Google Farmer UpdateA while ago I told you the Google Farmer change was coming, but just how big an impact it was going to have I couldn’t have told you back then. Well, since this baby has been in operation for a good couple of weeks now, I can tell you a lot more about how it is affecting search and ecommerce in general.

Massive Changes In Search Results

We knew this massive change to Google’s ranking algorithm would improve query results and wean out websites who reuse content and try to beat the system, what we couldn’t of known is that this change would affect 11.8% of Google queries in the United States.

Google makes about 500 changes to its algorithm per year, some miniscule and others with greater importance, but most with the aim of stopping the bad guys from ranking higher than the good guys.

All Content Farms Please Exit The Building

The Farmer update is clearly aimed at content farms (thus the tittle). Google has had enough of these horrid sites ruining the search experience for the user and ripping off other people’s hard work. Content farms, in case you didn’t know, are sites that republish content, or produce low quality content, in order to gain high traffic in a bid to secure high advertising revenue.

What Google Say…

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,” said Amit Singhal and Matt Cutts on The Official Google Blog. “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.”

What Google Farmer Means For Your Ecommerce Site

This is a very positive move, and one we SEOs welcome.  Sites such as Associated Content, Suite 101 and The Find have all suffered significantly lower levels of traffic. This change, however, does have three key implications for ecommerce businesses.

  1. It may no longer be advisable to republish the product descriptions provided by manufacturers. Google may see this as reproduced content and ignore it – the same info will be available on multiple sites.
  2. Sites / SEO experts need to focus more on quality content, relevance, good HYML practice, relevant header tags and the human side of SEO, rather than trying to second guess Google using gaming tactics.
  3. The need for an informative, yet innovative shopping experience has increased. One needs to be different, to stand out from the crowd; don’t replicate, be original as original as possible.

In Summary

Google is becoming more “organic” focused, and while the staple “old skool” SEO tactics will still maintain relevance, the emphasis is being swung increasing towards user experience, site quality and quality content, rather than who can best “game” the system. Let’s hope the web will be all the better for it.

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