new content—both good and bad—comes online all the time.

Yes, truths, not truth. The unstated but ever present truth is that the most relevant answers is NOT restricted to the organic results. Those paid (AdWords Search) query results are also part of the search results. When analysing a search query return don't neglect half the equation. Which ads appear? In which positions? Those advertisers are competing just as much for visitors' attention as organic competitors.

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.

Note that Google is admitting that they can not directly identify-boost quality sites. Instead they hope to accomplish that via identifying-penalising low-quality sites. This is not a new approach. It is simply the reality of indirect ranking via popularity signals. It is an imperfect, inefficient solution but the only current practical option. In this algo change certain links, such as those from article republishing sites, appear to have been devalued causing sites who built their SEO strategy on such links to suffer.

While those who ask what is the difference between the dropping Mahalo and the non-dropping eHow remember that while people are able to compare content value directly algorithms can not. So when analysing such disparate changes one must look at indirect indicator differences such as linkage patterns, both internal and external.

I think they looked at a large class of factors and possibly defined a few groups but mostly just set up a filter or "document classifier" that scored everything for "bad behavior".

I would like to think they were that content targeted and capable but have to say that if so the classifier is seriously flawed. Google remains link fixated and the results I've seen so far in my niches can be explained by certain broad category link valuation changes.

For those not drowning in self pity there are lessons to be learned or gratification to be felt in:
* link strategy and tactics.
* content creation.
* information architecture.
The biggest being that shortcuts, especially the most used, are often temporary.

And a last thought/reminder:
Don't turn puce waiting for the all-things-to all-people sites, i.e. Wikipedia, About, eHow, to lose their search query positions, instead, where possible, leverage them to your advantage, where not, beat them on quality of content, customer service, etc. Going head to head just causes headaches.

I enjoyed Michael's SEO Theory post Dear Google…THAT was a content farm update?. Especially the title, thanks for the sad laugh.

So, what do you think? Did Google do the job that the world asked of it, or did they fail?

Well... by the selfish measure of my sites Google did just fine thank you.
However, on the broader measure of the results relevancy when I go forth searching Google still returns the most popular sites not necessarily (and not often) the most relevant sites. Always has, always will, given the foundation of their algorithm. Is the disconnect less now than before? So far, in my searches the answer is no.

#12 Michael_Martinez

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Posted 27 February 2011 - 03:21 AM

I can't say I have much to complain about. The one personal site that seems to be affected by anything is, I believe, in fact now violating a quality guideline and I have discontinued that behavior (begun only a few weeks ago) and filed a reconsideration request. To be honest, the site gets most of its traffic from sources other than Google so I didn't even see there was a problem for a couple of weeks.

Otherwise, everything is hunky dory for me and people keep asking me if I have an opinion on what happened. Sure, I have opinions but it's been very difficult to find a query where I have been directly, personally affected. Looking at a handful of queries for other people's sites, knowing nothing about those queries' histories, I'm still sort of scratching my head.

I'm soaking up all the reports people are publishing but so far no one is really pointing to any plausible criteria (at least, no one has been able to explain why some perfectly good sites suddenly dropped out of the SERPs).


Oh well...I guess that means we have at least another generation of search engine optimization ahead of us.
:cheers:

#13 iamlost

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Posted 27 February 2011 - 01:28 PM

Oh well...I guess that means we have at least another generation of search engine optimization ahead of us.

How many search algorithm changes were made in 2009? . YouTube video, 1:53minutes
Matt Cutts: we tend to make a change to our core algorithm at least once a day...
= job security for search traffic optimisers
= headaches, nausea, and &^%$#@! for search traffic optimisers
= exaltation experiences for search traffic optimisers

#14 swainzy

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Posted 27 February 2011 - 08:47 PM

Here's what CNN Money is saying about it. Title of article is "Website to Google" You're Killing Our Business' "

#15 DonnaFontenot

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Posted 27 February 2011 - 10:34 PM

I was just wondering where you'd been, miz swainzy. :D Glad to see you around.

#16 EGOL

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Posted 27 February 2011 - 11:06 PM

Thanks for the link.... Yep, great to see you posting! :D

#17 jonbey

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Posted 28 February 2011 - 04:05 AM

Hey, the dream team are back!

From now on I will rate Google updates (to determine whether I really need to find out about them) based on the number of people the comment on them here.

Seems I had better see what's what.

#18 earlpearl

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Posted 28 February 2011 - 11:16 AM

After reading more about the changes and the impacts I suspect my ideas were limited, naive, and not worth the time. :D Oh well.

Regardless I enjoyed seeing and comparing the internal link structure within Mahalo versus EHow. Mahalo looked pretty weak to me.

To the extent that content farms were degraded --I salute the effort.

Having spent a little time following some conversations from engineering and deep data experts, frankly finding a "most relevant" algo is far more complicated than I ever imagined....and its an ongoing effort.

From a personal perspective, I also salute the effort as it opens the door for more substitive sites that focus on topics and provide depth of information to compete in areas where the content farms were dominating.

#19 Michael_Martinez

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Posted 28 February 2011 - 11:41 AM

I read somewhere this weekend (maybe a Tweet) that Googlers have stopped using the term "content farm" because it "means different things to different people" or something like that. If so, I applaud them for just cutting through the B.S. and getting out of that semantic trap.

I'm still not convinced anyone can really define "content farm" adequately enough.

#20 iamlost

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Posted 28 February 2011 - 01:28 PM

If you follow my posts you know that I have ignored TBPR for years. However, having been asked to investigate the consequences of this 'Farmer' update on a particular site - particularly the substantial drop in TBPR - I have been wandering about backlinks watching the silly bar.

One fascinating result is seeing very influential deep sites with very long very dense very niche popular articles that show sudden TBPR 'holes'. By that I mean that the home page shows TBPR7, most articles show TBPR4-6, BUT some few currently show TBPR0.

I am continuing my analysis because I believe that such sites may provide usable insights into this Google algorithm update. Nice control and test pages to peruse. :D

#21 cre8pc

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Posted 01 March 2011 - 03:18 PM

I thought the term "content farm" was odd. In years earlier it was "link farms", which were ghastly things created out of link popularity mythology.

Content scraping, on the other hand, is wildly out of control and makes all search marketers look pathetic due to the actions of a small percentage of greedy people. (The word "people" was not my first choice of word.)

The public spin, as I watched it on CNN, was that Google is cracking down of poor quality search results so that users will be more satisfied with the engine. We all know this is nothing new, however. In fact, that they made the supposed algorithm change public is curious to me, as if Google is using it as a marketing promo.

In any case, bravo to any attempts to squish stupidity but as far as accurate search results go, all search engines have a ways to go yet. The goals are revenue and shareholder driven under the disguise of making a better user experience, but the actual research and technology needed for really accurate results isn't all rolled out yet. And to get to the true "search results just for me" goal means privacy invasion and I sense the pendulum is swinging the other way. Privacy will become currency. :nanatype:

#22 Michael_Martinez

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Posted 01 March 2011 - 03:52 PM

I thought the term "content farm" was odd. In years earlier it was "link farms", which were ghastly things created out of link popularity mythology.


They may have been perpetuated out of mythology but they started for a legitimate reason: to help sites remain in Inktomi's unstable index. It was like trying run on a bicycle chain in those days. Every other month sites would drop out of the index because some of their links had dropped out the month before.

Content scraping, on the other hand, is wildly out of control and makes all search marketers look pathetic due to the actions of a small percentage of greedy people. (The word "people" was not my first choice of word.)


Is it the scraping so much as the rewriting that is the problem, though? And some rewrites are actually pretty good. I know there were a few of my articles that Ann Smarty cut down to a pretty concise, more tightly focused format in her early days. Someone with her talent can take rambling thoughts, complete gibberish, or cryptic news and turn it into a pretty useful article.

The public spin, as I watched it on CNN, was that Google is cracking down of poor quality search results so that users will be more satisfied with the engine. We all know this is nothing new, however. In fact, that they made the supposed algorithm change public is curious to me, as if Google is using it as a marketing promo.


And the thing is, it's starting to look to me like this update may have fixed their previous PR problem. It remains to be seen whether it will generate a new PR problem for them.

Anyway, I haven't had much time for personal searching the past few days. I'm still looking at sites that got hammered and asking, "Why this one?" A lot of the dropouts make no sense.

Here are a few sites I feel should not have been adversely affected. I have no connection to them (so far as I know):

ancestorhunt.com

blogcritics.org

cinemablend.com

daniweb.com

fantasticfiction.co.uk

film.com

prnewswire.com


If Google wants to knock sites down for writing about what others have written, they need to take down CNN, the Huffington Post, Fox News, etc.

I don't think removing popular, quality sites from the 1st SERP really improves the quality of the SERPs. But that's just my opinion.

#23 jonbey

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Posted 01 March 2011 - 07:47 PM

Here are a few sites I feel should not have been adversely affected. I have no connection to them (so far as I know):

ancestorhunt.com

blogcritics.org

cinemablend.com

daniweb.com

fantasticfiction.co.uk

film.com

prnewswire.com


I suspect that dup content is a key feature of these, or some of. I just looked at PRNewswire, and check a sentence in Google for the first random article I opened: http://www.google.co.....e Arab world?

What I suspect has happened is that there are some serious authority problems going on in those sites hit badly. Maybe a site that simply encourages its content to be shared is going to be knocked back a bit? Maybe the authority rules have changed, so from now on the first site to publish a news story / press release is not guaranteed to be the one that is given authority? Maybe there are just some issues that still need a little tweaking and some balance will be restored soon.

But maybe that is how they intend it. Take that story - published by PRNewsWire. Yahoo News uses it, and references PRnewswire. Why do we need more than one in the SERPs? Yahoo News alone will provide the user with the news story, so why have the source of the news? If PRnewswire is now considered to be a supplier of news, and not a news channel, then maybe it is like knocking the B2B journalist site off the rankings to show the news channel that these services feed? But then, just noticed "SOURCE The Epoch Times" at the bottom, so they are just another aggregater of news?

But I am really just guessing, rambling and making it all up as I go along... brainstorming, blueskying, going to bed. nn.

#24 earlpearl

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Posted 01 March 2011 - 08:29 PM

I'm pleased they did this.

I've got content I can develop into a site with substance for a bunch of long tail phrases that relate to one of the industries in which we have local businesses/websites.

I had watched a variety of long tail phrases get commandeered in the serps by the content farm sites with crappy articles supported by the strength of the large content farm sites.

Now I can add substitive content and have a fighting chance for rankings without having to compete against poor substitutes for what I perceived as sites that tried to be the.....

"crappy minimalist encyclopedia for every damn search phrase in the world"

(a couple of hours later)

I took the time to use google.ca to compare existing US results for my industry phrase and used google.ca as a partial proxy for differences in rankings.

How stunning. essortment.com, mahalo, wisegeek and some others all lost ground.

But OH MY. an article I wrote in 2004 and attached to an article site was ranked 3rd in Google.ca Oh oh oh my...the same article is currently ranked #20 in google.com. smacked in the heart and I didn't even know it. :)

But wait. after the article was so strong and attracted long tail traffic that was a surprise to me...I optimized a page on one of our business sites and drove direct traffic into the business /local web site. The new google.com rankings have it at #6.

Even more surprising...when I searched on google.com and had my computer set for the local area...the phrase showed #2 in serps. Its not a phrase on which I focus in that its a mediocre conversion phrase...but it attracts traffic initially and I know it draws people back to the business and service.

In google.ca that article was ranked 12th. Ahhhh...but in the new google.com site its ranked #6....and it never got a full effort at optimization. LOL Meanwhile I noticed some other sites that are more on target for the full website/essentially have a level of "authority" and they rose in the new google.com rankings for the target long tail phrase. BRAVO!!!


The whole thing is interesting. It leads me to believe that topical websites, if well done can better compete for high rankings for these often long tail phrases....now that many of the content farms have been banished to the netherland. LOL

Edited by earlpearl, 01 March 2011 - 11:00 PM.


#25 JVRudnick

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Posted 02 March 2011 - 10:40 AM

@earl....

so then...google.ca is TRULY a great se, right?

:-)

Jim

PS on the whole our .ca clients are still rock solid - course, we've been avoiding ANY risk on their behalf for years....so the Farmer Update plays to an empty stadium up here for us, eh!

#26 earlpearl

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Posted 02 March 2011 - 11:01 AM

@Jim:

Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk :D

Not sure if its a gr8 SE. I believe its various weaknesses are dramatically identified by the gr8t SEO's that work it upside down and backwards!!! :notworthy: :notworthy:

#27 Michael_Martinez

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Posted 02 March 2011 - 01:26 PM

PS on the whole our .ca clients are still rock solid - course, we've been avoiding ANY risk on their behalf for years....so the Farmer Update plays to an empty stadium up here for us, eh!


It's not yet live in Canada but hopefully they will fix everything in the US before sending the algorithm to other nations.

#28 Michael_Martinez

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Posted 03 March 2011 - 08:43 PM

Fascinating article from Wired pretty much confirms a lot of things I have been thinking (other people have also been thinking many of these things) regarding the Farmer Update.

It's interesting that they mention a Googler engineer surnamed Panda -- is that Navneet Panda, I wonder? He (?) has a background in machine learning and data mining.

#29 iamlost

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Posted 03 March 2011 - 11:09 PM

is that Navneet Panda, I wonder? He (?) has a background in machine learning and data mining.

Thank you for the article and name. It reminded me of his (et al) 2007 Patent Application Learning concept templates from web images to query personal image databases.

->Perform web search
->Retrieve corresponding images
->Divide retrieved images into sub-images
->Determine which sub-images share common features
->Generate concept template
->Search target image database based on template

Which I recognised on reading a couple of years ago had potential beyond images:

Off Topic offtopic
Note: No, I did not foresee 'Farmer' :)
But a surprisingly similar 'learning template' process has been used to auto-generate content...

--->Determine common features of low quality content:

Singhal: ...We wanted to keep it strictly scientific, so we used our standard evaluation system that we’ve developed, where we basically sent out documents to outside testers. Then we asked the raters questions...
Cutts: There was an engineer who came up with a rigorous set of questions...
Singhal: And based on that, we basically formed some definition of what could be considered low quality...

--->Generate concept template

Wired.com: But how do you implement that algorithmically?

Cutts: I think you look for signals that recreate that same intuition, that same experience...And we actually came up with a classifier to say, [quality sites] over on this side, and the low-quality sites are over on this side. And you can really see mathematical reasons...
Singhal: You can imagine in a hyperspace a bunch of points, some points are red, some points are green, and in others there’s some mixture. Your job is to find a plane which says that most things on this side of the place are red, and most of the things on that side of the plane are the opposite of red.

--->Search target index database based on template
Hello 'Farmer'.

This would also explain why there are claims of false positives (and Google requesting notification of same) and some apparent false negatives - the line is a straight algorithmically inflexible line and most of the things on that side of the plane is not all of the things on that side of the plane...

Overall quite interesting.

#30 JVRudnick

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 09:07 AM

sorry...should'a mentioned that many of our .ca clients are ALL in the g.com index as well as g.ca and all look for US based surfers for their revenue streams....

& still...rock solid today too!

:-)

Jim

#31 iamlost

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 12:31 PM

Speaking as another Canadian webdev canada1.gif have to say that while I do not track SERP I do track referer traffic and Google traffic remains at or above normal...
EXCEPT
for a number of query terms that are not solely niche specific. So I did direct and proxy querying on a couple hundred and the query results...
---going direct (geolocation Canada) and my sites ranking well among the usual everything for everybody sites.
---going proxies (geolocation USA) and many of the newly lackluster query results are now dominated by thin blog posts.

Sooo... more to investigate:
---why niche specific terms remaining strong?
---why some non-niche specific terms remaining strong, some not?

I usually can see some overarching logic to major SE changes but with this one there are some very surprising outliers that keep mucking up my hypotheses... :pieinface: :study:

Edited by iamlost, 04 March 2011 - 04:50 PM.


#32 iamlost

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 04:50 PM

The official Think you're affected by the recent algorithm change? Post here. umpteen page list of (primarily) sad sites offers lots of grist for investigation. :)

One part of the Wired interview that I didn't take seriously but that may well be playing a role is the ratio of advertising to content especially above the fold. Certainly several sites that I was surprised to hear being affected (in the range of 20-50% less G traffic) are ad heavy (IMO) above the fold. So I shall once again ignore the AdSense team email pointing out that I have room for more...

#33 Michael_Martinez

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 06:34 PM

Oddly enough, I know of some sites that offer NOTHING but advertising above the fold that seem to have survived. Still, maybe the users know that's what they want.

Edited by Michael_Martinez, 11 March 2011 - 06:08 PM.


#34 nuts

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Posted 11 March 2011 - 01:33 PM

It's been a while since I posted, hope y'all are doing OK. I am back in the US after 4 years in South America.

One part of the Wired interview that I didn't take seriously but that may well be playing a role is the ratio of advertising to content especially above the fold. Certainly several sites that I was surprised to hear being affected (in the range of 20-50% less G traffic) are ad heavy (IMO) above the fold. So I shall once again ignore the AdSense team email pointing out that I have room for more...


I was hit all at once yesterday March 10 across a large number of sites, dropping about 70-80% of G traffic. IMHO the sites have quality content. They are directory sites so they don't have article-type grammatical content, but they have lots of content.

All sites did have links to other sites on the front page, which might have been interpreted as a link farm. I just removed that across the board. I have posted to the forum list and requested reconsideration of a number of sites, lots of luck there, what?...

Also over the past months I have been moving all sites toward the adsense optimization team recommendation of above the fold. I went to an "adsense in your city" for a personal optimization conference a couple weeks ago in SFO. They reiterated the same advice - 3 ads, 3 links, 2 search boxes, as much as possible above the fold. I am considering changing that also.

Any comments welcome...

Cheers
Mike

Edited by nuts, 11 March 2011 - 01:34 PM.


#35 DonnaFontenot

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Posted 11 March 2011 - 02:19 PM

Hi Mike. For the very reason that some people were saying that sites that were hit involved ugly sites, or sites overloaded with ads, etc., I decided to screenshot a bunch of the smaller sites that were hit. I think seeing a lot of them would help.

Here's the post I wrote this morning about it - http://www.dazzlindo...s-panda-farmer/

I'm not convinced above the fold ads is the culprit, based on this.

---

Note: I did this based partly on comments like Iamlosts' above where he said "list of (primarily) sad sites"... His comment along with lots of others made me want to visualize the sites affected to see if they really were "sad" or "ugly", etc. I don't think they are for the most part.

#36 nuts

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Posted 11 March 2011 - 02:35 PM

Interesting post, Donna, you put quite a bit of work into that.

I tend to agree -- these look like "normal" websites, not spammy, not ugly, just regular people doing their best. The more I read, it sounds like a lot of collateral damage here. Maybe it is bounce rate -- in my case, with directory sites, people get the info they need and leave. I didn't get hit until yesterday, and had a number of sites fall at once -- not sure what to make of that.

Edited by nuts, 11 March 2011 - 02:37 PM.


#37 jonbey

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Posted 11 March 2011 - 03:03 PM

Just spent a lot of time going through the Google Webmaster forum thread on your blog, and there are certainly some trends and many of the sites did look a little MFA (A being Adsense, affiliates and amazon!).

Some good sites have been hit, but hopefully those good guys at Google are trawling through the messages and tweaking to lift the good sites that got affected by the algo change.

#38 DonnaFontenot

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Posted 11 March 2011 - 04:19 PM

jonbey, you do some screenshots like i did to show me that "many of the sites did look a little MFA" and I'll re-evaluate. I don't see it based on the screenshots I took.

#39 jonbey

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Posted 11 March 2011 - 04:45 PM

OK, but not tonight!

I did see a fair few with the large adsense blocks to immediately below the title or offset to one site. Many of the gadget sites mentioned had an assortment of affiliate links.

OK, I will see what I can find... although my Snipping Tool is not working at the moment so it may take a while..... hope I can find them again.

Ok, pics coming in next post. These are the ones I looked at from the first few pages of the google thread.

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http://i1127.photobucket.com/albums/l624/jonbey/th_farm2-gadgets.jpg

Of course, I am not saying that this is the problem, I certainly did not look at content quality, duplicate, links etc. Just that there are some sites heavy on advertising, and this could possibly be an issue.

Edited by jonbey, 11 March 2011 - 04:44 PM.


#40 DonnaFontenot

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Posted 11 March 2011 - 05:42 PM

Thanks for taking up my challenge. I appreciate it! :D



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