Google Farmer Update: Who’s really affected?

March 3rd, 2011 | Analysis 74 comments

By Marcus Tober

In a major update Google changed its algorithm last Thursday to tune down content-farms. Nearly 12% of all search results on google.com were affected. One thing is almost certain: this was an algorithmic update!

farmer-update

Here at Searchmetrics we gather a lot of data from the Web. Over 55 million domains and 25 million keywords are continuously monitored, and all this data is then analyzed on a weekly and monthly basis. Over the last week, we’ve been intensely tracking the recent “Google Farmer Update” and algorithm changes to see what effects it is really having.

Überraschung: ehow.com hat gewonnen

Surprise: ehow.com wins

Visibility: The Organic Performance Index (OPI)

As you may know, following the big media buzz around the JCPenney.com story in the New York Times, on 2/24/11 Google made some changes to its search algorithms to try and stem the ever-increasing presence of farmed content on the search engines results pages (SERPs). Being touted as the “Farmer Update”, Google has noted that this change has noticeably impacted 11.8% of their queries.

For purposes of this analysis, we used our own Organic Performance Index (OPI), which is calculated according to a keyword’s search volume, position and the statistical value of traffic distribution.

While speculators are calling this the “anti-Media” update and content heavy websites are quickly trying to pass themselves off as “anti-OnDemand Media sites” one site, eHow, is actually benefiting. Originally being fingered as a site that would be impacted by this update, eHow has actually gained 14% in visibility in the days following the change.

With its nearly 80% increase, the biggest winner in terms of traffic and percentage change is wikihow.com. A remarkable increase considering that in contrast to Wikipedia, wikiwho.com appears to be a classic definition of a content farm. Similarly, Yahoo! Answers experienced an almost 30% increase, in contrast to answers.com and answerbag.com, a site that experienced an almost 60% loss. Statistics such as these are clear indicators that the update must indeed be algorithm-based, fully automated and not carried out manually.

The results displayed are from data that we gathered between the 02/22/2011 and the 03/01/2011.

We analyzed 39 so-called “content farm” domains. We also looked at reputable, content heavy sites such as Facebook and the Huffington Post for comparative purposes. Overall, there was a 57% average drop in our OPI.

(Click on thumbnails to enlarge)

The biggest losers in percentage were:

Suite101.com hat 92.5% verloren

Suite101.com lost 92.5%

blippr.com

blippr.com

helium.com

helium.com

suite101_us

suite101.com

tradekey.com_us

tradekey.com

articlesbase.com

articlesbase.com

associatedcontent.com

associatedcontent.com

Domain OPI_today OPI_last Difference %
blippr.com 11,024 529,970 -518,946 -97.9%
suite101.com 19,874 263,529 -243,655 -92.5%
tradekey.com 2,970 38,237 -35,267 -92.2%
associatedcontent.com 23,687 281,343 -257,656 -91.6%
articlesbase.com 13,492 157,958 -144,466 -91.5%
helium.com 7,170 83,184 -76,014 -91.4%
faqs.org 15,971 140,951 -124,980 -88.7%
freedownloadscenter.com 23,216 192,128 -168,912 -87.9%
mahalo.com 56,305 442,563 -386,258 -87.3%
allbusiness.com 2,694 19,995 -17,301 -86.5%
ezinearticles.com 35,691 259,516 -223,825 -86.2%
essortment.com 13,507 93,993 -80,486 -85.6%
americantowns.com 6,109 38,783 -32,674 -84.2%
findarticles.com 11,648 70,404 -58,756 -83.5%
howtodothings.com 10,605 62,372 -51,767 -83.0%
lovetoknow.com 30,289 157,037 -126,748 -80.7%
hubpages.com 122,796 618,406 -495,610 -80.1%
wisegeek.com 113,436 489,014 -375,578 -76.8%
buzzle.com 78,206 335,304 -257,098 -76.7%
doityourself.com 8,069 33,231 -25,162 -75.7%
merchantcircle.com 20,195 83,133 -62,938 -75.7%
business.com 10,961 42,877 -31,916 -74.4%
thefind.com 13,107 46,769 -33,662 -72.0%
trails.com 9,607 32,385 -22,778 -70.3%

Download all data in Excel-format.

The biggest losers in terms of absolute visibility were:

answers.com gehört zu den Verlierern

answers.com is one of the biggest losers

answerbag.com

answerbag.com

answers.com

answers.com

about.com

about.com

 

maholo.com

maholo.com

wisegeek.com

wisegeek.com

buzzle.com

buzzle.com

Domain OPI_today OPI_last Difference %
answerbag.com 662,274 1,673,406 -1,011,132 -60.4%
answers.com 682,274 1,673,410 -991,136 -59.2%
blippr.com 11,024 529,970 -518,946 -97.9%
hubpages.com 122,796 618,406 -495,610 -80.1%
about.com 3,199,369 3,689,144 -489,775 -13.3%
mahalo.com 56,305 442,563 -386,258 -87.3%
wisegeek.com 113,436 489,014 -375,578 -76.8%
associatedcontent.com 23,687 281,343 -257,656 -91.6%
buzzle.com 78,206 335,304 -257,098 -76.7%
suite101.com 19,874 263,529 -243,655 -92.5%
ezinearticles.com 35,691 259,516 -223,825 -86.2%
freedownloadscenter.com 23,216 192,128 -168,912 -87.9%
articlesbase.com 13,492 157,958 -144,466 -91.5%
lovetoknow.com 30,289 157,037 -126,748 -80.7%
faqs.org 15,971 140,951 -124,980 -88.7%
examiner.com 43,101 142,296 -99,195 -69.7%
essortment.com 13,507 93,993 -80,486 -85.6%
helium.com 7,170 83,184 -76,014 -91.4%
merchantcircle.com 20,195 83,133 -62,938 -75.7%
ask-leo.com 57,140 117,708 -60,568 -51.5%
findarticles.com 11,648 70,404 -58.756 -83.5%
livestrong.com 34,554 87,086 -52,532 -60.3%
howtodothings.com 10,605 62,372 -51,767 -83.0%
tradekey.com 2,970 38,237 -35,267 -92.2%

 

Winner were:

instructables.com

instructables.com

howstuffworks.com

howstuffworks.com

wikihow.com_us

wikihow.com

answers.yahoo.com

answers.yahoo.com

ehow-com

ehow.com

huffingtonpost.com

huffingtonpost.com

Domain OPI_today OPI_last Difference %
wikihow.com 455,031 254,087 200,944 79.1%
answers.yahoo.com 524,056 406,523 117,533 28.9%
ehow.com 944,950 831,961 112,989 13.6%
howstuffworks.com 666,073 574,523 91,550 15.9%
huffingtonpost.com 1,262,562 1,173,229 89,333 7.6%
facebook.com 3,157,406 3,094,804 62,602 2.0%
instructables.com 80,142 68,685 11,457 16.7%

 

Who are the winners if the content farms are the losers?

It’s very hard to categorize the winners and losers. Obviously, it’s similiar to the Mayday update from last year where we saw that the loss of visibility was spread around a large number of different types of domains. Nevertheless, there are winners, notably the news portals like msn.com, mashable.com, zdnet.com and wired.com.

So Far, only US Google.com searches are affected

hubpages_uk

hubpages.com in co.uk

mahalo.com in co.uk

mahalo.com in co.uk

An analysis of similar domains with a .co.uk extension on google.co.uk index showed that there was an overall slight increase in traffic. Thus, as of yet, the update is only really effective on google.com and still has to swap over to Europe. However, the UK counterparts of domains like hubpages.com or mahalo.com should be prepared to see changes.

Now what to do?

Although eHow.com has always been taken as an example of industrial low-value content, they have actually gained visibility following this update. While the content may be of questionable value, like how to buy a teddy bear, user criteria such as bounce rates, visit duration, and social reach, for example, have obviously been part of the quality guidelines of the update. We also believe that if pages that are genuinely visually attractive to a user, the page will be spared by the Farmer Update.  Meaning  that  ranking is going to come down to how a user values a page, as opposed to just what content is on it.

Was Demand Media really not affected?

answerbag.com

answerbag.com

livestrong.com

livestrong.com

Some still question whether Demand Media has in fact been affected by the Farmer Update. In looking at popular Demand Media sites livestrong.com and answerbag.com, we think the answer is loud and clear.

 

Here at Searchmetrics we gather a lot of data from the Web. Over 55 million domains and 25 million keywords are continuously monitored, and all this data is then analyzed on a weekly and monthly basis. Over the last week, we’ve been intensely tracking the recent “Google Farmer Update” and algorithm changes to see what effects it is really having.
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Who’s writing this stuff? My name is Marcus Tober and I’m the founder of Searchmetrics. Because we really love to analyze every kind of online data, we can give you more insights than any other company in SEO, SEM and Social Media. It’s not a job, it’s passion. You can find me also on Google+ .
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Comments (11)

Comments (74)

  1. 2011/06/18

    This is has just made me schocked too, because this “panda’ has made my traffic decreased about 50%. Anyway, how do we detect that the content is really original? If I seen Ezinearticles.com has the very orinigal, but why it decreased until -86% ?

    Thank you

    - Yana

  2. 2011/08/03

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  3. 2011/08/27

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Trackbacks (63)

Comments (74)

  1. 2011/03/03

    [...] Searchmetrics’ data on the impact of Farmer (similar to the previous SISTRIX [...]

  2. 2011/03/03

    [...] and which ones have survived the crosshairs of Google’s latest algorithm change. One such analysis from SearchMetrics confirms much of what’s already been reported, but also adds several new names to the list of [...]

  3. 2011/03/03

    [...] Wall’s assesment, SearchMetrics’ analysis and Sistrix’s data-driven [...]

  4. 2011/03/03

    [...] the topic are worth reading, including Danny Sullivan’s take, Aaron Wall’s assesment, SearchMetrics’ analysis and Sistrix’s data-driven [...]

  5. 2011/03/03

    [...] topic are worth reading, including Danny Sullivan’s take, Aaron Wall’s assesment, SearchMetrics’ analysis and Sistrix’s data-driven [...]

  6. 2011/03/04

    [...] Google Farmer Update: Who’s really affected? – SearchMetrics SEO blog shares analysis of specific sites that have been hurt badly in this update, including Suite101.com, Helium.com and others. [...]

  7. 2011/03/04

    [...] Google Farmer Update Google Farmer Update: Who’s really affected? In a major update Google changed its algorithm last Thursday to tune down content-farms. Nearly 12% of all search results on google.com were affected. One thing is almost certain: this was an algorithmic update! searchmetrics.com [...]

  8. 2011/03/04

    [...] the site Suite101, which data from SearchMetrics lists as the biggest loser in percentage (in its organic performance index) was brought up in the [...]

  9. 2011/03/04

    [...] formula of march are all about numbers, so hunt engine analytics organisation Searchmetrics took a look during some vital websites’ Organic Performance Index, that measures such facilities as a [...]

  10. 2011/03/04

    [...] a related note, there’s some interesting new data on those affected out from [...]

  11. 2011/03/04

    [...] to help people find “more high-quality sites in search.” But when you look at the top 25 losers, you can’t help but notice Google seems [...]

  12. 2011/03/05

    [...] was supposed to help people find “more high-quality sites in search.” But when you look at the top 25 losers, you can’t help but notice Google seems to have devalued user-generated-content (UGC), and some [...]

  13. 2011/03/06

    [...] the site Suite101, which data from SearchMetrics lists as the biggest loser in percentage (in its organic performance index) was brought up in the [...]

  14. 2011/03/06

    [...] a related note, there’s some interesting new data on those affected out from [...]

  15. 2011/03/09

    [...] Geldlieferanten ärgert, aber gebracht hats wohl das Gegenteil. Der Traffic von genau diesen Content-Farmen ist mehr geworden und andere andere Seiten haben verloren. Irgendwie erscheint mir das Ganze als Synonym “Die [...]

  16. 2011/03/10

    [...] topic are worth reading, including Danny Sullivan’s take, Aaron Wall’s assesment, SearchMetrics’ analysis and Sistrix’s data-driven [...]

  17. 2011/03/12

    [...] – dort waren die Auswirkungen allerdings schlagartig sichtbar. Dank der Daten von Sistrix, Searchmetrics und anderen kann man recht deutliche Verlierer erkennen. Obwohl nicht die gleichen Metriken zu [...]

  18. 2011/03/14

    [...] qualche sito colpito dall’update. Dati dall’ottimo articolo di Search Metrics. Nomi e numeri fanno [...]

  19. 2011/03/17

    [...] update also happened to napalm certain content farms and competitors. Indeed, when you look at the top 25 losers, you notice that Google seems to have devalued user-generated-content [...]

  20. 2011/03/18

    [...] the topic are worth reading, including Danny Sullivan’s take, Aaron Wall’s assesment, SearchMetrics’ analysis and Sistrix’s data-driven [...]

  21. 2011/04/11

    [...] již jsou dostupná data o tom, kdo touto změnou nejvíce získal a kdo naopak ztratil. Podle výzkumu společnosti Searchmetrics, která pravidelně monitoruje úspěšnost webů ve vyhledávání, patří mezi negativně [...]

  22. 2011/04/14

    [...] to the First Panda update on Google USA,Ehow gained a huge according to Searchmetrics it was 13.6% [...]

  23. 2011/04/14

    [...] to the First Panda update on Google USA,Ehow gained a huge according to Searchmetrics it was 13.6% [...]

  24. 2011/04/15

    [...] [via Search Metrics] [...]

  25. 2011/04/15

    [...] the US update was rolled out most of the biggest losers were what can safely be described as low value content. Exactly the sort [...]

  26. 2011/04/16

    [...] på erfaringer fra USA og UK vil Googles sortering af hvad der er god og hvad der er dårlig tekst/information, betyde at [...]

  27. 2011/04/18

    [...] to sites like AssociatedContent.com, FindArticles.com, and EZineArticles.com, according to a post by SearchMetrics.com. It also negatively impacted some perfectly legitimate sites, including Cult [...]

  28. 2011/04/18

    [...] rollout was executed earlier have a look at the Wisegeek data. They were regarded as one sites that got hit hard from Panda [...]

  29. 2011/04/18

    [...] rollout was executed earlier have a look at the Wisegeek data. They were regarded as one sites that got hit hard from Panda [...]

  30. 2011/04/18

    [...] rollout was executed earlier have a look at the Wisegeek data. They were regarded as one sites that got hit hard from Panda [...]

  31. 2011/04/19

    [...] a number of keywords that the companies are tracking. SearchMetrics for their part say that “Over 55 million domains and 25 million keywords are continuously monitored“. Sistrix say that their report is “based on a dataset of one million [...]

  32. 2011/04/23

    [...] to sites like AssociatedContent.com, FindArticles.com, and EZineArticles.com, according to a post by SearchMetrics.com. It also negatively impacted some perfectly legitimate sites, including Cult [...]

  33. 2011/04/26

    [...] It was covered well here – Danny Sullivan’s take, Aaron Wall’s assessment, SearchMetrics’ analysis, Sistrix’s data-driven post and Seomoz with most of these referring that the Content Scraper [...]

  34. 2011/04/29

    [...] was included on several third-party reports listing sites that were hurt by Google’s changes, but the general consensus was that many [...]

  35. 2011/05/01

    [...] was included on several third-party reports listing sites that were hurt by Google’s changes, but the general consensus was that many other [...]

  36. 2011/05/05

    [...] to sites like AssociatedContent.com, FindArticles.com, and EZineArticles.com, according to a post by SearchMetrics.com. It also negatively impacted some perfectly legitimate sites, including Cult [...]

  37. 2011/05/06

    [...] to sites like AssociatedContent.com, FindArticles.com, and EZineArticles.com, according to a post by SearchMetrics.com. It also negatively impacted some perfectly legitimate sites, including Cult [...]

  38. 2011/05/25

    [...] de sitios como AssociatedContent.com, FindArticles.com y EZineArticles.com, según un post de SearchMetrics.com. Pero, también ha perjudicado a sitios legitimos como Cult of Mac y el famoso [...]

  39. 2011/06/15

    [...] rank higher, sites like eHow took a hit.  (For some interesting metrics on that update, check out this article). Will this happen again? Should you be worried? To my knowledge, as long as you’ve been [...]

  40. 2011/06/22

    [...] New York Times rank higher, sites like  (For some interesting metrics on that update, check out this article). Will this happen again? Should you be worried? To my knowledge, as long as you’ve been [...]

  41. 2011/06/29

    [...] the US update was rolled out most of the biggest losers were what can safely be described as low value content. Exactly the sort [...]

  42. 2011/08/03

    [...] Read a more in-depth study of who Google’s update affects [...]

  43. 2011/09/21

    [...] For information downgraded Google started a blog that is detected as “content farm” so some sites that are categorized as farm content decreased drastically visitors coming from search engines. Some sites are decreased percentage of visitors are ezineaticles decreased to 86%, HubPages has decreased by 80%. While the site is experiencing an increase in visitors as wikihow.com increased to 79%, answers.yahoo.com 29%, more can be found here Google Farmer Update affected [...]

  44. 2011/09/27

    [...] tradekey.com,  ezinearticles.com dilibas oleh si Google Panda. Untuk detailnya silahkan melihat di http://blog.searchmetrics.com/ [...]

  45. 2011/10/03

    [...] rank higher, sites like eHow took a hit.  (For some interesting metrics on that update, check out this article). Will this happen again? Should you be worried? To my knowledge, as long as you’ve been [...]

  46. 2011/10/25

    [...] New York Times rank higher, sites like  (For some interesting metrics on that update, check out this article). Will this happen again? Should you be worried? To my knowledge, as long as you’ve been [...]

  47. 2011/12/02

    [...] results. The refurbish was fast dubbed “Panda” around a namesake routine mostly practical to large Google updates which shake a [...]

  48. 2011/12/02

    [...] results. The refurbish was fast dubbed “Panda” around a namesake routine mostly practical to large Google updates which shake a [...]

  49. 2011/12/02

    [...] results. The refurbish was fast dubbed “Panda” around a namesake routine mostly practical to large Google updates which shake a [...]

  50. 2011/12/03

    [...] results. The refurbish was fast dubbed “Panda” around a namesake routine mostly practical to large Google updates which shake a [...]

  51. 2012/01/05

    [...] For the data and a detailed report on the changes to the Google rules: blog.searchmetrics.com [...]

  52. 2012/05/07

    [...] US based results. It was covered well here – Danny Sullivan’s take, Aaron Wall’s assessment, SearchMetrics’ analysis, Sistrix’s data-driven post and Seomoz with most of these referring that the Content Scraper [...]

  53. 2012/08/27

    [...] US based results. It was covered well here – Danny Sullivan’s take, Aaron Wall’s assessment, SearchMetrics’ analysis, Sistrix’s data-driven post and Seomoz with most of these referring that the Content Scraper [...]

  54. 2012/11/01

    [...] 1st Round from Search Metrics [...]

  55. 2012/11/06

    [...] expecting changes that would address a few major website such as Mahalo and eHow, but it rattled webmasters around the world, and had everyone scrambling for [...]

  56. 2013/02/24

    [...] recently asked Searchmetrics to go back to one of its original lists of Panda losers from two years ago, and run its same “SEO Visibility” report on some of [...]

  57. 2013/02/24

    [...] recently asked Searchmetrics to go behind to one of a strange lists of Panda losers from dual years ago, and run a same “SEO Visibility” news on some of them. The [...]

  58. 2013/02/24

    [...] recently asked Searchmetrics to go back to one of its original lists of Panda losers from two years ago, and run its same “SEO Visibility” report on some of them. [...]

  59. 2013/02/25

    [...] recently asked Searchmetrics to go back to one of its original lists of Panda losers from two years ago, and run its same “SEO Visibility” report on some of them. [...]

  60. 2013/02/25

    [...] recently asked Searchmetrics to go behind to one of a strange lists of Panda losers from dual years ago, and run a same “SEO Visibility” news on some of them. The [...]

  61. 2013/02/25

    [...] of the web’s original content destinations, About.com was mentioned on some third-party reports as one of Panda’s early [...]

  62. 2013/03/03

    [...] recently asked Searchmetrics to go back to one of its original lists of Panda losers from two years ago, and run its same “SEO Visibility” report on some of them. [...]

  63. 2013/10/03

    [...] though Searchmetrics’s confidence in visitor statistics like bounce rates, saying they “have obviously been part of the quality guidelines of the update” provided an excellent starting point to develop a way to examine. Search Engine Land’s “Why [...]

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