With the fairly recent Google’s “Farmer” Algorithm Update multiple bloggers (affiliates in particular) became concerned (subject also brought up by Joe Sousa in his recent post here), and started wondering if they (as content producers) may be affected by it.
The short answer is: “No, as long as what you produce is unique and quality content.”
For more detailed explanations/commentary, I’ve contacted four established SEO experts and book authors, and would like to bring you their opinions in what follows:
Quality content that’s keyword rich, but written with users rather than search engines in mind will always triumph. Sure, search algorithms change, and will continue to do so. Rankings will change. But articles and blog entries will continue to be found and spidered. Following the basic guidelines always helps: frequent updates, links, tags, a decent CMS. Content is what powers the web, and that’s not gong to change any time soon.
— Rebecca Lieb, Author of The Truth About Search Engine Optimization
If your blog can be viewed as featuring duplicate content, or mostly non-unique content, you should be worried. As that’s not the case for your average blogger, and is more relevant to spammy sites, I wouldn’t worry about it.
— Gab Goldenberg, Author of The 7 Curiously Obvious Rules Advanced SEOs Rely On
What’ll happen to article based content search? In general, Google’s latest “content farm” algorithm change was manual (versus automated) and intended to penalize sites with what Google perceives as low quality content. I imagine, another way of looking at what Google is attempting to reduce or penalize is content that was solely created to rank in search-engines for purposes of some form of arbitrage. Either way I’d say that any content that is likely to be perceived as low quality is at risk of being pushed out of the SERP’s. For instance, if articles are poorly written and written specifically to rank on search-engines they are at risk. In addition, Google has always had specific rules about duplicate content – in this way, using article distribution as a primary strategy for building links was always shortsighted. So the moral of the story is to make sure that you are writing high quality, unique content and that it fits into a larger strategy to rank well on search-engines and ultimately provide the end user with value.
Is it just the article sites or are keyword content blogs in danger? As mentioned above, any content that is likely to be perceived as low quality is at risk of being pushed out of the SERP’s — this includes blogs that exist solely for the purpose of ranking well on search engines. I’d strongly advise to build a site around the content, encourage user generated content, interact with readers, hold contests, open social media accounts, leverage word of mouth and buzz marketing strategies, and build links as naturally as possible.
— Kris Jones, Author of Search Engine Optimization: Your visual blueprint for effective Internet marketing
I personally don’t think blogs are in danger from the Google Panda/Farmer update if they have established a credible brand that engages its audience well. We know from Google that this is an algorithmic change and they are looking to de-emphasise “sites that copy others’ content and sites with low levels of original content”
SEOs have naturally speculated about the signals which would enable Google to identify this type of site. For example a high proportion of ads above the fold. But Google have said this isn’t a signal. Instead I think its useful to turn it on its head and think about how Google can identify a site with quality content that engages its audience. Obvious signals of a quality engaging blog are a higher proportion of:
- Original content (many Article sites posts are reposts from blogs and press releases
- New backlinks compared to new articles
- Social mentions via Twitter of Facebook
- Bookmarking via Google Bookmarks/Toolbar
- Brand name searches
All of these signals are features of an engaging brand, that’s what successful SEO is about in 2011, so if your blog has these features there’s not too much to worry about. But these features aren’t natural features of a retail site for instance, so it’s not clear how Google differentiates these type of sites — perhaps there is also some on-page analysis of the semantic markup and use of images.
— Dave Chaffey, Author of E-Business and E-Commerce Management: Strategy, Implementation and Practice
Being a blogger myself I don’t view this Google’s update as any kind of immediate or even precedent type threat. If you have something to add to the above, I would, of course, love to hear your thoughts as well (please use the “Comments” area below for it).